Under-23s four-midable against Liverpool at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Spurs 4-1 Liverpool (Premier League 2)
Fri 23 April 2021, 15:05|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s registered a fine 4-1 win over Liverpool against the gloriously sunny backdrop of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday lunchtime.
Two goals in two minutes from Elliot Thorpe during a dominant opening half-hour – his first goals of the season on his maiden appearance at our 62,000-seater home – gave us a firm platform on which to build and although the Reds rallied for spells, Joe Hardy hitting the post and substitute Paul Glatzel firing in for 2-1 shortly after the break, we always had the game under control.
Alfie Devine crashed home his first Tottenham Hotspur Stadium goal off the crossbar to restore our two-goal lead mid-way through the second period before Dilan Markanday rounded off a 4-1 victory right at the end of stoppage time, having previously netted in the first-ever match played at our new home for the Under-18s back in March, 2019.
After winning a seven-goal thriller in the reverse fixture in December, we’ve now scored four goals against the Reds in our last four consecutive meetings with them at Under-23 level, with the result moving us up to second in the Premier League 2 standings ahead of Blackburn Rovers, who play Derby County on Friday evening.
We started superbly and caused Liverpool problems for much of the first half, winning the ball high up the pitch a number of times and launching some brisk attacks. Thorpe lashed over from the left angle before firing us into a 16th-minute lead from 18 yards out, having been picked out by Dennis Cirkin after we’d made inroads down the left side of the box.
Two minutes later, Thorpe was wheeling away in delight once more, this time after craning a superb header into the net from a central position. Right-back Marcel Lavinier had initially worked his way down the right flank before teeing up captain Jamie Bowden to send in the cross which led to the goal.
Another high press saw striker Rodel Richards in with a chance moments later, his shot well blocked in the box by defender Morgan Boyes, but Liverpool still carried a threat and after Hardy’s curling shot hit the base of the far post, Tyler Morton arrowed the rebound over the bar. Liverpool’s Luis Longstaff ran onto Owen Beck’s cut-back but dragged wastefully wide, while Cirkin made a superb run down the left for us, but buried his shot into the side netting as half-time approached.
The visitors changed shape after the break and were more of a threat, Hardy having two shots blocked in the box in quick succession with Glatzel’s follow-up well held by goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi. But the Reds’ pressure told on 55 minutes when Longstaff’s effort from inside the box was saved by Oluwayemi and Glatzel fired home the rebound from six yards out.
Richards had a good chance at the other end, his low shot from the left angle repelled by Ojrzynski, but with Liverpool looking for a route back into the game, we scored a crucial third goal on 66 minutes to stamp out any designs on a fightback. Substitute Markanday advanced down the right and his cross found its way to the back post where Devine crashed a shot in off the bar.
Devine should have scored again after being sent through on the break by J’Neil Bennett, but his tame effort was easy for keeper Ojrzynski, while Glatzel lifted a shot over the bar for Liverpool after exhibiting some tidy footwork in the area. Substitute stopper Kacper Kurylowicz, on for the injured Oluwayemi for his first taste of action at the stadium, was largely untroubled in the latter stages and right at the end of five additional minutes, we found a fourth goal to round off the day in style. Bennett released Markanday barreling down the right, Bowden went to ground in the centre of the box as he tried to give the attacker an option so Markanday instead cut back onto his left foot and thumped a shot into the far top corner, an excellent finish.
‘It’s a fantastic arena to play football in’
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett reflected: “I felt it was a really good first-half performance. We probably slightly edged the first half and scored two very well-taken goals from Elliot Thorpe, but the second half was slightly different because they changed their team shape and it became a little bit troublesome initially, but once we got to grips with that, although they did have a couple of chances, we had some opportunities too and scored another two goals, so overall I’d say we deserved to win. Even though we didn’t play particularly well in that second period, we took some positives around our discipline and our work ethic – plus another two goals – so although it wasn’t as fluid and pleasing on the eye in the second half, there were certainly some plus points to take.”
A handful of players got the chance to compete at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time and Wayne added: “It’s great because it gives the players a taste of what is potentially on offer for them. It’s a fantastic arena to play football in so I hope they can cherish it – obviously it becomes more memorable when you win as well, but our objective is to get as many players to play first team football as possible, so playing in the stadium gives them an added taste of that. We see it as part of their development and growth, and an opportunity to see what it really feels like to play top-level football.”
Spurs 4-1 Liverpool (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Oluwayemi (Kurylowicz 71), Lavinier, Cirkin, John, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Bennett, Bowden (c), Richards (Markanday 61), Thorpe (Pedder 89), Devine. Substitutes (not used): Paskotsi, Mundle.
Liverpool: Ojrzynski, Bradley, Gallacher, Savage, Boyes, Clayton (c), Dixon-Bonner (Glatzel 46), Morton, Hardy (O’Rourke 70), Longstaff, Beck. Substitutes (not used): Hughes, Sharif.
Goals: Thorpe 16, 18, Devine 66, Markanday 90+5; Liverpool – Glatzel 55.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Cirkin 64, Lyons-Foster 68, Devine 87, Bowden 90; Liverpool – Clayton 7.
Referee: Elliott Swallow.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Sunny, 15 degrees.