Under-23s pay the penalty against Chelsea
Spurs 1-4 Chelsea (Premier League 2)
Sun 18 April 2021, 15:35|Tottenham Hotspur
Two goals in each half saw Chelsea inflict a 4-1 defeat on our Under-23s on Sunday afternoon.
George McEachran’s early penalty was added to by Thierno Ballo inside half-an-hour at Hotspur Way and although Kion Etete pulled one back with a spot-kick of our own on the stroke of half-time, Harvey Vale’s header – which crashed in via the crossbar and the back of goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi – and George Nunn’s side-footed volley in the second period made sure of the points for the visitors, as we slipped to only our second loss in 11 Premier League 2 games.
Captain Jamie Bowden, who would likely have taken our initial penalty had he not been temporarily forced to leave the field following treatment in the wake of the challenge leading to the decision, saw another spot-kick saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Ethan Wady in the closing moments as our faint title hopes in the division were mathematically extinguished. The Blues leapfrogged us and Blackburn into second with the result – we’re a point behind both teams with three games remaining, with Manchester City clear at the top.
We never really got into our stride and fell behind after 15 minutes when left-back Dennis Cirkin was adjudged to have fouled Tino Livramento in the box, McEachran confidently dispatching the resulting penalty into the top corner. Cirkin was kept busy for spells in the first period with Chelsea’s powerful running down his side of the pitch and after Oluwayemi had to tip Nunn’s looping header over the bar to stop it from dropping in, the visitors’ second goal came from a similar area, Dujon Sterling’s purposeful burst into the box on the right allowing him to set up Ballo, whose initial shot was well blocked by Nile John before he latched onto the rebound, turned and lashed inside the near post with half-an-hour gone.
Elliot Thorpe went on a dazzling run into the box at the other end but couldn’t get a shot away, while the determined John tested keeper Wady with a low attempt through a crowd of bodies as we tried to fight back, but Chelsea retorted with two dangerous attacks in three minutes, defenders Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Marcel Lavinier producing good blocks to thwart Vale and Nunn respectively.
On the stroke of half-time, a lifeline emerged as Bowden tried to attack a cross in the box and went to ground under Xavier Mbuyamba’s challenge, the referee pointing to the spot. Bowden needed brief treatment so was required to leave the field after getting back to his feet, meaning Etete stepped up to take the penalty, thumping home to make it 2-1.
We flew out of the blocks in the second half and Thorpe’s deflected effort almost went in at the back post, but Chelsea struck a big blow on 48 minutes to keep us at arm’s length as Marcel Lewis delivered a cross from the right, Vale met it with a free header six yards out and it crashed in off the crossbar and the back of Oluwayemi.
The keeper made a flying save from Vale just moments later but on 68 minutes Chelsea added a fourth goal as Nunn met Livramento’s cross with a low volley that flew into the net. John’s 20-yard strike at the other end was destined for the top corner, only for Wady to make a fingertip save, and Bowden’s free-kick was just off target, while Chelsea could have had a fifth when Livramento’s shot from the right angle inside the box came back off the post, with Lewis putting the rebound wide.
We had a chance to make it 4-2 with two minutes of normal time remaining as lively substitute Rafferty Pedder fed John in the box and he was brought down by Wady, but the keeper easily saved Bowden’s deft shot from 12 yards, while it needed a goal-line block from Lavinier against his former club to deny Vale in stoppage time after Oluwayemi had initially saved well from substitute Silko Thomas. All in all, a frustrating afternoon for Wayne Burnett’s side.
‘We didn’t get a foothold in the game or any momentum’
Head of Coaching Chris Powell said: “We played against a very good team today but we didn’t really get a foothold in the game or any momentum as such. We were very disappointed with the goals we conceded, we didn’t feel the first one was a penalty but it was given and they then scored a second, but we gave ourselves a chance with a well-taken penalty by Kion just before half-time, although in games at any level there are really important moments and we could have got it back to 2-2, but they went up the other end and got the third, which really took the wind out of our sails. We still tried to muster some quality in the game but we just didn’t have enough and in the end it was a disappointing day all round.”
We return to Premier League 2 action against Liverpool at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday, where Chris hopes to see us make a quick return to form: “We’ve been on a really good run and even the two games we’ve lost, against Derby and this one today, they could have actually gone our way if we’d taken the opportunities that came to us, but in the run we’ve had, it’s been great seeing some of the players developing. It’s always good to win, it’s a good habit, we’ve had some real dominant displays in this recent run but also there’s been moments where we’ve had to show resilience. You play to win and whenever you have a setback or you hit a bump in the road, you’ve got to find a way out. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.”
Spurs 1-4 Chelsea (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Cirkin, John, Lyons-Foster, Omole (Paskotsi 80), Bennett, Bowden (c), Etete (Richards 66), Devine (Pedder 80), Thorpe. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Skinner.
Chelsea: Wady, Sterling, Mbuyamba (McClelland 46), Simeu, Vale, Bate (c) (Fiabema 32) , Livramento (Thomas 82), McEachran, Nunn, Ballo, Lewis. Substitutes (not used): Ziger, Frith.
Goals: Spurs – Etete 45 (pen); Chelsea – McEachran 15 (pen), Ballo 30, Vale 48, Nunn 68.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Bowden 17; Chelsea – Simeu 25, Ballo 41, Sterling 61, Nunn 90, Lewis 90+3.
Referee: Lloyd Wood.
Venue: Hotspur Way.
Weather: Bright, sunny, 15 degrees.