Under-23s produce thrilling comeback to defeat Leicester
Leicester 1-3 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Mon 12 April 2021, 21:10|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s came from behind to earn a 3-1 win at Leicester on Monday night with an impressive display in the Premier League 2.
Despite suffering a setback with the hosts taking an early lead through a Marcel Lavinier own goal, we responded well to that disappointment to get ourselves back on terms via Dilan Markanday on 24 minutes. From there, we went on to dominate proceedings. Showing great fight and determination, we took the lead on 68 minutes through a brilliant solo effort from J'Neil Bennett. Substitute Rodel Richards then sealed the points on 86 minutes as he drove home from close range to mark his first appearance after six months out injured with a goal.
It had been a frustrating start for our youngsters on our first visit to Leicester's new training ground as just three minutes into the game, the hosts found the lead with Vontae Daley-Campbell’s teasing cross from the right diverted into his own net by Lavinier. It was a tough blow to concede so early on but, despite the disappointment, we showed our character to go on the hunt for an immediate response. On 13 minutes, we thought we had found one when Bennett was released into the box by Rafferty Pedder, however, the winger could only pick out the side netting.
From there, the game began to open up and it quickly developed into an end-to-end encounter with each side showing their quality on the counter-attack. As we approached the midway stage of the first half, the hosts created a golden opportunity to double their advantage as Jake Wakeling found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi, but the stopper was quickly off his line to smother the striker’s effort.
Next, it was our turn and, this time, we found the required quality to put ourselves level. Pedder was the man to create the opportunity, showing great agility on the right to beat his man before surging into the box. He then got his head up to spot the unmarked Markanday who showed his composure in the box to pick out the bottom corner from eight yards out. Gaining the momentum from the leveller, we then went in search of the lead. Firstly, Pedder showed his ability on the ball once more to fashion an opportunity of his own on 31 minutes, but his shot was saved by Jakub Stolarczyk. The goalkeeper denied us once more eight minutes later as he got down well to save Kion Etete’s stinging drive.
Despite our bright spell, we could have paid for our missed opportunities a minute later as Tyrese Shade broke into the box and set his sights on the target. Once again though, Oluwayemi was alert and produced the necessary save, palming away the winger’s effort to keep the scores even.
The pace of the game remained just as vigorous after the break and we had three good opportunities to take the lead in the moments that followed. Showing aggression in midfield to win our fair share of 50-50s, Dennis Cirkin almost put us in front on 49 minutes as, after winning possession on the half-way line, he drove into the box before lining up a strike, however, he could only send his effort wide of the target. Four minutes later, Bennett saw an effort blocked on the line by Mitchell Clark before Markanday almost scored directly from a corner, only for Wakeling to bundle the ball away at the far post.
We eventually made our dominance count though as, with 68 minutes played, Bennett delivered a piece of sheer quality to turn the game on its head. Bursting down the left at speed, the winger surged into the box before cutting inside. Making a yard of space for himself in that clever move, he then whipped the ball home brilliantly into the far right-hand corner to give us the lead. Once we got in front, we never looked back. We stayed on the front foot, pressed high and kept our intensity. Continuing to create chances, both Etete and Jamie Bowden had opportunities to get our third of the evening as we approached the final 15 minutes, but neither could quite test Stolarczyk with their efforts. Yet, on 86 minutes, we managed to find that deserved third goal.
Once more, the goal would come from the left wing. Etete was the man to deliver the creativity as he weaved past three defenders to get himself into the box. From there, the striker got his head up to spot Richards who made no mistake with his finish, slamming the ball through the hands of the goalkeeper to wrap up an marvellous night on the road for our youngsters.
‘There is a real togetherness about the players’
Despite the frustrations of falling behind in the early stages, Head of Coaching Chris Powell was delighted with the response the team showed to once again bounce back from a difficult situation and ultimately run out deserved winners.
“It was a very slow start against, admittedly, a team who really came out of the blocks quickly and then we fell behind to an own goal, which set us quite a task for the evening. But, as the team has shown all season under Wayne (Burnett, Under-23s coach), they have a real resilience and there is a real togetherness about the players, and you could see that they were ready to overturn that slow start and the goal deficit to end up as 3-1 winners – and it was quite comprehensive in the end for us,” Chris explained.
“In many ways, you want these things to happen sometimes, just to get the learning and understanding of how to complete 90 minutes in such a great way. Having had such a slow start, I would say after 15 minutes we were the better team, we deservedly got an equaliser through Dilan (Markanday) and then the second half was one-way traffic really. It was a wonderful individual goal from J’Neil Bennett and then it was a real great moment for RJ (Rodel Richards). He’s worked ever so hard having been out for six months and he gets the third goal, which really capped off a great evening for us.”
Leicester 1-3 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Leicester: Stolarczyk, Clark, O’Connor, Nelson, Daley-Campbell, Ewing (Fitzhugh 67), Leshabela, Da Silva (Madivadua 55), McAteer, Shade (c) (Russ 78), Wakeling. Substitutes (not used): Odunze, Braybrooke.
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Cirkin, Thorpe (J Davies 90), Lyons-Foster, Omole (Richards 65), Bennett, Bowden (c), Etete, Markanday, Pedder (Skinner 87). Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz.
Goals: Leicester - Lavinier (OG) 3; Spurs - Markanday 24, Bennett 68, Richards 86.
Yellow cards: Leicester - Nelson 42, Daley-Campbell 72, Shade 75; Spurs - Bennett 18,
Referee: Scott Tallis.
Venue: Leicester City Training Ground.
Weather: Bright spells, nine degrees.