Youngsters beat 'landlords' in Trophy thriller
Stevenage 3-4 Spurs U21s (Papa John's Trophy)
Tue 31 August 2021, 21:25|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Development Squad made a winning return to the Papa John's Trophy with a dazzling 4-3 triumph at Stevenage on Tuesday night.
Playing as the away side on a ground we know so well, with Wayne Burnett's charges usually hosting their league games at the Lamex Stadium, two goals in either half accounted for the League Two outfit as we put our first three points on the board in Southern Group H.
Harvey White gave us the perfect start inside eight minutes, Yago Santiago soon adding a second as we played some wonderful football in the first half-an-hour, despite missing a number of players through international duty and injury.
Stevenage, who themselves made six changes from their league defeat to our former Academy Coach Matt Taylor's Walsall at the weekend, replied through James Daly shortly before the break, but a second strike from White following excellent footwork by Dilan Markanday restored our two-goal lead. Back came the hosts again though, Ross Marshall powering home unmarked from a corner, but captain Brooklyn Lyons-Foster gratefully slid in a fourth goal after White's free-kick was blocked and Tobi Omole was denied by goalkeeper Sacha Bastien on the follow-up, putting us in the driving seat at 4-2 with just over a quarter-of-an-hour left. Substitute Luther James-Wildin hammered home an 88th-minute third for the hosts, but we managed the closing stages well to claim victory.
Markanday breezed forward and had an early shot parried by Bastien before White rammed high into the net from Jack Clarke's left-sided cut-back as we quickly recovered from the disappointment of seeing Romaine Mundle carried off during the warm-up with a muscular injury, the attacking midfielder replaced in the starting line-up by full-back Marcel Lavinier. We dominated the early going and deservedly bagged a second on 24 minutes, Markanday producing some good work on half-way to release Santiago, who ran into the box, turned onto his right foot and drilled in low across Bastien.
A fluid team move didn't quite come off while Santiago was denied by Bastien from a similar position to his earlier strike, but the home side were resurgent in the lead-up to half-time, Luke Norris just unable to reach a cross from the left on the stretch and Brad Barry trying a shot from a tight angle, before Daly made it 2-1 with an unstoppable strike from distance into the top corner on 42 minutes. There was still time for Bruno Andrade to go close twice before the break, but we started the second half strongly, White firing agonisingly over as Stevenage scrambled back after a defensive mistake, but the midfielder wasn't disappointed for long as he was on hand in the six-yard box to turn home Markanday's cut-back after some great individual play in the box from the latter, making it 3-1 on 50 minutes.
Stevenage got themselves back into it once more on 63 minutes when Marshall headed in Jack Smith's corner before advancing goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi made a vital one-on-one block from Daly to prevent them from drawing level.
We scored a crucial fourth goal on 73 minutes. White's initial low free-kick came back to him off the wall, he found Omole at the far post whose shot was saved but he was able to send the rebound across goal for Lyons-Foster to convert from close range, sparking wild celebrations from the players and Spurs fans behind the goal.
There was still drama to come though as Jamie Reid went close for Stevenage before Ben Coker's cross was drilled in by James-Wildin with 88 minutes on the clock, but we stayed strong to see out the remainder of the game - including six added minutes - without any further danger.
'I thought we thoroughly deserved to win'
"This competition, as I've said before, gives the players different tests, different challenges, playing against senior players, playing against players with experience, different types of teams, so the exposure that our players get from these games is invaluable and it's part of their growth and development," explained Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett. "I'm really pleased with tonight's game - I thought it was a really good team performance and within that, there were some excellent individual performances. We've come to a team that's started well in League Two and I thought we thoroughly deserved to win. We had probably six players who are away on international duty who would have been involved in some capacity this evening but it gives other players opportunities and some of those players have taken those opportunities and put in some very, very good performances so I'm really pleased with the game, pleased that it was a different type of game and a different type of exposure for the players. I think we handled it really well."
Stevenage 3-4 Spurs U21s (Papa John's Trophy)
Stevenage: Bastien, Barry (James-Wildin 51), Coker, Smith, Cuthbert (c), Marshall, Read, Lines, Norris (Reid 74), Daly, Andrade (Taylor 51). Substitutes (not used): Smith, Vancooten, Williams, Johnson.
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Fagan-Walcott, Lavinier, Lyons-Foster (c), Muir, Omole, Cesay, White, Santiago, Markanday (Pedder 89), Clarke. Substitutes (not used): Hayton, Kyezu.
Goals: Stevenage - Daly 42, Marshall 63, James-Wildin 88; Spurs - White 8, 50, Santiago 24, Lyons-Foster 73.
Yellow cards: Stevenage - Lines 36, Coker 72; Spurs - White 14, Lyons-Foster 84, Omole 86.
Referee: Carl Brook.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Light cloud, gentle breeze, 14 degrees.