Nile turns on the style in excellent win over City Under-23s
Spurs 3-0 Manchester City (Premier League 2)
Sat 04 December 2021, 15:05|Tottenham Hotspur
Nile John bagged two superb goals and an assist as our Under-23s completed the league double over Manchester City with a 3-0 victory at Hotspur Way on Saturday lunchtime.
Having ended City’s near year-long unbeaten run in the Premier League 2 back in October, we produced a performance full of character and determination to dispatch the visitors again in the return meeting, midfielder John setting up Jack Clarke to open the scoring inside 12 minutes before firing home in stunning fashion either side of the break to complete an excellent display.
Goalkeeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala had to make a couple of important saves in the first period but we worked hard as a team to keep our opponents primarily at arm’s length.
Having sat joint-third with City at the start of the day – perched above them only on goals scored – the result was a significant one, as we moved clear of the visitors and above Arsenal into second, only a point off leaders West Ham, albeit with both the latter clubs having a game in hand.
Coach Wayne Burnett kept the same starting XI that beat Everton 4-0 last time out and it didn’t take long for us to hit the front once more. After John embarked on a dazzling early run from deep, only to see Clarke blaze wastefully wide, the same two players combined to great effect on 12 minutes when Clarke latched onto John’s pass through the middle of the pitch and produced a cool finish one-on-one with goalkeeper Cieran Slicker to give us the lead.
Dilan Markanday’s lively footwork was causing problems for City whenever we got forward down the left and on one such occasion, the attacker got the ball back off defender Kwaku Oduroh in the box after his initial shot was blocked and saw his deflected attempt glance off the crossbar.
City were always dangerous, though, and they threatened in the latter stages of the first half, James McAtee’s first-time shot from Oscar Bobb’s cut-back well saved by Lo-Tutala. However, we fashioned a chance for 2-0 and made it count, Markanday playing the ball short to John in midfield with the latter taking a touch and blasting a swirling shot past the helpless Slicker from outside the area on 38 minutes. City almost replied on the stroke of half-time, but Lo-Tutala met Kayky’s effort following a fluid team move with a flying save away to his right.
The second half was light on chances but heavy on yellow cards as both teams went toe-to-toe, Malachi Fagan-Walcott’s header from Harvey White’s quickly-taken free-kick comfortable for Slicker while Cole Palmer fired over the top when free in the box – one of a few wayward attempts from City after the break.
On 70 minutes, though, a bolt from the blue set the seal on the victory. Markanday’s right-footed effort after coming in off the left flank was blocked in the box and the ball ran loose, with John collecting it and sending an incredible looping shot into the far top corner – a fine finish from the midfielder. He could have had a hat-trick seven minutes later but Clarke’s square ball on the break ran slightly behind him in the centre of the area.
Alfie Devine returned to action off the bench after six weeks out with a hamstring injury in the latter stages but couldn’t mark his comeback with a goal, the off-side flag denying him as he tried to latch onto John’s through ball. Nevertheless, it was another good day all-round as we made it three consecutive wins in the Premier League 2 ahead of a trip to Arsenal later this month.
'All three central midfielders were outstanding'
Under-23s Coach Wayne was delighted with the manner of the performance: “It gives you an indication of how far this group of players has come,” he said. “There were some excellent individual performances and overall, a brilliant collective performance as well. Let’s not forget how good City can be and how good some of their players are – that only heightens the win really. We’re very pleased to keep another clean sheet as well but we spoke with the players afterwards, we congratulated each other but we also spoke honestly and said that we won’t be getting carried away. It’s a good win, but we play Arsenal next, we’ve got some other tough games in the New Year and we’re going to need to keep working hard.
“As I said, there were some really good individual performances today – Nile John looked really bright, he looked threatening going forward, he took the ball really well under pressure and found a way to manage the space for himself. His two goals were very well taken and he’s starting to influence games more, which is pleasing. I felt all three of the central midfielders today – Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Harvey White, as well as Nile – were outstanding with their work ethic. I said afterwards as well that it hasn’t taken a reminder for the players to keep pressing in the last few minutes of the game – that’s a habit that they’ve developed and has been evident in some of the performances that we’ve had. They’re a really hard-working group in terms of their behaviours and the games just reflect the habits that we see in training every day.”
Spurs 3-0 Manchester City (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Lo-Tutala, Lavinier (Devine 76), Cesay, Lyons-Foster, Fagan-Walcott, Omole (Santiago 87), Mundle (Matthew Craig 76), White (c), Clarke, John, Markanday. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Michael Craig.
Manchester City: Slicker, Oduroh, Egan-Riley, Mbete, Wilson-Esbrand, Lavia, Kayky, Palmer, Bobb, Charles (Borges 59), McAtee. Substitutes (not used): Van Sas, Burns, Susoho, Adam.
Goals: Spurs – Clarke 12, John 38, 70.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Lyons-Foster 58, Markanday 68, Lavinier 73, Clarke 78, John 83, White 90+3; Manchester City – Oduroh 65.
Referee: Gareth Rhodes.
Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.
Weather: Sunny, fresh breeze, six degrees.