Missed chances cost Under-18s in Reading draw
Reading 2-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Sat 27 February 2021, 14:21|Tottenham Hotspur
Defender Maksim Paskotsi scored twice as our Under-18s battled out a 2-2 draw at Reading on Saturday.
We dominated the first half-an-hour at the Royals’ new Bearwood Park training ground, but went in level at the break after Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan scored from the spot to cancel out Paskotsi’s early opener. Despite our control, the hosts stayed in the game and managed to get themselves ahead just after the hour mark with a controversial goal from Jahmari Clarke, our goalkeeper Aaron Maguire suffering an injury in the process.
Substitute stopper Adam Hayton showed superb reactions to keep out Louie Holzman’s effort moments later and although we piled forward in the closing stages and grabbed a deserved 88th-minute equaliser through Paskotsi, we couldn’t find a winner despite a lengthy period of stoppage time, Matthew Craig’s back-post header from a corner right at the end of the game flying off-target in our best chance to scoop maximum points.
We started strongly in glorious sunshine and went ahead inside four minutes, Paskotsi on hand to convert Romaine Mundle’s excellent cross from the left unmarked at the back post. Striker Jamie Donley subsequently forced a save from Reading goalkeeper Matthew Rowley but, on 13 minutes, we gifted the visitors a leveller, Marqes Muir penalised for his challenge on Clarke in the box and Ehibhatiomhan stepping up to fire the resulting penalty into the top corner.
Max Robson went through on the counter after Craig won the ball in midfield, only to see his angled shot blocked by the legs of Rowley, with Donley and Mundle going close with two chances apiece and Roshaun Mathurin firing just over as we pushed to restore our lead before the break.
But our lack of ruthlessness in the final third came back to bite us in the second half, with Reading getting themselves in front on 62 minutes. Goalkeeper Maguire showed tremendous bravery to claim a looping ball down to his left on his line, but suffered an injury in the process and the ball ended up creeping in, Clarke accredited with the goal.
Maguire’s replacement Hayton reacted instinctively to keep out Holzman’s shot with his legs as we momentarily struggled to get the ball out of our 18-yard box on the 70-minute mark but, while we had plenty of possession and pushed forward freely in the last quarter-of-an-hour, we had to wait until two minutes from the end of normal time to equalise, the excellent Michael Craig’s shot being blocked at the near post and looping up for Paskotsi to convert.
With the wind in our sails, we were left frustrated in our pursuit of a late winner, Matthew Craig’s header from Mathurin’s corner sailing off-target at the back post as one final opportunity slipped away.
‘Enough chances to win two or three football matches’
Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor demanded improvement at both ends of the pitch. He said: “For me, we were superior in the first 25 to 30 minutes and the game should have been over by then. We had a large number of big moments which we didn’t take advantage of and it was frustrating because we did a lot of work in the week at getting better at two-v-ones, and we weren’t anywhere near as good at that as I would have liked.
“We had lots of chances to win the game but when you’re on top, you’ve got to be ruthless and cold in the opposition’s box and I don’t think we were good enough at that today, but you’ve also got to make sure that you keep it locked down at the back. Marqes has given away a penalty, it was 100 per cent a penalty – not a problem – but we had enough chances to win two or three football matches today, we just weren’t good enough in front of goal. Maksim has got five goals this season which is great, but defensively were weren’t switched on enough in terms of when they were attacking. I thought we had all the play, we were very dominant for large periods and it was disappointing that we couldn’t win. I don’t feel that a 2-2 draw is a fair reflection of how much we were on top, but in saying that, it is fair because we didn’t win the game. There was lots of good play but our decisions in the final third weren’t good enough.”
Reading 2-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Spurs: Maguire (Hayton 67), Lusala, Kyezu (Whittaker 75), Matthew Craig, Muir (c), Paskotsi, Mathurin, Michael Craig, Donley, Robson (Devine 50), Mundle. Substitute (not used): Hackett.