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Under-18s earn Max reward after Brighton fightback

Spurs 2-1 Brighton (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 30 January 2021, 14:35|Tottenham Hotspur

Max Robson netted an 88th-minute winner as our Under-18s came back from a goal down to claim victory at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

Trailing to Cameron Peupion’s effort shortly after half-time, we pushed hard for a route back into the game and eventually found one with a little over a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, defender Maksim Paskotsi volleying in after the visitors struggled to clear their lines from Roshaun Mathurin’s corner.

Debutant goalkeeper Aaron Maguire made a handful of fine saves to keep us in contention, notably denying Ed Turns twice from close range either side of half-time and then reacting brilliantly to keep out substitute Zak Emmerson’s fierce shot-on-the-turn with five minutes remaining. That save proved crucial as within moments we again scored in the aftermath of a corner – this time taken short – with Robson eventually able to ram home from inside the box to complete a 2-1 win.

Both sides showed their attacking intent from the outset in constant rain at Hotspur Way, Jordan Hackett denying Andy Morgan with a sliding challenge just inside our box while Robson squeezed the ball through the centre of Brighton’s defence for Romaine Mundle to fire goalwards under pressure, but goalkeeper Fynn Talley was equal to it. Striker Jamie Donley subsequently saw his low drive deflect up off defender Turns and hit the crossbar while Robson’s tame shot was scrambled off the line after Mundle worked his way along the byline coming in from the left, but we had Maguire to thank for keeping us level going into the break as he impressively kept out Turns’ back-post effort from Morgan’s free-kick with 40 minutes played.

Mathurin’s persistence in the final third saw him test keeper Talley at the start of the second half but it was Brighton who grabbed the upper hand in the 57th minute, Evan Ferguson’s cut-back from the left cleared only as far as Peupion who fired home from 16 yards. Morgan shot wide through a small gap in our defence four minutes later but we pressed forward purposefully in search of the equaliser, which duly arrived on 73 minutes. Mathurin’s corner dropped in the Brighton box, nobody in blue attacked it with any real conviction and it was eventually dinked out to centre-back Paskotsi on the 18-yard line who scored with a dipping volley, his third goal of the season.

We had Maguire to thank for another important point-blank save from Turns with 10 minutes to go, this time following Matt Everitt’s corner, Mundle then arrowed a long-range shot inches wide for us before Maguire was there again with an excellent save from Emmerson’s fierce strike in the 85th minute. And our efforts were rewarded with the winner two minutes from time – substitute Yago Santiago won a corner on the left and took it quickly to Mundle, whose delivery found Tarrelle Whittaker at the near post. He couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet to get a shot away with bodies all around him, but it was eventually nudged out to Robson to bury it from 10 yards out.

We continued on the front foot into stoppage time but as we pushed forward, the closest Brighton came to any sign of an equaliser was when Maguire comfortably smothered Emmerson’s tame shot in the 91st minute.

‘A fantastic advert for Under-18s football’

After the game, Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor said: “Today saw two teams with clear identities going after each other with specific game plans. It was very competitive, I thought the grit and desire that we showed to get back into the game with a wonderful finish from Maksim and then to go on and have some moments of real brilliance in our box – by that I mean a desire to defend, to put our bodies in the way, for the goalkeeper to make saves – was really good today and then to top it all off, we went up the other end and scored the winner.

“I’d imagine that Brighton will feel slightly harshly done by, but I was exceptionally pleased with our boys today. The conditions were tough, we stayed in the game at really important moments and ultimately we got what was the most important thing in the game today – the winning goal. We showed our identity off the ball, we had an intent to get after the opposition, but if there was anything that I think we could improve on it would be our decision-making in the final third. We created good chances today and had big moments in the game and if we’d been more ruthless, maybe the scoreline would have been slightly different in our favour but all credit to Brighton, I thought they were a very good team, well organised, they had some good players but we showed a real resilience that we’re going to need between now and the end of the season. The overriding message from me is we were really pleased with the way that the boys equipped themselves in the conditions today and how we went about securing a very good three points. I thought it was a really good advert for Under-18s football.”

Spurs 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Maguire, Cesay, Hackett, Matthew Craig (Michael Craig 58), Muir (c), Paskotsi, Mathurin, Cassanova (Santiago 76), Donley (Whittaker 76), Robson, Mundle. Substitutes (not used): Lo-Tutala, Lusala.