Under-23s' unbeaten run ended by Derby
Derby County 1-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Mon 15 March 2021, 21:05|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s' seven-game unbeaten run came to an end on Monday night as we fell to a 1-0 defeat at Derby County in the Premier League 2.
Despite encouraging beginnings, we were down to 10 men with just 20 minutes played when centre-back Marqes Muir was shown a red card as he was deemed to have denied a goalscoring opportunity.
Then, from the resulting free-kick, we were hit with a sucker punch as, although goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi did well to save the initial strike from Jordan Brown, he could do nothing about the rebound with Cameron Cresswell lashing in from close range.
We battled on though, and had chances to equalise either side of half-time through Nile John and Alfie Devine, but ultimately our efforts were not rewarded and we were left empty handed.
We had started brightly at the Loughborough University Stadium. Beginning with a high press, our early tenacity nearly paid off on the 10-minute mark as Kion Etete came agonisingly close to deflecting Derby goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy’s clearance into the net. Five minutes later, the striker was inches away from converting Devine’s cross.
The game turned though on 20 minutes as Muir, up from the Under-18s for his first start at Under-23 level, was dismissed after he was adjudged to have been the last man when he collided with Rams striker Joshua Shonibare. It was from the subsequent set-piece that the home side took the lead as Cresswell reacted quickest to the rebound from Jordan Brown’s saved free-kick to fire in from close range.
Considering our strong start, conceding was a bitter pill to swallow but we responded well to it and, despite our man disadvantage, we came close to equalising on 25 minutes. John had the chance, which he engineered on his own after pouncing on possession, but the midfielder could only curl his shot wide of the far left upright.
Since falling behind, we had forced the hosts back but, as we pressed for an equaliser, we were susceptible to the counter-attack. On 34 minutes, Derby came close to exploiting us in that manner as Jayden Mitchell-Lawson was released through the middle, yet Oluwayemi was a match for the winger not once but twice, as the keeper pulled off two great saves to keep us in the game.
In the opening five minutes of the second period, a flurry of chances fell the hosts' way but once more they were unable to capitalise on them as Oluwayemi again produced two more impressive saves to keep the score at 1-0. Just after the hour mark, the keeper then delivered a defence-splitting ball which nearly fashioned us an equaliser. Releasing Devine with a long, searching pass up-field, the midfielder did well to carry the ball 30 yards forward but, once into the box, he was unable to beat Sykes-Kenworthy, who dashed off his line to smoother the strike.
Derby could have made sure of the points on 80 minutes but they wasted two gilt-edged chances to double their advantage. Archie Brown first drew another save out of Oluwayemi before Eiran Cashin blasted the rebound over the bar from just six yards out.
Buoyed by our resolve, we piled men forward in the closing minutes as we continued to battle for an equaliser to the last but, ultimately, we were unable to find a way through as we fell to our first defeat since December.
‘I can’t fault their work ethic’
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett admitted it was frustrating to see his side’s unbeaten streak halted but, given the circumstances of the match, he was encouraged by the performances and character shown by our youngsters.
“It’s disappointing that our seven-game unbeaten run has come to an end,” Wayne said. “The sending off has probably slightly changed the game but even saying that, we still had some good chances in the second half. It's disappointing as well for young Marqes (Muir), who was making his first start for the Under-23s, but he’ll learn from that.
“When you think that we were down to 10 men for such a long period of time, there were some really good performances. The players have shown throughout the season that they are a good group with a high work ethic. They have shown character and good application – that’s never been a concern. We probably, at times, just fell short tonight when we had opportunities. I can’t fault their work ethic.”
Derby County 1-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Derby County: Sykes-Kenworthy, Ebosele, Archie Brown, Thompson, Jordan Brown (c), Cashin, Mitchell-Lawson, Dixon, Cresswell, Shonibare (Williams 65), Wilson (Bateman 90+1). Substitutes (not used): Foster, Aghatise, Cybulski.
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Marsh, Cirkin, Bowden (c) (Lavinier 72), Muir, Omole, Bennett (Michael Craig 46), John, Etete (Thorpe 51), Devine, Markanday. Substitutes (not used): Lo Tutala, Pedder.
Goal: Derby – Cresswell 21.
Yellow cards: Derby – Archie Brown 70, Thompson 90+3; Spurs – John 31, Bennett 39, Cirkin 90+4.
Red card: Spurs - Muir 20.
Referee: Elliott Swallow.
Venue: Loughborough University Stadium.
Weather: Cloudy but dry, 11 degrees.