Under-18s suffer Leicester loss
Leicester City 3-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Fri 14 May 2021, 15:04|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-18 Premier League campaign came to a disappointing end with a 3-1 defeat at Leicester City on Friday afternoon.
After we’d controlled the opening half-hour and gone close through Dane Scarlett and Kallum Cesay, the Foxes hit us with a quick double just before the break at their new training ground, Brandon Cover capitalising on some sloppy play at the back to fire home before Will Russ headed in from a corner.
We threatened a late comeback when Cesay rammed home nine minutes from time while Roshaun Mathurin had earlier contrived to hit the bar with the goal gaping, but the hosts wrapped it up with a fine strike from Terell Pennant in the closing stages.
Scarlett’s angled shot was blocked by Leicester goalkeeper Oliver Bosworth while Jeremy Kyezu – playing at centre-back but up for a corner – struck a fine volley towards goal, only for it to hit team-mate Michael Craig on the six-yard line as we probed for an early lead. We might well have found one mid-way through the first half when captain Romaine Mundle’s excellent through ball from deep was left to run by Scarlett, allowing Cesay to go through on goal, but he was denied by Bosworth as he tried to stroke it beyond the onrushing stopper.
Bosworth was there again to keep out Scarlett’s diving header in the box following Mathurin’s free-kick just beyond the half-hour mark, but Leicester started to get a foothold in the game in the 15 minutes leading up to half-time and after skipper Oli Ewing was denied one-on-one by the advancing Adam Hayton, they took the lead on 41 minutes when Cover wriggled away from our defence and sent a low shot bobbling into the far corner, almost in slow motion.
On the stroke of half-time, things got worse for us as Russ scored with a routine downward header from Ewing’s corner but we struggled to produce a reaction after the restart and Russ could have had another, but for a near-post block from Hayton.
Scarlett had a couple of penalty shouts waved away while a big chance to pull a goal back went begging on 73 minutes when lively substitute Jez Davies picked out Scarlett in the box, his shot was parried by Leicester’s substitute keeper Kelechi Chibueze and Mathurin could only hit the bar on the rebound with the goal at his mercy.
Suddenly though, with nine minutes to go, it was game on as Jordan Hackett’s cross into the box hit a defender and the ball fell kindly for Cesay to fire high into the net. With the fresh legs of Davies and fellow substitute Khalon Haysman in central midfield, a comeback looked on, but sadly the ball wouldn’t go in for Mathurin when another chance fell to him in the box and the game was ultimately settled at the other end when Pennant turned onto his right foot at the left corner of the box and fired an unstoppable shot into the far top corner in the 84th minute.
‘We didn’t take enough of our chances’
Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor said: “I thought we started the game really well but the boys need to learn the importance of valuing the opportunities that we create. I just felt today that, again, in the big moments in the game, we weren’t composed or clinical enough. In every game there will always be a time where the opposition have a spell of pressure but by that point in this game, we should have been a couple of goals up and we weren’t, and then what happened was we made a couple of errors in terms of shape from our build and we got punished for it. At half-time I thought we would come out in the second half and be more on the front foot but Leicester grew in confidence and ultimately still in the second half, even though we scored, we didn’t take enough of our chances, so it’s a disappointing way to end the season for the players.”
We’re currently sixth with 37 points from our 24 league games this term, but could slip to seventh if Chelsea pick up a point or more in their final day meeting with Fulham on Saturday. Reflecting on the campaign as a whole, Matt added: “It’s been a difficult year this year because of the pandemic and not knowing how the season would look or pan out. I think the players deserve great credit for the way that they’ve approached this, which has been done in a very adult manner, but the season has petered out a little bit for us this year. After getting knocked out of the FA Youth Cup, the players seemed to lose a little bit of confidence and have maybe not taken as many risks as I would like and really valued the key fundamentals that we talk about on a regular basis here at Tottenham Hotspur. But in terms of the season, I think it’s been a positive one. If you look at the players we’ve had from the Academy this season making debuts and being involved with the first team, that’s been excellent, so from a personal viewpoint it’s been another extremely enjoyable season working with a good group of players.”
Leicester City 3-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Spurs: Hayton, Torraj (Cassanova 57), Hackett, Michael Craig, Muir, Kyezu (J Davies 67), Mathurin, Cesay, Scarlett, Mundle (c), Santiago (Haysman 79). Substitutes (not used): Solberg, Turner.