Disappointment in West Yorkshire for Under-18s
Leeds 3-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League Cup)
Sat 18 September 2021, 16:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-18s endured a frustrating afternoon in their Premier League Cup group stage opener as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Leeds United on Saturday.
The hosts were ahead by the break following a Max Dean penalty on 36 minutes before Charlie Allen doubled their lead just two minutes into the second half and James Debayo made it three on 64 minutes. A Jamie Donley strike got us back into the game with 10 minutes remaining but, despite mounting a late resurgence, we were left empty handed come full-time.
The home side took charge of the tie at their Thorp Arch training centre from the get-go, and they could have been ahead within the first minute had Dean been able to keep his strike from the edge of the box on target. On 16 minutes, they then had an even better opportunity to open the scoring but, with goalkeeper Adam Hayton left stranded on the edge of the box, Will Andiyapan made a brilliant challenge on the line before a last-ditch block from the rebound to deny the hosts a certain opener.
It was a tough opening 20 minutes for us, but as we reached the midway stage of the opening period, we began to find our feet in West Yorkshire. Rio Kyerematen was the man providing the spark for us as he was enjoying space in the centre of the park and being allowed to transition up the field, however we were unable to find space or options when we reached the final third.
Failing to make our mark on the game, Leeds reasserted their control and, after wasting chances through Keenan Carole and Allen, they soon found themselves ahead, albeit in controversial circumstances. On 36 minutes, Hayton had made a fine save to deny Dean from close range but, as the ball rebounded to the Leeds forward, Andiyapan reacted quickest to challenge the oncoming Dean. It looked like the defender had taken the ball, however the referee deemed otherwise and pointed to the spot. Dean stepped up and converted the penalty, despite Hayton managing to get fingertips to it.
On the stroke of half-time, they almost made it two as Harvey Sutcliffe rattled the bar from range, although it didn’t take them long after the restart to find their second as just two minutes after the resumption, Allen fiercely fired home.
The hosts were unrelenting in their play and continued to pose a threat with their neat inter-play. Hayton made another impressive save on 56 minutes to deny Carole from close range, but the goalkeeper was frustrated eight minutes later as Leeds grabbed their third. Beaten in a 50/50 on the edge of the box by Debayo, Hayton was left reliant on his backline to come to his rescue as the substitute burst passed him. However, the forward kept his composure to round Jahziah Linton before slotting home into an empty net.
Looking for a way back into the clash, the introductions of Jayden Williams and Riley Owen had provided us with a different sort of outlet on the offensive. As we reached the final 15 minutes, Owen started to show his creativity and in the space of three minutes set up chances for both Donley and Dante Cassanova, however neither could keep their efforts on target. It was Williams that provided the creativity for our goal on 80 minutes.
Producing the line-breaking pass that fed Khalon Haysman in the box, the midfielder then held the ball up and awaited the arrival of Donley, who took his strike first time and found the target. The goal seemed to fire us into life as we headed into the final 10 minutes but, despite two promising chances falling to Williams, the best the forward could do was to find the outside of the post leaving us empty handed as we departed.
‘The game exposed us to a lot of different situations’
While Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was naturally disappointed with the result, he was pleased with the character the team displayed when the going got tough.
“I thought it was a really tough game,” he said. “It was a good game for the group as it exposed us to a lot of different situations, whether that be defending one-v-ones or fighting for every ball.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but the lads kept going and when we got it to 3-1, there were a couple of opportunities where we probably should have done better, been more clinical to get the second, and then it becomes a real game. The commitment and effort they showed though, when the game opened up in that last 25-30 minutes, was pleasing. We created a lot of opportunities in that period, but we have to be more ruthless in that area and make more of our attacking opportunities.”
Leeds 3-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League Cup)
Spurs: Hayton, McKnight, Linton, Cassanova (c), Dorrington, Andiyapan, Heaps (Williams 60), Haysman, Donley, Kyerematen (Abbott 71), Bloxham (Owen 60). Substitutes (not used): Krasniqi.