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Under-18s begin campaign with win over 10-man Foxes

Leicester City 0-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 13 August 2022, 13:38|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s got their 2022/23 season off to a fine start with a well-deserved 1-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday.

Jaden Williams finished off an excellent passage of play to give us a 10th-minute lead and we never looked back, Leicester goalkeeper Tyler Weeks forced to make a handful of good saves as we perhaps should have added to the scoreline, while the hosts finished with 10 men following a straight red card shown to skipper Chris Popov for his challenge on Alfie Dorrington in the closing stages.

It was an impressive overall performance from Stuart Lewis’ side at the Foxes’ training ground and with the Under-18 Premier League season starting a week later than the senior and Under-21 competitions, there were encouraging early signs of what’s to come.

It didn’t take us long to claim the upper hand as Jahziah Linton’s good work down the left flank saw him link up with Rio Kyerematen, who showed some neat skill on the ball and teased it across the six-yard box with Williams flinging out a leg to steer it home. Tom Bloxham was denied three times by Weeks during the remainder of the first half but the keeper saved his best stop for a 38th-minute encounter with Kyerematen, as he somehow clawed the midfielder’s first-time, back-post effort behind from point-blank range.

Left-back Linton produced an excellent challenge to thwart Leicester’s Jayden Joseph who had found space in our box at the start of the second half but we remained on the front foot for the most part, Kyerematen going close with a couple of attempts and Williams left kicking himself after scooping a shot over from six yards out.

The Foxes almost found an equaliser on 77 minutes when substitute Mirsad Ali slid the ball dangerously across the face of goal from the right – it only needed a touch from anyone in blue, but thankfully centre-half Dorrington was on hand to turn it away from a yard out. Straight away at the other end, substitute Max McKnight coaxed a low save out of Weeks while Williams missed a couple of good chances, notably hammering wide of the near post from McKnight’s cut-back as we sought to extend our lead. Matters got worse for Leicester eight minutes from time when striker Popov received his marching orders for a foul on Dorrington but the closest we went to a second goal was when Billy Heaps’ left-footed effort from 18 yards was turned over the bar by Weeks.

‘A really good start’

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was pleased with the manner of the victory: “I felt it was a dominant display and a very good performance from the lads,” he said. “To win and keep a clean sheet away from home is a great feeling and a good reward for everyone’s hard work. Being honest, it probably should have been a bigger winning margin – we needed to be a bit more ruthless and decisive in the final third – but overall it was a really encouraging performance. For the group to start the season with this manner of performance and the resilience we showed, it’s encouraging and we want to continue that next week against West Brom. We’ve worked really hard on the defensive aspects of our play, our organisation and structure behind the ball, putting our bodies on the line, making blocks and winning duels – the real non-negotiables – and that also comes from the boys up front and the midfielders, who were excellent without the ball, showed discipline and had a real purpose and intensity to their play. It was a really good start for us.”

Leicester City 0-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Gunter (c), Abbott, Dorrington, Andiyapan, Linton, Hall, Ajayi (McKnight 65), Kyerematen (Moore 87), Williams, Olusesi (Heaps 84), Bloxham (Akhamrich 65). Substitute (not used): Bryan-Waugh.