Under-21s pegged back in high-scoring Liverpool clash
Spurs 3-3 Liverpool (Premier League 2)
Fri 26 August 2022, 21:00|Tottenham Hotspur
It was the proverbial game of two halves as our Under-21s roared into a three-goal lead against Liverpool, only to end up with a share of the spoils on a dramatic night at Stevenage on Friday.
Ahead inside five minutes through Romaine Mundle, we survived a couple of Liverpool chances before a quickfire double from the excellent Yago Santiago gave us a commanding advantage at the interval.
But everything changed after the break as the visitors stormed back to level the scores at 3-3, Luke Chambers, Max Woltman and substitute Harvey Blair on target.
To our credit, we managed to halt the Reds' wave of momentum and in truth, probably should have won it in the last few minutes with Roshaun Mathurin, Jaden Williams and captain Nile John all going close. But we ultimately had to settle for the draw - our third in four Premier League 2 games - leading to a feeling of frustration at full-time.
Harvey White was given a 45-minute run-out in the heart of our midfield and was influential with and without the ball during the first period while Santiago's pace, initially through the centre as our number nine and latterly out wide, caused the visitors all manner of problems - indeed, he almost fired us ahead inside 17 seconds in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it chance at the start of the game, but he slid his effort just wide of the far post.
It didn't take us long to edge ahead, though, as Jamie Donley stole the ball from Jarell Quansah and sent across an early square ball from the left for Mundle to run onto and side-foot home. Both goalkeepers found themselves playing at the edge of their areas in the opening exchanges and while Aaron Maguire was largely composed, he did have one let-off when his misjudged header on the 18-yard line fell to Melkamu Frauendorf, but he lifted his shot over the empty net. The same player then squandered another chance when he hammered a near-post shot wide, with Dominic Corness subsequently rattling the crossbar with a sweetly-struck effort from distance.
Referee Greg Rollason had to be replaced by one of his assistants, Ashley Clarke, after pulling up with an injury just prior to the half-hour mark and the consequent break in play allowed us a moment to reset. Mundle fizzed a shot just over before we doubled our lead in the 42nd minute - White's awareness saw him take a sharp set-piece out to Matthew Craig on the right and he played an excellent through ball from deep for Santiago to run onto and finish from a tight angle on that side. And two minutes later we had a third as Mathurin swept the ball forward from deep on the left, defender Lee Jonas couldn't clear his lines and Santiago sped through the centre before rounding goalkeeper Harvey Davies and rolling the ball home.
Momentum shifted following White's exit and an injury to defender Charlie Sayers - Liverpool grabbed a goal back on 52 minutes when Chambers scored at the second time of asking after his initial attempt from the left angle inside the box was repelled by Maguire and after Corness hit the far post from a similar position, Woltman took advantage of some loose defending to send a shot spinning into the bottom corner, making it 3-2 with 21 minutes still to play.
Woltman was denied by Maguire at his near post but Liverpool kept pressing and on 77 minutes they found their equaliser, Blair bursting in from the right side following James Norris' pass and lashing home. Layton Stewart had the ball in the net again shortly afterwards but the off-side flag was up early - that ended up being the last of Liverpool's major openings as we turned the tide back the other way and a handful of good chances to retake the lead slipped away towards the end, Mathurin's 86th-minute free-kick curling just beyond the far post, Williams unable to turn his near-post effort on target after a blistering run and cross from Santiago 60 seconds later and John firing wide after a corner was flicked on into his path in the last minute of normal time. Blair did manage one more attack for Liverpool, but dragged his shot harmlessly wide and that was that.
Highlights on SPURSPLAY
'The momentum changed very quickly'
Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett told SPURSPLAY after the game: "In the first half we looked really bright, pressed aggressively and scored three very good goals. We spoke at half-time and said that Liverpool would be very aggressive so we knew what was coming and we're really, really disappointed to have been three goals to the good and to draw 3-3. The momentum changed very quickly, we spoke about not allowing them to get into a rhythm and we have to understand and manage the game better, to recognise that the pressure is coming, be better both with and without the ball and we weren't tonight, so that was disappointing. Saying that, we went right to the end and almost nicked it in the end. It was a disappointing result but there were some good performances from certain players so we have to take some positives from that and look forward now."
Spurs 3-3 Liverpool (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Maguire, Craig, Ashcroft, Sayers (Cesay 52), Muir, White (Robson 46), Mundle (Williams 68), John (c), Santiago, Donley, Mathurin. Substitutes (not used): Hayton, Abbott.
Liverpool: Davies, Stephenson, Chambers, Quansah, Jonas, Corness, Frauendorf (Blair 62), Norris, Stewart (O'Rourke 88), Cain (c), Woltman (Cannonier 88). Substitutes (not used): Kelly, Olufunwa.
Goals: Spurs - Mundle 5, Santiago 42, 44; Liverpool - Chambers 52, Woltman 69, Blair 77.
Referee: Greg Rollason (Ashley Clarke 30).
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Mild, partly cloudy, 21 degrees.