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Under-21s claim first point in Papa John's Trophy, despite shootout loss

Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Spurs U21s (4-3 on penalties, Papa John's Trophy)

Tue 30 August 2022, 20:55|Tottenham Hotspur

Josh Keeley pulled off a string of excellent saves and was fingertips away from another at the end of the penalty shootout as our Under-21s battled out a goalless draw with Wycombe Wanderers, before the hosts snatched a bonus point on spot-kicks in a hard-fought encounter in the Papa John's Trophy on Tuesday evening.

We stood up well to the League One hosts on our first outing in this season's competition, soaking up their pressure and taking the game to them at every chance with some flowing football.

But we had Keeley to thank for an assured display between the sticks, the summer signing brilliantly denying Nick Freeman and Connor Parsons from tight angles in the first half before sharply keeping out Adam Leathers' low shot just minutes after the Wycombe man had come off the bench in the second period. Centre-backs Alfie Dorrington and Marqes Muir also played their part in the eventual clean sheet with some solid defending.

At the other end, Romaine Mundle and Kallum Cesay had forced saves from Max Stryjek in the run-up to half-time and although Ali Al-Hamadi blazed a good chance over for the hosts late on, we we were well worthy of the draw at the end of normal time as we put our first point on the board in Southern Group D. As per competition rules, we then went straight to penalties for an extra point and although Keeley saved Wycombe's third spot-kick from Jason McCarthy, it was Jack Young who struck the decisive blow, squeezing his shot agonisingly beyond the goalkeeper's dive to see his side triumph 4-3.

Draw specialists in the league so far this season, we took a while to get into the game during what was a relatively quiet first period in front of goal for both sides. Wycombe, who made nine changes from their draw with Charlton Atheltic at the weekend, took until the 17th minute to go close, Keeley forced to tip Joe Jacobson's in-swinging corner over the bar with the same player glancing a header wide from the next cross. Keeley made a stunning reaction save from Freeman's back-post effort a few moments later before palming Parsons' rising drive upwards from the opposite side just beyond the half-hour mark.

We pushed forward from there and had arguably our best chance of the game on 35 minutes when Jamie Donley sent Mundle racing away down the left, he cut in-field and saw his right-footed shot saved by Stryjek away to his left. Cesay's back-post effort following a quickly-taken free-kick also needed a sharp save from the Wycombe keeper but although there was more attacking thrust about our play in the second half, especially down the flanks with Roshaun Mathurin a willing runner on the right, we couldn't really fashion much in the way of clear chances and Keeley had to save well from Leathers and Daryl Horgan during a spell of pressure from the hosts around the hour mark, while Al-Hamadi could have won it two minutes from time when he ran through on goal but blazed over from the edge of the box.

The full-time whistle confirmed a deserved share of the spoils for us and although the ensuing shootout started well, Keeley saving McCarthy's effort after Cesay had hit the bar to make it 2-2 after three kicks each, Yago Santiago was denied by Stryjek with the next attempt and the hosts successfully saw out the rest of the contest to seal an extra point.

Penalty shootout

Spurs - Donley - scored
Wycombe - Al-Hamadi - scored
Spurs - John - scored
Wycombe - Horgan - scored
Spurs - Cesay - missed
Wycombe - McCarthy - saved
Spurs - Santiago - saved
Wycombe - Wakely - scored
Spurs - Mathurin - scored
Wycombe - Young - scored

'In spells we showed some quality'

Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett said: "Overall, a draw was probably a fair result. It's a very difficult place to come, Wycombe are a team that puts pressure on you constantly but we dealt with that, especially in the second half, we grew into the game, we probably didn't threaten their goal as much as we'd have liked but coming away to Wycombe and getting a clean sheet is not an easy thing to do. We've done that though, we've competed well, our work ethic has been very good and so there are definitely some positives to take. Some of the football we played was good, in spells we showed some quality and although we're disappointed to lose on penalties at the end, it takes courage to put your hand up and take a penalty and that's what five of the players have done. It becomes a lottery in that situation - we lost 4-3 on penalties but we could've quite easily won - but I'm pleased with the work ethic and endeavour, the way in which we dealt with the pressure they applied to us and the way at times we defended our box."

Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Spurs U21s (4-3 on penalties, Papa John's Trophy)

Wycombe Wanderers: Stryjek, McCarthy, Wakely, Kaninda, Jacobson (c) (Leathers 56), Freeman (Hagan 69), Young, Pattenden, Horgan, Parson, Al-Hamadi. Substitutes (not used): Dickinson, Forino, Woodhouse, Matshazi, Makoli.

Spurs: Keeley, Craig, Dorrington, Muir, Ashcroft, Cesay, White (Mathurin 64), John (c), Mundle (Robson 78), Santiago, Donley. Substitutes (not used): Maguire, Hayton, Williams, Linton, Abbott.

Match data

Yellow card: Wycombe - Young 41.

Referee: Chris Pollard.

Venue: Adams Park, Wycombe.

Weather: Partly cloudy, moderate breeze, 20 degrees.

Attendance: 1,015.