Sub Davies nets late leveller for Under-23s at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Spurs 1-1 Leeds United (Premier League 2)
Mon 28 February 2022, 21:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Jez Davies stepped off the bench to score a late equaliser against Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday night to earn our Under-23s a 1-1 draw in the Premier League 2.
Despite making a bright start in wet conditions, creating numerous chances in a promising first period, we fell behind as, when Leeds were awarded a penalty on the hour mark, Sam Greenwood dispatched from the spot. Yet, while we may have been missing several of our regular campaigners at this level, we showed spirit and rallied back in the game to get our just rewards with three minutes left on the clock as Davies - a 79th-minute substitute - headed home emphatically.
With a number of players unavailable, Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was forced to shuffle his pack for the match. Changes saw full-back Marcel Lavinier take up the number eight role as trialist Kwaku Oduroh came in at right-back while central defender Charlie Sayers made his debut at this level, as did Dante Cassanova when he came off the bench in the latter stages.
Even with the upheaval in the squad though, there was little between the two sides with both pressing each other’s back lines fiercely in a rainy N17. We started the brighter of the two, especially with Yago Santiago proving a handful for the Leeds defence in the initial exchanges. Within the first six minutes, the Spaniard managed to create two decent opportunities for us, first a teasing cross from the right which Max Robson couldn’t quite connect with before he then teed up the lively J’Neil Bennett in the box, but the winger dragged his effort wide of the left upright.
In response, the visitors had two promising chances of their own as, in the space of two minutes, Max Dean twice managed to get in behind our lines. The striker was unable to punish us though as goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi produced fine saves to deny him on both occasions.
Back at the other end, while we were playing without a recognised striker, our midfielders and wide forwards continued to cause problems for the Whites with their late runs into the box. Lavinier delivered a tantalising cross for Santiago on 14 minutes, but the midfielder couldn’t get the desired contact before Bennett drew a smart stop out of Kristoffer Klaesson after bright work from Santiago.
We continued in the same vein as we came out for the second half and once again went close with another dangerous cross into the box – this time it was Bennett who was inches away from diverting Lavinier’s ball home. On the hour mark, however, we were hit by a sucker punch as the visitors were awarded a penalty. With the referee deeming Marqes Muir to have fouled Dean in the box, he pointed to the spot before Greenwood calmly converted a minute later to break the deadlock.
We reacted well to going behind though and were almost back on terms two minutes later with Robson once again coming close to converting a Santiago cross. A strike from distance by Lusala on 66 minutes then saw us test keeper Klaesson once more. As we moved into the final 20 minutes, bar Amari Miller skewing an effort into the side netting for the visitors, chances were at a premium for both sides. Yet, there would be an opportunity for us to get something out of the game – and boy did we take it.
Winning a free-kick on the left-hand side of the box, we once again showed our talent with deliveries as Romaine Mundle whipped a splendid cross into the centre of the area. And there to meet it eight yards out was substitute Davies, who outleapt his marker and powered the ball home with his head. In the final moments, we even had a chance to take all three points as Bennett burst down the right but, as the winger lashed into the side netting, we had to settle for a share of the spoils.
‘An opportunity to come in and make an impression’
Coach Wayne praised our players for their endeavours on a night on which our stretched squad’s resolve was really tested: “I thought it was a good collective performance and there were some really good displays from individuals,” he said. “When you’ve got players who haven’t played as regularly as others in the Under-23s like we had tonight, it gives those players an opportunity to come in and make an impression, and some of them have done that. They applied themselves very well, so I’m really pleased for them and I felt that we were worthy of at least a point.
“We haven’t played particularly poorly in the games that we’ve lost recently – we actually played okay against Everton away, although not as well against Crystal Palace where we didn’t play to our potential and our capabilities – but tonight was a much better performance collectively, so credit to the boys, we kept going, deserved the draw and possibly could have won it at the end.”
Spurs 1-1 Leeds United
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Oduroh (trialist), Lusala (Cassanova 86), Craig, Muir, Sayers, Mundle, Lavinier (c), Robson (J Davies 79), Santiago (Williams 74), Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Gunter, Hackett.
Leeds: Klaesson, Sutcliffe, McCarron, Bate (Jenkins 46), Chilokoa-Mullen (Moore 67), Kenneh, McKinstry, Allen (McGurk 62), Dean, Greenwood (c), Miller. Substitutes (not used): Van den Heuvel, Joseph.
Goals: Spurs – J Davies 87; Leeds – Greenwood 61 (pen).
Yellow cards: Spurs – Bennett 30, Lusala 70; Leeds – McKinstry 32, Jenkins 73.
Referee: Matthew Russell.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Mild with rain showers, 11 degrees.