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Under-18s unlucky in Blues battle

Spurs 1-2 Chelsea (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 19 November 2022, 14:08|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s were undone by two individual moments of quality as Chelsea escaped Hotspur Way with a 2-1 victory on Saturday lunchtime.

With Michael Golding having curled the visitors into the lead with a good strike from just outside the box, we created numerous chances and deservedly drew level on the stroke of half-time through Jamie Donley – only for the Blues to regain the upper hand in the second period when Josh Acheampong arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.

Despite controlling the game for large spells, that’s ultimately how it stayed, Donley’s late header from substitute Yusuf Akhamrich’s cross which flew straight at goalkeeper Teddy Curd proving to be our last chance to equalise.

The defeat was harsh on Stuart Lewis’ side, who took the game to the visitors at every opportunity. There was also a welcome return for Rio Kyerematen, who excelled in central midfield after three months out injured, while Mikey Moore – one of two Under-16s players in the starting line-up – joined full-back Max McKnight in causing Chelsea a host of problems down our left-hand side.

Indeed, Moore found Donley in the box with a fantastic blind pass, the latter’s angled shot saved by Curd, before testing the keeper twice himself, while Blues centre-forward Louis Flower went close with a couple of headers before Golding turned onto his right foot and curled into the top corner from 20 yards out to give his side a 29th-minute lead.

Just before the goal, Jaden Williams could have done better with a flicked header from McKnight’s cross, and we continued to apply pressure in spite of the setback, both Will Lankshear and McKnight denied by goal-line blocks from Harrison Murray-Campbell in quick succession on 34 minutes, with Curd making a double save to deny Moore and McKnight three minutes later. Luca Gunter had to improvise with a diving save at the other end after Flower’s header looked set to creep inside the post, but you sensed a goal for us was coming and it duly arrived on the 45-minute mark when Moore slid the ball low across the box from the left for Donley to steer home.

Chelsea had a spell in the ascendancy during the second half, Frankie Runham and Tudor Mendel-Idowu going close, before a thunderbolt from defender Acheampong – a left-footed strike that darted into the top corner from distance – saw them restore their lead on 69 minutes, Mendel-Idowu subsequently denied by a good save from Gunter as the visitors tried to pull clear.

We refused to give in, though, Kyerematen sending Lankshear through in the right channel, the latter’s shot well saved by Curd at his near post as it flew towards the top corner, while Akhamrich put the burners on down the right wing in the last minute of normal time, only for Donley’s header in the middle to be routinely stopped by the keeper. Despite an extended period of stoppage time due to a couple of late Chelsea injuries, we couldn’t find a way back and the spoils agonisingly slipped away.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

‘We could’ve been more decisive’

Under-18s Coach Stuart told SPURSPLAY after the game: “The result is obviously disappointing but the all-round performance was really quite pleasing. Maybe in the final third we could’ve been a little bit more decisive and shown a bit more end product to our good play, but on the whole it was a good performance, unfortunately with a disappointing result. With the first goal, there’s nothing Luca (Gunter) can do, it’s top corner, and then the second goal was an unbelievable strike from about 25 yards, but we’ve just spoken to the boys about how we can try to get out and block the ball better. When an opponent hits it that well, you’re not always expecting that, but you have to try to get out and make more blocks. Apart from that, though, the work that we’re doing on the training pitch was showing today, so that was a pleasing aspect for myself and the staff.”

Highlights on SPURSPLAY

Spurs 1-2 Chelsea (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Gunter (c), Abbott, McKnight, Chaplin, Dorrington, Kyerematen (Akhamrich 88), Williams (Ajayi 65), Olusesi (Willhoft-King 65), Lankshear, Donley, Moore. Substitutes (not used): Krasniqi, Andiyapan.