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Narrow loss for Under-21s in final Papa John's Trophy outing

Stevenage 1-0 Spurs U21s (Papa John's Trophy)

Tue 18 October 2022, 21:09|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-21s' third and final outing in this season's Papa John's Trophy ended in a narrow defeat to League Two Stevenage on Tuesday evening.

With Wayne Burnett's side already eliminated from the competition and the hosts assured of top spot and a place in the next round, the only thing left to decide on the night was whether Stevenage would go through with a 100 per cent record, which they duly did thanks to Jordan Roberts' goal mid-way through the first half.

We put up a good fight but were found wanting in attack, Nile John's dismissal for a second bookable offence seven minutes from time only serving to make our task even more difficult. In the end, the 1-0 defeat made it a disappointing conclusion to a campaign that had begun so encouragingly with a draw against Wycombe Wanderers, only to then fizzle out as we crashed to defeat at Peterborough United last month. Nevertheless, the opportunity for our young players to test themselves against senior EFL opposition in competitive action will surely have aided their development going forward.

Both sides had chances in the opening exchanges, Roberts fizzing a volley just over from distance and Yago Santiago - again operating as a false nine - sprinting forward and testing Stevenage goalkeeper Aaron Chapman from the right angle. Luke Norris couldn't capitalise after a couple of opportunities fell to him in our box, but in the 23rd minute, his side took the lead when both Roberts and Jake Taylor attacked Max Clark's cross from the left side, Roberts just about getting there first to send the ball into the net from six yards out.

Romaine Mundle's shot from distance was easy for Chapman as we tried to muster a response while Arthur Read almost doubled the hosts' lead when he fired towards goal from a wide free-kick, but Josh Keeley made a good save, tipping his effort over at the far post.

John had arguably our two best opportunities to equalise in the moments after half-time, first gliding through the middle into the box before being shepherded off the ball by Stevenage skipper Terence Vancooten, then latching onto Malachi Fagan-Walcott's long clearance from the back with a great first touch, only to be denied by Chapman as he tried to roll the ball beyond him from just inside the area.

At the other end, Fagan-Walcott and substitute Brooklyn Lyons-Foster were determined in their defending, making a handful of blocks to prevent Stevenage from adding to their lead, Keeley also saving sharply down to his right after Dean Campbell's deflected shot from outside the box flew towards goal. Unfortunately, John was given his marching orders in the closing stages after being booked for a challenge on Taylor for a second time in the game, with Keeley again called into action to keep out Kane Smith's speculative effort five minutes from the end.

The result meant we finished fourth in Southern Group D, Wycombe edging above Peterborough into second after defeating them on penalties in Tuesday's other match.

Stevenage 1-0 Spurs U21s (Papa John's Trophy)

Stevenage: Chapman, Smith, Clark, Vancooten (c), Bostwick, Taylor, Campbell, Roberts (Gilbey 86), Read, Norris (Reid 79), Rose (Amoo 79). Substitutes (not used): Ashby-Hammond, James-Wildin, Reeves, Earley.

Spurs: Keeley, Robson, Muir, Dorrington, Fagan-Walcott, Craig (c) (Lankshear 60), Donley (Ajayi 80), Cesay, Santiago (Mathurin 89), John, Mundle (Lyons-Foster 60). Substitutes (not used): Maguire, White, Williams.

Match data

Goal: Stevenage - Roberts 23.

Yellow cards: Spurs - John 48, 83.

Red card: Spurs - John 83.

Referee: Samuel Barrott.

Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.

Weather: Light cloud, 11 degrees.

Attendance: 1,449.