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#U18 #MatchReport #Southampton

Irow at the double as Under-18s see off Saints

Spurs 4-2 Southampton (Under-18 Premier League)

Wed 12 April 2023, 16:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s continued to build momentum ahead of a double-header of League Cup finals with a 4-2 win over Southampton at a wind-swept Hotspur Way on Wednesday afternoon.

Oliver Irow built on his goal in last week’s draw at Brighton with a brace, with goals from Jaden Williams and Han Willhoft-King – his first of the season – sandwiched in between as we roared into a 4-0 lead with only an hour gone.

Driving rain and gale-force winds made the conditions extremely difficult in the second half and the visitors managed to pull two goals back in the last quarter-of-an-hour, our caused not helped by having to play out the closing moments with 10 men after Kieran Morgan limped off with all of our allotted outfield substitutes already deployed.

Nevertheless, we showed the resolve needed to see out the win as we moved ever closer to the Under-17 and Under-18 League Cup finals, the first of which comes up next week at Nottingham Forest.

We controlled the first half and had the majority of the opportunities, restricting the Saints to only a couple of half-chances for Tyler Dibling. Damola Ajayi found Irow in space on the left inside two minutes but he dragged his shot wide of the far post, however, after further chances for Max McKnight, Willhoft-King, Williams and Tyrese Hall, the same combination paid dividends as Ajayi again picked out Irow and he finished calmly across goalkeeper Josh Jeffries on the half-hour mark.

After a couple more near-misses, we added a second goal in first-half stoppage time as Morgan’s deep free-kick was nodded home by Williams at the back post and more was to follow after the restart as Max McKnight was denied by Jeffries before setting up Willhoft-King to run on and plant home inside the near post on 50 minutes.

The rain was coming down hard at that stage with a swirling wind causing additional problems, but we continued on the front foot and 10 minutes later, after Yusuf Akhamrich was denied by Jeffries at point-blank range, Ajayi again set up Irow to smash home on his left foot from inside the box, Jeffries getting a touch but unable to keep it out.

Southampton forced Luca Gunter into a number of good saves at the other end as they tried to rally in the awful weather conditions, while Akhramich swept a first-time shot across goal and wide as we looked to extend our lead. The Saints did manage to pull one back on 74 minutes when Nick Okeyunkle slipped a shot past Gunter at his near post following a ball down the right flank and three minutes later, we were reduced to 10 men as holding midfielder Morgan limped off with no more substitutes available to replace him.

Southampton found another goal four minutes from time when a corner went in off defender James Rowswell with Okeyunkle putting the pressure on but while both sides subsequently went close, we’d done more than enough to secure the three points.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

‘An outstanding performance’

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis praised his players for the way they dealt with the elements to produce a top display, telling SPURSPLAY: “I thought it was an outstanding performance. Obviously the weather conditions were unbelievable at times with the wind and the rain but the character that the boys showed throughout the game, the intensity we played at with and without the ball, I felt we were worthy winners and it was a really pleasing performance. I think it was a really good learning moment for the players in terms of dealing with the weather conditions, I really liked how they stuck together and pushed through those difficult moments and I thought the two goals in the second half in particular, against the elements, were outstanding team goals, so that was really pleasing for us.”

Highlights on SPURSPLAY

Spurs 4-2 Southampton (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Gunter (c), McKnight, Andiyapan, Dorrington (Linton 46), Chaplin, Morgan, Ajayi (Rowswell 60), Willhoft-King, Williams (King 46), Hall (Akhamrich 46), Irow. Substitute (not used): Krasniqi.