Crucial win for Under-21s over Chelsea
Spurs 3-2 Chelsea (Premier League 2)
Mon 24 April 2023, 21:04|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-21s put on a determined performance to beat Chelsea and secure three vital points in the Premier League 2 on Monday night.
Full of energy from the off at the Lamex Stadium, only six minutes were on the clock when Lucas Moura's deflected shot following a short free-kick put us in front, with Romaine Mundle swiftly making it two and Yago Santiago extending our lead even further in the opening moments of the second half as we dominated the game for large spells.
Chelsea were still a threat though and after a couple of wayward shots, they pulled two goals back in quick succession in the last 12 minutes to make for a grandstand finish. Crucially, though, we maintained our composure to see out a 3-2 victory and ensure maximum points from what was a must-win game against our London rivals.
Lucas continued his record of scoring in each of his three appearances for our Under-21s this season when Mundle's short free-kick teed him up to fire into the net via a deflection and give us the ideal start, although the Blues nearly responded shortly afterwards when Mason Burstow's angled shot crept wide at the other end.
We made it 2-0 on the quarter-of-an-hour mark when Mundle picked Lewis Hall's pocket in Chelsea's left-back area and blasted past Gabriel Slonina at his near post, with the superb Alfie Dorrington - commanding at the back despite being on a yellow card for much of the game - going close to a third from Jamie Donley's corner, denied by Slonina, with centre-half partner Brooklyn Lyons-Foster just unable to make the most of the rebound.
Charlie Webster fired a good chance over the bar from a central position for Chelsea as half-time approached, with Lucas testing Slonina with a fierce strike just a few seconds later. Mundle rolled the rebound into the net, but was flagged off-side.
Leo Castledine flashed a shot wide for Chelsea at the start of the second half, but - determined not to let our two-goal lead slip away, as was the case at Blackburn Rovers last time out - we continued on the front foot and deservedly bagged a third when Mundle sent Alfie Devine racing in behind the defence, he rounded the committed Slonina and squared for Santiago to fire into the unguarded net with 53 minutes on the watch.
Mundle sped through on goal moments later but his shot was diverted into the side netting by Slonina, while Santiago had a golden chance to make it 4-0 in the 72nd minute, but his shot was somehow blocked by substitute Zak Sturge on the line.
Sturge was one of the players introduced as part of a triple substitution by the vistors shortly before that and it was another of their replacements, Dylan Williams, who gave his side hope when his 20-yard shot took a deflection and flew high past Josh Keeley into the net with 12 minutes left. And six minutes after that, it was 3-2 as Webster's corner was nodded down over the line by Burstow. Thankfully, though, we managed to halt any momentum the Blues were building and in truth we had the best chance to score again in the closing stages when Santiago broke through on goal deep into stoppage time, but his tame shot was easy for Slonina. As such, we saw out the win to give our survival hopes at this level a real boost ahead of Friday night's trip to Manchester United.
Reaction on SPURSPLAY
'A very, very important result for us'
Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett was delighted with the efforts of his players and again was thankful to Lucas for his input, the Brazilian forward having served the last of his three-match first team ban on Sunday.
"I can't speak highly enough of Lucas," he told SPURSPLAY after the game. "He's a model professional, his application and his behaviours are contagious - it rubs off on the players, they can see him and how he behaves and you can only admire that and see what it takes to be a top player. It's not just about him as a player - the way he conducts himself is absolutely brilliant.
"In terms of the game, I'm really pleased to win. Some of our football was good, in complete contrast to the previous game. I asked the players to bring the energy that we usually do and they've done that. We were 3-0 up and probably deservedly so, we had one cleared off the line which would have made it 4-0, then they've got a couple of goals back which was disappointing from our point of view. We didn't press well enough out of possession at times and didn't get high enough up the pitch which was disappointing. We were in a similar position last week where we were 2-0 up, didn't defend well enough, didn't defend the spaces well enough, but we managed to get through it tonight so that's really, really pleasing. It's a very, very important result for us. We were concentrating in the last 10 minutes, it was disappointing to concede the second goal - the first one took a deflection - but we managed the game well enough to see it out and I think we deserved the win in the end."
Highlights on SPURSPLAY
Spurs 3-2 Chelsea (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Keeley, Robson, Abbott (Sayers 82), Dorrington, Lyons-Foster (Bowden 82), Craig (c), Mundle, Donley, Santiago, Devine (John 56), Lucas (Williams 67). Substitute (not used): Maguire.
Chelsea: Slonina, Rankine, Hughes, Gilchrist (c), Hall (Mothersille 69), Webster, Hutchinson (Sturge 69), Elliott, Burstow, Castledine (Tauriainen 74), Vale (Williams 69). Substitute (not used): Merrick.
Goals: Spurs - Lucas 6, Mundle 15, Santiago 53; Chelsea - Williams 78, Burstow 84.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Dorrington 19; Chelsea - Hutchinson 61.
Referee: Lloyd Wood.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Light rain, gentle breeze, six degrees.