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Under-18s blow Canaries away with stunning first-half display

Norwich City 0-4 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 01 April 2023, 14:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s continued their sublime form on Saturday as they scored four in a scintillating first-half display to dispatch Norwich City in the Under-18 Premier League.

Having booked their place in the Under-18 Premier League Cup Final a fortnight ago, our youngsters came into this clash with just one defeat in their last eight - and they immediately continued in that vein of form. Dominating the early stages at the Lotus Training Centre, we made our strong start count with Yusuf Akhamrich opening proceedings eight minutes in before Jaden Williams made it two from the penalty spot just four minutes later.

Williams doubled his tally on 27 minutes, tapping in the rebound after his second penalty of the match was saved, before Damola Ajayi put the result beyond doubt with an excellent first-time finish on the stroke of half-time to cap a superb first-half performance that ultimately earned us all three points on the road.

On a gloomy and drizzly morning in Norfolk, our youngsters started brightly with high tempo and excellent pressing of the Norwich backline, putting the hosts on the back-foot from the outset. Our first incisive attack brought the game’s first goal on eight minutes, the inspired Rio Kyerematen doing brilliantly to turn his marker in midfield, somehow keeping possession despite going to ground, before passing to Akhamrich, who sent a low, left-footed strike into the far-right corner from just inside the box.

The opening goal increased our intensity further and the Canaries defence found it difficult to contain some slick attacking link-up play, culminating in Williams being fouled inside the box on 12 minutes. The striker made no mistake from resulting the spot-kick, sending Beau Hudd the wrong way to double our lead.

As we ramped up the pressure midway through the first half, Akhamrich went close to adding to his tally and centre-back Kieran Morgan saw a close-range effort deflected agonisingly past the left upright before we added our third on 26 minutes.

Our well-organised high press forced a mistake as Norwich tried to play out of defence, Ajayi sliding to intercept the loose pass before Tyrese Hall played in Kyerematen who was brought down in the area for our second penalty. This time, Canaries stopper Hudd guessed correctly to deny Williams from 12 yards, but the striker showed good instinct to follow up and tap in the rebound.

As our hosts attempted to salvage something before the interval, they saw two good chances go begging as Jahziah Linton blocked well from Alfie Pinyoun and Alfie Dorrington cleared Charlie Wilson’s looping header off the line. With half-time approaching, Williams almost completed his hat-trick with a fierce shot going narrowly over before Ajayi had a goal ruled out after straying just offside but, two minutes before the break, Ajayi then had his moment. After being played in by Kyerematen in the right-hand side of the box, the attacking midfielder placed a sweet curling finish into the top left corner to further extend our lead.

The Canaries were chirpier in the second half, making two half-time changes to bring a different dynamic - restarting with more intensity in the press to try and disrupt our rhythm, something that was desperately lacking the first half.

With just over 20 minutes to play, their pressure started to show and Morgan was forced into a last-ditch sliding challenge to deny them a clear run at goal before goalkeeper Aaron Maguire was called into action with a superb diving save to keep out a Michael Reindorf effort. In the final stages, Norwich threatened from set pieces as both Gabriel Keita and Waylon Renecke headed narrowly wide, but they couldn’t find a way past our resilient defence with Stuart Lewis’ young side claiming an impressive away win.

'A pleasing day all round'

Under-18s Coach Stuart was delighted with his side's start and impressed by the overall performance.

"I thought we were outstanding in the first half," Stuart said. "We played with real purpose and some of our play was really dynamic. We were a real threat in the final third and it probably could have been more than four. I was impressed with our build-up play and how we controlled the game in possession. Credit to the boys because we deserved our lead at half-time.

"In the second half, we knew Norwich would come back into it with the conditions playing a part, but we again had chances in the final third. We could've been slightly better in possession but it was a good overall performance. I was impressed with the clean sheet because I spoke to the group at half-time about keeping our standards high to protect our goal. Overall, a really positive result to keep the momentum going which we've had since Christmas. It was a pleasing day all round."

Norwich City 0-4 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Maguire (c), McKnight (Andiyapan 85), Linton (King 63), Morgan, Dorrington, Willhoft-King, Kyerematen, Hall (James 81), Ajayi, Akhamrich (Irow 63), Williams. Substitutes (not used): Bloedorn.

Match data

Goals: Spurs - Akhamrich 7, Williams 12 (pen), 26, Ajayi 43.

Venue: Norwich City training centre

Weather: Overcast with light rain, 8 degrees.