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Under-18s held at Brighton

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Wed 05 April 2023, 15:50|Tottenham Hotspur

Brighton & Hove Albion scored at the end of each half to secure a share of the spoils as our Under-18s twice allowed a deserved lead to slip through their fingers at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre on Wednesday afternoon.

Having seen Jaden Williams’ second converted penalty in as many games cancelled out by Remeiro Moulton on the stroke of half-time, we responded well after the interval and regained the advantage through Oliver Irow’s angled volley, with Rio Kyerematen subsequently denied a third by a stunning save from Seagulls goalkeeper Tommy Reid.

But unfortunately we didn’t learn our lesson the first time around and were punished six minutes from time when Kain Ryan rose unmarked at a corner to head home for 2-2. Brighton could even have stolen maximum points at the end but Moulton curled their best effort just wide.

We dominated the first half on the south coast, Will Andiyapan’s near-post flick from Tyrese Hall’s corner well saved by Reid and Yusuf Akhamrich also testing the goalkeeper from the left angle before the excellent Williams fired us ahead from the spot on 17 minutes having been tripped just inside the box by Ryan.

Midfielder Hall twice went close from the right angle – his first shot saved by Reid at the near post and his second blocked behind after a dazzling solo run – while Williams’ overhead kick flew just off target, but the hosts snatched an equaliser in the last minute of the first half in their only real chance of that period, Moulton sliding home after goalkeeper Luca Gunter had repelled Sahil Bashir’s effort with his leg.

We regained the upper hand eight minutes into the second half when the determined Damola Ajayi’s cross from the left was flicked on by Williams to Irow, who converted with a volley from the right angle, but Brighton were fashioning more opportunities of their own as the game went on and striker Harry Howell was denied on two separate occasions, first by Archie Chaplin’s block and then by a smart stop from Gunter.

We should have put the contest to bed with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining when Hall’s close-range shot was deflected over the bar and after keeping the pressure on from the resulting corner, Kyerematen saw his fierce back-post shot somehow kept out by Reid. We were made to pay in the closing stages, needing a superb diving save from Gunter to prevent Charlie Tasker’s curler from sailing into the top corner before Ryan planted a simple downward header into the net unchallenged from Howell’s corner in the 84th minute to bring the hosts level once more. Both sides pushed for the win in the closing stages, but Moulton’s effort curled past the post for Brighton in the best chance either team was able to muster.

‘We didn’t kill the game off’

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis reflected: “To concede so late in the game from a set play is a disappointing feeling. It’s something that we’ve worked on in the past and will continue to work on, and it led to a disappointing ending to the game where we’re frustrated not to come away with three points.

“The first goal was really good play to win the penalty and then there were some really big opportunities to make the score 2-0 or 3-0 in the first half, but we didn’t take those and then just before half-time our concentration levels and what the game requires have to be better than what they were and we got punished for that.

“We started the second half really well, got to 2-1 and we had a huge chance to make it 3-1 with Rio in the six-yard box, but unfortunately we didn’t kill the game off in that moment and ultimately we paid the price for that. It’s a really good one to reflect on with the players, where we can go back and see how vital it is to be ruthless in the final third and to finish the game off when it’s there, and then also reinforce the important of defending your box on set plays, because that’s going to be pivotal for the remainder of the season where we’re in two cup finals, in addition to the remainder of the league programme where we want to finish as high as we can and keep that momentum that we’ve had since Christmas.

“It was a really good individual performance from Jaden Williams who has scored again – he’s got three goals in two games now, which is a huge positive for us – and it’s down to other individuals now along with the group as a collective to keep the standards high.”

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Gunter (c), Andiyapan (Morgan 85), Linton, Dorrington, Chaplin, Kyerematen, Irow, Hall (James 85), Williams (McKnight 65), Ajayi, Akhamrich (Willhoft-King 65). Substitute (not used): Rowswell.