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Under-18s undone by late free-kick at West Brom

West Brom 3-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 22 April 2023, 14:50|Tottenham Hotspur

Two fine finishes from Tyrese Hall and Oliver Irow saw our Under-18s twice come from a goal down to draw level at West Bromwich Albion - only for the hosts to snatch victory with a 94th-minute Jenson Sumnall free-kick.

Trailing 1-0 after a tough first half at the Baggies' training ground on Saturday lunchtime, we were much brighter after the break and drew level through midfielder Hall's well-struck free-kick, with in-form forward Irow coming up with an equally sweet strike from the edge of the box in the 84th minute after Cheik Kone had restored the home side's advantage.

But as we looked set to share the spoils, Albion won a free-kick deep into stoppage time and Sumnall, with the wind at his back, picked out the top corner to give his side a 3-2 victory.

We struggled to test Baggies goalkeeper Ronnie Hollingshead in the first half as Albion had the better of the contest, Eseosa Sule firing wastefully wide in a good early chance before Oliver Bostock latched onto Archie Kirton's pass in from the right and pinged the ball high past Carey Bloedorn to give his side a 14th-minute lead.

Bloedorn, impressive on his third league start of the season, subsequently pulled off fine saves to keep out Sumnall's powerful header from a corner and Cole Deeming's 25-yard free-kick but although Irow was getting into some useful areas in attack, we couldn't fashion any meaningful attempts and it was only Jaden Williams' speculative shot from distance in first-half added time which looped over Hollingshead and crashed against the crossbar that we had to shout about as half-time arrived.

The introduction of forward Damola Ajayi at the break gave us renewed attacking verve and we drew level on the hour mark when Hall bent a low free-kick into the far bottom corner. Ajayi set up Irow for an angled shot that was blocked inside a crowded West Brom box while Sule squandered another good chance for Albion when he fired over the bar, before Kone latched onto a low ball in from the right and rolled it into the bottom corner to restore the hosts' lead with just over a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.

Both goalkeepers made saves from Ajayi and Archie Oliver respectively before Irow fired us back level again in stunning style with six minutes left, collecting the ball from Max McKnight's half-cleared cross, working himself back into a shooting position at the edge of the box and curling beautifully inside the far post on his right foot.

But just as the game looked to be drifting towards a draw, in the fourth added minute, Sumnall curled a left-footed free-kick into the top corner to snatch all three points for the Baggies.

'We wanted more personality and courage on the ball'

After rotating players in several areas following Wednesday night's Under-17 Premier League Cup final success against Nottingham Forest, Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was left with plenty to ponder after the game.

He said: "It was a disappointing end to the match - we showed character to come back into it on two occasions but unfortunately we lost the game at the end. I thought Carey Bloedorn had a really pleasing performance in goal, Oli Irow continued his good form in front of goal and Damola Ajayi came on and showed real energy and some really good quality, so there are still some positives to take but we wanted a little bit more personality and courage on the ball at times - that was what was most lacking today - so we'll address that this week and put it right for the next game."

West Brom 3-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, McKnight, Linton, Morgan (Chaplin 71), Andiyapan, Willhoft-King, Irow, Kyerematen (c) (Olusesi 71), Williams (Ajayi 46), Hall, Akhamrich (Rowswell 82). Substitute (not used): Krasniqi.