Under-18s held at Chelsea after late leveller
Chelsea 2-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Sat 28 January 2023, 14:20|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-18s were made to rue missed chances after Chelsea snatched a late equaliser at Cobham on Saturday.
Having mustered 24 shots at goal, hit the woodwork three times and deservedly led 2-1 since the closing stages of the first half through goals from Mikey Moore and Rio Kyerematen, we looked on course for three well-earned points - only for Michael Golding to pounce on a momentary lapse in concentration at the back in the 93rd minute to make it 2-2.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Stuart Lewis' side, who missed the chance to leapfrog the hosts and Crystal Palace back into second place in the Under-18 Premier League table. Indeed, we produced some nice passages of play and created chances throughout, Kyerematen guiding a shot just wide in the opening exchanges before Callum Olusesi latched onto Moore's through ball, ran on and hit the base of the post. Will Lankshear was left kicking himself after spurning two golden chances in a five-minute spell around the half-hour mark, first hitting the bar from close range after a scramble in the box and then planting a downward header wide from Jaden Williams' delivery after peeling away in behind the Chelsea defence.
But for all that was good about our start to the game, the hosts were able to edge ahead with a simply-constructed goal, Tyrique George playing Louis Flower in between our two centre-halves to squeeze a shot beyond the advancing Luca Gunter in the 34th minute. Chinonso Chibueze had a couple of chances to double his side's lead thereafter but was denied by excellent blocks from George Abbott and Archie Chaplin, while Kaiden Wilson's back-post header struck the outside of the upright from a very tight angle as the Blues looked to make the most of their spell in the ascendancy.
Momentum soon swung back in our favour, Kyerematen's lob from the half-way line sailing agonisingly wide of the empty Chelsea net as we sprung free after defending a corner, Olusesi subsequently swiping an effort across goal before Kyerematen played in Moore to fire into the far corner and level the scores on 42 minutes. And two minutes later we were ahead as Williams' ball into the box from the right was ferried on by Lankshear with a clever back-heel and Kyerematen was there to plant a shot home.
We made a purposeful start to the second half as well - Williams was winning the ball multiple times on the half-way line, sending Lankshear through on goal on one occasion, only for the striker's penalty appeals to be waved away as he went down under pressure from Wilson, although he still managed to get a shot away as he fell. Reiss Russell-Denny and Ato Ampah went close for the hosts in the moments that followed while Williams' angled shot was repelled by goalkeeper Ted Curd at the other end as we sought to add to our lead. You sensed a third goal would kill off the Blues and we so nearly found one, Kyerematen's curler grazing the outside of the post and substitute Oliver Irow having a couple of near-misses before arguably our best chance of the second half when Damola Ajayi sped down to the byline on the left and cut back for Moore, whose first-time shot was somehow kept out by Curd with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Moore was denied by Curd again with a long-range free-kick moments later before Chelsea landed a stoppage-time sucker punch when Ampah's low drive from the left was half-cleared by the retreating Alfie Dorrington and time seemed to stand still as nobody in Lilywhite attacked the ball, allowing it to drop into a pocket of space in the box and inviting Golding to collect it and fire home. It could have been even worse for us when Ampah fired towards goal from distance, but Gunter produced a flying save to tip his effort over the bar.
'We weren't ruthless enough'
Coach Stuart was bitterly disappointed with the way the match ended after we'd controlled proceedings for long periods: "The performance level was really good, we created numerous chances but unfortunately we didn't take them, we weren't ruthless enough and then we got punished at the end with an equalising goal," he said. "It was a really tough moment and a tough one to take because of how well we played for large parts of the game but ultimately we couldn't get the win, which I felt we would have deserved. There's some real disappointment in the changing room. Those moments that the boys are feeling, they've got to learn from them to not have them again and to work even harder in training. It's a tough one in the moment to deal with but we've got a good couple of games coming up, we've got Manchester City away in the League Cup next week so we've got to take parts of our performance into that, but today was disappointing for sure."
Chelsea 2-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Spurs: Gunter (c), McKnight (Andiyapan 78), Linton, Dorrington, Chaplin, Abbott, Williams, Kyerematen (Ajayi 86), Lankshear (Irow 68), Olusesi (Hall 68), Moore. Substitute (not used): Krasniqi.