Under-21s secure important win over Leicester
Spurs 3-1 Leicester City (Premier League 2)
Fri 17 March 2023, 21:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-21s made a swift return to winning ways with a key victory over basement side Leicester City at Stevenage on Friday night.
Having seen our unbeaten run in the Premier League 2 ended in a high-scoring contest at Fulham a fortnight ago, we quickly got back on the front foot against the Foxes and never looked back, inflicting a 3-1 defeat on the visitors that gave our survival chances a big boost and left our opponents rooted to the foot of the table.
Alfie Devine's deflected effort gave us an 18th-minute lead after Leicester defender Bayli Spencer-Adams had miraculously cleared two efforts off the line, Malachi Fagan-Walcott quickly doubled our advantage following a corner before Romaine Mundle put the burners on to make it 3-0 in the opening stages of the second half.
Joe Wormleighton ghosted in at the far post to pull one back for the Foxes shortly afterwards but, while our performance wasn't quite as impressive in the second half, we continued to dominate the game to ensure there was no sign of a comeback.
Knowing victory was vital in a battle of the division's bottom two teams, we started strongly with numerous swift bursts forward in pursuit of through balls - Mundle almost reached one of them in the 12th minute, but was just beaten to it by advancing goalkeeper Brad Young. Six minutes later, though, Devine gave us the lead in something of a third-time-lucky moment. The midfielder robbed defender Jamari Lindsay and rounded Young, only to see his low shot towards the empty net cleared off the line by Spencer-Adams, who then also blocked Mundle's drive on the follow-up, but Devine collected the ball once more and fired home via a slight deflection from the edge of the box.
Mundle's shot from inside the box was clawed away by Young before we doubled our lead on 24 minutes, Fagan-Walcott prodding home from close range after Mundle's corner dropped to him at the near post. Devine almost added a majestic third on the half-hour mark having pressed aggressively to win the ball and glided past three challenges, only to roll his deft shot fractionally wide, but 10 minutes after the restart, we did make it 3-0 when Kallum Cesay's well-weighted pass from deep saw Mundle speed in behind the defence to stroke past Young one-on-one. Two minutes later, Leicester got one back when Wormleighton arrived unmarked at the back post to fire Tawanda Maswanhise's cross into the roof of the net from a tight angle but in truth, the Foxes didn't really trouble Josh Keeley after that and we went closest to adding to the scoreline from a couple of Mundle free-kicks, the unmarked Fagan-Walcott blasting the first one over the bar at the far post before the second coaxed a fine save out of Young.
We had one final chance in stoppage time when some wonderful back-and-forth passing from Devine and Mundle led to the latter's shot from inside the box being saved by Young, with substitute Jamie Donley hitting the post on the rebound. Nevertheless, we'd done enough to secure three important points.
'Even though we've won, we know that we can perform better'
Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett was pleased with the victory, but felt our second-half display needed improvement. He told SPURSPLAY: "I thought we played well in the first half, we created some really good chances and deserved to go in at least two goals up, but the second half was very disappointing. We didn't play with the same energy, we gave the ball away too often but considering where we are, the result was very important for us. We scored three well-taken goals, but we could've had more. When I say that we're disappointed in the second half, we still created chances, I still think we had opportunities but we have to do better at times with our decision-making and a little bit with our quality in and around the box. In the context of things, it's a really good win for us but we're looking beyond that because we know that we can perform better. Even though we've won 3-1 and I'm delighted about that, we know that as a team and as individuals, we can perform better, certainly in the second half."
Spurs 3-1 Leicester City (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Keeley, Robson (Dorrington 84), Paskotsi, Sayers, Fagan-Walcott, Craig (c), Mundle, Cesay, Soonsup-Bell, Devine, Santiago (Donley 74). Substitutes (not used): Gunter, Mathurin, Abbott.
Leicester City: Young (c), Wormleighton, Hill, Godsmark-Ford, Spencer-Adams, Lindsay, Booth (Briggs 71), B Amartey, Popov (Cover 46), Leshabela (Cartwright 58), Maswanhise (T Pennant 71). Substitute (not used): Odunze.
Goals: Spurs - Devine 18, Fagan-Walcott 24, Mundle 55; Leicester City - Wormleighton 57.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Fagan-Walcott 31; Leicester City - Cover 59, Cartwright 72, T Pennant 86.
Referee: Greg Rollason.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Clear sky, gentle breeze, 11 degrees.