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Under-18s make it a League Cup double!

Aston Villa 1-3 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League Cup)

Thu 04 May 2023, 22:02|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Academy completed an unprecedented double after lifting the Under-18 Premier League Cup on a glorious night at Villa Park on Thursday night.

Winners of the Under-17 version of the competition just a fortnight ago, Stuart Lewis' young charges again came back from a goal down to register a thoroughly-deserved 3-1 win over Aston Villa and collect a second piece of silverware to round off what has been a terrific season at this level.

Scorer of an 89th-minute winner in the semi-final at Sheffield United, midfielder Rio Kyerematen again took centre stage with a brace - the second an exquisite outside-of-the-foot finish which went in off the post - with Jamie Donley giving us the lead after Rory Wilson had earlier put Villa in front during their best spell of the game.

Roared on by a large, vocal Spurs following in the stands, the players produced another superb performance to see out the contest and defeat the Lions on their own patch, enjoying another tremendous evening for all concerned.

Villa looked threatening going forward in the early moments and our back line had to be on their toes to keep them at bay but, in truth, apart from Wilson's goal and another decent effort by Omari Kellyman a few minutes later which was brilliantly tipped over by Luca Gunter, we created more chances than the hosts during the first period.

Alfie Dorrington's glancing header from Mikey Moore's corner flew fractionally wide of the far post, Donley coaxed a save out of James Wright with a low free-kick around the wall and Tyrese Hall was denied by Wright with a clear shot at goal from inside the box - all within the first 16 minutes - but less than 60 seconds after the latter chance for Hall, Villa broke forward down the left and Kellyman's cross was nodded back into the centre by Luca Lynch for Wilson to turn home from close range.

Gunter was at his best to deny Kellyman four minutes later but, crucially, we maintained our patience and composure to eventually fashion an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Donley was able to squeeze a low pass in to Moore in the box, he was dispossessed by Finley Munroe but the ball fell kindly for Kyerematen to carry it around the pair in the box and fire routinely past Wright.

That gave us a real lift and Hall had near-misses either side of half-time before Damola Ajayi's low angled drive was repelled by the legs of Wright. You sensed we had the beating of the hosts, though, and we duly took the lead just past the hour mark as Dorrington - again terrific at centre-back - brilliantly broke out from inside our own box as Villa put the pressure on, exchanged passes with Moore and then shifted the ball right for Donley as he approached the final third, the striker cutting back onto his favoured left foot and drilling low inside the near post.

And five minutes later, we struck another killer blow to reinforce our commanding position. George Abbott, feverishly snapping at the heels of the Villa midfielders and stealing the ball for much of the second half, broke forward down the left, his cross was knocked down by Donley at the back post, with the ball striking Villa skipper Kerr Smith and falling kindly for Kyerematen, who took it under his spell and fizzed a shot in off the post on the outside of his right foot.

Smith's back-post header from a free-kick was tipped onto the crossbar by the superb Gunter as Villa tried to respond, while Wilson squandered a late chance to pull one back and set up a grandstand finish when he diverted a shot wide from the centre of the box after we'd given the ball away in midfield in a rare lapse in concentration. Nevertheless, we handled whatever Villa could throw at us, seeing out a couple of late set-pieces to make sure of the win, the final whistle signalling a wonderful achievement at the end of a fine season of progress for our talented group of scholars.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

'A top evening for the Club'

Under-18s Coach Stuart was full of praise for his players after their historic achievement, telling SPURSPLAY after the trophy presentations at Villa Park: "It's hard to put it into words at the moment - it's a brilliant feeling in a stadium with the history that this place has got - I'm so proud of the players and it's a top evening for the Club and the Academy. We've got real belief within this group, the players have shown that and grown throughout the season and to win two trophies, to have winners and to have that feeling of winning is so important as well as the boys' development and their standards, which we push every day, pushing them as people as well as players. I love that we've got winners in the building - that's what's important. All the top youth teams over the years have produced winners and hopefully they can kick on in the next stage of their journeys now.

"In the two finals, we've gone 1-0 down - that shows how resilient this group is - but we kept playing, showed the belief in how we want to play and that resilience, as I said, was evident. I thought we scored at a pivotal moment, just before half-time, we had a lot of moments in the final third where I thought we could have been a bit more calm or made that extra pass, but ultimately we scored at a really good time and I thought in the second half we dominated the game and were deserved winners."

Aston Villa 1-3 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League Cup)

Aston Villa: Wright, Barber, Munroe, Smith (c), Feeney, Alcock (Edwards 79), Lynch (Mulley 79), Kellyman (Barnes 46), Wilson, Patterson, Young. Substitutes (not used): Hammond, Rowe.

Spurs: Gunter (c), McKnight, Linton (Andiyapan 71), Dorrington, Chaplin, Abbott, Ajayi, Kyerematen (Willhoft-King 87), Donley, Hall (Olusesi 67), Moore (Akhamrich 87). Substitute (not used): Bloedorn.

Match data

Goals: Aston Villa - Wilson 17; Spurs - Kyerematen 45, 66, Donley 61.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Linton 65, Donley 75, Chaplin 82.

Referee: Luis Griffiths.

Venue: Villa Park.

Weather: Light rain, gentle breeze, 15 degrees.

Attendance: 1,463.