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Under-18s lose out after costly first half against Palace

Spurs 2-5 Crystal Palace (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 04 November 2023, 13:40|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s suffered their first league defeat since the opening day of the season on Saturday, going down 5-2 at home to Crystal Palace.

All the goals came during a remarkable first half as we recovered from conceding twice in the opening 12 minutes to draw level at 2-2 by the 20th minute through Damola Ajayi and Ellis Lehane – only to then slip back into a similar predicament with the visitors scoring three more times before the break, including a hat-trick for skipper Zach Marsh, to leave us with a mountain to climb once more.

We looked dangerous in attack for most of the game and although we tightened up in defence in the second period, there was no way back, leaving us second in the standings behind Fulham on goal difference.

Missing regular starters Mikey Moore, Callum Olusesi and James Rowswell – the former two on international duty and the latter out injured – we fell behind in the sixth minute, Marsh finishing from the left angle after defender Maeson King had superbly blocked Seb Williams’ attempt in the box, with Tyler Whyte adding a second six minutes later with a front-post header from a corner which Carey Bloedorn got a hand to but couldn’t prevent from going in.

Our response was effective as Kieran Morgan cushioned a shot wide before a superb individual run from Tyrese Hall saw him glide past several challenges into the box before squaring for Ajayi to slot into the bottom corner and reduce the arrears on 17 minutes. And three minutes later, we were level as Hall repeated the feat, getting to the byline on the left before driving a dangerous low ball into the middle which took a slight deflection and forced goalkeeper Billy Eastwood to parry, leaving Lehane with a tap-in from six yards out.

Unfortunately, we didn’t learn our lessons from the start of the game and Palace stormed back into the lead, going 3-2 up on 27 minutes when Williams flicked an effort across goal and inside the far post after centre-back Roman Egan-Riley, making his first Under-18s start in place of Rowswell, couldn’t deal with a cross from the left. Whyte then forced Bloedorn into two separate saves before Marsh finished from inside the box via a slight deflection after another ball in from the left for 4-2 in the 33rd minute.

And 10 minutes later, Palace notched a fifth as Marsh went through on goal down the middle of the pitch, the advancing Bloedorn couldn’t dispossess him as he rushed out to the edge of his area and the visiting captain was left to roll the ball past retreating defender Archie Chaplin and into the empty net to complete his treble.

Bloedorn saved well from Whyte following a free-kick into the box in the opening exchanges of the second half before our best chance to score a third goal came and went in the 49th minute, half-time substitute Herbie James going through one-on-one against Eastwood but the keeper claimed his shot. Bloedorn was there again midway through the second period to superbly save Matteo Dashi’s effort after another set-piece fell to him in the box while Ajayi and debutant Miracle Adewole – up from the Under-16s – fired over the bar at the other end. There was one final attempt from Palace’s Hindolo Mustapha in stoppage time but after skipping over the challenge of Lehane and working his way into the area, his eventual shot was routinely stopped by Bloedorn.

Spurs 2-5 Crystal Palace (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black, King, Chaplin (c), Egan-Riley (James 46), Hall, Ajayi, Morgan (Adewole 69), Lehane, Akhamrich, Irow. Substitutes (not used): Archer, Logan, Orr.