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Late Soonsup-Bell penalty gives Under-21s victory at Bristol City

Bristol City 1-2 Spurs (Premier League Cup)

Mon 09 October 2023, 22:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Persistence paid off for our Under-21s as a 96th-minute penalty from Jude Soonsup-Bell gave us a 2-1 victory at Bristol City in the Premier League Cup on Monday night.

Trailing to Ephraim Yeboah's early strike at the Robins High Performance Centre, we levelled through Max McKnight and kept pushing before eventually getting our reward in stoppage time when the rapid Yago Santiago was tripped in the box and Soonsup-Bell made no mistake from 12 yards.

The result made it two wins out of two in the group and nine out of nine in all competitions as our superb start to the season at this level rolled on.

Goalscorer McKnight was one of four players making their first starts of the season as coach Wayne Burnett shuffled his pack with a handful of regulars away on international duty, and each of them took their opportunities well in a tough game, played out in front of a large crowd including over 200 members of our Somerset Spurs Official Supporters' Club, who made the trip to Bristol especially for the game and provided vocal backing for the players all night.

Goalkeeper Aaron Maguire - another of the players to come into the starting XI - set the tone for his performance with a good low save to deny Raekwan Nelson at his near post while Soonsup-Bell and City's Raph Araoye headed over from corners before the hosts took the lead on 13 minutes, Nelson's cross from the right knocked home by Yeboah at the back post.

We equalised just before the half-hour mark when Dante Cassanova's low cross was deflected back to McKnight, who lashed left-footed high into the net for his first goal at this level.

Neither side created too many chances, although Maguire was needed again 10 minutes into the second half to brilliantly save and hold Sam Pearson's fierce strike after we'd given the ball away cheaply, and then again with a quarter of an hour left to beat away Kai Churchley's angled drive, with Pearson eventually lofting the second ball onto the roof of the net.

Soonsup-Bell fired over from 20 yards for us but, as the game wore on, Bristol City began to tire and you sensed we were most likely to grab a winner with Santiago's relentless speed causing the hosts problems at the back. Sure enough, shortly after Soonsup-Bell glanced a header wide, a burst of pace from Santiago to get into the box saw him brought down by Duncan Idehen during an extended period of stoppage time and, after initially firing into the net during the same passage of play, only to see his effort ruled out as the referee had already blown for a penalty, Soonsup-Bell blasted in from 12 yards to give us a late lead.

There was still time for both teams to go close, Maguire again in action to beat away a cross while substitute Tyrell Ashcroft - operating on the right wing - went through on goal, only for advancing goalkeeper Stefan Bajic to make a block at the edge of his box. We'd done enough, though, to put three more points on the board in the six-game group stage of this competition, which we've entered for the first time this season.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

'We looked fit and strong'

Coach Wayne was pleased with his players' efforts, telling SPURSPLAY after the game: "I felt we deserved to win in the end. We made hard work of it at times but some of our play leading up to their box was very, very good - I just think we lacked a little bit of quality or we weren't quite clinical enough and didn't capitalise on the opportunities that we had. Some of the players have had limited minutes this season so it was an opportunity for them to get some game time and I thought they came in and did very well. It's difficult when you haven't played much but it just shows how well they've trained, they kept up to speed with the game which was good and I was pleased for Max McKnight as he managed to get a goal. We looked fit and strong tonight and I felt overall it was a worthy win."

Bristol City 1-2 Spurs (Premier League Cup)

Bristol City: Bajic, Rose (Morrison 66), Araoye, Kadji (Bell 61), Knight-Lebel (c), Idehen, Nelson (Churchley 69), Backwell, Yeboah, Pearson, Francois (Wood 69). Substitute (not used): Boyd.

Spurs: Maguire, Lyons-Foster, Abbott, Sayers, Craig (c), Cassanova, McKnight (Ashcroft 79), Kyerematen (Hall 81), Soonsup-Bell, John, Santiago (Robson 90+8). Substitutes (not used): Bloedorn, Chaplin.

Match data

Goals: Bristol City - Yeboah 13; Spurs - McKnight 29, Soonsup-Bell 90+6 (pen).

Yellow cards: Bristol City - Wood 74, Yeboah 87, Idehen 90+5.

Referee: Andrew Humphries.

Venue: Robins High Performance Centre, Bristol.

Weather: Clear sky, mild, 15 degrees.