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Donley double helps Under-21s recover to beat Chelsea

Spurs 4-2 Chelsea (Premier League 2)

Mon 02 October 2023, 21:20|Tottenham Hotspur

Three goals in the final 16 minutes, including a brace from Jamie Donley, saw our Under-21s come from behind to continue their 100 per cent start to the season at the expense of Chelsea on Monday night.

Trailing 2-1 at the Lamex Stadium having initially taken the lead through Yago Santiago, we pushed forward with purpose in the second half and deservedly levelled when Donley caught Eddie Beach off his line with a clever low finish around the goalkeeper, before the same player - fresh from his appearance on the bench for the first team against Liverpool at the weekend - fired us back in front in the 87th minute.

Nile John made sure 60 seconds later, with the 4-2 victory solidifying our position at the top of the Premier League 2 table and extending our winning run in all competitions at this level into an eighth game.

Donley's through ball from deep put John - operating as a false nine during the first half - in on goal early on, but he was denied twice by Beach as we struggled to really hit our stride in the opening period, although we still managed to take the lead when former Chelsea forward Jude Soonsup-Bell got to the byline on the right and found Max Robson on the inside, the latter's cut-back converted by Santiago with a shot-on-the-turn at the front post with 19 minutes on the watch.

Josh Keeley made a sharp low save to deny Zain Silcott-Duberry as the Blues started to create chances, with their equaliser eventually arriving five minutes before the break as Ronnie Stutter left Tyrell Ashcroft in a heap on the floor - the defender's appeals for a free-kick falling on deaf ears - before running on and sending a fierce shot swirling inside the near post from 18 yards out, left of centre.

Half-time substitute Rio Kyerematen fired wide for us from a similar area 10 minutes into the second period and although we generally looked brighter after the break, it was the visitors who forged ahead in the 56th minute when Somto Boniface lashed home from the left angle inside the box.

Refusing to give in, we continued to push the Blues at every opportunity and finally got our reward in the 74th minute when Santiago stole possession on half-way and played Donley down the left flank, who spotted Beach out of his area and curled a clever low shot around the retreating custodian and into the empty net.

You sensed at that stage that at least a point would be forthcoming, but thankfully we grabbed all three in the closing moments. First, George Abbott read the play well and won the ball mid-way inside Chelsea's half before playing in to the feet of Donley in the centre of the box, who took a touch and fired left-footed into the net with three minutes of normal time remaining. Then just 60 seconds later, Santiago sped down the left flank and, after initially appearing to be taking up a shooting position himself, unselfishly squared for John to convert from a central position into the bottom corner. Chelsea substitute Tyrique George rolled a low shot across goal and just wide deep into stoppage time, but that was as close as they came to a response as our winning momentum rolled on.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

'It was a better performance in the second half'

Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett was pleased with the way the team adjusted after the break. He told SPURSPLAY: "I thought the first half was very, very difficult and they were the slightly better team, we didn't get any control of the game and I thought Chelsea looked more threatening than us in that first half. We changed a couple of things in the second half, moved a few players around and it was a better performance and we scored some very good goals. I didn't think we hit the heights that we've hit in the previous games - we spoke about how we'd played previously, how and why we'd got to where we have, and I didn't think we played with the same energy, we weren't getting up to the ball quick enough, but we did that better in the second half, we changed a few things and I felt that in the end, we were worthy winners."

Spurs 4-2 Chelsea (Premier League 2)

Spurs: Keeley, Robson (Abbott 46), Sayers, Dorrington, Ashcroft, Craig (c), Soonsup-Bell (Kyerematen 46), Lyons-Foster (McKnight 84), John, Donley, Santiago. Substitutes (not used): Maguire, Cassanova.

Chelsea: Beach, Hughes, Gee, Williams (c), Boniface, Golding, Silcott-Duberry (McMahon 70), Rak-Sakyi (Russell-Denny 45+3), Stutter, Castledine, Morgan (George 70). Substitutes (not used): Merrick, Murray-Campbell.

Match data

Goals: Spurs - Santiago 19, Donley 74, 87, John 88; Chelsea - Stutter 40, Boniface 56.

Yellow cards: Chelsea - Hughes 22, Morgan 29.

Referee: Gary Parsons.

Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.

Weather: Thundery showers, 18 degrees.

Attendance: 812.