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Impressive first-half display helps Under-18s beat Seagulls

Spurs 4-2 Brighton (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 16 September 2023, 14:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Ellis Lehane scored a first-half brace to help our Under-18s beat Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

Making his full debut for the side, Lehane led the line and showed his goalscoring instincts as he steered home two low crosses from close range to capitalise on our fast start to proceedings which saw us go two up inside the first 20 minutes.

Yusuf Akhamrich and Oliver Irow netted either side of the break to give us a four-goal cushion before the Seagulls rallied late on to half the deficit through Ronnie Gorman and Shane Nti but our earlier advantage proved enough to secure all three points at Hotspur Way.

Following a two-week break over the international period, Stuart Lewis' young side returned to action faced by the prospect of an unbeaten Brighton side in north London as we looked to build on our impressive 4-2 derby day win at Arsenal in our last league outing.

Despite our fast tempo and having the fair share of possession in the opening stages, the Seagulls had the best early chance on three minutes when Joe Belmont was played through on goal only for the striker to be denied by a superb last-ditch recovery tackle from the sliding James Rowswell.

After surviving that scare, our reply was almost instant as we sprung a counter-attack that resulted in  Lehane putting us ahead a minute later. As our initial attack came to nothing, Tyrese Hall did well to quickly recover the ball and burst forward from midfield before playing in an overlapping Mikey Moore who put it on a plate for the onrushing striker for his first goal at Under-18 level.

The chances started to mount up as Moore saw a near-identical cross agonisingly miss the full-stretch pair of Lehane and Kieran Morgan and had his shot from 12-yards well blocked before our number nine showed his predatory instincts again to slide in Leo Black's cross from the right flank to double our advantage in the 17th minute.

It took the Seagulls some time to recover from our blistering opening period and they almost halved the arrears on 28 minutes when striker Belmont had his header cleared off the line by a retreating Morgan. The visitors again looked most likely to score with a free-kick in a dangerous position on the stroke of half-time, but we had other ideas as the set piece was headed away to Black who sent Akhamrich baring down on goal with the winger doing excellently to dummy goalkeeper Lorenz Ferdinand and cooly finish off our third.

The south coast side made three changes at half-time and started the brighter side in the second half, substitute Gorman going close as his attempt whistled just over shortly after the restart. But once again we found a way through their defence on 53 minutes, Moore again the architect as his initial shot was saved and the forward pounced on the rebound to feed Irow who had the simple task of steering it into an empty net.

Heading into the final 10 minutes with a four-goal advantage, some complacency crept into our game which the away side took full advantage of when Gorman got one back for his side with a well-taken free-kick nine minutes from time. Brighton's substitutes again posed the biggest threat as Nehemiah Oriola had a shot tipped onto the bar minutes later before replacements Aidan West and Nti combined to score a stoppage-time consolation.

'It's been a really good week'

Under-18s Coach Lewis was really pleased with the overall performance levels and result but admits there are stills areas to work on, telling us afterwards: "It was a really positive result and the performance levels are improving every week so it was good to get the win and some good individual performances. Slightly disappointed to concede two goals late in the second half to effect the scoreline but on the whole it's been a really good week on the training pitch and then today in the game.

"I thought we were excellent in the first half, some of our play was really exciting and some excellent finishes from Ellis to score his first goals in the Under-18s. It was a really positive and exciting first half with lots of forward action so that was really good. You always know at 3-0, the opposition were going to come out and try to make an impression. We then got the fourth but I thought we could've made that more and the scoreline is probably a little disappointing but performance levels were good. We just spoke to them in the dressing room about how that reflected the Arsenal game as well, so we have to work on that. Our preparation to receive and closing down has to be even better at 4-0 and that's where we can score more ultimately, so we'll be working on that but it's good to work on it having won the game with some good individual displays."

Spurs 4-2 Brighton (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black, King, Chaplin (c) (Arganese-McDermott 73), Rowswell, Irow (Egan-Riley 85), Morgan, Hall, Akhamrich, Moore (Orr 85), Lehane (James 62). Substitute (not used): Krasniqi.