Perfect start continues as Under-21s win at Stoke
Stoke City 0-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Mon 25 September 2023, 21:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-21s continued their perfect start to the season with a professional away win over Stoke City on Monday night.
Back in Premier League 2 action after our record 5-0 win at Colchester United in the EFL Trophy last time out, we bided our time to take a deserved first-half lead through Nile John and Jamie Donley as Josh Keeley kept our two-goal advantage intact with a superb full-stretch save to deny Jaden Dixon on the stroke of half-time.
We dominated for long spells after the break but failed to capitalise as Donley, who orchestrated proceedings throughout, saw his free-kick saved by Stoke captain Blondy Nna Noukeu before Will Lankshear hit the upright and Jude Soonsup-Bell and Yago Santiago were denied by an impressive double save from Noukeu in the final stages as the victory continued our impressive 100 per cent start to the campaign.
We had to be patient and calm on the ball to fashion opportunities against Stoke's well-organised deep defence in the opening stages with Santiago firing over the bar for our first shot on goal in the 13th minute. It could have been a very different start though when, just three minutes in, the home side almost took an unexpected lead when we were caught in possession near halfway as Junior Tchamadeu was sent through in the vacant right channel but the wing-back's shot fizzed narrowly past the post.
The impressive Soonsup-Bell caused havoc down our right flank, combining well with Tyrell Ashcroft and Donley in the first half, and it was only a matter of time before some neat interplay down that side led to John's opener on 16 minutes. Alfie Dorrington started the attack with a pinpoint floated pass to set Soonsup-Bell away as the forward turned his defender on the byline and laid it back to Donley whose first-time finish was parried only as far as John who converted at the back post.
Soonsup-Bell was then at the heart of our second 20 minutes later, once again causing problems for the Potters' defence to win a penalty after Stoke left wing-back Kahrel Reddin fouled the attacker with a clumsy challenge inside the area. Donley stepped up and made no mistake from the penalty spot to send the goalkeeper the wrong way to double our advantage. On the whole it had been a comfortable outing for us at Clayton Wood until, deep into first-half stoppage-time, we survived a late scare as Keeley, who had been quiet up until this point, remained switched on from a Stoke free-kick to produce a stunning diving save to tip Dixon's header around the post.
We picked up where we left off in the second half as Soonsup-Bell came close to adding a third two minutes after the restart when he cut inside from the right flank but his left-footed shot went narrowly over the bar. As the home side looked to disrupt our rhythm to try to get a foothold in the game, it became quite scrappy in parts as Stoke's Tchamadeu was fortunate to avoid a cautioning for an off-the-ball trip on Santiago before Dixon was booked by referee Dale Baines minutes later for hauling down Lankshear as the forward broke through the middle 25 yards from goal. Donley powered the resultant free-kick over the wall but Noukeu was equal to it with a good save to his right.
Keeley was called into rare action from a direct free-kick in a dangerous position with just over 10 minutes to go but Ben Kershaw's attempt was straight at the Republic of Ireland stopper. Despite lacking some fluency in our build-up at times we still looked most likely to add to the scoreline in the closing stages, first Lankshear did well to round the goalkeeper after Donley's defence-splitting pass but his shot on the angle crashed off the post before the Potters skipper produced two excellent saves to keep out Soonsup-Bell and Santiago from close range to limit the score to just two with 10 minutes remaining. George Abbott was introduced with nine minutes to play for his first involvement of the campaign after returning from injury before the excellent John came within a whisker of doubling his tally with four minutes remaining with a shot from just outside the area as the third goal continued to elude us but we left Staffordshire with our seventh consecutive win of the season.
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Stoke City 0-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Stoke City: Noukeu (c), Curl, Tchamadeu, Dixon, Otegbayo (Kamga 58), Reddin (McGuinness 76), Kershaw, Sidibe (Griffiths 76), Wright-Phillips, Lowe (Jeffers 33), Jojic. Substitute (not used): Houston.
Spurs: Keeley, Ashcroft (Robson 83), Lyons-Foster, Dorrington, Sayers, Craig (c), John, Donley, Santiago, Lankshear (Abbott 81), Soonsup-Bell (Kyerematen 89). Substitutes (not used): Maguire, Cassanova.
Goals: Spurs - John 16, Donley 36.
Yellow cards: Stoke City - Otegbayo 28, Dixon 66, Tchamadeu 88; Spurs - Donley 79.
Referee: Dale Baines.
Venue: Clayton Wood, Stoke.
Weather: Clear, mild, 16 degrees.