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Remarkable winning run ends as Under-21s punished by the Posh

Spurs 0-3 Peterborough United (Premier League Cup)

Sat 03 February 2024, 15:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-21s were punished on the counter-attack as Peterborough United staged an upset in our final Premier League Cup group game on Saturday.

Having already progressed to the Round of 16 with a late win over Bristol City in midweek, the points weren’t essential here but we were left frustrated as the Posh twice robbed us of possession to take a 2-0 first-half lead through Pemi Aderoju’s double against the run of play at Clarence Park.

Looking for a way back into the contest in the second half, Peterborough captain Charlie O’Connell was sent off two minutes after the break but we couldn’t make the extra man advantage count as Will Lankshear had shouts for a penalty waved away in the 80th minute before, four minutes from time, the away side countered again to win a corner which Emmanuel Fernandez headed in.

As Jude Soonsup-Bell came inches away from a late consolation with a fierce 25-yard freekick in second-half stoppage-time, that summed up our afternoon with the defeat doing no harm to our Group E standing having secured top spot, but does end our 100 per cent win record against Academy opposition which had run for the entirety of the season to span a remarkable 16 games.

After Will Lankshear’s late header booked our place in the knockout stages on Tuesday night, our final group stage game was somewhat of a dead rubber against the group's bottom side who were seeking their first win in the competition to keep their faintest hopes of finishing second alive.

In a contrast of styles, our possession-based game was up against a Posh team who came with a gameplan to sit in deep and hit us on the break as we enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages. Faced with the away side’s low defensive block, some neat interplay between Jaden Williams, Max Robson and Jamie Donley created our first real opening on 10 minutes, the latter forcing Posh goalkeeper Jake West to spill the ball but he gathered away from a lurking Lankshear.

However, the early warning signs of our opponent’s dangerous counter-attack were there two minutes later when Donay O’Brien-Brady broke forward down the left and sent in a wicked low cross which forced goalkeeper Aaron Maguire to rush out and parry away from two onrushing forwards. For all our possession in the opening quarter of the game, Peterborough were gifted a breakthrough in the 28th minute. A long, hopeful ball from their defence suddenly became dangerous when Aderoju robbed Tyrell Ashcroft before doing well to round Maguire – despite getting a fingertip to the ball – and having time to compose himself and finish through our recovering defenders.

Soonsup-Bell then came close to an equaliser six minutes later, the forward unable to re-direct his header from Donley’s whipped corner back over his shoulder from just inside the post, before, once again, the Posh capitalised on an error to double their lead in the 38th minute. Having committed bodies forward pushing for the equaliser, centre-back Will Andiyapan was dispossessed in midfield which allowed Corbett and O’Connell to surge free down our left with their captain crossing to Aderoju who slid in to finish from close range.

With the injured Andiyapan replaced by Brooklyn Lyons-Foster on the stroke of half-time, Under-21s coach Wayne Burnett made a double defensive change at the break as we looked to shore up our backline and find a route back into the contest. Just two minutes into the second period, Peterborough skipper O’Connell was shown a straight red by referee Callum Walchester for a reckless challenge on Lankshear just outside the area, with Donley firing the resulting free kick just past the post.

Just before the hour-mark, the dangerous Soonsup-Bell forced West into a low save and then his fellow marksman Lankshear kissed the upright with a looping header on 61 minutes before the pair combined six minutes later but the latter’s first-time finish was deflected agonisingly wide. As we piled on the pressure looking to halve the deficit in the final 10 minutes, Lankshear was denied what appeared to be a stonewall penalty - as Aaron Powell clumsily bundled over the striker as he tried to pull the trigger inside the six-yard box - but Walchester waved away any protests.

With the visitors camped deep inside their half for almost the entirety of the second half, they somehow fashioned an opportunity which led to their third in the 86th minute, Corbett finding substitute Harry Titchmarsh in space down the right whose shot was deflected out for a corner as defender Fernandez rose highest to nod in their third goal out of nowhere.

There was still time for Soonsup-Bell to thunder a direct free kick onto the crossbar deep into stoppage-time with the goalkeeper well-beaten but the result ends our 16-game winning run in all competitions against Under-21 sides, as we look to keep our flawless Premier League 2 record intact with a trip to Crystal Palace on Friday 9 February.

Spurs 0-3 Peterborough United (Premier League Cup)

Spurs: Maguire; Robson (McKnight 45), Ashcroft (Cassanova 45), Andiyapan (Lyons-Foster 45+8), Linton; Abbott (c), John, Donley (Hall 60); Williams (Ajayi 73), Lankshear, Soonsup-Bell.

Peterborough United: West; O’Connell (c), Fernandez, Thomas, Powell; Van Lier (Titchmarsh 78), Chiha, O’Brien-Brady (Bodnar 51); Corbett, Aderoju, Wakeling (Kawa 20). Substitutes (not used): Sakalas, Rose.

Match data

Goals: Peterborough United – Aderoju 28, 37, Fernandez 86.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Robson 21, Soonsup-Bell 45.

Red card: Peterborough - O'Connell 47.

Referee: Callum Walchester.

Venue: Clarence Park, St Albans.

Attendance: 640.

Weather: Dry with a slight breeze, 13 degrees.