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Lankshear hits hat-trick as Under-21s fight back to defeat Villa

Spurs 5-3 Aston Villa (Premier League 2)

Sat 27 January 2024, 14:45|Tottenham Hotspur

Will Lankshear hit a hat-trick as our Under-21s twice came from behind to dismantle Aston Villa 5-3 and continue their perfect record in the Premier League 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Despite twice falling behind in the first half, Lankshear got us level on both occasions (15 and 53 minutes) with strikes either side of the break before Damola Ajayi (55) and Jude Soonsup-Bell (67) put us ahead and then out of the reach of out visitors at the Lamex Stadium.

With 18 minutes still to play, the forward then completed his treble, spinning in the box before producing an unerring finish. Villa did pull a goal back late in stoppage time through Tommi O'Reilly but, by that time, the game had already been wrapped up as we made it 11 wins from 11 in the league this term, moving four points clear at the top.

That outcome looked a world away after just two minutes had been played though as we found ourselves behind almost immediately with Rory Wilson inadvertently diverting Todd Alcock's effort past Aaron Maguire to give Villa a very early lead.

With a number of regular players missing for our Under-21s, the early setback set us quite the challenge if we were to preserve our 100 per cent record, but we responded well. On 15 minutes, we were back on terms with Lankshear grabbing his first of the afternoon, delightfully lobbing the goalkeeper from 16 yards after he was found by Ajayi. Three minutes later, he should have had us ahead but, when he was fed by Nile John, his effort was smothered by the James Wright in the Villa net.

Tyrese Hall then had a similarly good opportunity to put us ahead on 22 minutes but once again Wright was a match to it, and that miss was one we were made to rue as, three minutes later, the visitors broke through O'Reilly, he produced a trivela pass to release Kyrie Pierre for him to steer home - a sucker punch to our bright resolve. To our credit though, we finished the half strongly, enjoying the lion's share of possession however, we were unable to find a way through.

Thankfully, we continued in the same vein as we moved into the second period and we got our just rewards - Lankshear once again on target, guiding in from close range to once again draw us level. And, within two minutes, we were ahead for the first time in the game as pressure in the final third from Lankshear and Hall saw the latter come away with the ball before he fed Ajayi, who cut inside his man in the box before lashing in off the bar.

Soonsup-Bell then put the game out of the reach of Villa midway through the second half as he doubled our advantage, curling in at the far post after Ajayi's superb cross-field pick out. With 20 minutes still to play though, there was still much more to come from the game and certainly time for Lankshear to complete his hat-trick, which he duly did on 72 minutes - and in some style. The forward spinning on the spot after receiving the ball in the box before rattling the ball into the far corner of the net with a clinical finish.

The scoreline could have been made even more convincing when Jaden Williams entered the fray on 81 minutes as the ball fell kindly to him in the box and it looked for the all the world that he just had to pick his spot, however Villa put bodies on the line to deny him. In the end, it was the Villans that would have the final say as, after Maguire made a brilliant save to deny Chisom Afoka in added time, the impressive O'Reilly found the back of the net after a game of pinball between goalkeeper and defender saw the ball fall into his path.

Spurs 5-3 Aston Villa (Premier League 2)

Spurs: Maguire; Ashcroft, Lyons-Foster (c), Dorrington, Linton; Cassanova (Abbott 68), Ajayi (Williams 81), Hall (Robson 90+2), Lankshear, John, Soonsup-Bell (McKnight 81). Substitutes (not used): Warren.

Aston Villa: Wright, Rowe, Munroe (c) (Ealing 78), Katsukunya, Feeney, Alcock, Pierre (Afoka 77), Borland, Wilson (Moore 59), O’Reilly, Jimoh-Aloba (Kellyman 62). Substitutes (not used): Lewis.

Match data

Goals: Spurs – Lankshear 15, 53, 72 Ajayi 55, Soonsup-Bell 67; Villa – Wilson 2, Pierre 25, O'Reilly 90+5.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Ajayi 76; Villa – Munroe 27, O’Reilly 80.

Referee: Paul Johnson (William Jordan 45+3)

Venue: The Lamex Stadium, Stevenage

Weather: Dry, seven degrees.