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Under-18s march on in FA Youth Cup after stern Burton test

Burton Albion 1-3 Spurs (FA Youth Cup)

Tue 16 January 2024, 21:02|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s produced a hard-working performance to see off a spirited Burton Albion side in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup at the Pirelli Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Tyrese Hall led the way with a superb individual display, firing in the opening goal before Ellis Lehane doubled our advantage a mere 65 seconds after half-time.

The hosts, who had scalped our Under-18 Premier League rivals Aston Villa in the last round, responded through Kiyan Baker-McKay, but we stayed in control despite losing momentum at times in the closing stages and the returning Oli Irow made sure of the win in stoppage time with a calm finish into the bottom corner after Damola Ajayi's effort had crashed back off the crossbar.

It means we advance into the last 16 of the prestigious national youth competition, where we'll be at home to either Newcastle United or AFC Bournemouth, who play their fourth-round tie on Wednesday.

Hall ran the show in central midfield with his trademark surging solo runs causing the Brewers all sorts of problems, even in spite of picking up a yellow card with just over half-an-hour gone. Our best effort of the opening exchanges came on the 20-minute mark when the lively Miracle Adewole, again playing up from the Under-16s, broke into space and fired towards goal from 20 yards, forcing Burton goalkeeper Kamil Dudek into a flying save.

It was in the lead-up to half-time that we really began to apply sustained pressure in search of an opener - a great through ball from Hall found Callum Olusesi on the left with Mikey Moore sending a shot just wide of the far post from his cut-back on 38 minutes, while Moore had another attempt blocked in the box after a dazzling run three minutes later, Lehane denied by Dudek from a tight angle on the follow-up.

The breakthrough came in the 43rd minute and it was no more than we deserved, Hall pouncing on the ball in the middle of the pitch before gliding forward once more and crashing a right-footed shot past Dudek from 18 yards out. You sensed Burton would make us work hard to retain our advantage but just over a minute into the second half we conjured up a well-worked second, Moore finding Ajayi in space on the right flank with his early delivery swept home by Lehane as he arrived at the back post.

Burton, who produced some nice attacking play at times, hit back soon afterwards though, Cyprian Mtenga denied by a fine save from Carey Bloedorn diving away to his left before Dylan Scott headed a corner forward from the 18-yard line into a congested six-yard box, where Baker-McKay diverted it home from close range, getting the hosts right back into the game in the 52nd minute.

We almost restored our two-goal lead just beyond the hour mark with two chances in quick succession, Adewole with an absolute rocket from 30 yards that bounced down off the crossbar, before Dudek denied Ajayi who was free on the right side of the box with just the keeper to beat. We couldn't quite gain full control of the play in the last quarter-of-an-hour, though, and we might have been punished, but Burton substitute Kiarhys Svarc could only drill into the side netting on the counter while Baker-McKay shot straight at Bloedorn a few minutes later.

You felt in the last few minutes that either side was capable of adding to the scoreline, but thankfully we finally extinguished the plucky hosts' hopes in the third of five additional minutes as Ajayi hit the bar from inside the box with Irow, back from a spell out injured, rolling the ball low just inside the near post on the rebound to make it 3-1. We could have even had a fourth after that following a mistake at the back but Dudek dived at the feet of Leo Black - who proved to be a useful attacking outlet drifting in from right-back in the second half - to claim the ball and prevent further damage.

'A real test of our character and resilience'

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis praised his players for the way they dug in to ensure we came away with the victory: "I thought it was a really tough, physically-demanding game that really tested the boys' character and resilience at times so it was pleasing to get the win and go into the next round," he said.

"The second goal was an outstanding team goal - it was from our goalkeeper, a quick restart from our goal-kick, we got up the pitch and it was a well-worked move. The challenge at the other end was to keep a clean sheet but we conceded from a set-play and they made it difficult at times but the boys dug in, Burton had a couple of chances but then we did as well, so on the balance of play we probably deserved to win.

"Burton are a good side, they knocked Aston Villa out of the competition in the previous round so we knew it would be a really tough evening and it was. There's loads to take from the game with some very good individual displays and some of the play at times was excellent as well - it's just that little bit of calmness and composure that's required. We had to win the first and second balls, win the duels and the boys have come through that, so it's a pleasing evening for the players and staff. Performance-wise, we're going to have to play better in the next round, so we'll review that in the next couple of days and look forward to the games coming up."

Burton Albion 1-3 Spurs (FA Youth Cup)

Burton Albion: Dudek, Bilton, Taroni, Pace, Tamen (c), Gilbert, Knowles (Ranger 71), Wakelin, Scott (Svarc 79), Mtenga (Newall 85), Baker-McKay. Substitutes (not used): Ademiluyi, Cook, Rush.

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black, King, Morgan (Logan 85), Chaplin (c), Hall, Ajayi, Olusesi, Lehane (Hardy 90+2), Moore (Irow 71), Adewole. Substitutes (not used): Archer, Adelusi, Arganese-McDermott, Egan-Riley.

Match data

Goals: Burton Albion - Baker-McKay 52; Spurs - Hall 43, Lehane 47, Irow 90+3.

Yellow cards: Burton Albion - Scott 75; Spurs - Hall 31, Lehane 63.

Referee: Ashley Clarke.

Venue: Pirelli Stadium, Burton-on-Trent.

Weather: Light cloud, breezy, two degrees.

Attendance: 521.