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Under-21s book place in Premier League Cup knockouts!

Spurs 1-0 Bristol City (Premier League Cup)

Tue 30 January 2024, 21:30|Tottenham Hotspur

A late-winner from in-form Will Lankshear saw our Under-21s overcome a stubborn Bristol City to progress to the Premier League Cup knockout stages on Tuesday night.

Three days on from his hat-trick against Aston Villa, the striker was this time asked to make an impact off the bench as he came on with 15 minutes remaining and duly delivered as he headed home with a minute to spare at St Albans City’s Clarence Park.

Prior to that, Will Andiyapan had come closest with a header that skimmed the upright on 25 minutes but the better chances fell to the Robins either side of half-time as Aaron Maguire did well to keep out Omar Taylor-Clarke’s deflected attempt before Ephraim Yeboah somehow blazed over from eight yards out three minutes after the interval.

That win makes it five wins from five in the competition and, crucially, secures top spot to ensure a favourable home tie against the runners-up of Group F in the Round of 16.

After a quick turnaround from our Premier League 2 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, Under-21s coach Wayne Burnett made three changes to the side to face the west country outfit which saw a change of shape to a predominantly 3-5-2 formation.

With the Robins targeting a victory to help their own qualification cause, they certainly asked questions of our defence in the early stages as Yeboah scuffed a first-time effort straight at Maguire two minutes in before Ben Acey’s dangerous cross from the right forced Alfie Dorrington into a risky but necessary defensive header which flashed across the face of goal.

In an opening period that lacked clearcut chances for either side, our best opportunities came midway through the half as Andiyapan rose highest at the back post to meet Nile John’s deep cross after a corner but his glancing header under pressure fell just the wrong side of the upright in the 25th minute. And then, seven minutes later, with our wing-backs – Jahziah Linton and Maxwell McKnight – pushing high down the flanks, the latter found himself furthest forward to latch onto Jude Soonsup-Bell’s flick on through the middle of the pitch but sent his 25-yard attempt straight at Jose Casa-Grande in the Bristol goal.

However, it was the visitors who perhaps had the best chances to break the deadlock either side of the interval. First, goalkeeper Magiure produced a good save with an outstretched leg after being wrong-footed by Taylor-Clarke’s deflected shot from the edge of the area as captain Brooklyn Lyons-Foster scrambled it clear, and then Yeboah was given the freedom of the box after we were robbed in possession on the edge of the area but the striker fired over on 48 minutes.

One dampener on proceedings was seeing the commanding Dorrington – who has stepped up to the first-team matchday squad in recent months – forced off through injury on the hour mark. Further substitutes were then called upon as we pushed for a winner with a quarter of normal time remaining, with Burnett turning to Lankshear - who received a warm reception from the St Albans’ faithful in the crowd after his brother, Alex, had a spell at Clarence Park - and brought on versatile defender Leo Black for his debut.

As our players off the bench added fresh impetus and our superior fitness started to come to the fore, spaces started to open up which Lankshear exploited as he skipped past a few tiring defenders and laid in the overlapping Andiyapan down the right whose looping effort from the corner of the area fell agonisingly onto the roof of the net.

With the contest looking destined for a goalless draw with one minute of regular time to play, it took a flowing team move of real quality to get the breakthrough. The impressive Jaden Williams the architect, initially spinning his marker in a central area, before spreading it wide to the left, getting the return off substitute Max Robson and bending a teasing cross which the locally-born striker headed back across the goalkeeper to clinch the win.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

Spurs 1-0 Bristol City (Premier League Cup)

Spurs: Maguire; Andiyapan, Lyons-Foster (c), Dorrington (Ashcroft 60); McKnight, John, Abbott (Black 76), Cassanova, Linton (Robson 48); Soonsup-Bell (Lankshear 76), Williams. Substitutes (not used): Warren.

Bristol City: Casa-Grande; Acey (James 69), Wood, Idehen, Leeson (Morrison 69); Taylor-Clarke (Hewlett 90+6), Kadji (Meerholz 90+6), Backwell (c) (Phillips 90+6); Hutton, Yeboah, Churchley.

Match data

Goal: Spurs – Lankshear 89.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Soonsup-Bell 70; Bristol City – Acey 38, Kadji 87.

Referee: Andrew Humphries.

Venue: Clarence Park, St Albans.

Attendance: 690.

Weather: Dry, six degrees.