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Lankshear brace fires Under-21s to Premier League 2 play-off final triumph

Spurs 3-1 Sunderland (Premier League 2 play-off final)

Sun 26 May 2024, 17:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-21s enjoyed the dream end to a sensational 2023/24 campaign by lifting the Premier League 2 play-off final trophy with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

Having finished top of the league phase of the competition in April, goals either side of half-time from Premier League 2 Player of the Season Will Lankshear before a stoppage time strike from captain George Abbott saw Wayne Burnett's side finish the job against the Black Cats to win the competition for the first time.

Sunderland did pull a goal back in the final minutes of the game with Timur Tuterov crashing in from close range but it made little difference to the result with our young charges holding on to claim the title.

At the full-time whistle, skipper Abbott had the honour of lifting the trophy in front of thousands of fans in N17 while we also were presented a trophy to recognise our achievement of finishing in top spot during the league phase of the competition.

Having endured tough tests all along our journey to the final, our clash with the Wearsiders was no different as the men from the north east showed a real intent from the off. In the opening 30 minutes, the visitors created five decent openings with one drawing a stunning reflex save from Luca Gunter as Tommy Watson tried to crash the ball home from range.

Despite their bright showing though, it was us who took the lead and it was through a familiar source for us this term as Lankshear - who had 30 goals in all competitions to his name ahead of the final - was gifted one of his easiest finishes of the season with Abbott's clever cut-back evading everyone but the prolific forward for him to tuck home.

Behind in the game, Sunderland once again came onto us and could, and probably should, have levelled just before the break as Harrison Jones struck fiercely from the edge of the area, but this time the post came to our aid as the midfielder's effort rebounded before being sent wide by Trey Ogunsuyi. Jude Soonsup-Bell then had a good opportunity to double our lead in stoppage time but his header bounced just wide of the left upright.

Looking for a way back into the game, the Black Cats continued to look strong as we moved into the second half with Watson impressing in particularly - the winger hitting the post from an acute angle before dragging wide moments later. While the visitors were causing us issues though, they were lacking that killer instinct in front of goal, something which Lankshear has shown in abundance this season and showed once more on the hour mark as he was once again in the right place at the right time to tuck home a cut-back - this time from Soonsup-Bell - to put us in firm control.

Now two behind, the Mackems again rallied but once more, Gunter was our saviour between the sticks as he produced two more critical saves to preserve our advantage - first getting low to somehow parry away Watson's swirling drive before he was in the right place to stop a deflected free-kick from sneaking in at his near post.

Buoyed by Gunter's heroics, we went on to grab a third in injury time and make sure of the victory with Abbott crashing home a much-deserved goal after substitute Damola Ajayi had been denied impressively by Adam Richardson. With the win wrapped up, Sunderland did finally break our resolve with a matter of seconds left as Tuterov rattled in from close range, but it was a case of too little, too late for the visitors as we claimed victory before lifting the trophy in front of our fans.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

‘I’m so proud of the players’

Under-21s Coach Wayne was overjoyed at the final outcome, telling SPURSPLAY: “I’m so happy for everyone involved – for the players, for the staff, for the Club… it’s a really good achievement for us this season. We’re feeling a lot of happiness right now. I’m so proud of the players, they’ve given everything this season, we finished top of the table and went into a new format with the knockout stage, but we deserved to be in the final. We’ve had some really tough games but we’ve come through them and I’m just so pleased that we’ve managed to have one final push and do what we set out to do.”

Spurs 3-1 Sunderland (Premier League 2 play-off final)

Spurs: Gunter, John (McKnight 75), King, Cassanova, Ashcroft, Abbott (c), Soonsup-Bell (Akhamrich 69), Hall (Ajayi 90+2), Lankshear, Donley, Santiago. Substitutes (not used): Keeley, Williams.

Sunderland: Richardson, Taylor, Bainbridge, Middlemas, Bell (Lavery 89), Fieldson, Tuterov, H Jones (J Jones 78), Ogunsuyi, Kelly, Watson. Substitutes (not used): Chiubeze, Ryder, Chung.

Match Details

Goals: Spurs - Lankshear 39, 61, Abbott 90+5; Sunderland - Tuterov 90+7.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Donley 80, Abbott 85; Sunderland - Middlemas 87.

Referee: Garreth Rhodes.

Weather: Sunny with bursts of showers, 18 degrees.

Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Attendance: 4,182.