Tottenham 1 United 3: U18s bounce back in style to stun Spurs
Posted by nickogs20 on August 29, 2009
August 29th 2009, 11am
Spurs Lodge, Chigwell
|Tottenham Hotspur U18s||1-3||Manchester United U18s|
|Oyenuga 48||–||Cofie 3|
United’s U18 side produced the perfect response to last week’s opening day defeat with an impressive dismantling of Tottenham at Spurs Lodge this morning. The damage was done in a scintillating first half-hour as the Reds raced into a 3-0 lead with goals from John Cofie, Robbie Brady and Joshua King, and while Spurs pulled a goal back early in the second half and made much more of a fight of it, United weathered the storm and ultimately ran out comfortable winners.
The loss of Sam Johnstone, Tom Thorpe, Ravel Morrison and Will Keane to England U17 duty ensured Paul McGuinness would have to make at least four changes to last week’s starting XI, but such is the strength in depth of the pool of players available to him this season, the Reds boss was able to bring in Conor Devlin, Sean McGinty, Etzaz Hussain and Joshua King as replacements and barely weaken the side (if at all). The other seven starters from last Saturday’s defeat to Southampton all retained their places, meaning still no sightings of new signings Paul Pogba or Alberto Massacci.
Spurs won their Academy Group at a canter last season and were runners-up to Arsenal in the national playoffs so this had all the makings of a tricky away trip, but some devastating counter-attacking play saw United seize control and a 2-0 lead with the game only just over ten minutes old. John Cofie opened the scoring with less than 150 seconds having elapsed, latching onto Hussain’s lofted through-ball and powering past Blackwood with almost embarrassing ease before driving the ball low and hard past Oscar Jansson in the Spurs goal – a goal that showed what Cofie is all about, pace and power in abundance and an eye for goal.
The hosts were stunned and firmly on the backfoot as the Reds constantly surged forward in numbers and at electric pace, looking to press home their early advantage. They didn’t have to wait long to do so either, as yet another rapid break caused havoc in the Spurs defence. Nicky Ajose’s ball in from the right was miskicked by Ryan Tunnicliffe but fell for captain Robbie Brady at the far post, who lashed the ball past Jansson from a tight angle.
McGuinness’ team looked like they could score every time they went forward and Spurs had no real answer to the pacy United front four and the central midfield promptings of Tunnicliffe and Hussain, so it was no great surprise when the Reds went further ahead just before the half-hour mark. What looked like a fairly harmless clearance forward from Reece Brown was flicked on by Cofie, and King found himself in acres of space behind the Tottenham backline. Full of confidence after his terrific start to the season, the Norwegian nonchalantly skipped past Jansson before slotting into the vacant net. For wildly differing reasons neither side really looked like they could believe the scoreline.
Things could have got worse for Spurs before the half-time interval as Tunnicliffe guided a free header inches wide and other promising United moves didn’t quite come off. As it was, Alex Inglethorpe’s side finally offered some resistance – skipper Harry Kane’s long-range effort leaving Devlin helpless and cannoning off the bar – and made it to the break with only the three-goal deficit, and they emerged for the second half determined to do something about it.
Lapses of concentration before and after half-time have been an achilles heel of sorts for United in recent times, and despite having the first chance of the second 45 (Brady curling a 20-yard freekick straight at Jansson), the Reds’ rearguard was caught cold again shortly after the restart.
Winger Paul McBride had been the Lilywhites’ most promising attacking outlet in the first half and he did the damage, cutting in from the right and eluding Zeki Fryers and Sean McGinty before firing the ball across goal. Devlin got a hand to it but in the ensuing goalmouth scramble, the ball was bundled over the line by Kudus Oyenuga.
As is so often the case, that goal completely changed the complexion of the game, at least for a short while. All of a sudden it was Spurs in the ascendancy, and while King in particular continued to pose a real threat on the break for United, the team’s focus was forced to shift to weathering the Tottenham storm. A shaky ten minute spell saw the Reds become panicky in possession and unable to prevent the home side building up a head of steam, but the back four of Brown, Wootton, McGinty and Fryers held firm, ably supported by a hard-working midfield.
Gradually United were able to take the sting out of the game and regain some momentum, and the last quarter of the game was played out with the boys in red very much back in control. Chances came and went for Brady, King and Ajose, but spurning them never looked likely to prove costly as Spurs players were left chasing shadows at times by some excellent possession football. Cofie and King, having run themselves into the ground, were replaced by Jesse Lingard and Larnell Cole as the Reds closed out the game, 3-1 a more than fair reflection of their superiority over the ninety minutes.
STAR MAN: Joshua King – several others made compelling cases (Tunnicliffe, Hussain, Brady) but the 17 year-old from Oslo once again showed why everyone has been talking about him these past few weeks. Tottenham’s defenders couldn’t handle his pace, strength and ability on the ball, and on another day he could have ended up with a hattrick. Did look punched out near the end however and his substitution highlighted one major area of Josh’s game that still needs work – his fitness.
Click here for a Spurs perspective.
1. Conor Devlin
2. Reece Brown
3. Zeki Fryers
4. Scott Wootton
5. Sean McGinty
6. Etzaz Hussain
7. Nicky Ajose
8. Ryan Tunnicliffe
9. Joshua King (14. Larnell Cole 87)
10. John Cofie (15. Jesse Lingard 65)
11. Robbie Brady (c)
Subs not used
12. Michael Keane
16. Luke Giverin
Spurs U18s: Jansson; Durojaiye, Blackwood, Cox, Francis-Angol (Ekim, 70); Byrne, Parrett, Mpoku (Fredericks, 55), McBride (O’Neill, 75); Kane; Oyenuga. Unused: Butler, Nicholson.
Referee: S Kay