Tottenham played in the spirit
of the first team on a chilly night at White Hart Lane, which still
held some of the warmth from Saturday's win over Arsenal, but the
youngsters showed enough class to see off a talented Manchester
United side and progress to the quarter finals of the FA Youth Cup.
With the bottom of the West
Stand Lower filled and a bit of the away section containing an
overspill of United fans with their flags proclaiming "Telford
Reds", there was a boisterous atmosphere, with, I imagine, about ten
members of the 1882 club providing noise from the Tottenham Boys,
much to the disgust of the elderly Spurs fan in front of me, who
shot them looks that could kill every time they piped up. We
could have done without the swearing from them though, with such a
large number of very young fans in attendance.
As it was, the game started
reasonably quietly, with each side checking each other out.
Ismail Azzaoui looked keen to get on the ball on Tottenham's left
wing, but was crowded out most times, while Zenon Styliandies and
Luke Amos tigerishly won tackles in midfield. Spurs had put in
a couple of crosses, which tested United keeper Henderson and he
looked less than comfortable underneath them. For their part,
the United central defensive pairing snapped into tackles and their
midfield struggled to hold onto the ball, as they were pressured by
their opposite numbers in the Spurs team and lacked the accuracy and
sharpness of passing as the home team.
It was the Belgian Azzaoui
who almost opened the scoring with a shot at goal that took a
deflection which took the ball wide. From the second phase of play
following the corner, Ismail lifted a high ball back into the
goalmouth, where centre half Christian Maghoma jumped higher than
the keeper's outstretched arms and headed the ball at goal, but it
went inches wide of the far post. Maghoma looked as though he didn't
think the keeper would fail to reach it and wasn't aware of where
the header would go.
When Maghoma moved forward again, his near post flick was blocked
out for another corner, this time on the Tottenham left. Azzaoui
took it and played it in low and fast to the near post. Anton Walkes
moved to flick it on, but the ball ran right across the six yard box
for Anthony Georgiou to move onto it and knock it into the net from
close range to give Tottenham a 20th minute lead. You could see that
reaction from the players showed how much it meant to them.
But that lead was only five minutes old, when a soft free-kick was
given to United just over 25 yards out for a shoulder to shoulder
challenge by Carter-Vickers. When United's striker Marcus Rashford
stepped up to take it, he bent it perfectly over the wall and just
inside Harry Voss' left hand post and beyond his dive. It was a very
good goal, but the player blotted his copybook shortly after, when
he took down Walkes and earned a booking for his unnecessary foul.
He was lucky to not see red as he deserved another yellow for his
refusal to come to the referee when beckoned. It was a show of
disrespect that referees should really be stamping out at this age
group, otherwise, it continues and gets worse as their career
United failed to capitalise on their goal, with long diagonal balls
trying to catch out the Spurs defence, but usually being over-hit.
Any through passes were well picked off by the central defenders,
but Tottenham began making inroads on the left with Azzaoui's skills
providing an effective outlet, while Georgiou's direct running on
the right was another avenue of attack. Shayon Harrison was
leading the line, with Josh Onomah supporting from just behind him,
with the former hitting a low shot that forced the keeper into a
save. The rest if the half was played out in midfield with
possession being exchanged, although Spurs had the more attacking
Half time saw no changes and the teams lined up for the restart,
with a slower start and few clear openings created. Voss had
little to do and the only threat on the United goal was a shot from
Georgiou. When the winger got another shot away, it was blocked and
Walkes followed up, but could only loop the ball onto the top of the
goal net with a header. United did pose a bit of a threat, with
their number three Cameron Borthwick-Jackson getting forward to find
the net, but the linesman's flag denied him, as he had been offside.
Six minutes after the interval, Spurs opened up the United defence.
Building it from the back, the ball was worked through midfield to
Onomah, who showed great maturity, he squared the ball to his left
to allow Azzaoui to delicately lift the ball over the advancing
Henderson to put Tottenham ahead again. It was a well built move and
a classy finish from the winger who has now scored in each round of
this competition this season.
There was an embarrassing moment, but I am not sure who for.
Walker-Peters showed great pace to break forward and race into the
Manchester United box, but as he saw Fosu-Mensah coming, he hurdled
the tackle, leaving the referee to rush over and book the Spurs full
back for diving. He didn't appeal for a penalty and it seemed a
harsh yellow card. Things almost got worse, when he later called
captain Onomah over to speak to him after Walker-Peters threw the
ball up in the air after he had conceded a free-kick. Odd in that he
let Rashford get away with a blatant show of disrespect earlier in
the match. Added to the fact that Rashford also kicked the ball away
when he had also given away a free-kick.
Spurs were building up the pressure on the United goal, with some
crisp passing and good movement, but they were being repelled by
some desperate defending, with shots being blocked as Tottenham
built moves around the edge of the United box. There was one chance
for United that caused some concern, when Tyler raced forward from
the back and left Kyle Walker-Peters trailing, but when he got into
the area, he could not find the power behind his effort and Voss
saved it well.
However, in Tottenham's next attack, they put the result beyond
United's youngsters. Walker-Peters played the ball along the right
wing to Georgiou, who cut inside and as the keeper got stuck on his
line and with no defender staying with him, he cut his shot across
Henderson and into the far side of the goal to make it 3-1. It was
another well taken chance and gave Spurs breathing space with 19
minutes left and United expected to come strong before the end.
Azzaoui came off, with 16 year old Marcus Edwards replacing him and
Georgiou switched to the left wing. Kazaiah Sterling came on
as a sub for Harrison and then Charlie Owens brought on fresh legs
for the industrious Stylianides, with Sterling testing the
opposition defence with his darting runs and the keeper with two
good shots. Edwards also missed by a narrow margin as he managed to
squirm his way into the United penalty box.
With the game coming into two minutes of added time, Spurs had to be
strong to hold out from a final push by United. Voss beat out one
shot from inside the area and then held the second, before Tyler
moved forward and getting a shot off, but it slipped past the left
hand post of the Spurs goal and that was the game won and an away
tie against Forest in the next round.
There were elements of the first team's match against Arsenal, with
the two defensive midfielders busy the whole game, closing and
harrying the United players on the ball. It dictated the tempo of
the match and the way that Spurs moved the ball wide which stretched
the United team, who were narrower in their set-up. Rashford was
less effective in the second half, as the defence, superbly
marshalled by Cameron Carter-Vickers, clamped down every time United
Spurs were impressive and while they had struggled past Wolves in
the last round after taking the lead, this performance was well
rounded and the win well deserved.
My view of the
Spurs players who took part are : -
Harry Voss : - Solid in his shot-stopping, but his handling could be
a bit more reassured.
Communicates well with his defenders and they seem to have
confidence in him.
Kyle Walker-Peters : - Pacy and good with the ball at his feet, he
did get caught out once, when covering on the other side of the
pitch, when Tyler went forward. Good defending and better going
Anton Walkes : - A solid performance from Walkes, who kept his
opponent wide and rarely got beaten. Also found himself in forward
positions which lead to the first goal.
Cameron Carter-Vickers : - Dominating presence in the heart of the
defence. A strong head on young shoulders, Carter-Vickers showed why
he is so highly rated with an experienced reading of the play, which
allowed him to cut out a lot of attacks before they developed.
Christian Maghoma : - A good partner alongside Carter-Vickers and he
had a similar game. Good in the air at both ends of the pitch and
assured in possession enough to bring the ball out from the back.
Luke Amos : - Gave everything in a performance as one of the
defensive midfielders to break up play and put pressure on United's
players. Forced mistakes and when in possession, used the ball
Harry Stylianides : - Worked in tandem with Amos to give a
performance that limited the forward moves that United tried to
build. Keen on getting forward, he had the engine to cover the
ground and his late substitution was a chance for fresh legs to fill
in towards the end.
Josh Onomah : - Onomah's role as captain gave him the responsibility
that sat easily on his shoulders. A calm presence in midfield,
playing just behind Harrison, his passing helped keep Spurs moving
Ismail Azzaoui : - Initially unsure on the ball, but after the first
ten minutes, he settled and looked strong on the ball and was able
to spot good passes to team-mates. Took his goal with great
Anthony Georgiou : - Dynamic and hard-working, he took both his
goals well and his reading of the game got him into those positions.
Shayon Harrison : - Played the lone striker role well, holding up
the ball until he got support and kept the United defence occupied.
An intelligent performance.
Marcus Edwards : - Tiny in comparison to the rest of the players,
but his low centre of gravity helped him turn players and he showed
good skill on the ball. His little legs move fast.
Kazaiah Sterling : - Pacy, confident runner with the ball and good
at getting into shooting positions.
Strong on the ball for a player who looks light-weight.
Charlie Owens : - Didn't have a lot of opportunity to get into the
game, but looked to get forward and had enough nous to get back when
Marco van Hip