Tottenham Hotspur   2    Watford   1      (Half-time score : 2-1)

Premier Academy League - Group B
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Wednesday 6th May 2009
Kick Off :  7.00 p.m.
Crowd :   5,034
Referee :  A. Crysell (-)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Warm, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Jansson

  2  Smith,
  5  Caulker
  6  Butcher
  3  Cox

  7  Byrne
  4  Parrett (c)
  8  Kasim (14  Kane 81)
11  Townsend

10  Mason

  9 Obika

Unused subs: 
12  Butler
13  Nicholson
15  Ekim
16  Carroll

Watford :

  1  Antal

  2  Thompson
  6  Lavers (c)
  5  Hodson
  3  Angus

  7  Bryan
  4  Penny
  8  Brooks (12  Isaac 56)
11  Mingoia (14  Massey 86)

  9  Sordell

10  Wichelow

Unused subs: 
13  Bond
15  Oshodi
16  Fenwick

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

  Watford
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Mason 2
Mason (p) 11

Watford

Whichelow 29

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

       

    

Watford

       

     

Match Report : -  
A fine first half put Tottenham's Under-18s in the driving seat in this game against Watford in their bid to win the FA Premier Academy League Group B title, but the play deteriorated in the second half, allowing the visitors to come into the game more.

A good crowd filed into the West Stand, but so slowly were they passing through the turnstiles that this correspondent missed the first goal.  Not because he got there late, but because it took almost fifteen minutes to get about 50 people through the turnstiles.

The lady next to me described Nathan Byrne's right wing cross that was directed at Ryan Mason on the 18 yard line.  The slightly built number 10 had no hesitation in hitting a first time volley past the rangy Botond Antal in the Watford goal to open the scoring with 70 seconds on the clock.

A goal could have been scored even before that, as Mason played in Byrne and the little winger's shot went wide, when he was well placed to score.

Spurs were moving the ball about nicely, with short passes and good movement off the ball, in a side missing John Bostock, who was away on England Under-17 duty, but with the returning Jon Obika and Andros Townsend, who were back from their loan spell at Yeovil Town.

A long ball over the defence in the fourth minute was expertly taken down by Mason and with Watford defenders around him he quickly got his shot off from just outside the box and Antal had to use the whole of his 6 foot plus length to tip the ball onto the foot of the post and off for a corner.

Watford did get forward, but with two forwards going in on the ball, Calum Butcher was strongest to block the ball.  Than with 11 minutes on the clock, Obika was on the left wing and knocked the ball inside to Townsend, who took the ball on his chest and burst forward into the penalty area, where Antal raced out and brought the Spurs winger down, as the ball was prodded past the keeper's outstretched arms.  Penalty.  And it was Mason who stepped up to calmly stroke the ball the opposite way to the keeper's dive and Spurs were two goals to the good.

While they were dominating possession, with Dean Parrett winning a lot of ball in midfield and using it well and Yaser Kasim showing off his skilful footwork, the side failed to turn the possession into goals.  Byrne was often free on the right wing, but was not picked out and Townsend on the left was crowded out by the Hornets defence.  Obika was not really getting much service in the penalty box and was mainly playing as a target man to hold the ball up and play in team-mates, while Adam Smith was often joining the attacks from right back, where he sped like a steam train up the wing with the ball.

As the first team sometimes fail to do, the game needed to be killed off and Spurs were pushed back slowly by Watford's resurgence.  Firstly Bryan was placed centrally, just outside the box and his shot went straight into Oscar Jansson's midriff.  But then on the half hour, A good ball inside Sam Cox by Kurtney Brooks allowed Matthew Whichelow in on the right wing, where he took a touch and then bent his shot across Jansson and into the far side of the net to make it 2-1.

There were shouts from Watford for a penalty when a left wing cross from Sordell hit Stephen Caulker on the arm, but there was not a positive response from the referee.  Five minutes later, they came closer to scoring again, when winger Sordell took a pot-shot from 20 yards out and Jansson dived to his right and pushed the ball away.

Twice Mason took the ball off the back four, as they dallied with it and once he had a go himself, bringing a save from the Watford keeper and the other time, he played in Obika, who shot at the keeper.

However, a couple of minutes before half-time, Spurs could have extended their lead, when Andros Townsend showed good footwork on the left to make space to fire in a low cross that flew along the six yard box and only needed a touch to go in, but Nathan Byrne got there, perhaps not expecting it to get that far and although he got something on it, the ball flew over the top from a couple of yards out.

The half-time break brought no changes to the teams and play resumed, but the Spurs team appeared to have tired with the effort put into the first 45 minutes, meaning that the short passing game was replaced by a longer ball game, which suited Watford better.  That didn't mean that there were not more chances for Spurs, who did a bit more with the ball than Watford did.

A couple of minutes after the interval, Mason knocked the ball in to Obika, but he couldn't get a shot in and the ball ran out to Adam Smith on the right and his shot flew too high from just inside the area, although Spurs claimed the keeper had got a touch on the shot.  Townsend's pace on the left was a problem for Watford's defence and he put a few fizzing low crosses across the face of goal, none of which found a Spurs player connecting with them.

The Spurs defence needed to be more alert in the second half and Smith was stopping progress down the Hornets left by the little winger Mingoia and Caulker and Butcher were throwing blocks to shots that prevented Watford providing Jansson with more work.  On the hour Smith cleared Sordell's shot off the line with a back-heel and a couple of minutes later, Mingoia and Whichelow worked a short corner that put the scorer in the area.  From a narrow angle, he blazed the ball across goal, but it ended up grazing the crossbar as it flew past Jansson and over the top.

From the goal-kick, Spurs found Jon Obika and from 30 yards he took the ball down and hit a dipping shot that Antal did well to push round the post.  Obika also threatened in the 68th minute, when he got on the end of Townsend's cross, but could not get his header on target.  Townsend also had a chance, when centrally placed, but he blazed over the top when he could have taken his time to get his shot on the goal.

Nathan Byrne, who was to see more of the ball this half, was causing problems on the Watford left, but their winger Mingoia was also getting a good amount of ball and it was his 71st minute cross that looked like it would provide the equaliser for the visitors, but Sordell failed to make any contact with the ball as it flew across the face of goal.

As with much of the second half, the play switched to the other end a couple of minutes later and a flowing move, which deserved a goal, brought a fine save form the Watford keeper.  Ryan Mason struck a cross-field ball to Adam Smith on the right wing and his immediate cross was volleyed at goal by Townsend from inside the box and Antal dived across his goal to beat the ball away.

As the game came towards it's end, Watford failed to penetrate the Tottenham back line as they went to a longer ball tactic and the Spurs central defenders dealt with this tactic admirably, with Cox and Smith cutting out the supply to the wide men.  With Kasim leaving the action and Harry Kane coming on, he and Parrett started winning more tackles in the middle of midfield and starting Spurs on the attack.

A free kick by Mason, similar to the one he scored with in the final of the Bellizona tournament, flashed across goal and missed the far post, then, five minutes from time, Obika got the ball and moved into the area, but dragged his shot disappointingly wide.  Townsend's corners from the Spurs left were causing Watford a lot of problems and when they managed to block one in-swinger, the ball came out to Byrne inside the area, but he failed to control his shot and it went way over the bar, but it was about the last chance in the game, which Spurs just about deserved to win.

The quick start gave them the advantage, but they failed to take it on from there and often lost the ball or gave it away cheaply in midfield, thus allowing Watford to get a foothold in the game.

But fine finishing from Mason and some good performances in defence ensured the three points that gave Tottenham the league title.  They now go on to play Sunderland away in a one match semi-final, with Manchester City and Arsenal in the other semi.

Marco van Hip

 

 

 

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