|COMPETITION||Premier Under-21 League|
|DATE||Friday 11th March 2016|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Premier Under-21 League
Friday 11th March 2016
White Hart Lane
Kick off 19:00
Walker-Peters (foul on Adams)
Adams (foul on Maghoma)
|Crowd : 1,500 est.||Weather : Mild|
|Referee : - (-)||Assistant Referees : -; -|
|Fourth Official : --|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 8 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Norwich City :||kit|
Kyle WALKER-PETERS (c)
9 Will MILLER
Reece HALL-JOHNSON (c)
9 Bernard ASHLEY-SEAL
|Manager : Ugo Ehiogu||Manager : -|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Aviva|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Errea|
Norwich City Under-21s won this Premier League meeting against Spurs at White Hart Lane in what can only be described as a professional performance. And that is 'professional' in the meaning of using the 'replace' function on Microsoft Word to put cynical in its place.
While they made the most of their attacks, but could really have won by more, their approach makes a mockery of what is trying to be achieved in this competition. If development is the aim, then all I can consider Norwich are developing their youngsters for is a battle against relegation, as these would be able to step straight into the first team and offer lots of endeavour, effort and ferocity. It is a shame, as precious Canaries teams have shown that they have an exciting range of skills in their younger ranks, but this current crop's skills are limited. They are all big, physical specimens, but their intent was questionable and so was the refereeing of the match. If it is intended that the respect referees seek is laid down at this age (and younger), then booking a City player for kicking the ball away is what we want to see. Allowing another to do the same thing without punishment two minutes later is not. Additionally, did I miss the memo that said when players go into a challenge studs up and two feet off the ground, this is not even a free-kick. Admittedly he won the ball, but reckless and out of control it certainly was and maybe free-kicks and bookings for this sort of challenge at this level would mean that when the players progress to the first team, there may be less of these tackles flying around.
Joe Crowe, who went in two footed, was one I thought would be seeing red before the end, but he played out the game without troubling the referees pencil somehow, even though he seemed to want to play the game with his arms a lot of the time and had a running battle with Will Miller (two feet shorter than the central defender). The fact that Kyle Walker-Peters was the one to see red was a little frustrating. Not that it wasn't deserved for two fouls within a minute, but both had come after he had been continually fouled (sometimes without a free-kick being given) and the second accompanied by the now "first team" style squeal as Adams was tackled. It was a foul, but the card was heralded by the agonising scream, although the player got up to play on without treatment. 'Professional'.
As were the 'tactical' fouls or 'professional' fouls as I reckon they are. They might not be stopping a goal-scoring opportunity, but they are designed to stop players breaking away and creating something.
As for the actual football itself, Spurs could have been a goal ahead inside of two minutes, when Emmanuel Sonupe struck a fierce drive from outside the box and the keeper Kean failed to hold it. In nipped Miller, who nudged the ball around him and had to turn 180 degrees to get his shot on goal, but his effort was lifted just a little too high and the ball sailed over the angle at the far side with the open goal yawning below it. Will Miller was impressive all night, showing lots of hunger to receive the ball and a good ability on it. One turn away from two Norwich defenders left them for dead and his later contribution was well deserved.
As it was, when play moved to the other end within a minute, Spurs were behind. Grant, in a central position, picked out Lewis' run on the left and from just inside the left corner of the penalty area, he shot low past McDermott to hit the bottom corner of the net. The keeper could have made himself bigger and a bit more difficult for the Norwich man, but he had been left exposed by the defence.
So, with four minutes gone the Spurs side were a goal behind and against a physically bigger side, they had a job on to get back into the match. They responded well, with good passing to open up chances for Anthony Georgiou and Luke Amos, but the City players blocked them before they got near the keeper. The Spurs goalie was not having a great time and skewed a clearance that was worked back into the Tottenham area to Ashley-Seal, but he got the ball stuck between his feet when 10 yards out and only McDermott between him and the goal. Christian Maghoma did well to dispossess him without fouling and the chance evaporated. Not that it mattered as Spurs went further behind in the 37th minute. A free-kick awarded 25 yards out saw Grant, looking for all the world like Robbie Savage (with an Alice band) stepped up to hit the target with the ball going in down to McDermott's left. It looked as though the keeper might have done a bit better and his positioning of the wall might need some work. It was interesting that Tom Glover wasn't included in the starting line-up, although it might have been because he only returned the same day from the delayed return from Germany.
Miller's sharp turn lead to a break that ended with Sonupe having two shots blocked and then from a resulting corner, he played a low cross through the six yard box that nobody could get a touch on. That was just before half-time and there was a little time left for a flashpoint when Adams went in late on Maghoma on the halfway line. His studs went into the Spurs centre-half's ankle and there was a bit of a face-off before the referee booked the Canary. It led to Maghoma being substituted at half-time, with midfielder Marcus Edwards coming on and a reshuffle pushing Filip Lesniak into the middle of the back four. For a short player, he won a lot in the air, as he has a good spring to his jump.
There was a bit of a battle in midfield when the second half started and both sides failed to threaten the goal. McDermott was right behind a long range effort from Adams and Walker-Peters put a low ball across the face of goal, which was cleared before a Spurs player could latch onto it at the far post. Tottenham's defence were opened up at the other end, with a through pass leaving Ashley-Seal running in on McDermott, but as his shot beat the keeper, it thudded off his right hand post and out with a quarter of an hour to go.
The professional approach that Norwich had employed the whole game obviously got to Spurs skipper Kyle Walker-Peters, who fouled dams twice in a couple of minutes, with the referee deeming the fouls both worth bookings and he was sent off for the second. Strange that certain yellow and green shirted players were getting away with similar and not being pulled up for it. The expected onslaught with an extra man didn't materialise from Norwich, although substitute McIntosh brought two good saves from McDermott. The first was from a shot from a narrow angle on the left, which the keeper got a good wrist to to push wide and the second came after a mazy dribble in the box and McDermott stood tall at his near post to block the fierce shot from point blank range.
While it looked like Norwich would see out the game, especially as they were taking the ball into the corners to waste time, Spurs suddenly got back into it. Marcus Edwards showed his neat ability by tricking his way past four players on the right side of the box and drilling a shot in on goal. Kean was unable to deal with it and the ball ended up bouncing out to Miller around the penalty spot and he showed good technique to keep the ball down and fire his volley past a number of players in front of him to narrow the score-line. Kean then tried to hold on the ball in the net and Loft was booked for trying to get on with the game by wrestling it off him. Interesting that as the visitors were desperate to see out the remaining time to the final whistle that the referee later booked the Norwich keeper for kicking the bal away. Consistency ? Not on display tonight form the man with the whistle.
Not a lot else happened in added time, so Norwich got what they came for and their tactics might have justified the result from their point of view, but it is hard to see many of these youngsters going on to have a good Premier League career. It looks like their management are already planning for a more agricultural approach in what might be the lower reaches of the league structure.
As for Spurs, Walkes and Maghoma were both at home bringing the ball out of defence and Lesniak had a quiet first half, but was well suited to the central defensive role. Sonupe looked good on the ball, but didn't get it enough and Marcus Edwards gave a glimpse of what has been said about him. A short midfielder, he has good ball skills and can open up defences. Amos worked hard in midfield, but Georgiou and Pritchard had little opportunity to show what they can do, while Stylianides was put in at left back and stuck to his task.
Perhaps not the best performance by the Tottenham team, but there is a plan there top bring them through to the first team and the way the side plays reflects that. If this is the way Norwich intend their players to play, then they will either fight their way out of the relegation struggle or be ready to fight for promotion again.
Marco van Hip
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