Tottenham Hotspur U21  3 (1)     Manchester United U21  1 (0)
Premier U21 League - Elite Group
Friday 15th February 2013                               Kick off 12:00
Hotspur Way
Obika  35
Obika  49
Obika  90
Thorpe 48


Tunicliffe (dissent) 82


Crowd :   About 100 Weather :  Sunny but chilly
Referee :  S. Daly Assistant Referees :  N. Dunn; S. Postin
- -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Whitewebbs Lane end in the first half.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit ?? : kit
  1  Jonathan MILES

  2  Nathan BYRNE
  5  Kyle NAUGHTON
  3  Zeki FRYERS

  7  Dean PARRETT
  8  Tom CARROLL
  6  Massimo LUONGO (c)

11  Cristian CEBALLOS  (15  Jack MUNNS 80)
10  Harry KANE
  Jon OBIKA     

Unused subs: 
12  Dean STEWART

13  Harry VOSS
14  Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO

    1  Sam JOHNSTONE

  2  Marnick VERMIJL
  5  Tom THORPE (c) 
  4  Reece BROWN

  7  Larnell COLE   (12  Tyler BLACKETT 80)
  6  Michele FORNASIER
  8  Ryan TUNNICLIFFE     
  9  Adnan JANUZAJ  (15
  Tom LAWRENCE 69)
11  Jess LINGARD  (14  Charni EKANGAMENE 85)

10  Nick POWELL

Unused subs: 
13  Jonathan SUTHERLAND
Gyliano van VELSEN

Manager :  Tim SHERWOOD Manager :  Warren JOYCE
Sponsor :   Aurasma Shirt sponsor :  AON
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Jon Obika's treble secured a well deserved win for a Tottenham side who passed the ball confidently and moved intelligently, against a Manchester United side that looked bereft of ideas and lacking the application to match the Spurs players' desire.

Around about 100 people were at the new training ground to see United return after playing here in the initial group stage of this competition to now face Spurs in the Elite Group stage. Among those gathered were Pat Jennings, David Pleat, Scott Parker coming over after training and the half-time guest from last night's first team match against Olympique Lyonnais, Nayim. The staff looking on included Tim Sherwood, Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand, who were with the team and first team assistant coach Steffen Freund.

Where I was standing on the barrier around the pitch, there were two Russian guys who appeared to be scouts from Brighton, as they had a branded notebook which they were scribbling on during the game. And they were not alone, with a clutch of agents and scouts from other clubs, including an Ipswich Town branded car I saw leaving the car park. With the Football League loan window open, I suppose they are seeking players who might be able to do a job for 90 days for them.

It was my first visit to Hotspur Way and I must say, it is a very impressive sight. Unlike the old Cheshunt training ground and those at Mill Hill and Spurs Lodge, the training ground is a long way in off the road. The entry barriers are manned by very polite and welcoming staff, who directed me to the visitor's car park. There is a separate car park and reception for the First team. The fans were invited into the main reception to await the kick off and there was a coffee machine and a huge bank of screens on the wall playing videos of Spurs teams of various ages from under-10 upwards. Having seen these youngsters in action, if this is the future of the club, then it looks like it is in good feet.

Moving out to the pitch, the buildings are sympathetic to the surroundings and the curvature on the main building fits in with the greenery of the location and when the planting comes to maturity, it will be a fine sight. The pitches themselves were in immaculate condition. Considering that the ground was under snow this time last weekend, with piles of snow cleared from one of the pitches still remaining outside the reception, the groundsmen had done a marvellous job in producing a level playing surface, which obviously suits Tottenham's style of play.

Spurs lined up with a host of familiar names, with a few having had first team experience. Kyle Naughton and Jake Livermore formed the central defensive partnership, while former United trainee Zeki Fryers and Nathan Byrne slotted into the full back positions. Midfield consisted of three players – Tom Carroll, captain Massimo Luongo and Dean Parrett and there was Harry Kane, Cristian Ceballos and Jon Obika making up the three up front.

United fielded some names I had heard of in Ryan Tunnicliffe, Reece Brown and the big money signing from Crewe Alexandra they beat Spurs to, Nick Powell. None of the others were familiar names and listening to some of the United fans who had made the trip down for the match, it appears that many of their fringe players take part in the reserve league. While I thought it was a culture shock coming from a Europa League match to this, the United fans were chatting about their trip to the Bernabeu !!

When the game started, Spurs kicked off and all the players looked comfortable on the ball. They moved it around using a lot of one touch football and playing little triangles, which United tried to close down quickly. This meant that much of the play was constricted to the middle third of the pitch, but Tottenham looked to get Byrne and Fryers away to support the attack whenever they could. Fryers looked a little nervous, perhaps wanting to do well against his former team-mates, with his distribution a little shaky, but he is a big lad; strong and reads the game well. In contrast, Nathan Byrne is shorter, but also strongly built and loved to link up with the attack, playing nest short passes to try and open up space down the right.

As a result of Tottenham's passing game being broken down and United relying more on the long ball, which mostly didn't find it's target, the first effort on goal came halfway through the first half, when Jon Obika flashed a hopeful 30 yard shot over the bar. The deadlock was broken by Obika, but it took until the 36th minute, when Spurs worked some good space on the left wing and Fryers pulled the ball low towards the near post. United defender Brown made a hash of clearing the ball and had two goes at getting rid of it, but failed and Obika, standing in front of him, got the ball out of his feet, turned and fired in from close range across the goalie.

United were failing to show any pattern of play and for all the talk on their website by their U21 manager Warren Joyce about wanting a test at this level, they failed to provide much in terms of a test themselves. Powell up front was isolated on his own and there was little support from Januzaj, the man playing in the hole behind him or the four man midfield. Therefore, Jonathan Miles in the Spurs goal had little of note to do in the first half. He did have to pick the ball out of the net, but it was chalked off as Januzaj was offside before putting it past the Spurs keeper.

But the goal ha inspired Spurs, who quickened the tempo and moved the ball around sharply. Obika played the ball to Kane on the left and although his shot was blocked, he got the loose ball setting up Luongo, who tried one from 25 yards out that ended up going over the top. Parrett then played Obika in for a low shot that the keeper pushed out before Livermore broke forward with the ball and set up Obika to fire a shot that went too high. The Spurs forward was really getting a taste for it now and just before half-time, a move that went through Kane and Parrett ended with Obika trying to lift the ball over the United keeper, but he grabbed it easily.

With the sun shining and no changes at half-time, United kicked off and looked more determined, so the team-talk must have stirred them into action. It took just three minutes of the half for the visitors to pull level. Good work by Adnan Januzaj laid the ball into the path of United captain Tom Thorpe, who rifled a shot high past Jonathan Miles, right hand from just left of centre to make it 1-1.

The visitors' joy was short-lived however, as Spurs hit back within two minutes. A corner on the right hand side was taken by Ceballos, with the ball being headed away to the far side, where Naughton lifted a cross back to the far post finding Harry Kane totally unmarked. The striker's header looped over the keeper, but struck the bar and bounced down in front of goal, where Obika was on hand to stoop low to head the ball over the line from a yard out.

Spurs were much more effective than United and some heavy challenges from the United players were a sign that they were trying to rough-house Spurs out of it. But sharp passing allowed Spurs to work their way around the opposition and pull them out of shape, making further chances. Kane's shot on the turn on the edge of the box brought a low save from Johnstone. From the corner, Ceballos' ball in was cleared back to him and he put in a shot-cum cross in that was heading in under the bar until the keeper tipped it over.

United were looking to open the Spurs defence up with through balls and when they stole the ball on the right hand side of the pitch, a ball intended for Lingard was picked off by Byrne, who had sprinted back to cover and he took the ball from in front of Miles, calmly moving the ball out of the penalty area with no panic.

With half an hour of the second half gone, Spurs passed the ball well up the left side and the ball was played in to Obika around 12 yards out. The forward's shot was well pushed out by Johnstone, but the ball went into the air and Tom Carroll ran in to head at goal, putting the ball a couple of feet over the bar.

This did spark a little spell of pressure form United, with Powell turning on a shot that flew just wide of Miles' left hand post a minute later. Then in the next minute, United played the ball well from right to left and the ball came back to Tunnicliffe 20 yards out. The United midfielder hit a low shot to the keeper's right that missed by inches.

With ten minutes remaining, Jon Obika broke forward from the edge of the centre circle and having run 40 yards tried a shot to beat the keeper, but he caught it comfortably, much to the despair of Spurs players who were looking for a pass. Straight afterwards, Jack Munns came on for Ceballos and United made their second change with Tom Lawrence coming on, who looked more comfortable running with the ball, but, as for so much of the game, the final ball was not good enough.

Spurs were still creating chances and Kane's low shot from Munns' run brought a save out of the United keeper and then Parrett forced another stop with a deft shot that the keeper managed to touch just wide.

It was interesting to hear the referee as the game went on and Mr. Daly was quite vocal as he let the players know what he thought and whether decisions were going to be given. Shouting “Great tackle” or “Don't even think about trying it” to players when they made a good challenge or went down to easily let them know exactly what he was thinking. He twice threatened United players Lingard and Powell with being sent off if there was a repetition for a rash tackle and abusive dissent, while Cristian Ceballos got the same warning for a heavy challenge on the keeper Johnstone. When the ref did finally book someone, it was Tunnicliffe for dissent, as the ref said he was “doing his head in” !!

With the game coming to a close, Parrett once more set up Obika, who hit his shot a little too high, but in the last minute, the ball was intercepted and the same two players linked up, with the forward receiving the ball passed between two defenders and he took his shot first time, steering the ball low past Johnstone into the bottom corner for his hat-trick.

There was little for United to be pleased about and the way their players trudged off at the end they looked like they would be getting ready for a roasting. Having drawn 2-2 with Arsenal at home in their last match, perhaps they were expecting an easier ride than they got.

Tottenham's style of play made it very difficult for United to cope with. The 4-3-3 formation may well be the one that AVB is developing for the first team to play eventually and it is one that the side seemed comfortable with. Their quality of passing was easy on the eye and all the players played a part in that. It was nice to see that free-kicks were all taken short, to keep the flow of play going and there was no lumping the ball into the box and hoping for the best. In contrast, United's open play consisted mainly of that. High and long balls looking for Powell, but they were usually poorly delivered and failed to trouble Spurs too often.

A good win and a good performance, which shows their position at the top of the Under-21 league table is not a false one.

Jonathan Miles : - Tall, confident keeper, who had few moments of worry in the game. No chance with the goal, but looked good in positioning terms and looks like he has safe hands.

Zeki Fryers : - Tall, athletic defender who was up against his old team-mates. Won a lot of challenges and liked getting forward. Sometimes got caught tight to the line when trying to clear the ball, but as the game went on, he grew in confidence and gave the United defence some problems down the left.

Nathan Byrne : - Solidly built right back, who is quick and knows where to move when supporting the attack. Reads situations well and looks as though his spell with Crawley has toughened him up.

Jake Livermore : - Played in central defence and won a lot in the air and almost everything on the ground. His midfield experience helped him read the game in front of him and when to move forward with the ball. A solid, experienced performance.

Kyle Naughton : - Confident on the ball and well ahead of the game mentally, Kyle put in a really good performance, helping the full backs with advice as they went through the game.

Massimo Luongo : - Captain for the match, he was perhaps the most impressive player on display. While goals win matches, his effort in midfield closing down and challenging his United counterparts and his passing and running with the ball were a major part of Tottenham's win.

Dean Parrett : - A player who has been at Spurs a few years now, without making the breakthrough, but he showed here that he has developed into a dynamic midfielder, who has the experience of when to release other players with threaded passes.

Tom Carroll : - Midfielder with first team experience had a quiet game, but he was always available to receive the ball and kept it moving when Spurs were in possession.

Jon Obika : - Not the most aggressive of strikers, but appears to be the sort of forward who has the knock of being in the right place at the right time. Took his goals well and they were all different finishes, but also linked play well. Needs to be aware of others if better placed than him.

Harry Kane : - Played off Obika and worked hard to get the ball and used it well when he had it. Didn't have many chances to get shots on goal, but the few he did hit the target. Linked well with the other forwards and especially Ceballos.

Cristian Ceballos : - Flighty winger, who put in some jinky runs on the flanks. Provided some good crosses and had some efforts on goal, but his moves tended to be outside the defender and it might have been interesting to see him coming infield sometimes.

Jack Munns : - Only had five minutes as a substitute, but ran directly at the United defence causing them problems.

Marco van Hip



Back to homepage