West Ham United  2 (2)                                                                                     Tottenham Hotspur  3 (0)
Premier Under-21 League
Friday 23rd August 2013                               Kick off 19:00
Boleyn Ground
Potts  23
Lletget  46
McCartney (o.g.)  56
Holtby  66
Coulthirst  86




Crowd :   798 Weather :  Warm
Referee :  Mr. Carl Fitch  Assistant Referees :  Mr. Alistair Wilson, Mr. Alexander Guy
Fourth Official :  Mr. Ray Wells -
West Ham United kicked off and played towards the Trevor Brooking stand in the first half.
Dinamo Tbilisi : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Raphael SPIEGLER

  5  George McCARTNEY  (14  Calum DRIVER  62)
  6  Pelly RUDDOCK
  3  Dan POTTS  (c) 

  4  Danny WHITEHEAD
  8  George MONCUR
  9  Elliot LEE
  7  Blair TURGOTT  (15  Dylan TOMBIDES 88)

  Paul McCALLUM  (12  Kieron SADLIER  59)
11  Seb LLETGET 

Unused subs: 
13  Sam HOWES

  Amos NASHA

    1  Lawrence VIGOUROUX

  2  Alex McQUEEN
  Dominic BALL
  6  Zeki FRYERS    (14  Ruben LAMEIRAS 64)
  3  Kevin STEWART 

  8  Laste DOMBAXE
  4  Milos VELJKOVIC (c)

  7  Shaquile COULTHIRST 
11  Simon DAWKINS
  Lewis HOLTBY  (12  Kenneth McEVOY 82)

  9  Cameron LANCASTER    (15  Darren McQUEEN 64)

Unused subs: 
13  Jonathan MILES

Manager :  Nick Haycock Manager :  Chris Ramsey
Sponsor :   Alpari Trading FX Shirt sponsor :  Hewlett Packard
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Spurs made an unlikely comeback to preserve their 100% record in the Under-21 league, after turning around 0-2 down to the Irons at Upton Park to claim victory 3-2 at the end of the game.

Having made the gruelling journey to Georgia and back without playing, Shaquile Coulthirst, Laste Dombaxe and Zeki Fryers all started this match, having sat on the bench in Tbilisi.  The returning Lewis Holtby played in a three behind Cameron Lancaster, along with Simon Dawkins and the rest of the side was made up of Under-21 regulars Lawrence Vigouroux in goal, Kevin Stewart, Alex McQueen and Dominic Ball in defence, Milos Veljkovic captaining the side from a defensive midfield position, with subs Kenneth McEvoy, Jonathan Miles, Darren McQueen and Ruben Lameiras.  For some reason, Tottenham only had four players on the bench.

There were few familiar names in the home team.  George McCartney was having a run out in defence after injury, Spiegel in goal has been a sub in the first team, but isn't a regular, while winger Blair Turgott had featured strongly in Bradford City's League Cup run last season.  Other than that, it was all sons of previous West Ham players.  Dan Potts is the son of tiny former defender Steve and George Moncur in midfield is the son of former Irons and Spurs midfielder John.  Just to make one thing clear ... centre-half Pelly Ruddock is not the son of Neil, the former Spurs and West Ham central defender.  The Hammers started Danny Whitehead, their big summer signing from Stockport County, but I must admit, it was only when I looked at the programme after the game that I realised he had been playing.

With Bank Holiday weekend just beginning, I thought that there would be a big turn out, but an official figure of 798 just about summed up the crowd numbers.  In the big main stand at West Ham, even though we were squeezed into the central section, there still seemed to be lots of empty seats.  But on a warm summer's evening, West Ham kicked off as the night began drawing in and attacked the goal on the left.  With both teams feeling each other out to start with, West Ham might have been the more nervous, as Spurs had done well on their last two visits to the Boleyn Ground in the Youth Cup and in the league.  However, the home side looked the more settled by passing the ball around and finding gaps in the Spurs defence to create scoring chances.

Spurs moved the ball well, but the final ball lacked accuracy, whereas, West Ham's more direct approach won corners from which they were a threat against a short Tottenham team.  Potts had headed wide when he won a cross from a corner and then Elliot Lee was released down the left, but Dominic Ball slid in to stop him getting into a dangerous position.  After about a quarter of an hour, there were two comical moments.  A cross from the right saw Laste Dombaxe try a flying scissors kick, but completely miss the ball, which lead to the home team breaking forward and centre forward Paul McCallum tried an overhead kick that he made contact with, but it was a harmless effort in the end.  McCallum was also in when Elliot Lee played him through.  With Vigouroux coming out, he tried to lob the bal over the keeper, but the ball went to the right and Zeki Fryers got back to clear as Turgott closed in. 

Giving away a corner from a West Ham free-kick, Spurs sloppy defending handed the home side the lead in the 23rd minute.  it was worked short to Lee, who put in a low cross that Spurs didn't deal with and Potts had the simple task of prodding the ball in from a couple of yards out. 

Tottenham's response was quick, with Veljkovic firing a 25 yard shot narrowly over the bar and then McCartney went to ground to block a shot on goal from Holtby, but Spurs were looking susceptible to aerial attacks at the back and Lletget headed wide when well placed and winning the ball cleanly in the air, just after he had played Potts through, but the defender couldn't get his shot away before Vigouroux was diving at his feet to gather the ball.  Some indecisive play at the back by the Irons handed Shaq a shooting chance and his low shot was saved one-handed by Spiegel diving to his left with five minutes left until the interval. It was this spell that saw west Ham pile pressure on the Spurs goal.

Lee was through on goal with only the keeper to beat, but put his shot just wide, then McCullum won a  header from a corner and it was going in the bottom corner until Coulthirst kicked the ball off the line at the post he was defending.  Then, right on the stroke of half-time, a Moncur cross from a dead ball was won at the far post by Ruddock and his header back across the six yard box was tucked away by another header from Lletget to make it 2-0 to the Irons.

Spurs' weakness in the air at the back had been exploited and while we had our chances, the score was not an unfair reflection of the first 45 minutes play.  There was not enough width in Tottenham's game and down the middle of the pitch, it became very congested, which didn't suit Tottenham's play.

So, at the start of the second half, it was pleasing to see Spurs start at a higher tempo and this seemed to set West Ham back a little.  Holtby's through pass opened it up for Coulthirst on the left and his quickly taken shot flew a foot wide of the top corner of the goal with Spiegel left standing.  With the step up in intensity, Lewis Holtby came into the game more. It suited his busy style of play and he was keen to run with the ball and find some passes that opened up the West Ham defence. However, when he moved forward with the ball and decided to shoot from 25 yards out, the ball failed to stay down and it rose high into the Trevor Brooking Stand. His next involvement was a bit more decisive, with a fine through pass that put Simon Dawkins free on the edge of the box, but a slight mis-control; allowed Ruddock to get back and dispossess him.

As the clock ticked over onto the 56th minute, Spurs managed to get back into the match. They worked the ball well on the right hand side and when a shooting opportunity presented itself for Dawkins from just inside the box. The drive looked covered by Spiegel, but McCartney stretched out to try and stop the ball, but only succeeded in diverting it past his own goalkeeper to make the score 2-1.

The Irons’ keeper collided with one of his defenders as he reaches o take a cross and needed treatment, as did the defender, but both got up to continue, although West ham did make a couple of changes; one up front and one at the back, removing the experienced McCartney. This may have helped Spurs in making the home defence more vulnerable to attack, especially after Fryers made way for Lameiras and Lancaster was replaced by Darren McQueen in the 64th minute, causing Veljkovic to drop back into defence, with Spurs looking more offensive with the pacy McQueen and the clever Lameiras just behind the front man.

And so it proved, as within two minutes of their entrance, Spurs pulled level. Holtby broke forward again and took responsibility by having a shot from outside the box, which forced Spiegel to a full length diving save to palm the ball to the left of his goal and the loose ball wasn’t effectively cleared by the West ham defence. As a result, it found its way back to Holtby, who this time set himself 20 yards out and curled a shot into Spiegel’s top right corner, leaving the goalkeeper with little hope of reaching it. The goal was similar to Danny Rose’s the night before, but Holtby’s was not hit first time and was slightly closer in, but just as expertly taken.

Spurs were keen to press home their advantage, with Stewart stepping out of defence to shoot high over the bar, but back in defence, Spur were opened up by Lletget’s pass that sent George Moncur into the box and he could have taken the shot early to give Vigouroux problems, but he decided to fire it straight at the keeper as he came out and the chance was gone. Moncur also had a shooting chance, when substitute Sadlier got down the right and his cross was too high for little Lee, but the midfielder fluffed the opportunity and when it came to Turgott, he rushed his effort that flew way into the seats behind the goal.

Spurs were still looking for a goal to give them the lead and Ball had a good chance from a corner, winning the ball against the West Ham defenders, but it came past Ruddock and hit the Spurs man, rather than him directing it at goal, as the ball ballooned onto the top of the net without causing the goalie any worries.

Just eight minutes were left when Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand made the decision to bring on Kenneth McEvoy. The darting wide man replaced Holtby, who had enjoyed a good run-out and was soon having the frighteners put on him by substitute Driver, who won the ball but had gone in with his studs raised and foot off the floor, as it was played up to McEvoy on the left wing. Spurs took the kick short, as they do much of the time, with the play being moved from left to right. Lameiras received the ball a couple of yards outside the box, with a line of defenders in front of him. Scooping up the ball, he flipped it over the back line and it dropped halfway into the area to find Darren McQueen and Shaquile Coulthirst racing onto it. Spiegel was rooted to his line and the defenders did not turn quick enough, but Shaq got their first and he hit a falling shot powerfully past the keeper from about five yards out. With two minutes left on the clock, Spurs had timed their charge well.

West Ham threw on another forward in the shape of Dylan Tombides, but there was little chance for him to do much, as Spurs played possession football to run down time and West Ham could not get enough of the ball to hurt Spurs before the final whistle went.

The game was a strange one, as Spurs were second best in the first half, but whatever as said at the interval changed both the way Spurs played and their attitude. Whereas the home team had made Spurs look like conceding from set-pieces every time they played a ball in the air, the Irons rarely threatened that way in the second half.

It was a good reaction from going behind, but against better sides, they might find it harder to get back into a match, so best not to go behind in the first place. Not always that easy, but being on their game from the start would help. Lameiras showed a touch of class in setting up the third goal and Holtby showed his ability with the second and the way he orchestrated the comeback. McEvoy only had a short time on the field, but roamed to cause problems to the defence who had trouble picking him up, while Dawkins showed maturity in his use of the ball and movement. Vigouroux looked more solid in goal than when I saw him in the NextGen game against Sporting Lisbon last season, so perhaps he is learning from his fellow keepers at the club and Academy goalkeeping coach Perry Suckling.

The team looked like they gel quite well together and there were few recriminations when things went wrong, so the team spirit and with some players still to return to action, they look like they might provide some players to feed into the first team squad sometime soon.

Marco van Hip


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