Match reviews: First team & U21s both in action

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FA Cup: Tottenham v Leicester

The hectic winter schedule continued this week as both our first team and U21’s were involved in competitive action. The seniors fought back to secure a draw late on against high-flying Leicester City to force a replay. Whilst our U21’s were part of a nine goal thriller against Chelsea. Let’s look back on the action, and look ahead to what’s next for the boys in Lily-white.

On Sunday Tottenham and Leicester faced off in the FA Cup, with both teams resting key men. Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane were all absent from the starting XI, whilst Leicester had to do without star duo Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Despite this, it was Spurs who did most of the early running, and it wasn’t long before the home side struck. Youngster Josh Onomah slipped in Nacer Chadli who saw his left footed drive parried by Kasper Schemeichel. Fortunately the rebound fell to Christian Eriksen, who controlled before placing the ball in the bottom corner just before the ten minute mark.

Spurs continued to have the better of it, but it was Leicester who struck next. Experienced Polish defender Marcin Wasilewski rose highest from debutant Demarai Gray’s corner to head the away side level. Losing marker Toby Alderweireld in the process, in what was a surprisingly poor performance from the otherwise excellent Belgian.

It was Leicester again after the break. Ranieri made the call to bring on Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki, and was duly rewarded moments after the restart. Okazaki wriggled through the Tottenham defence before stabbing on effort in off the post. The visitors had hung in and superb substitution gave them the lead.

The game seemed to be drifting away from Tottenham, but it was golden boy Kane off the bench again to the rescue. Danny Rose drove forward from left back, and looked to go on the outside of Nathan Dyer. The ball bobbled up and struck the Leicester wingers hand, causing the referee to point to the spot. Not one to waste an opportunity, Kane stepped up and drilled home the penalty, taking us to a replay and bagging his 50th goal for the club.

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Tottenham U21’s v Chelsea U21’s

Our U21’s faced off against Chelsea at the Lamex Stadium on Monday night, in a game that featured an incredible nine goals. Tottenham fielded a youthful side that was weakened due to a number of key players either being on loan or with the first team.

The game started slowly but kicked into gear just before the twenty minute mark. Highly rated young Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham duly accepted Reece Mitchell’s cut-back to fire past Aussie Keeper Tom Glover. The blues were pegged back however by Spurs forward Shaq Coulthirst. Coulthirst has struggled to establish himself at Tottenham, but did himself no harm with his performance this game. The 21 year old scored a fantastic looping header over Chelsea keeper Collins to level the score.

However, momentum shifted quickly in this match, as Chelsea were back in front moments later, after Fikayo Tomori nodded home after a well-worked corner. Spurs responded well though, as out of favour winger Andros Townsend started to influence the game, having efforts miss by narrow margins. It was Chelsea however who established an advantage, when goal-scorer Abraham turned provider to set up Kasey Palmer for 3-1.

Spurs refused to roll over however, and began to apply pressure. The break-through game when Milos Veljkovic picked out the impressive Coulthirst who fired home for his second of the match. But once again this was short lived, as Jay DaSilva struck from the edge of the box to restore Chelsea’s two goal lead. There was life in this breathless encounter yet though, as Japanese youth international Cy Goddard was brought down in the box, Townsend stepped up and buried the resulting penalty. Townsend was not done there however, latching onto Coulthirst pass before drilling home for his brace.

Unfortunately, there was one final twist in this thrilling affair, and it went Chelsea’s way. Clarke-Salter’s low drive in the final moments of the game was enough to hand the victory to the Blues. A valiant effort from the Spurs youngsters.

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Standout Players

First Team: Josh Onomah

The 18 year old seems to be improving with every game, and continued these theme against Leicester. Mature beyond his years, both physically and mentally, Pochettino seems to have nurtured another academy graduate into a valuable first team player. With the full trust of the manager, and an incredibly high ceiling, we could well see Onomah as regular in the starting XI before the end of the season.

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U21’s: Andros Townsend

Somewhat surprisingly the U21’s standout player is six years the senior of the first team’s standout player. Townsend requested to be a part of the U21 side after his exile from the first team, and has put in committed performances since then. The game against Chelsea was his best yet, a constant threat, wanting to take all the responsibility his stature demanded. It’s unlikely that he will find a way back into Pochettino’s first team plans, but these performances suggest that he would be a shrewd piece of business for any premier league side needing a winger this window.

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By Josh Smith

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