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Spurs U17s v Leicester, 21.09.02

Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List


    F.A.Premier Academy League U-17, Group D
          Spurs Lodge, Chigwell, Essex
     Saturday 21st September 2002, 12noon

            SPURS       v     LEICESTER CITY
        (White/Blue)            (Blue/White)
            4-4-2                  4-4-2
             1(1)                   4(1)

        Nicholas Eyre   1  Conrad Logan
          Philip Ifil   2  S. Grant
       Gareth Jenkins   3  R. Stearman
          David Hicks   4  Stephen Dawson(C)
        Andrew Hodges   5  Colin O'Shea
           Joe Watson   6  Connor McAnallen
          Charlie Lee   7  Danny McAlea
       Kieran McKenna   8  T. Petrew
      Michael Malcolm   9  Chris O'Grady
           Owen Price  10  Aaron Butcher
            Tom Welch  11  Levi Porter

       Andrew Barcham  12  S. Musgrove
                (7)63      (11)89 Mins
         Tom Forecast  13
         Liam Francis  14  L. Dewas
            (4)63Mins      (8)89 Mins
      Charlie Daniels  15  P. Ashton
             (3)75Min      (10)89 Mins
          Danny Jones  16

Scorers - Malcolm 12, Butcher 29, 55, Porter 68, O'Grady 75

Booked - Hodges 49 late.

It was a warm morning which was a little cool due to overcast conditions. Around fifty people were present to watch the new youth intake take on the "Foxes". This was my first look at the junior side who up till today had played four games winning one and drawing twice, the same as the visitors.

Jimmy Neighbours' side lined up with Watson and Hodges at the back flanked by Ifil on the right and Jenkins on the left. The midfield had Hicks and McKenna in the centre, with Lee on the right and Welch on the left. The highly rated Price partnered Malcolm up front. These two being the only players I saw last season in a U-17 game.

City kicked off attacking the South end to our left and had the first chances in the seventh minute when first O'Grady's volley and then Porter's follow-up were blocked. Spurs then began to dominate the game as Ifil spent more time in midfield attacking than defending. Malcolm did a good job in leading the line showing good vision laying balls off for team-mates and looking for space. Price made some good runs and liked to take on defenders even when a white shirt was available.

It was good work by Ifil and Price down the right that produced the centre for Malcolm to turn in for the opening goal. Spurs continued to play the better football for the rest of the half showing good approach play without the rewards. Malcolm went close on a couple of occasions as did Price.

It was a suprise when Leicester equalised as despite the good work by O'Grady throughout the game they did not look dangerous in the first half. O'Grady picked up a loose ball and played it to the far post where I think it was Butcher's shot that was half blocked by Jenkins allowing the ball to slowly roll past the wrong-footed Eyre.

This spurred on the home side and I think that because they tried too hard looking for a second goal, the final ball was missing. It looked good for the second half but the visitors had other ideas as it was a complete turnaround. Leicester's passing was better and they were tackling harder as they took the initative and the game to the home side. They dominated the game and left the opposition chasing shadows.

Leicester took the lead from a corner when Butcher climbed highest to loop his header over Eyre into the top of the net. Neighbour made a double substitution in an attempt to get back into the game, bringing on Barcham and Francis for Hicks and the limping Lee. Francis went to left back, pushing Jenkins into midfield and Barcham played alongside Malcolm allowing Price to drop back more on the right.

The Foxes adjusted to the changes quicker than the home side and apart from a couple of runs by Price, it was Leicester who closed down the midfield. The visitors went further ahead when Grant broke down the right and crossed for Porter coming round the back to score low to the keeper's right. With fifteen minutes left O'Grady got his reward for his good display when he cut inside Hodge and beat Eyre with a cross-shot from the right. Thankfully, the game finished without further score.

This is the point where boy prodigies become footballers, where the skilful schoolboys learn to be football players. I watched a game where in the first half the skills of the Spurs boys stood out and a second half where the teamwork of footballers won the game.

The Spurs team without doubt contains good skilful players who need to be moulded into a team where individual skills compliment the team work of the rest. Not to go for goal when there is a better option; supporting others when under pressure, and bringing others into play to increase the pressure on your opponent. This is something that our boys have to learn and add to their skills.

They have a fortnight to improve before their next match away to Watford. I will be at Spurs Lodge to see the U-19's play Watford.

In passing I was looking through the results for the youth leagues in which Arsenal top both U-19 and U-17 in our group. I noticed that the Newcastle U-19s played twice the previous week - at home to Liverpool winning 7-1 and away to Manchester United winning 7-3. The "Toon" could be a team to watch out for in the future.

Ray Lo

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