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Spurs U-18s v Coventry U-18s, 14.04.12
Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List.

        Premier Academy League, Group B
            Spurs Lodge, Chigwell 
       Saturday 14th April 2012, 11.30am

           SPURS     v  COVENTRY CITY
       (White/Blue)     (Green/Black)
           4-4-2            4-4-2

            3(1)             0(0) 

 Lawrence Vigouroux  1  Lee Burge
      Jack Barthram  2  Aaron Phillips
      Kevin Stewart  3  Joe Pegg
    Milos Veljkovic  4  Jamal Fredrick
      William Ekong  5  Joe Henderson(C)
       Dominic Ball  6  Ivor Lawton
     Kenneth McEvoy  7  Will Roberts
     Nabil Bentaleb  8  Louis Garner
Souleymane Coulibaly 9  Courtney Richards
      Jack Munns(C) 10  Billy Daniels
     Zapata-Caicedo 11  Ben Maund

         Grant Ward 12  Tariq Azil-Moore
      Billy Granger 13  Alex 
     Ruben Lameiras 14  Courtney Baker-Richards
        (10)89Mins.     (11)65Mins. 
     Ronnie Hawkins 15  Ryan Smith

     Zapata 16
     Coulibaly 79
     McEvoy 81

     A. Inglethorpe      L. Carsley
It was a sunny but cool morning for the visit of high flying Coventry City to the Lodge for the last Academy game to be held at this location. Our visitors made changes to the side that won at Cardiff during the week which moved them to two points behind leaders Reading, and a point behind second placed Leicester. Spurs (ten points behind in fourth) gave a run-out to a lot of the players from Tim Sherwood's NextGen squad. Most of the Spurs coaches were there along with a lot of the development squad. I also caught a glimpse of Stephen Pienaar who was cup-tied today.

Spurs lined up with trialist Vigouroux in goal behind Ekong and Ball with Barthram at right back and Stewart on the left. Veljkovic and Bentaleb started in the centre of midfield with McEvoy on the right flank and Zapata on the left. Munns played behind Coulibaly up front. Munns dropped more into midfield with the two wide men looking to get forward in support of Coulibaly who sometimes became isolated.

Spurs kicked off the first half attacking the South goal with the wind behind them and it was soon obvious that the visitors had defence on their minds, settling into two banks of four, leaving the front two to chase long balls and harry the our back line. Bentaleb had the first chance of the game after nearly five minutes when he drove over from the edge of the area.

The Spurs defenders made a number of sloppy passes giving the ball away during the game and thisled to most of the "Sky Blues'" chances. The first saw Richards head over from a cross. Fredricks was then able to get into the area through the left channel and draw a save from Vigouroux. Barthram got in front of Fredricks to meet the rebound which bounced back to the grateful keeper.

Spurs took the lead when a cross-field ball found Zapata on the left, his through ball to Coulibaly was returned as he got round the back and the young striker finished to the keeper's left. McEvoy got down the right and swung over a cross that Burge saved from the head of Coulibaly. The Ivorian striker got his head to another right wing cross, this time from Barthram, but Burge saved again. Fredricks got in on the left but shot into the side netting. Stewart cleared the next attack with a long ball up the left flank to Coulibaly on the halfway line. He took the ball forwards before playing the ball on for Bentaleb's run into the area which finished with a low drive into the side netting.

There were no changes for the second half which saw a more adventurous start from the visitors, who had a good chance go wide. Fredricks also fired wide from the edge of the area. Coulibaly collected the ball on the edge of the area with his back to goal, moved it to his left and volleyed it towards the far post. The shot beat the keeper but was cleared off the line. Coulibaly was in the same position when Bentaleb played the ball into him. This time he turned right but could not get his shot in before a timely tackle by Lawton cleared the danger.

Bentaleb sent McEvoy away on the right to put in another cross. This time a defender trying to head clear headed it onto the crossbar. The ball came down right in front of a grateful keeper standing on the line. The Irish winger's next cross found Coulibaly, but his attempted scissor kick was well off target. McEvoy then found Zapata with his next cross and when his effort was blocked, the ball was fired wide by Coulibaly.

Coventry were now having to defend deep and looked a little ragged. There were cries all round when Bentaleb was sandwiched between two players, but the ref waved play-on. Coulibaly fired wide before Fredricks played in Baker-Richards to blast way off target. Fredricks had a go himself and drew a save from Vigouroux.

Bentaleb sent McEvoy away down the right and the winger sent his cross to the far post where Coulibaly seemed to hang in the air waiting for it to drop before heading back across the goal into the net for Spurs' second. Two minutes later and a through ball to Coulibaly saw the striker drift to the left before squaring the ball to an unmarked McEvoy for an easy finish.

After Veljkovic sent a long forward pass to Zapata to fire wide Inglethorpe made two changes. First he replaced McEvoy with Ward on the right and then took off Munns for Lameiras. The Captain's armband went to Ekong. Lameiras had those bright orange boots on that seem to be the new fashion and was quick to show them off. He won a free kick dribbling through the centre of the City defence. Coulibaly took the kick which was just wide of the left post. Garner had the last effort that was put wide in added time. Some of that time was due to a foul on Bentaleb. He had won the ball but had ended up on the ground. As he tried to get up the Coventry player pulled him back. He had to have treatment to his shoulder before continuing.

This was a good win for Spurs against a Coventry side that still had a chance of topping the group but looked more interested in not conceding. There was plenty of good attacking play both on the flanks and through the centre with Bentaleb being the main prompter. Our defenders still have a habit of giving the ball away when not under pressure, which with most of their team-mates in advanced positions caused problems at the back. Thankfully they were not punished. Veljkovic played as a defensive midfielder and not at the back which was lucky as he was caught out a few times by the speed with which he was closed down by the opposition.

This was the last Academy game at the Lodge as the move to Bulls Cross takes place next month. Next week the Academy are away to Norwich City before ending the season with a trip to Aston Villa the following week. I should be able to get to both games.


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