|Premier Under-18 League||Kick off 15:00|
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 (2)||
Jankewitz (foul) 81
|Crowd : 28,987||Weather : Sunny, bright|
|Referee : Craig Pullen||Assistant Referees : Mr. David Moreno-Rojas; Mr. Andrew Hickman|
|Fourth Official : Tim Donnellan|
|Southampton kicked off and attacked the South Stand goal in the first half|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||?? :||kit|
Jubril ADESOPE OKEDINA (12
9 Rayan CLARKE (14 Chay COOPER 71)
Kayne RAMSEY (c)
|Manager : John McDermott||Manager : Paul Hardyman|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : -|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
A wonderful day at the first official match at the new stadium was made even better by a 3-1 win for our Under-18s over fourth placed Southampton. The sun shone, as did the young Spurs players and the stadium looked magnificent and must surely be right up there as one of the best in the world.
The teams lined up and looked dwarfed by the new ground. The same will probably be true for the first team, but the Under-18s made a confident start as you would expect still being unbeaten this season. They passed the ball around comfortably and looked to move into space to receive the ball. When J'NeilBennett started a move on the left, Skipp moved it on to the right wing and Dilan Markanday cut in from the right wing to put a fine cross into the box to find Armando Shashoua's run that got to him to the edge of the six yard box. No Saints defender had gone with him, but he had to stretch slightly to reach the header and in trying to put it back the way the keeper had come from, he just got too much on it and it cleared the angle by a foot.
Skipp was pulling the strings from central midfield and when he spread the play to Bennett on the left, the forward cut inside and from just outside the 18 yard line, bent a low shot past the keeper's left hand and into the bottom corner of the net to make a piece of history. The first goal scored at the new stadium and the crowd rose to acclaim J'Neil, who they sang was "one of our own" !
Southampton were offering little and may have been affected by the surroundings, but a loose square pass 35 yards out by Jankewitz presented the ball to Markanday, who went forward with the ball and from the edge of the D struck a left footed shot that rebounded off the post and out for what the referee decided was a corner, although it didn't look like the keeper got a touch on it. They didn't have to wait long for the next attack but when Bennett's pass to Markanday on the right sent him to the corner flag to collect it, didn't look that promising. However, a nutmeg on Morris took him into the area, where he was being pulled back before being pulled down and the referee was ahead of the game and had pointed to the spot already. Harvey White stepped up to take it and confidently tucked it away from the spot, striking it left footed to the keeper's left, sending him the wrong way and making it 2-0 with 21 minutes gone.
The rest of the first half was really about game management and as Southampton were doing little up front, Spurs kept possession well and went in ahead at the break, when Mauricio Pochettino came out to be interviewed and spoke of his emotion in seeing the ground finished, before thanking Daniel Levy and the board for their delivery of the dream that they had promised. The reality was the sum of the ideas and more. It was stunning. More of which later.
When Tottenham came out for the second half, they were a little sleepy and Hansen made good ground on the left after Markanday was dispossessed by Jankewitz and only an excellent challenge in the six yard box by Brooklyn Lyons-Foster on Benni Smales-Braithwaite, as he looked for a tap-in, allowed Josh Olumwayemi to pounce on the ball at the Southampton man's feet. Spurs responded when Skipp played Markanday in on the right and he shaped a shot around the advancing keeper, but was denied a goal by substitute Kpohomouh's slide to block the goal-bound shot. But just after the hour, Southampton got an unexpected goal. White lost out to Turner and his square ball to Hansen saw the number 11 move forward and hit a low shot from 25 yards past Oluwayemi to the keeper's right.
Despite the set-back, Spurs kept playing their game and when Skipp won the ball just outside his own box, he held off a yellow shirt and passed inside to Markanday, who slid a pass to his left to White in the centre-circle. The midfielder's driving run opened space for him to slip a ball through to Bennett, who tried to put the ball wide of the keeper, which he achieved, but it went agonisingly a couple of feet wide. It was a great move and the movement off the ball made the break easy to execute after possession had been won.
Oluwayemi was called upon to make an excellent reflex save, when the ball bobbled around in the box and a shot came in which a defender was in the keeper's line of sight, but the effort was well pushed out when Josh could only have seen it at the last moment. As it was, Spurs surged forward again and White drove in a powerful shot from 20 yards out that the keeper got all wrong, allowing it to bounce off his chest, straight to Markanday in the box, who tucked the ball away, taking a touch off his studs before putting it to the keeper's left from a few yards out. It was a deserved goal for a very good performance by the little midfielder.
With that Bennett and Odekina went off to be replaced by two familiar names - Max Statham (son of former defender Brian) and Maurizio Pochettino (son of the boss), who was immediately greeted by a rousing chorus of "Oh, Oh, Oh, He's magic, you know" !!
Both sides were stripped of players away on international duty, but put in good effort, although Spurs always looked likely winners. If they can keep their unbeeaten run going, they will take the Southern U18 Premier League group title and face the Northern winners in a play-off for the overall title. Spurs are one point behind Arsenal with a game in hand and the Gooners still to play us. It will be a tight end to the season, although the Saints are now 22 points behind us in second place !
Although today, with the sunshine and blue sky, was about more than an Under-18 game, the team impressed and showed that the future of the club is not just promising off the pitch, but on it as well.
The new ground is amazing. All the things you have heard are there (but not the mythical cheese room), but the concourses are spacious, food and drink outlets numerous and enough stewards and help ambassadors available that you were never far away from being pointed in the right direction. Queues for food and drink were quite long, but seemed to move fairly quickly, although I heard some complaints about food running out.
The seating provide unobstructed views of the pitch, although it will still probably not stop people standing, while the seats themselves are bigger and the amount of leg-room is much improved. The finishes, the artwork on the concourse walls, the signage and links to the past (like the centre spot marked at the foot of a staircase in the South Stand) all show that thought has gone into the design and what the club are about. It is a new stadium, but echoes of glory still ring through the corridors inside and walkways outside the ground.
It was a first view inside for me and having only seen the outside it didn't fail to meet my expectations and then exceed them. But none of this does justice to the true nature of the stadium. You need to see and hear it to get the full effect and on the basis of 28,000 in there, I can't wait until it is full.
Marco van Hip
|What you thought|
Back to homepage