Match Reports – How Spurs U21s got off to a flyer in the Premier League 2

The U21s had a stellar start in the newly formatted Premier League 2 (PL2), with wins over Manchester City and Newcastle United in their first two games.

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Jamie Donley of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League 2 match between Tottenham Hotspur U21 v Manchester City U21 at The Lamex Stadium on April 03, 2023 in Stevenage, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Game 1 – Manchester City

Spurs U21s played their first game of the PL2 season against reigning champions Manchester City. However, it didn’t take long in the game for Spurs to find their rhythm. Just six minutes into the game, Jamie Donely played a pass into Yago Santiago who drove forward, cut inside, and curled a shot into the near post, which beat the Man City keeper. (YouthFootballHighlights).

Spurs’ next opportunity came five minutes later, when Donely’s pressing paid off and he managed to get a foot to a Man City pass. This pass bobbled off Donely’s foot and landed perfectly for Jude Soonsup-Bell. With one quick motion, Soonsup-Bell fired the ball into the roof of the net, and Spurs led 2-0.

Spurs’ aggressive pursuit of goals continued but didn’t come to fruition until moments into the second half. After Nile John was dragged down, Soonsup-Bell swiftly took advantage and delivered a perfect outside-of-the-boot pass to a marauding Damola Ajayi. He then shifted the ball outside, which left the final Man City defender out of the equation, and to top it off, he slid the ball through the keeper’s legs for a nutmeg goal. 

Man City then applied some pressure to the Spurs defence, but Alfie Dorrington and Brooklyn Lyons-Foster were able to make easy work of any Man City attacks, with most of Man City’s efforts nullified before a shot could be registered. Spurs goalie, Josh Keeley, was rarely tested and looked comfortable throughout the game.

Spurs once again were looking to extend their lead, and Santiago would be the one to launch and finish this attack. After a misplaced pass from the Man City midfield, they were backtracking, and Santiago took advantage of that. His pressure on the unaware ball carrier meant he was able to swiftly take possession and drive goalward.

The Man City centre-back was once again chasing back and dove in to tackle Santiago, but he was able to slow his run and watch the defender slide past. Santiago then curled an effort from a tight angle, but it was perfectly placed and beat the Man City keeper.

The final goal would come in the 71st minute when a freekick was given to Spurs. Nile John looked up and saw Rio Kyerematen running a fantastic line down the heart of the Man City defence. The perfectly weighted pass met Kyerematen with only one defender in front of him. However, there was no stopping Kyerematen, who danced his way around the lone defender and slotted it into the back of the net. 

Spurs went on to win the game 5-0 in dominating fashion. Last year, the champions were easily beaten by the slightly older Spurs side, and Spurs sat at the top of the table. The whole team played flawlessly, but Soonsup-Bell and Santiago had outstanding games, and both look to be in fantastic form going into the season.

Game 2 – Newcastle United

Newcastle would be the ones to start the game strong, and their first major chance came in the 11th minute. After a low cross was played into the box, Remi Savage had a shot at Spurs goalkeeper Josh Keeley. Nevertheless, Keeley was able to make a strong save from a dangerous effort, keeping the score level (YouthFootballHighlights).

The next chance would fall to Spurs after a fast pass was fired into the feet of Soonsup-Bell, who clipped it down the line to a full-flight Santiago. This left Santiago with acres of space and the goal in sight. With his lightning-fast feet, he was able to steer clear of any danger and glide past the keeper. Santiago then coolly passed it into the unoccupied goal.

Just minutes later, Alfie Devine cut in from the left and fired a shot goalward, which narrowly missed and whistled past the inside post.

After 25 minutes of play, Spurs got another chance. Dorrington was able to work his way to the byline and deliver a pass to an unmarked Donley. This was fired wide of the target, and it was a chance that should have been claimed, but Spurs would have to keep plugging away to force more chances.

Chances did come, and 10 minutes later, Spurs found themselves with another attempt to score. Santiago had the ball played into him, he then drove inward, allowing Donely to drift outside. He then played a through ball to Donely, who had plenty of running room as the full-back had committed to Santiago. Donely opted for a quick cross to the back post, which found Soonsup-Bell, who clipped it in with an outstretched foot.

There was a scare for Spurs just before the half when Newcastle midfielder Turner Cook curled an effort that just missed the far post. This would be the last effort at goal before the halftime whistle.

Just after halftime, Santiago would continue his rich vein of form, and he took on defenders down the left flank. He was able to move around the full-back as he shifted the ball from his right foot to his left, which then powered a shot past the keeper to put Spurs 3-0 up.

Spurs once again applied more pressure to the Newcastle backline when John played a pass into Soonsup-Bell’s feet. Soonsup-Bell turned and looked to edge it to Donely, but a tackle stopped this. Nevertheless, John was there to reclaim the ball for Spurs, but instead, he opted for a first-time shot, which beat the Newcastle keeper and gave Spurs the lead 4-0.

Newcastle were eager to get back into the game, and they were crafting more and more chances. In the 67th minute, Josh Keeley had to dive full-stretch after a shot was hit cross-goal from far out.

In the 77th minute, Newcastle had a stellar chance after a lofted cross was played in from the byline. A Newcastle player was waiting for this ball to drop to his feet, and he hit it first time at goal. Despite Spurs’ effort to clear the ball, it nestled into the back of the net.

The game finished 4-1, and Spurs once again shined in a high-scoring, thrilling match. They end this weekend at the summit, with North London rivals Arsenal in second place. They face Derby in the next fixture – last season Derby picked up just 1 point in the PL2 division 2. This should be an easier fixture for Spurs considering their two previous results against top-quality opposition.

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