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Leicester v Spurs (PL2), 14.02.20

(7pm – at Holmes Park, Leicester)

Leicester scorers:-
Hirst, 44(pen), 73
Wright, 45(+3)

Spurs scorers:-
Markanday, 18
Okedina, 58

Attendance:- 120

Referee:- Martin Woods
Assistants:- Adam Burgess, Steve Durnall
Fourth official: James Cox

Leicester (3-4-3):- Johansson; Johnson (Capt.)(sub Ndukwu, 63), Hughes, Ughelumba; Daley-Campbell, James, Wright, Thomas; Leshabela (sub Reghba, 63), Hirst, Eppiah (sub Shade, 74)

Subs not used:- Stolarczyk, Arlott-John

Booked:- Daley-Campbell (foul)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Oluwayemi; Okedina, Fagan-Walcott, Dinzeyi (sub Bowden, 85), Cirkin; Lyons-Foster (Capt.), White; Pochettino (sub Clarke, 78), Richards, Markanday; Etete (sub Mukendi, 78)

Subs not used:- Kurylowicz; Thorpe

No bookings

Spirited Spurs get no reward

Unfortunately Ray Lo, our regular reporter of development squad and youth matches is still in hospital, so I travelled 56 miles down the M1 to try and fill his shoes. Storm “Dennis” is fast approaching and this match was played in fairly windy and intermittently very wet conditions at Holmes Park, Leicester which is the County Ground for Leicester’s Football Association. When the two teams met at Stevenage in October Leicester won 2-0 with goals by their two scorers tonight – Hirst and Wright. Leicester are riding high in the league table (top after this win) whilst Spurs are at risk of relegation with only two teams beneath them.

Leicester opened with a 3-4-3 formation whilst Spurs played a standard 4-2-3-1 with left winger Dilan Markanday taking full advantage of the space available to him on his flank. Maurizio Pochettino was making some headway on his side too, ably supported by right back Jubril Okedina who capped a fine performance with a lovely second half goal. Skipper Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Harvey White patrolled and swept up in front of the back four where Malachi Fagan-Walcott showed strength and not a little in the way of passing skills too. At left back Dennis Cirkin was no doubt fired up by his recent involvement with the first team for recent cup games, and his determination might have worked against him when he conceded a penalty towards the end of the first half.

Spurs kicked off and had a very bright start. Fagan-Walcott hit a very good ball out of defence which found Markanday on the left. Dilan passed inside to the advancing Lyons-Foster, whose shot from outside the box curled away from Johansson’s left post. Markanday was soon taking the ball on again, and after he exchanged passes with Maurizio Pochettino (who had come to a central position), the winger fed Cirkin whose crossed reached Harvey White, whose shot from the edge of the area was held by the Leicester keeper. Spurs had their first corner after 7 minutes but this was defended. Soon after that thought Cirkin ran forward down the left channel, getting into the box before testing the keeper with a powerful shot, which was held.

Leicester had a corner from the left after which Oluwayemi ran out to grab the ball from in front of the threatening Eppiah. Leicester had the ball in the net in the 12th minute when Hirst met a cross from the left, but the referee had spotted a handball.

It was Spurs who took the lead in the 18th minute. Markanday took a pass from Rodel Richards before wriggling into the Leicester area before he hit a right footed shot which took a deflection and beat the keeper to his left. Dilan celebrated his goal with gusto. Eppiah had a shot well saved by Oluwayemi and after the corner Wright’s shot was well over the target. Oluwayemi rose well to flap away a deep and high corner kick well out of the danger zone.

Spurs had a good move after 27 minutes started by White and Cirkin working in tandem. The ball was crossed to Pochettino who passed inside the advancing Okedina, who hit a good shot just wide of the keeper’s left post. Johansson was then required to save well from Richards who was through on goal really. Richards looked offside but no flag was shown. Spurs had two corners. After the second, Markanday hit a ball into the middle and Dinzeyi (who had come forward for the corner kicks) had a very close range shot saved with a follow-up effort (possibly by Etete) going over. Etete is a tall lad, and did get involved in some of Spurs’ link-up play, but he doesn’t have the same mobility as his team-mates.

Oluwayemi made another good aerial win from a high cross, and then ensured an advancing Leicester forward did not get to the ball first. Richards was down and needed treatment after a 50/50 collision with the Leicester keeper, but was able to continue after treatment.

Whilst Leicester had put us under pressure at times, it was going so well for Spurs, but the half ended in disappointment. Firstly Cirkin was tested by Daley-Campbell and either threw himself or fell in front of the wing-back. Either way the referee pointed straight to the spot, and Hirst (his parents should have called him Geoff, not George) hammered the ball into the middle of the goal, with Oluwayemi committed to a dive. Then in added time Wright rose to head home a good deep cross by that man Daley-Campbell. It rained particularly heavily during the half-time interval.

Leicester kicked off the second half and immediately created a chance for Johnson, but his shot was held by the Spurs keeper. Spurs won a corner when Leicester defended well against Etete after a Markanday cross. At the other end danger-man Hirst had an on target shot very well blocked by Okedina. The referee had yet to book anyone but he did have words with Ughelumba over his midfield challenges upon Okedina and also because he prevented a quick free kick.

Johansson just about managed to catch a couple of difficult high balls into his area just under his bar. One of these crosses was by Harvey White. Markanday also had a shot go wide of the right post. Spurs levelled the scores with a lovely goal. Markanday had spread the play to the right channel where Okedina had advanced. He had Pochettino to his right, but had his eyes on goal and beat Johansson’s right hand with a very well placed shot just inside the post. Markanday had another shot which brushed the keeper’s right post.

Leicester made a double substitution and reverted to a back four with Daley-Campbell falling back. He was the one player to be shown a yellow card for a foul on (I think) Markanday. Now Leicester had a spell of pressure with corners and throw-ins deep in the Spurs half. Spurs succumbed to a good goal by Hirst after Wright crossed from the left. The centre-forward took the ball, turned and shot into the net in one flowing movement.

Now it was Spurs’ turn to make a double substitution with Clarke replacing Pochettino, and Mukendi replacing Etete. Mukendi played on the right with Clarke supporting Richards in the middle. Markanday demonstrated trickery in the Leicester box and went down under a challenge but the referee was not interested in any penalty appeal.

Hirst spurned a hat-trick chance with a wayward shot when he might have scored, and Matty James met a corner with a header that just passed the outside of the far post. Now Bowden replaced Dinzeyi and Spurs tried everything to get men forward with only Okedina, Fagan-Walcott and Cirkin at the back. Lyons-Foster and Harvey White remained just in front of the back four, but everyone else desperately tried to get back on terms, ultimately without success. Rayan Clarke did get a ball in to Bowden who had a good shot blocked for a corner which was defended. From that corner Leicester broke forward and substitute Shade made the run which ended with a shot off target.

Spurs’ next game at this level is at The Lamex Stadium, Stevenage against bottom club Wolves. That is a game Spurs really need to win. It comes a day after a Premier League meeting between the two sides.

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