Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List.
FA Premier Academy League, Group 1
Little Heath, Romford, Essex
Saturday 12th January 2013, 11am
WEST HAM v SPURS
Spurs:- McGee; McQueen, Dombaxe, Ogilvie, Ward(C), Winks(McEneff 75), Lesniak, Bentaleb, Sonupe (Zapata-Caicedo, 59), Miller, Akindayini
Unused Subs:- Priestley, Brown
Coach – J. McDermott
Referee:- R. Bloy
It was a cold windy morning for the start of the second phase of the new Academy League set-up. This is the second tier group called Group 1 for the teams who finished mid-table before Christmas. I cannot give the home side as West Ham refuse to supply team-sheets which is their loss.
Spurs lined up with Dombaxe alongside Ogilvie at the back in front of McGee with McQueen at right back and Ward on the left. Lesniak anchored the midfield trio with Winks and Bentaleb alongside. Akindayini led the line with Sonupe on the right and Miller on the left.
Spurs defended the west end in the first half which began with the home side closing down the visitors in the middle third to stop their passing game. They did this very well, leaving one player up front to close down on the centre backs. They did play two wingers while Spurs did not, leaving the full backs to get down the flanks.
The home striker did have the first chance when he got behind but McGee saved. Spurs' chance came from a cross from the left that reached Sonupe coming in at the far post but his effort was blocked for a corner. West Ham were doing a good job in frustrating Spurs in the middle of the park. Spurs were trying to move the ball through the centre, as they lacked their wingers.
Ward pushed forward to draw a save from the keeper and Akindayini also had his effort saved. Winks fired over the bar before the Hammers had an effort fly wide. Following a corner, Winks saw his strike cleared off the line. A centre from Ward was hit wide by Winks' overhead attempt. With chances at a premium Lesniak hit a weak effort from distance which was an easy save for the keeper. With a minute left before half-time Winks again fired over.
There were no changes for the second half which saw West Ham attack down the right and get players into the area for the cross. One of them fired in low at the far post for the only goal and was mobbed by his team-mates which prevented me from identifying the scorer.
Spurs continued to try and play through the middle, but they came up against strong defending with the home side prepared to concede free kicks. Bentaleb fired over from a free kick before Akindayini shot wide. A counter attack saw the home side win a corner but Spurs continued to press. Bentaleb drove over before playing in Akindayini for a chance that the keeper saved. Bentaleb fired wide before a free kick by Dombaxe was saved.
Both sides made a change with Spurs replacing Sonupe with Zapata-Caicedo on the left and West Ham replacing the sole striker. The home side fired wide from a free kick before Dombaxe drove wide. Newcomer Aaron McEneff came on for Winks and sat in front of the defence allowing Lesniak to move further forward. McQueen got down the right and his cross was met by Bentaleb who drove wide. Bentaleb played in Akindayini to the right but his rising drive was held by the keeper. West Ham made their last change as they looked to run the clock down. The last chance fell to Lesniak who headed wide from Dombaxe's centre.
The lack of wingers meant that most of Spurs development play was through the centre where the massed ranks of the Hammers' defence closed them down. I don't know about the home side but it was a young Spurs side which could indicate that the more experienced players were being held back for the Youth Cup clash between these two sides in ten days time. There is a U-21 match on Monday against Wolves which may give some of the players a run out before the cup tie. The Academy entertain the Wolves U-18 side at Hotspur Way on the 2nd February in their next group match, a game moved to allow more preparation for the Youth Cup tie at Upton Park.
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