Spurs yoof 'ave it

I hope Bankrupt over at COYS doesn't mind me posting this rather splendid report on our kids win over Charlton in the FA Youth Cup.

This lot are 'the future'. So expect half of them to turn out for Stevenage in 5 years time. Bostock's superb long range effort is available for Kleenex excitement via the Spurs site.


Charlton 0-3 Tottenham

---------------------------Jansson (18)--------------------------

Smith (17)-----Butcher (17)------Caulker (17)-----Cox (18)

Mpuku (16)----Kasim (17)---Parrett (17)--Townsend (17)

-----------------------------Bostock (17)--------------------------

-----------------------------Obika (18)----------------------------

Subs: Butler (16), Oyenuga (15/16*), Ekim (17), Byrne (16), Nicholson (16)

*It’s one or the other, since he’s in the U16 group, i.e. a year below the academy first years, but since his date of birth doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere, I’m not sure whether he’s hit 16 yet.

The Game

Spurs lined up with Jonathan Obika up front on his own, with Bostock playing ahead of a four man midfield to provide support to him. Yaser Kasim anchored midfield along side Dean Parrett, who captained the side. Andros Townsend and Paul-Jose Mpuku took up the wide midfield spots, and both held their starting positions as Spurs looked to expand the area of play to aid a quick tempo, possession game. Most attacks were focused down the left flank, with Townsend seeing a lot of the ball throughout.

In the opening stages, it looked like Charlton may be overwhelmed, much as Sheffield United had been in the previous round, but to their credit, by the midway point of the first half they had steadied themselves, reorganised, and were looking difficult to break down. Despite Spurs dominating possession, it looked like something special would be needed to break their resilience, and Bostock duly provided it with a stunning long range drive that flew into the top right corner of the goal, drawing applause from virtually everyone in attendance.

Bostock’s second was less spectacular, but still of impressive quality. His shot from the edge of the area nestling in the bottom corner pretty much ended the tie as a contest, and the game played out with Spurs looking an increasing threat on the counter when Charlton did manage to construct an attack. Obika sealed the victory with the third goal from Parrett’s through pass and the game played out with Kasim looking to exploit the pace of Townsend and Mpuku (then Kudus Oyengua who replaced him) on the break with, early balls into the channels.

Once again, I have to praise Alex Inglethorpe. For all the talent that this group of players may have individually, it’s no accident for them collectively to play the way they do. They are very well organised, with each player clearly well drilled in what is expected of him both with and without the ball. Inglethorpe’s team play football precisely how, I’m sure, every Spurs fan would hope to see a side play. There are no long, hopeful balls from back to front – this side play with the ball on the ground, alternating between quick, pass and move, football to penetrate, and slower possession play to grind the opposition down – the team is set up to be balanced, to attack and to dominate. Inglethorpe's team arguably play a better brand of football than any first team manager at Spurs has achieved since Glenn Hoddle's stint (and unlike the karmic one, it's proving successful), and you can't help but wonder what he'd achieve in a higher position.

The Players

Bostock, understandably, will grab the headlines. Both goals were well taken, the first a superb strike. Generally though, it was a fairly quiet performance from him. It’s quite hard to judge his potential in this context, because it’s quite clear that he’s beyond this level of football now – the combination of his physical and technical qualities mean it’s virtually impossible for opponents to contain him, and consequently they don’t provide a very useful barometer for his development. I do think he needs to impose himself more on games, but having said that, it’s pretty obvious that this boy is going to make it, somewhere and somehow, barring something extremely unfortunate.

Almost equally impressive was Kasim. Technically, I’d say he’s as good as any other player in the side – first touch passing off either foot, long range passing off either foot, ability on the ball (including one outrageous piece of showboating from a short corner near the end) – and is always calm and aware when he receives the ball. His head is invariably up, assessing what is around him, which always impresses me in a young player, and he tends to see things very early. He also gets stuck in and works hard to win the ball back, which is encouraging as the defensive side of his game is, along with maybe his mobility, one of the few things that would concern me about him.

On the whole though, I continue to be very impressed with him. He improved as the game went on, and really came into his own as Charlton made one final push in the closing period, pinging some exquisite long range angled through balls to the flanks, and one beautifully weighted pass inside the left back to put Oyenuga one on one with the keeper.

Alongside him, in central midfield, Parrett had a strong first half, and looked comfortable throughout in a central role. He was probably the liveliest Spurs player in the first half, breaking forward with the ball at his feet on several occasions. As the game went on, with Kasim collecting the ball in deep areas, and Bostock tending to dominate proceedings the final third, Parrett saw less of the ball, but still, it was a good, disciplined performance from the captain, culminating in a cute pass to set up Obika for the third goal.

On the left flank, Townsend reminds me of Aaron Lennon – you’re not always sure what you’re going to get in terms of the quality of his end product, yet he is a constant threat to the opposition. Townsend is quick, skilful and direct, and if he can refine his game, and avoid overcomplicating, he seems pretty well equipped to progress to the next level.

The youngest player in the starting eleven, Mpuku, had a relatively quiet game on the right of midfield. When he did see the ball though, he did look good – strong, quick and technically good (like a lot of players in this group to be honest, which is one of the things that makes them exciting). Very early days for him, but I would say he has something about him, even if it’s a bit too soon to say precisely what.

Of the rest, it almost goes without saying that Adam Smith was impressive at right back. Going forward, he’s excellent, most notably in the variation he shows in his attacking play. He can run with the ball on the outside or come inside and take it into central areas; will look to get to the byline and cross, but is equally likely to mix it up, pass and move and push up into the box. Defensively, he wasn’t really troubled, and that’s the side of his game I’m eager to see more of, because if it is anything like the attacking side, he’s a real prospect.

Jansson in goal looked good – always tries to catch, and is quick off his line. The problem for him is that playing in a team as good as this one, he doesn’t have a great deal to do. It will be interesting to see where they see him fitting in over the next twelve months, given that he’s already been involved with the first team.

The only real negative from the night was that the centre back pair, Butcher and Caulker, looked a little nervy at times, much more so than in the previous round, and Charlton nearly capitalised on a couple of occasions. Other than that, it was all very encouraging, and I'd say this team have a good chance of going far in this competition.

The Ratings

Jansson – 75% - Assured and proactive when called upon.
Smith – 78% - Always lively going forward, and had few troubles defensively.
Butcher – 63% - Suffered a few lapses, but was generally able to recover the situation.
Caulker – 60% - Struggled with the ball at his feet at times.
Cox – 64% - Hard working, but playing on the left restricts his attacking involvement to some extent.
Mpuku – 73% - A marginal figure, but looked good when he was involved.
Kasim – 81% - Class and composure on the ball and a decent defensive shift.
Parrett – 77% - Very good first half, driving forward from central midfield.
Townsend – 80% Always looked a threat, even if he over complicated things at times.
Bostock – 84% - Two excellent goals and opponents clearly struggle to handle him at this level.
Obika – 68% - Did OK in a role that required him to be quite selfless for the sake of the team.

With thanks to Bankrupt for a great write-up.