Ipswich Town 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur U21s - Match Report
Tuesday, 3rd Sep 2019 21:50
Two second-half goals from Jordan Roberts - his first for the club - saw the Blues to a 2-1 victory over Tottenham’s U21s in their first ever Leasing.com Trophy game at Portman Road. Armando Shashoua gave the visitors the lead in the ninth minute but Armando Dobra twice created openings for Roberts, in the 47th and 66th minutes, to seal the three points for the Blues.
Luke Woolfenden and Myles Kenlock were the only players who started against Shrewsbury at the weekend to keep their places and began the game either side of James Wilson in a back three.
Will Norris was in goal with Gwion Edwards and Janoi Donacien the wing-backs, while Jon Nolan, who skippered, was in a midfield three with Emyr Huws and Idris El Mizouni. Armando Dobra played off Jordan Roberts up front.
Among the subs were youngsters Harry Wright, Corrie Ndaba, second-year academy scholar Tyreece Simpson, a striker, and Bailey Clements. Also on the bench were first-teamers Danny Rowe, Flynn Downes and Kane Vincent-Young.
The only name in the Spurs line-up familiar to Blues fans was midfielder Shilow Tracey, who had a trial with Town when an Ebbsfleet player in 2015 prior to moving to the North Londoners.
With vice-captain Cole Skuse watching the game from the gantry with the club’s analysts, the Blues dominated the early stages, Huws hitting a shot against a Spurs defender from a very tight angle on the right following an overhit corner from the left in the second minute.
Town had had most of the ball although without creating a chance, with the visitors all too often giving the ball away, but in the ninth minute the U21 side went in front.
A neatly-worked move eventually saw Shashoua played in on the left of the box from where he slipped the ball past Norris.
Two minutes later, Roberts headed over from a Donacien cross, then the forward saw a cross blocked. At the other end, former Blues trialist Tracey struck a powerful shot from the edge of the box which flew straight to Norris.
Roberts created another chance for the Blues in the 14th minute when he was sent away down the right and crossed for Edwards in space at the far post but the Welshman’s shot was blocked.
The game, largely played in a reserve game atmosphere in front of the smallest first-team crowd for some years, developed into an end-to-end affair with both sides counter-attacking at pace.
Town should have levelled in the 20th minute when El Mizouni sent over a freekick from the left and Wilson headed wide from beyond the far post when the Welshman will feel he should have scored.
The Blues went close again in the 26th minute when El Mizouni won the ball following a Spurs corner and Roberts broke before finding Dobra with a well-weighted pass. The Albanian U19 international struck a powerful effort at goal which keeper Alfie Whiteman batted wide not entirely comfortably.
A minute later, Edwards shot over after an El Mizouni cross from the right had been nodded down to him by Roberts, then soon after Donacien, at one-time a schoolboy with the Spurs academy, just failed to get high enough to reach an Edwards cross from the left.
The Blues, with Ed Sheeran again watching from the East of England Co-op Stand, spent a spell camped in the Tottenham half but were unable to find a way through the youngsters’ backline, before the visitors broke and Rodel Richards hit a shot on the turn which was easy for Norris.
On 36 Woolfenden sent Nolan away down the right but his cross was cut out with Dobra unmarked and waiting for the ball in the centre.
There was a big scare for the Blues in the 40th minute when Huws played the ball back to a team-mate who wasn’t there and allowed Richards a run at goal. Keeper Norris helped push him wide and with the the goal gaping and a number Spurs players waiting for a cross, the forward blazed into the stand from a tight angle.
Town again went close to an equaliser two minutes later. Edwards crossed from the left and Roberts slid in at the far post but couldn’t keep the ball down and it flew well over.
The Spurs youngsters’ lead remained intact at the break. The Blues had seen plenty of the ball and had had chances to level but had spurned them, Wilson’s header probably the best opportunity.
However, for large parts of the game they had struggled to find a way through a Tottenham backline camped inside their area, which hadn’t always appeared the most solid, while the neat-and-tidy visitors had looked a threat on the break.
Town finally got their equaliser two minutes into the second half. Dobra did superbly on the right to outmuscle Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, cut in and played the ball across the six-yard box for Roberts, who slammed his first Blues goal into the net from a matter of inches.
Dobra went looking for Town’s second of the evening when sent away to the right but his shot flew into the stand. Moments later, the lively academy product played in Nolan but the midfielder was flagged offside as he hit his shot on the turn wide.
The Blues, with the crowd now making themselves heard, were beginning to dominate and in the 52nd minute Huws sent Jackson away with a ball over the top from deep. A defender’s touch held the ball up but Roberts took it inside before hitting a shot which was deflected wide.
El Mizouni wasn’t far from his first senior goal in the 55th minute after heading Roberts’s cross from the right powerfully goalwards but too close to keeper Whiteman.
Spurs threatened for the first time in the second half in the 59th minute but Norris stopped Tracey’s cross from the left then grabbed hold of the ball ahead of Richards.
Dobra, who was enjoying an impressive second period, did well on the left before he and Nolan crafted a shooting chance for El Mizouni, whose effort curled just wide of Whiteman’s left post.
And it was Dobra who created the Blues’ second goal of the evening in the 66th minute. The Albanian U19 international went round the outside of Tariq Hinds, who was pulling him back by the shirt, before cutting back to Roberts, who slammed in his second of the evening from just outside the six-yard box.
Simpson, 17, was handed his senior debut in the 68th minute for goalscorer Roberts, before the crowd began urging Sheeran to give them a wave with the Framlingham-based pop star obliging.
Edwards shot wide from well out on the left on 75, then two minutes later Jubril Okedina was shown the game’s first yellow card for a foul on the breaking Huws on halfway. From the resultant freekick, the ball was played down the left to Nolan, who hit a shot from a tight angle which Whiteman saved at his near post.
Huws belted a freekick from the right just outside the box not too far over in the 82nd minute, then two minutes later Whiteman dropped the ball on the left of his area but Simpson was unable to find a team-mate.
Seconds later, the substitute striker, a talented rugby player as a schoolboy, let fly from distance but the keeper saved spectacularly to his right.
Spurs weren’t too far away from an equaliser in the 85th minute, Tracey’s low shot from the left flashing across the box and only just passing Norris’s left post.
As the game moved into additional time, the visitors came within inches of equalising. Sub Enock Asante was played in unmarked inside the box but he scraped just wide when it appeared easier to hit the target.
Dobra almost ended his night with a goal seconds later having been found by El Mizouni but Whiteman pawed his shot out for a corner. Soon afterwards, referee Craig Hicks brought the evening to an end.
The Blues were much better in a much more entertaining second half, playing at a higher tempo with their greater experience telling.
Roberts’s first goal, created by the type of Dobra magic which may become a familiar sight at Portman Road in years to come, gave the Blues confidence and they rarely looked in trouble from there, Asante’s final moments opportunity aside
Town’s senior men, Nolan in particular, started to show their experience and the former Shrewsbury man, Huws - who played his first full competitive 90 minutes since May 2017 - and Edwards will have benefited from getting another game under their belts.
Roberts will be delighted to have ended his wait for his first goals for the Blues, but it will be Dobra's display, particularly in the second half, which will gain most of the headlines.
Town are next involved in this competition on Tuesday 8th October when Gillingham visit Portman Road.
They return to League One action a week on Saturday when Doncaster Rovers are in Suffolk.
Town: Norris, Woolfenden, Wilson, Kenlock, Donacien, Huws, Nolan (c), El Mizouni, Dobra, Roberts (Simpson 68). Unused: Wright, Rowe, Downes, Vincent-Young, Ndaba, Clements.
Tottenham U21s: Whiteman, Eyoma (c), Oakley-Booth (Patterson 69), Tracey, White (Asante 86), Hinds, Lyons-Foster, Markanday, Shashoua, Richards, Okedina. Unused: De Bie, Dinzeyi, Patterson, Clarke, Thorpe. Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey). Att: 5,377 (Spurs: 283).
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