Report: Clinical Spurs punish under-23s

Albion beaten 5-1 on return to Premier League 2 action.

By Bruce Talbot • 15 January 2021

By Phil Duncan
Stefan Vukoje fires at goal.

Albion under-23s made a disappointing start to the new year as they were beaten by Tottenham in Friday’s Premier League 2 encounter at the American Express Elite Performance Centre.

The home side had some good chances but Tottenham were far more clinical in the first half when they established a 3-0 lead. Albion again went close on a couple of occasions after the break but a penalty midway through the half ended any hopes of a fightback and although substitute Peter Gwargis did get a consolation there was still time for Tottenham to score a fifth goal late on.

A youthful Albion line-up included Tom McGill, who returned from his loan spell at Crawley Town earlier this week, and they started brightly with Zac Sturge lively down the left early on.

The hosts had a great chance in the 10th minute when Ayo Tanimowo picked out Stefan Vukoje in the box but Spurs’ goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi made a good save at his near post.

By Phil Duncan
Both sides compete for the ball at a corner.

But it was Tottenham who took control, opening the scoring in the 17th minute when McGill was beaten by George Marsh’s crisp strike after a clearance fell to him on the edge of the box.

Sturge created a good opening in the 32nd minute but Danny Cashman headed his cross wide and within five minutes Tottenham doubled their lead when Kion Etete found Kazaiah Sterling who beat McGill from close range.

Spurs were now in control and they added a third goal just before the break. Defender Ed Turns under-hit a back pass to McGill and Etete nipped in to finish and give his side a 3-0 lead at the break.

Gwargis came on at the break and was involved straight away when he found the side netting after dispossessing a Tottenham defender. Albion had another opportunity to pull one back in the 55th minute when Spong headed Tanimowo’s cross over before midfielder Andrew Crofts let fly and Oluwayemi made an excellent save from his powerful drive.

By Phil Duncan
Andrew Crofts gives instructions to his teammates.

Instead, Spurs ended any hopes of an Albion fightback with a fourth goal in the 68th minute when Sterling was brought down in the box by Gwargis and substitute Dane Scarlett made it 4-0 by beating McGill from the penalty spot.

Albion kept going. Oluwayemi made another smart save to deny Cashman from close range and Gwargis showed some composure in the box to create space but his shot was deflected wide before they pulled one back with ten minutes left.

Gwargis did well inside the box to create space and look up to pick out Spong who poked the ball home from close range. It was no more than Albion deserved for their efforts on the night but Spurs had the final word when Marcel Lavinier squeezed home a fifth in the final minute.

Albion: McGill, Tanimowo, Sturge (Gwargis 45), Collyer, Turns, Dendoncker, Yapi, Crofts (Ferguson 69), Cashman, Vukoje, Spong. Unused subs: Desbois, Ella, Packham.