This was an interesting game. Entertaining, but with just as many negative points as there were positives. You can't help but get a sense of deja vu when watching the EDS. The pattern feels familiar - the team starts poorly, goes in behind at half-time and then one or two changes are made and there's an immediate and concerted fightback that usually turns the game around in City's favour. This was no different, and it is frustrating to witness as it feels predictable. We started with Maffeo and Tosin centrally, Angelino and Drury as fullbacks with Horsfield and Glendon holding midfield. Garcia floated behind Iheanacho and Intima and Nemane were out wide with the latter starting on the left, which isn't his usual role. Interestingly there was no Ntcham, Gunn or Barker. Perhaps they were given a rest ahead of Friday's Premier League International Cup Final. The team didn't click either way and we started badly.
We were sloppy in possession, a little unbalanced and the opposition forced us back well. You get the impression that most teams know how we play and they press incredibly high as result, and most of the goals we concede come from this - its a risky style while the players are still learning this 'philosophy' so it will happen. Spurs' first goal came from down the right hand side. Angelino's deficiency, despite all his offensive talents, is his positioning and it was at fault here. Spurs got in behind him and squared the ball across for a simple tap-in. He was as full of energy going forward, as ever, but there are clear vulnerabilities to this side of his game still. Their second came from an uncharacteristic mistake from the usually reliable Tosin Adarabioyo. He got caught in possession high up the pitch, Spurs broke and it lead to another simple chance for Oduwa to grab his second. Tosin was replaced at half-time by his u18s partner Cameron Humphreys who was as solid and as reliable as he has been for the u18s this season. Perhaps the switch was precautionary or part of a bigger plan as both are still very young for this level, and it would have been a little cruel to pull Tosin for that mistake alone.
The 0-2 half-time scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on City, as despite not being anywhere near their best, Spurs weren't either. They had two clear chances and scored from both. We had about three or four in the first half. Two in particular fell to Iheanacho. He's an incredible talent but it wasn't quite his day here, despite moments that hinted at his potential, one effort in the second half that was pure Ronaldinho - a standing strike from the edge of the area curled towards the far corner that the keepr turned around the post. Before that, with the game still goalless, he was played through by Garcia and hit it straight at the keeper. Another chance was very similar to his goal against Chelsea in the Youth Cup Final, attacking the near post and letting the ball travel across his body before flicking it towards goal. Technically brilliant, but just wide of the post. Garcia, too, squandered a good chance after being put through mid way through the first half.
The second half we were much better. Jack Byrne came on for the non-existent Drury, Horsfield (who had a poor game in midfield, following on from an indifferent performance last Thursday too) was switched to right-back and Byrne's introduction seemed to give us the impetus to kick on. He was fantastic - i was a little critical of his performance last week but he was at his very best here. He struck the post with a glorious curling effort from the inside left position, stung the hands of their keeper with another rasping drive from 30 yards and he was also the first to react to a scramble in the area to level the scores to 2-2. His overall play was great too, spreading the ball across the pitch and dictating play. Can't help but feel a loan move beckons for him next season. Celtic Perhaps? Only a few minutes earlier Maffeo had pulled one back, reacting first to the keeper spilling Garcia's effort. Maffeo was as great as ever. Heart of lion, measured and a tough little bastard for his size. Arguably the most likely of any of City's defenders to step up next year. He's that good.
Dissapointingly Spurs scored again within seconds of City levelling it. Some hesistancy from our defence left Harry Winks (great name) through on goal, who promptly rounded the stranded O'Brien before rolling it into the net. It was a little cruel on City, but they fought back well and strode forward looking for the equaliser. Pozo's introduction for Horsfield further turned the game in our favour. Pozo was good - he played behind Iheanacho as opposed to the no. 9 role he's usually given these days and it suits him greatly. He's not a centre-forward and he suits drifting behind the front line, probing and creating chances. He likes playing there and you can tell and he linked with Iheanacho and Byrne well. The equaliser came from a lovely well worked corner routine (yes a City team scored from a corner...) that involved great interplay between Glendon and Byrne before the ball rolled loose to Intima who drilled it home. We searched for a late winner, Nemane had a pretty spectacular overhead kicked ruled out for an infringement and Angelino drilled just wide, but it wasn't to be.
Perhaps on reflection 3-3 was a fair result. Spurs had their chances too and they would have felt hard done by going home with nothing. Individually there was some real mixed moments. Intima tried, but had little impact despite his goal, Nemane wasn't as comfortable over on the left as he usually is on the right, and Garcia does struggle to exert himself over 90 minutes at this level still - though admittedly he was involved in pretty much everything good we did, and he is only 17. He just has a tendency to drift in and out of games. Next season should be pretty interesting for him at u21 level. As mentioned earlier, it wasn't quite Kelechi's day, though Glendon was a lot more incisive and considerably more involved than he was on Thursday where he struggled. Not great, but good and definitely better. Drury was disappointing sadly - another I wonder that might have missed the boat at City. Same with Horsfield and possibly Intima or O'Brien in goal. None of them are bad players and they should have good careers in football, but we're blessed with talent at the u21s and u18s levels, and the kids in the u16s are by all accounts incredibly exciting too, so they might have to be moved on as they may find themselves 20 or 21 and sat in the stands for the EDS. Time will tell.
The next game is the Premier League Internation Cup game on Friday. It's the final and we're against Porto. Hopefully it'll be the first bit of silverware this year for the EDS.