Spurs Under-17s gear up for Milk Cup Vase semi-final

Spurs’ U17s are in action in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup, where their performances have ranged from an outstanding 4-0 victory to a simply shocking 7-1 defeat.

The prestigious youth tournament, which began on Saturday and was opened by Everton manager David Moyes, was last won by Tottenham in 1996.

The junior Lilywhites drew 1-1 with County Armagh in their opening fixture, but a humiliating 7-1 defeat at the hands of Strikers FC then left them near the foot of the 20-team league table, which includes Manchester United, Newcastle and Bolton.

However, Spurs bounced back to thump New Zealand side Otago 4-0 last night and finish 10th overall, with four points from their three ‘league games’.

The 20 teams have now been split into five knock-out competitions, according to their league position - and Spurs find themselves in the Vase along with ninth-placed County Down, 11th-placed County Londonderry and 12th-placed CSKA Moscow.

Tottenham will take on CSKA in the Vase semi-final at 5pm today and, if successful, will take on the winners of the other tie in the final.

An explanation for Spurs’ indifferent form is that many of their players have been playing opponents who are two and, in some cases, even three years older than themselves - and this policy has raised considerable ire from a number of fans.

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Yet Tottenham’s Milk Cup campaign got off to the best possible start when Nathan Oduwa hit the opener against Armagh after only three minutes, before a defensive error gifted the Northern Irish outfit an equaliser.

Spurs could have retaken the lead but for a number of superb saves from Armagh goalkeeper Martin Marron, who denied Oduwa from the penalty spot with 10 minutes remaining.

On Monday, Spurs endured a Californian goal rush, conceding seven times with the incredible Abu Dunladi scoring four of his side’s seven goals.

Strikers, who certainly lived up to their name, were aided by a woefully inept Spurs defence and, had goalkeeper Harry Voss not been in such inspired form, the score would have reached double figures.

Felipe Liborio gave the Californians the lead after 10 minutes with a close range finish, but Spurs recovered quickly and equalised five minutes later when Channing Campbell-Young controlled Anthony Georgiou’s fine cross and smashed the ball in.

From then on it was all one-way traffic though, and two minutes later Dunladi acrobatically controlled a long ball before racing down on goal to restore Strikers’ lead.

He went on to beat a poor offside trap and round a helpless Voss to slot into an empty net, before poking the ball home for his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time.

Dunladi claimed his fourth just after the break, sprinting through and curling his shot into the bottom corner, and Christian Thierjung made it 6-1 two minutes later.

Voss pulled off two fine saves to stop Dunladi adding to his haul, but Thierjung rounded off a miserable night for the large Spurs support when he finished calmly with minutes left.

The White Hart Lane boys bounced back though, and produced a dominant display the following evening to crush Otago 4-0.

The game was never a contest and Shayon Harrison opened the scoring after a long spell of possession, while fine midfield play from William Miller and Nathan Oduwa in particular created an opening for Emmanuel Sonupe, who fired into the empty net.

The game was delayed due to a bad injury to Otago’s Gabriel Schwarz but, when play resumed, Spurs goalkeeper Liam Priestly saved well and Liam Miller scored after Harry Winks’ cross caused mayhem.

A wonderful pass from Luke Amos, who has excelled in midfield despite facing much older and bigger opposition, then allowed Harrison to finish emphatically.

Manager John McDermott, who accepted that picking younger players could result in a heavy defeat, remarked: “Our performance was imaginative and I thought we moved the ball well. I’m very happy with the team performance and, as we have a young side, we have to concentrate on our technique.”