Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United
Venue: The Lamex Stadium
Date: Monday, 29 September 2014
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Adnan Januzaj followed up his hat-trick against Sunderland’s U21s with an outrageous free-kick on 87 minutes, before Nathan Oduwa equalised a minute later then captain Tom Thorpe rounded off an excellent few days for him personally by scoring the winner in the 91st minute.
The final moments was in stark contrast to the first half as the encounter certainly reflected the dull and misty conditions that overlooked Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium.
Both sides failed to conjure up any meaningful chances over the course of the first 45 minutes and it took until the 12th minute of the game for the first half chance of the contest.
Saidy Janko was unable to contain Oduwa inside the penalty area, as Spurs’ number 11 twisted and turned away from the Swiss youngster, only for his right-footed effort to curl over the bar.
Cristian Ceballos then saw a header fly wide before Alexander McQueen was booked for a rash challenge on Marnick Vermijl.
Andreas Pereira saw a shot deflected over the bar and Emmanuel Sonupe had a goal attempt deflected wide by Thorpe and away for a corner.
A free-kick in a dangerous position on the left-hand side looked promising for the Red Devils, but Pereira’s strike was deflected up into the air and headed clear by captain Milos Veljkovic, as Thorpe looked to pounce on any scraps.
Josh Harrop’s match ended prematurely as he was forced off with an ankle injury after the ball struck him awkwardly from McQueen’s shot. Joe Rothwell came on to replace him on the stroke of half-time.
James Wilson was another casualty for United and was replaced by Liam Grimshaw at half time. The visitors appeared to miss Wilson’s attacking threat as the home side dominated the early exchanges of the second period.
Cristian Ceballos saw a shot comfortably held by experienced keeper Anders Lindegaard, Oduwa’s fantastic run ended with an effort palmed behind by the Dane and then Daniel Akindayini’s near post flick from the resulting corner threatened the United goal.
Janko then came to life for the visitors as his powerful cross was headed over his own bar by Dominic Ball, the right back’s pull back was then cut out before Andreas Pereira was fouled by Joshua Onomah on the edge of the box.
The resulting free-kick was tamely curled wide by Januzaj, although the attempt did have keeper Luke McGee scampering across his line.
On first viewing, it looked like United had been robbed of a stone-wall penalty, as Janko’s cross found Januzaj, who appeared to have touched the ball away from Veljkovic as he went down under his challenge, but replays showed that the Spurs skipper won the ball fairly.
Time for the exhilarating finish.
Harry Winks was booked, possibly for any one of three things.
Firstly, he fouled Janko on the right-hand side; secondly he threw the ball down in protest, and thirdly his simulation towards the referee.
He can have no complaints and Januzaj fired home the resulting kick from what appeared to be an impossible angle into the far top corner, to give United what looked like all three points.
Spurs had different ideas, however.
Just a minute later Lindegaard’s poor clearance was helped forward by Onomah, the ball bounced into the penalty area, but Lindegaard failed to gain control under the challenge of Oduwa, with the latter pouncing on the loose ball and firing into the top corner despite the best efforts of Thorpe on the line.
Lindegaard was furious; as it appeared Oduwa used his arm to catch the keeper in the face, which resulted in the dropping of the ball.
A point rescued, a result salvaged, but there was one more twist in store.
Into stoppage time and Januzaj had a shot deflected behind for a corner.
Januzaj himself took the corner and perfectly found the head of Thorpe, to seal the victory in dramatic fashion.
After making his first team debut in second half stoppage time on Saturday, Thorpe lead by example as captain, epitomising United’s never-say-die attitude, as the youngsters head back North with all three points.
Thorpe and the rest of the side had to be switched on for one last Spurs attack, but Ceballos shot flew over the crossbar and the game ended.
United temporarily move to the top of the table, with 10 points out of a possible 12. The reward for hard work during the opening weeks of the season.
With a three week break until their next game away at West Ham, it was important that United battled for the result and taking the maximum will certainly please Warren Joyce, rounding off a good weekend for the club.
Manchester United: Lindegaard; Janko, Thorpe, Vermijl, C. Evans; Pearson, A. Pereira, Harrop (Rothwell 45+1); Januzaj; Wilson (Grimshaw 46), W. Keane.
Subs: Grimshaw, O’Hara, Rothwell, Weir, Tuanzebe.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Tottenham Hotspur: McGee; McQueen, Ball, Veljkovic, Ogilvie (Lesniak 46); Sonupe (Miller 59), Winks, Onomah, Oduwa; Ceballos; Akindayini (Lameiras 77).