STOKE CITY’s Under-18s got back to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur at Clayton Wood Training Ground.
Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Nardiello scored the goals for the Potters in a match which, on the balance of chances, they thoroughly deserved to win, although Ruben Lameires’ second-half free-kick kept them on their toes right up until the final whistle.
After two defeats on the spin to Newcastle United and Manchester United, City welcomed back Kris Scott and Curtis Strong from international duty with the United States and Wales respectively, and reverted back to the diamond midfield that had served them so well earlier in the season.
It was Spurs who had the first opportunity, though, on 14 minutes after some intricate skill from Josh Onoman allowed Harry Winks a shot at goal, but he pulled it wide of the left-hand post.
The home team asserted their authority, and after Nardiello had ran half the length of the pitch only to find the side netting with his effort, he provided a cross for Derice Richards whose low header was well-saved by Luke McGee.
Richards was to be the man who most of the Potters’ chances fell to throughout the half, and he should have scored after Scott and Nardiello combined well to present him with a clear chance on 27 minutes, but McGee closed the angles quickly and parried the shot.
City opened the scoring on 33 minutes – Jake Cook’s corner wasn’t claimed by McGee under pressure from Nardiello, and the ball fell to Ryan O’Reilly who blasted it into the roof of the net.
Only moments later, they could have doubled their lead when Richards nicked possession from Channing Campbell-Young, played a one-two with Scott and found Nardiello, but this time McGee was equal to the shot.
In a frantic period, Spurs rallied and Dale Eve produced an outstanding stop to deny Daniel Akindayini before Winks broke through City’s back-line, only to nudge his shot wide.
They continued their spell of pressure after half-time, and Darren McQueen hit the woodwork when his shot deflected off Sam Coulson and onto the post on 57 minutes.
Stoke doubled their lead only a couple of minutes later, though – the Spurs defender dallied in possession and Jack Nardiello robbed him and advanced into the area before finishing coolly past McGee.
The second period was a more even affair, although Stoke were defending well in numbers to protect their two-goal lead and had a couple more chances of their own – Nardiello snap header went wide after good work from substitute James Alabi on the left before the striker then had another effort halted by the visiting ‘keeper.
Spurs forged themselves a route back into the game in spectacular fashion on 70 minutes, although Lameires’ 25-yard curler came after a dubious free-kick award by the referee.
With their goal, Spurs sniffed a route back into the game and Lameires nearly found an equaliser but his low, drilled shot was beaten away by Eve.
Daniel Coulthirst then hit the post for the London club, before, up the other end, substitute Marcel Barrington rattled the crossbar with a superb effort after being found by Scott.
City held on in the final few minutes to earn their third win of their Group 2 campaign.
Stoke City: Eve; Westley, Coulson, O’Reilly, Strong; Lecygne; Monlouis, Cook; Scott; Nardiello (Barrington 83), Richards (Alabi 60). Subs not used: Gledhill, Ricketts-Hopkinson, Sanders.
Tottenham Hotspur: McGee; Bush (Miller 70), Campbell-Young, Ogilvie, Smith (Gardner 87); Lameires; McQueen, Winks, Onoman (Vincent 78), Akindayini; Coulthirst. Subs not used: Priestley.