STOKE CITY’S youngsters elevated themselves up and above Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Premier League Under 21 league table on Friday afternoon, courtesy of an impressive 2-0 victory against the Londoners.
Strikes from former Portsmouth defender Alex Grant and substitute Joel Taylor recorded the Potters all three points from an entertaining affair played out at the Clayton Wood Training Ground.
Glyn Hodges side were the brighter of the two sides during the initial exchanges with skipper James Alabi proving to be a constant nuisance to the Spurs rearguard.
The powerful front-man, who has enjoyed loan spells with both Mansfield Town and Forest Green Rovers this term, almost got on the end of a dangerous Eddie Lecygne ball across goal, but narrowly failed to make contact with the ball.
At the other end, stopper Dale Eve was thankful to lady-luck as a deflected strike from Ruben Lameiras cannoned back off his crossbar, before being cleared away from danger.
Despite a lacklustre opening 10 minutes for the visitors, they gradually grew into the game and looked the more likely of the two teams to break the deadlock.
Grant Ward powered a header inches over the bar following a clever ball across the penalty area from Lameiras, whilst Kenneth McEvoy will feel disappointed not to have done better with a chance that was presented to him shortly before the break.
The start of the second period heralded a much more dominant Stoke performance, as the youngsters displayed far more composure on the ball, and undoubtedly more cutting edge when chances came their way.
Grant, who had looked impressive at the back for his side throughout, took the initiative to fire the home side in front with a slightly fortuitous effort ten minutes after the restart, before Frenchman Lecygne went close with a long-range strike.
Bermudan international Eve was rarely troubled during the second period, but when he was called upon he had all of the answers to the questions posed of him by Spurs.
With just the one goal between the two teams there was always a chance of the visitors mustering a leveller, particularly when they threw everything at the hosts during the latter stages of the game.
Stoke held firm however, and incidentally looked the more likely to find the second goal of the afternoon on the counter-attack.
Alabi’s pace sent shivers down the spine of the visitors backline, as they struggled to cope with his sheer pace and power.
He got the better of his marker on the right hand side on several occasions but on each one his drilled ball across goal narrowly evaded the scattering of players looking to finish the game off.
With the clock ticking down however, the game was finally put to bed when substitute Taylor ran through the middle of the pitch and let fly an unstoppable effort from 25-yards that nestled beautifully in the bottom corner of the net.