Ciaran McLoughlin is a Multimedia Sports Journalism student at UCFB Wembley. His aspiration is to work in the football industry and so this opportunity to write for The FA's websites was too good to turn down. Ciaran is part of the Young Reporters' Club.
It took extra-time for Tottenham Hotspur to get past a determined Millwall side in the FA Youth Cup, to set up a north London derby with Arsenal in the next round.
Even with more possession in the game, Spurs lacked edge and Millwall took full advantage with a superb strike from captain Billy Mitchell to take a first-half lead.
- The FA Youth Cup
- Third Round Proper
- Monday 17 December 2018
- The Den, Millwall FC
The Lions probably thought they had won it, but were denied by a late J’Neil Bennett header which took the tie to extra time.
And the visitors edged through when a Joseph Wright mistake allowed Rodel Richards to tap the ball into an empty net.
Despite the Den not being at full capacity, the atmosphere was still energetic, which was to be expected with it being a London derby which is not contested that often by the first teams.
Millwall, who were knocked out in this round last season, took on a Spurs side who were on good form, coming into the game on top of the U18s Premier League.
The occasion was certainly expressed by the players, with tackles coming thick and fast. In fact, it only took ten minutes for the first booking of the game, when Tottenham’s captain Armando Shashoua was taken into the referee’s book for pulling back on an opponent.
The first real chance of the game fell to the Lions, when Junior Tiensia made a darting run from defence to fire a powerful shot, which was deflected safely into the arms of Joshua Oluwayemi.
Overall there was a lack of chances in the half, but if Millwall had been more clinical in the final third they may have found themselves in front earlier on, with Spurs looking good on the ball, but doing very little with it.
However, out of nowhere on 34 minutes, Mitchell struck a magnificent shot into the top corner to give Millwall the lead, which was greeted by an eruption of noise from the home crowd, as if it was in full attendance.
Tottenham attempted to reply straight away as Paris Maghoma hit a low shot just past the post immediately from the restart.
The second half started with Millwall looking for their second and, despite being in the division below their guests, they looked much more commanding both on and off the ball and not allowing their visitors any real time to settle on the ball.
George Alexander had two spectacular chances to increase the lead, as an audacious scissor-kick from 20 yards out nearly caught Oluwayemi out, before the Tottenham keeper pumped another of Alexander’s attempts onto the crossbar.
Spurs manager Matt Wells made his first change early on in the half when he brought on Bennett, who certainly made his presence felt with a flurry of crosses coming from the left-hand side to give Wright his first real challenges in goal.
With under five minutes remaining, Spurs had their best chance to equalise when Troy Parrott had a shot splendidly pushed out for a corner by Wright, who, when called into action had pulled off some great saves.
But with three minutes of additional time to go, Tottenham got their goal in dramatic fashion as Bennett headed in at the far post after his side’s third corner in quick succession.
Tottenham’s experience started to show and that was underlined early on in the first half of extra-time, when they took an early lead through Richards, after he was left with an open goal to finish in.
Millwall responded straight away and were unlucky not to equalise when Harry Taylor’s strike was parried onto the post. The Lions continued to put pressure on the Spurs defence, but lacked the conviction to get that vital equaliser.
In the end, Millwall’s efforts were not enough against a strong Tottenham side, who now go into the fourth round and a tasty looking away trip to Arsenal.