By Giuseppe Muro at Spurs Lodge
A defensive misjudgment deep into the second half handed Tottenham a slender 1-0 victory in a fiery North London derby on Saturday morning.
Seemingly under no pressure inside his own penalty area, Daniel Boateng headed back past goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook to leave Callum Tapping the simple task of poking home from under the crossbar.
Tottenham held on to earn the bragging rights from a meeting of near neighbours that was hotly contested from start to finish.
Steve Bould’s young side have endured a tricky campaign this time around but the manager will take heart from a committed display full of enterprise and endeavour.
Both teams were evenly matched during the opening exchanges with full-blooded tackles aplenty early on. No quarter was being given - or asked.
The lively Zak Ansah pounced on two dithering Tottenham defenders before scuffing a shot into the side-netting.
Then, Charles-Cook’s errant pass presented an opening for Lee Angol who blazed high over the bar.
The Arsenal goalkeeper was again in the thick of it minutes later when he expertly clawed Jack Munns’ stinging drive behind. From the resulting corner, Paul McBride headed wide at the back post.
The game ebbed and flowed after that. It certainly wasn’t a classic - but then derbies rarely are.
Good work from Sead Hajrovic on the right created an opening for Ansah but, on the turn, he lost his footing and could only shoot harmlessly into the arms of Jordan Archer.
So it was level going into the break.
The second period started slowly and Ansah’s skewed effort was all either side could muster in the first 15 minutes.
But then the game sprung into life.
Kyle Ebecilio’s curling effort stung the palms of Archer and Boateng’s header forced the Spurs keeper into another stop from the ensuing corner.
On the hour the hosts could, and perhaps should, have gone ahead when slack marking allowed space to McBride who poked over from four yards.
It was a real let-off but Arsenal responded well and twice went close to edging ahead themselves.
Jeffrey Monakana’s rising effort skimmed the crossbar and the impressive Jordan Wynter forced a smart stop from Archer.
Neat interchange from Hajrovic and Wynter then left Alban Bunjaku with the goal at his mercy eight yards out. But he tamely poked wide.
Ebecilio was booked for a whole-hearted challenge that summed up Arsenal’s intensity.
Things were finely poised when, 13 minutes from time, came Boateng’s slip
With no-one within two yards of the young defender, he got his bearings wrong and headed towards his own goal and past the despairing Charles-Cook. With the ball virtually over the line, Tapping stole in to put Tottenham ahead.
It was cruel on Arsenal who instantly searched for an equaliser and went close to getting it when Bunjaku fizzed an effort agonisingly wide.
Substitute Jack Jebb fired a free-kick into the wall late on but Tottenham held on to take the three points.
- Edge 73
- Monteiro 73
- Monakana 73
- Rees 73
- Jebb 73
- Akpom 73
Tottenham Hotspur Yth
- Dombaye 10
- Tapping Goal!
- Hawkins 60
- Waller-Lassen 60
- McQueen 10