Monday night saw a thrilling eight-goal encounter in the FA Youth Cup Quarter Final at St James Park as Tottenham booked their place in the semi-finals after a 5-3 victory. Despite the adverse weather conditions, the game was littered with stand-out performances from across the park and with one eye on the future: Who, from this game, are the future stars to watch out for?
Position: Attacking Midfielder
D.O.B: 9th March 1999
Match Performance: Easily the star performer of the night, Keanan Bennetts got Spurs off to a flying start with a great strike from the edge of the area after three minutes. Bennetts was a menace to the Newcastle full-backs all game with both right and left back never getting a minute of peace. Despite his game being cut short, Bennetts suffered a muscle injury 30 minutes into the game, his performance until then had been nothing short of exemplary. The Chronicle Chief Sports Editor Lee Ryder wrote: “On 29 minutes Bennetts was taken off after pulling a muscle with no Toon defender complaining after the player had ran riot for Spurs.” – pretty much summing up Bennetts’ performance.
The Player: Keanan Bennetts is a tall, tricky, pacey winger with a very distinctive blonde hairstyle which makes him stand out at the very least. Bennetts is also an expert at dead-ball situations who can whip and float crosses in equal measure. His major attributes, pace, strength, use of tricks and skills and his crossing ability are vital for a winger such as Bennetts who is adept at playing on both sides of midfield. Keanan Bennetts looks a real talent for the future and at only 17 years of age, has plenty of time to develop as a winger.
D.O.B: 9th November 1998
Match Performance: Keanan Bennetts’ replacement against Newcastle was Kazaiah Sterling. Sterling played an hour and grabbed himself a goal with a well-placed effort into the bottom corner after a quick counter-attack, extending Spurs’ lead to 3-1. Although Sterling wasn’t as easy-on-the-eye as the man he replaced, his constant running with the ball and ability to draw fouls from the Newcastle defenders made Sterling a thorn in the side of Newcastle’s defenders all game.
The Player: Sterling, a man who has a big surname to live up to, is a striker who has an ability to finish as well as confidence on the ball. Sterling’s goals helped Tottenham progress through the previous round against Norwich and he scored a hat-trick against Stevenage in November. Sterling clearly has a great goal-scoring ability and has played and scored for England at Under-17 level. Sterling, as a goal-scorer, looks to be a future star and if he can replicate Harry Kane’s form, he is surely a guaranteed future star.
D.O.B: 31st March 1999
Match Performance: Japhet Tanganga alongside his partner, Jonathan Dinzeyi, gave very little in the way of chances away to the Newcastle strikers. Despite conceding three goals, most of Newcastle’s attacking threat came from wide areas with Tanganga facing very little opposition in front of him. Tanganga also found himself on the score sheet after netting Tottenham’s fourth goal from a corner. Tanganga had a solid game and was a major reason as to why his side progressed to the semi-finals.
The Player: Tanganga is one of a new breed of centre-backs who are as confident with the ball as they are defending. Countless times, Tanganga played simple passes as well as defence-splitting, long-ball passes which all found a man in a Tottenham shirt. With the confidence on the ball Tanganga possesses, a Cruyff turn on the edge of the Newcastle penalty box highlighting this, he could be compared to Manchester City and England centre-back John Stones. Tanganga possesses all the quality and attributes required to become a modern-day centre-back and his experience in the UEFA Youth League with Tottenham will undoubtedly improve him as a defender.
D.O.B: 24th April 1999
Match Performance: Lewis McNall went into the match against Spurs having scored in every previous round of the FA Youth Cup. Continuing with these goal scoring exploits, McNall scored two goals, albeit in vain, to give hope to Newcastle fans and players. His first was from the penalty spot in the 50th minute and the second made the score 3-2 with a great finish at the back post as Newcastle began to take control of the game. McNall was a constant threat all game for Newcastle and his knack of being in the right place at the right time was a great asset for Newcastle on the night.
The Player: McNall, although not necessarily the most standout player on the night, played his role as a goalscorer to a T. His ability to find the ball himself in control of the ball within sight of the goal is uncanny and he has a great finishing ability. McNall has scored goals throughout his career at Newcastle and is, at the very least, a goal-scorer. The potential is there for McNall to develop into the Geordie’s new Number 9 and assuming he is coached and developed as he should be, there’s little reason why McNall couldn’t become that new Number 9.
D.O.B: 22nd January 1999
Match Performance: Maybe a centre-back who played in a defence that conceded five goals shouldn’t be judged to have had a good match. However, Bailey, as captain, controlled the defence throughout the game and helped his side weather the Tottenham storm whilst Keanan Bennetts was on the field. Once the match entered its frantic end-to-end stage, the Newcastle defence could be excused for pushing forward to equalise, rather than concentrating on remaining a water-tight unit.
The Player: Bailey, as captain, is a calming influence amongst the whole Newcastle team and leads the team as a captain should. Bailey, on the Newcastle website, describes himself as an “old-fashioned centre-back” and this is true in that, for Bailey, defending comes first. Not afraid of a challenge or an aerial duel, Bailey is a throwback to what makes a good defender. Competent with the ball at his feet, never shying away from a short goal-kick and a calming influence over the team makes Bailey an all-around solid defender and one to watch out for at Newcastle for years to come.