A North London Derby is always a special affair whatever level it is played at, and with Tottenham Hotspur bringing a large away contingent to the U21 match against Arsenal on Monday night courtesy of the 1882 movement, there was an excellent atmosphere at Underhill.
Those away fans were rewarded with a 1-0 win, after Nabil Bentaleb's goal 12 seconds into the second half proved the difference on the night. The win puts Spurs eight points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Elite Group Stage with one game to play, and although United still have three games, Spurs are all but assured to win the group and set up a home semi-final.
Plenty of exciting young players were on display, including Arsenal's recently recruited 16 year old Gedion Zelalem, but it was a more established name that controlled the game from midfield, with Tom Carroll putting in an impressive display to again further his cause for more playing time at a senior level.
Carroll was up against Francis Coquelin in Arsenal's midfield, and having outperformed the young French player comfortably, it might be a source of frustration for the Spurs youngster that Coquelin has already been given so many more opportunities to impress for his senior side.
Whilst Carroll's only starts so far have come in the Europa League or domestic trophies, Coquelin has been included in Arsenal's first eleven in both the Premier League and Champions League on several occasions.
However this has still been an important breakthrough year for Carroll, and another fine performance in the U21 competition helped put Spurs in a great position to get a favourable semi-final draw.
This season Carroll might have to be content with youth success and the odd appearance for the senior team, but next year he can expect to make a real impact for Andre Villas-Boas' side.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald