brothers at arms

Spurs Under-19's v Ipswich Town Under-19's

With the wind blowing briskly across the Spurs Lodge pitches, it made for difficult playing conditions for both sides, until the gusts died down in the second half.  With each side netting once in that period, the draw was probably a fair result, despite Tottenham having the bulk of the possession during the 90 minutes.

Spurs started off with an experienced side and added to that when their subs entered the fray, both of whom have reserve experience.  The bulk of the side had played together for a while and this showed in their calm possession and passing.  Players who have been together for a year or more seem to automatically know where their team-mates will be and this helps the flow of their game.

Two players who were well known to each other were Ben Bowditch, the Tottenham defender and his brother Dean, who featured in Ipswich's forward line.  Ben had a solid game in central defence alongside Danny Foster who was dominant in the air and distributed the ball well.  Bowditch is a tall lad, who is at ease on the ball and has good pace to get back and tackle.  His brother Dean has made a name for himself in the England Under-17 team that featured Tottenham's Philip Ifil (who is in our Under-17s).  The Ipswich version has a sublime touch and is tall for his age too, but he is slight and as such can be easily knocked off the ball.  However, he does have the confidence to try the outrageous and sometimes it comes off, as it did in the summer Under-6 tournament when playing for England against the Czech Republic (I think), when he lobbed the keeper superbly.

In this match, his goal came from a blooper by Spurs goalie Rutherford, who failed to catch a 75th minute corner and it dropped in the six yard box, where the Bowditch in blue back-heeled the ball over the line from close range.  He had tried to fade one across Rutherford earlier on, but had drifted it wide of the post too.

The goal equalised Spurs' opener that came from the penalty spot, after Jamie Slabber had been hauled down.  Captain Slabber got up to convert the kick himself, sending the keeper the wrong way as the ball was shot into the right hand corner of the netting in the 54th minute.

The game had started in blowy conditions that made judgement of the ball hard, exemplified by Ben Bowditch missing a square pass and Ipswich's Dickinson left with a free run on goal, but he blazed his effort over the bar.  The carrot topped number 11 really did fulfill the role of a ginger whinger and his constant chat towards the referee and numerous fouls led to his name ending up in the book in the final minute.  It was just a surprise that it took that long.

Spurs hit back with Noto getting on the end of a Slabber cross, but the keeper comfortably saved the attempt.  The Tractor Babies had some tall players, which caused Spurs problems from corners and Bonwick headed over from one set piece, while Dickinson had a shot from another corner saved low down by Rutherford.  Bonwick was well wide from another corner kick just before half time, when he could have forced a save if it had been on target.

On 20 minutes, Noto received the ball on the left side of the box and turned well to hook a shot on target, but Peat held the ball high under the bar.  The wind affected any flowing moves and the play was disjointed, breaking down every time the ball went in the air and was blown off course.  One such instance nearly ended up in a goal, when Marcel McKie sprinted up the left wing and his cross nearly caught out the keeper, who just managed to tip it over the top.

The teams turned around goal-less and Tottenham forced the play from the kick off and almost immediately took the lead.  Noto's low, pacy cross was palmed out by Peat, only to Jonathan Black running in.  His shot was saved by the keeper and perhaps he should have done better, but Spurs earned a corner, after Slabber had received treatment for running into the goalpost.  Mario Noto was heavily involved in this spell and it was his header two minutes into the half from a corner that was again tipped over by Peat.  Unfortunately, the third corner in succession came to nothing.

Dickinson took a break from getting involved in everything around him to fire a shot inches past Rutherford's right hand upright, but in Tottenham's next attack, they took the lead with Slabber's penalty.

Straight after the goal, Lee Barnett hit a 20 yard shot over the bar, before being substituted by Lee Barnard in the 65th minute and Hughes came on for the injured Keates.  Slabber was on the spot to force a save from the keeper's legs when he seized on a low cross into the box that the dithering Ipswich defenders all left.

It was two substitutions in the 70th minute that breathed new life into the Ipswich side.  Five minutes after that they scored and the game then became a more physical encounter.  Beevers was booked for a high and late tackle on Noto, while Mark Hughes was yellow carded for a foul.

But it was Tottenham who finished the stronger and Danny Foster nearly grabbed a win for Spurs, when he headed a corner towards goal and the Ipswich defender Boardley knocked it off the line with the keeper beaten three minutes before time.  Even into injury time, Spurs were still pushing for the victory and Mario Noto had s hot from the right corner of the box saved up near the bar by the goalie.

There was barely a poor performance from the Spurs lads, with plenty of effort and skill put into their games.  Rutherford had little to do apart from the goal. Unfortunately, he lost out to a taller forward, but his saves and handling were otherwise sound and his footwork was good too.  McKie offers athleticism down the left, with a sweet left foot that puts good crosses in with pace.  On the right, Daniel Perry is short, but wins more than his fair share in the air, while also providing service into the box.  The two central defenders today both looked good.  Bowditch is mobile and his poise on the ball is a great advantage, while Foster is the first to attack the ball forward and he can also use it properly.  Neither gets flustered and they look to be a good pairing.

In midfield, there is plenty of endeavour.  Mark Yeates is a player I like, as he is hard-working and good on the ball.  His slight frame sometimes takes a bit of a buffetting, like today, but he is very aware of team-mates around him and brings others into the game.  The Lee Barnett and Jonathan Black partnership in the midfield offers a little and large coupling.  Barnett, rangy in appearance and slick on the ball, looks languid, while the shorter Black hustles and bustles in closing people down and linking play on the left.  Nicky Wettner played a deeper role than he did last season and was the hardest of the ball-winners in the midfield.

Jamie Slabber was captain for the day and lead the line well.  He uses his height well and leads the line, holding the ball up and taking markers with him.  He is another who took a fair few whacks today, but he stuck at his task and did very well, using close control in the box, when he was pulled down for the spot-kick.  Mario Noto is playing alongside him, in a wide and more defensive role.  This did not stop him getting shots on target and his contribution was evident at both ends of the pitch.  

The benefits of the team being together was clear, after last week's display by the Under-17s of last week, who are all pretty new to each other.  With some good luck and by steering clear of injuries, this team could do well this season and some might well follow last year's age group by filtering into the reserve side.  Especially in view of Daniel Levy's comments about the "deadwood" holding up the progress of our younger players !!


Tottenham : - Paul Rutherford; Marcel McKie, Danny Foster, Ben Bowditch, Daniel Perry; Nicky Wettner, Mark Yeates (Lee Barnard 65), Lee Barnett (Mark Hughes 65), Jonathan Black; Jamie Slabber, Mario Noto
Unused subs : -  Rob Burch, Tim Ford, David Tyrie

Ipswich Town : - Peat; O'Conner (Hogg 70), Chaffey, Bonwick, Boardley; Hill (Morrow 81), Okay, Murray (Beevers 70), Dickinson ; D. Bowditch, Burton
Unused subs : -  Price 


To view photos from the match click here.


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