double whammy

Spurs reserves v SCBC reserves at Stevenage Borough FC - 03.09.2002

When the Saints side was announced, the experience there was clear to be seen.  How many games have the likes of Dodd, Davies, Draper, Benali, Tessem, El Khalej and new signing Kanchelskis racked up in the Premiership ??

In contrast our team looked like they had just changed into their kit from short trousers (Perry, Ferdinand and Freund excepted).  With Ronnie Henry entrusted with the captain's armband, Spurs set off with a 3-5-2 formation that was no doubt aimed at stifling the SCBC midfield.  But Tottenham started sprightly, with Galbraith putting in a low cross in the 9th minute and Sutton just getting a touch on it as he surged into the box, but it did not trouble Neil Moss unduly, as it was straight at him.  Unfortunately, the majority of the first half was fought out in the midfield area and there were few exertions by the keeper at either end.

My notes show that the next effort on goal was a successful one for Spurs, with a neat move down the left wing, leading to David Galbraith's cross being converted at the near post by Les Ferdinand's head.  Another goal against the same side in four days and it was almost Les' last action of the match as he was replaced at the break by Dean Marney, with Ricketts pushing further forward in the side.  The nearest the opposition had come was an overhead kick from a low ball in, which cleared the crossbar.

In the second half, things livened up a bit, but not a great deal, as the match was again a midfield battle, with many moves breaking down in the final third.  Dennis Rofe, the SCBC reserve boss was almost hoarse at the end after he ranted at his players about their positioning and passing.  But it was another overhead attempt that almost brought them level ten minutes into the second period.  From the edge of the six yard box, Tahar El-Khalej hit the ball in the air, but Lars Hirschfeld saved well.  

With 70 minutes gone, Marney slipped an astute ball through the middle of the SCBC defence for Sutton to latch onto.  He got the ball on the edge of the box and looked to take it onto his left and into an area where Moss was moving.  Luckily, El-Khalej brought him down and although they claimed it was outside the box, the ref pointed to the spot.  Sutton got up to take the kick himself and plant it past the visiting goalie.

As the game clock ran down, Marney struck a shot over the bar from the edge of the area and Kelly got a yellow card for a challenge outside the box, which lead to Draper hitting a free-kick towards the top corner, but Lars got there first and saved well. 

Despite the old heads in the Saints team, the younger Tottenham side acquitted themselves very well, while the watching Gordon Strachan must be frantic, as it appears that none of these players were willing to show enough to persuade him that they should replace anyone already in the first team.  Even though they have the know-how, very few applied it in this match and they looked out-thought by the Spurs team.  Bortolozzo looks like he needs strengthening up a bit in the midfield, but has a silky touch on the ball and was more energetic than previously.  Ricketts looked aggressive and to have a good eye for a pass, which might come in useful for the side.  Henry and Perry at the back played well together, while Irishman Stephen Kelly was more impressive than in the FA Youth Cup games I saw last year.  George Snee played well, without breaking into a sprint, which might be his only drawback - a lack of genuine pace, while on the other wing, David Galbraith worked hard and showed a good ability to cross the ball in.  Sutton was on the spot to score the penalty and to be brought down for it, but he looked like he needed too many touches on the ball to get it under control, which, even at this level, means the ball was lost.  He did battle away though and showed he has the mental toughness to plug away even when things aren't going his way.

With Lars Hirschfeld having a solid game in goal, handling well and marshalling his defence noisily, it was left to Steffen Freund to take the plaudits with a gutsy performance after only having 60 minutes of a training ground friendly last week under his belt.  This time he went the whole 90 minutes distance and played as though he had never been away.  Tackling, getting involved and helping out the newcomers, he showed a maturity that was constructive for them and a good sign that he will not be far off a return to the first team squad.  There was no flinching in challenges and no lack of running from the "Football Genius" and that was the major benefit of the evening.

Among the crowd were Spurs assistant manager John Gorman, former Wimbledon striker Mick Harford, Colchester United boss Steve Whitton and former Spurs reserve defender Gary Poole.  The game was not riveting and although Spurs won 2-0, the highlight was surely the bloke in the crowd who constantly cheered for "Gary" ... whoever had the ball !!


Spurs : - Hirschfield; Perry, Kelly, Henry; Snee (Hughes 74), Bortolozzo (Bowditch 65), Freund, Ricketts, Galbraith; Ferdinand (Marney 46), Sutton
Unused subs : - Jalal, O'Donoghue

SCBC : - Moss; Dodd, El-Khalej, Monk, Benali; Kanchelskis, Oakley, Draper, Howard (A. Davies 65);K. Davies, Tessem (Sternham 78)

Unused Subs : - Blayney; Byles, Baird

Marco van Hip

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