i haven't the foggiest

 

Spurs  2   Charlton Athletic  3           (Half time: 2-1)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 18th November 2002
Venue :  Broadhall Way
Kick off : 19.20 p.m.
Weather : Cold, very foggy
Crowd : -  approx. 200
Referee : -  K. Woolmer
SCORERS
Spurs  -  Clemence 3, Rebrov 31
Charlton Athletic - Robinson 41, 78, Bart-Williams (pen.) 47
CARDS
Spurs  -  None
Charlton Athletic  -  None
Spurs : Hirschfeld; Marney, Henry, S. Kelly, Thatcher; Ziege, Clemence, Acimovic, Anderton; Slabber (Malcolm 54), Rebrov. 
Unused subs: Burch, Galbraith, Hughes, Bortolozzo.

Charlton Athletic :  Rachubka; Brown, Fortune, McCaffertey, Wells (Sankofa 69); Turner, Robinson, Campbell-Ryce (Snodin 88), Bart-Williams, Martin, Sharland (Sam 46). 
Unused subs: Delo, Dincer

COLOURS
Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
Charlton Athletic  -  Red shirts, white shorts, red socks
With a late start due to Charlton's coach getting stuck in traffic on the M25 and then the fog rolling into Stevenage Borough's ground after about 35 minutes, it had all the makings of a nightmare.  When our 2-0 lead disappeared into the fog and a 2-3 defeat, that became a reality.

Not that we knew what was going on for much of the time, as the other side of the pitch might as well have been the dark side of the moon, for the few hardy souls who gathered to watch the match.  Among those in the main stand were Brian Talbot (Manager of Rushden and Diamonds), Under-19s James Lee, Mark Yeates and Tim Ford, Charlton Assistant manager Mervyn Day and Glenn Hoddle.  Harry Redknapp was reported to be in the crowd, but I didn't see him and his presence was supposed to be connected with the purchase of Tim Sherwood, who failed to win a place in the side after featuring in last week's win over Leicester City.  Rohan Ricketts was also omitted, but spent a long time running around the pitch prior to the game with a team-mate, who could not be identified.  Perhaps a trialist, but then why bring them here to run around a pitch ??  They could do that anywhere.

Anyway, once things finally got underway, it didn't take Spurs long to take the lead.  A corner out on the far side (while we could still see it) was swung over by Anderton and Clemence rose unmarked to head the ball home for the opener.  It was a rare header from the midfielder, but he was to have a decent game as he tries to gain full match fitness.

It was just two minutes later that Spurs could have extended their lead with a slick passing move down the left wing that ended with Rebrov striking Anderton's ball inside against the bar with the outside of his right foot.  This was followed by Ziege playing a pass inside to Acimovic and the Slovenian shot inches wide of the far post, with the keeper scrambling across the goal.

Spurs were out-passing Charlton, who looked as if their extra time on the coach had stiffened them up and the one way traffic they were stuck in was being repeated on the pitch as Tottenham went towards the visitors goal relentlessly.  Slabber just failed to reach a Ziege cross, Acimovic made a neat turn, then fired the ball straight at the keeper and Slabber curled a shot that the goalie held well.  On the half hour, a neat move down the right got the ball to Marney's feet and his cross was aimed at the edge of the six yard box. The defender missed the ball and as it bounced off Slabber, Rebrov was first to react and slammed it low into the net from about 5 yards out.

The Ukrainian had another chance a minute later to extend the scoring, but Marney's slipped pass to the right side of the box was wasted with a shot blazed wide of the goal.  It was 35 minutes before the Addicks got an opportunity and then Sharland hit it well over from the edge of the area, but they had more joy from their next attack.  A ball through the middle was going into the penalty area and Hirschfeld and Kelly both went for it, but left it for each other.  Unfortunately, they also left it for John Robinson and he gratefully accepted the chance to tap it into an empty net.  It was a soft goal to give away just before the break and although Marney had a wayward shot before the break, it appeared that the excellent play of the first 40 minutes had been somewhat eroded by the goal against. 

It had been about 35 minutes into the game that the fog started to blow in from the North and gradually engulf the ground.  Things got so bad that two orange balls were produced.  It has been a long time sine we had seen one of these used in a match and the first glimpse didn't last long, as they only brought it on with a minute left in the first period.  It did make short comeback in the second half, but not for long again.  For some strange reason, they seemed content to try and spot the white ball in the white fog !!

This made the second half a bit of a farce, but that obviously suited Charlton as they out-played Spurs in the murk that was the unsuitable conditions.  If Colin Calderwood's comments (well, those we could interpret) were anything to go by, he was none to impressed by the referee's performance in the second half that saw Bart-Williams and Campbell-Ryce (both top earners in the shirt name lettering stakes at the Valley) both appear to be ready to take a leg off, hoping the fog shrouded their misdeeds.

A minute in and on the far side of the box, something happened and the ref whistled.  The fog cleared sufficiently for us to see that he had given a penalty, but for what and on whom will remain shrouded in mystery in the mists of time.  We saw the shape of Bart-Williams run up, but could not see the goal and it was only when three red shirted figures emerged from the gloom running back to the centre circle, that we realised it must have gone in.  Without any crowd on the far side, there was no reaction to feed off and the ref must have had the best position in the middle of the pitch as he could probably just about see either sideline.  We had trouble trying to work out if the lineman on the far side had taken a seat on the terracing !!  He did perk up to flag for offside occasionally, but how he could tell is another case for the X-Files !!

Jamie Slabber went over on his ankle and was substituted by Michael Malcolm, who made his reserve team debut.  He looked lively, but got little decent service and came into a team being put on the back foot.  Some lovely one touch football on the left flank set Malcolm through, but his low shot was blocked for a corner.  He did get on the end of Tottenham's best chance in the 66th minute, when he swivelled onto a Marney cross into the box, but the keeper was alert to the danger and fell on the ball as it looked to be creeping inside the far post.  Malcolm has made a rapid rise from the Under-17s three or four weeks ago, but having signed a professional contract, the hierarchy obviously have great things planned for him.  He did struggle a bit against the more physical central defenders, but his pace and nous in working the line are obviously going to be his strengths.

As the fog came and went, some of the Spurs players dropped the level of their game.  Ziege had a running spat with Campbell-Ryce and Bart-Williams did as much as he could to put Acmovic out of the game. Mostly Milo got around him with his skill, but once he had, he passed to a red shirt and his team-mates were not backward in coming forward in their criticism of him !!  Anderton's early influence also faded with the visibility of where the ball was.  At one stage we all knew something interesting was happening, but nobody knew what !!

It was left for Robinson to break free of the Spurs defence and the fog to lash a shot that must have beaten Hirschfeld and gone in from about 25 yards.  Again the celebrating Charlton players were the first inkling that something had gone into the net !!

The game ended with Chris Hughton coming down from the stand to give instructions to Calderwood and the team, both of which failed to spark the team into an equaliser.  In the end, the late arrivals from South London took all three points with a good second half performance.  Spurs looked like some of their players were protecting themselves for matches ahead.  Not a bad thing, but for those who had shelled out 5 to watch this match, there was little enough to see thanks to the weather already !!

MEHSTG Top Man: DEAN MARNEY

Marco van Hip

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