the reserves new fortress

Spurs Reserves v Watford Reserves  -  29.10.2001

Arriving at Broadhall Way fifteen minutes before kick off, the queue stretched the length of one end of the ground and was a similar length when I got in just a couple of minutes after kick off !!  It seems as though no-one at Stevenage has realised that a 7.00 p.m. kick off means that most people are arriving from work and that means a lot of fans turning up in the last fifteen minutes before kick-off.  Which means needing more than one turnstile open for more than ten minutes !!

On entering the ground, I discovered that Sergei had failed to overcome his ankle injury and Sherwood had not been included either.  Despite this, the team looked familiar with more than three quarters of the side having first team experience.  The Watford side had only one player - Panayi - who I recall had made the first XI.

The early play saw Spurs stroking the ball about, but without much purpose. Many moves broke down as the ball ran away from a Spurs foot and then Watford would over-hit a pass on the break.

The first, and best, chance of the half fell to Kamanan, when a ball whipped in low from the right by Barnard (incorrectly referred to all night as Snee) found the Frenchman coming in around the penalty spot.  I am not sure what happened, but under challenge form a Hornets defender, he screwed the ball wide of the goal, when it looked odds on a goal.  Both Davies and Leonhardsen hit shots that didn't trouble the keeper, but he did have to warm his hands later in the half when Ciaran Toner hit a long range shot from outside the box.  His 40th minute shot was heading for the top corner, but Lee tipped it around the post.  The Irishman was then involved a few minutes later, when he crossed for Kamanan to hit an instinctive half-volley on the turn, which the keeper did well to reach and push over the top.

Watford had rarely threatened in the first half and Kelly in the Spurs goal was a virtual spectator.

Spurs started the second half brightly and with only five minutes gone, a cross from Piercy on the right found the head of Kamanan, who nodded the ball back into the box.  Barnard showed his predatory instinct and hit sharp shot, forcing the keeper to a smart save.  Unfortunately for the visitors, the ball fell to Leo on the edge of the box and he calmly stroked the ball in for the opener.

It was now all Spurs and Davies was making the running in midfield.  He was involved in the second goal, when Barnard drilled a low shot in from the left and the keeper produced another stop, but only sent the ball into the path of Yannick Kamanan, who, from a similar position to Oyvind, slotted home.

Spurs were now opening up the Watford side at will.  Having lost a player to an accident, where his studs got stuck in the turf and he had to be stretchered off, another player was lost to injury.  Panayi had got in the way of a Piercy drive and took the ball full in the stomach.  He needed quite a bit of treatment and after trying to run it off had to leave the play.  It was this change that brought Watford back into the match.

The young, nippy forward McNamee ran at players and caused some disquiet.  Swonnell, a burly midfielder, smacked the ball against the base of Kelley's left hand post and late in injury time, the ball fell to McNamee on the penalty spot and a nice turn around Bunjy left him with a shot past the Spurs keeper to pull one back.

It was too late, but the crowd of around 500 saw a decent game and Tottenham maintaining their unbeaten home record.

Kelly had little to do, despite pick the ball out of the net, Thelwell was comfortable at the back, but looked a little jumpy on the ball, whereas Gardner looked great in possession, although dropped his concentration towards the end of the game.  Bunjy looked untroubled by his mask, but it was obvious that he is still reticent to head the ball at the moment.  Piercy made some good marauding runs up the line, but occasionally his control let him down.

Toner did a lot of hard work in midfield, while Thatcher ran the left flank without having to resort to too much effort.  Simon Davies was his usual all-action self and showed a considerable amount of skill and awareness of other players.  Barnard worked hard and set up the majority of the Spurs chances and looks as though he might break through at this level, although this was a young Watford side put out tonight under the charge of Ray Lewington.  Kamanan looked good and bad.  He took his goal well and held the ball up reasonably well, but he did miss a sitter of a chance and he must learn to put away the opportunities that come his way.

Altogether a good workout against a side they should have beaten and did.  Colin Claderwood's team seem to be picking up good habits from the first team ... or is it the other way around ??

Spurs :- Kelly; Thelwell, Bunjevcevic, Gardner; Piercy,
Davies, Toner, Leonhardsen, Thatcher; Barnard (Consorti 68), Kamanan
Subs not used:- Jalal; Henry, Marney, Snee

Marco van Hip

 

Glenn Hoddle has stated that he would like to make White Hart Lane into a fortress.  The reserves are unbeaten at their new venue for home games this season, Broadhall Way in Stevenage.  I made a visit to this, the home ground of Stevenage Borough who play in the Vauxhall Conference, for the home game against Watford on 29 October.

A few seasons ago Stevenage were refused entry to the Football League despite finishing top of the Conference because their ground was not considered to be up to League standard.  My visit saw that the ground was now better than many League grounds and considerable improvements had been made and few of us will forget their incredible 1-1 draw at home against Newcastle in the FA Cup.  The floodlighting is good and considerably better than that at St. Albans last season.

The game against Watford attracted a good crowd and the main stand did not have many empty spaces.  There was a queue outside the entrance with only 10 minutes to kick off and it took some time before more than one turnstile was opened.  With a good crowd congregated in one stand, there was more noise and a better atmosphere than was generated at the home games at St. Albans last season.  A reasonable cost of 5 admission and 20 pence for a team sheet does not prohibit attendance.

Spurs fielded a strong side, while I did not recognise any name on the Watford side.  Spurs dominated the first half and a drive by Ciaran Toner was well saved by Richard Lee, the Watford goalkeeper.  Both Yannick Kamanan and Oyvind Leonhardsen missed chances when clear on goal.  Yannick had been on the bench for the first team game against Middlesbrough the preceding Saturday.  He showed good movement but his final touch sometimes let him down and he showed signs of frustration.  He is only young and is learning his trade, so he can improve.  Despite Spurs having the greater territorial advantage, it was 0-0 at the interval.

Spurs started the second half with greater offensive and after a shot by Barnard was saved by the goalkeeper, Leo shot home after 51 minutes.  Simon Davies was totally dominating the midfield play and his passes often dissected the Watford defence.  One such move led to a fine goal by Yannick after 60 minutes.  More chances fell to Leo and Simon, but they were not taken.  Davies broke through himself but could not score after being the furthest forward.

At the back, Spurs had a very strong defence which would have graced the first team.  With a back four of Thatcher, Thelwell, Bunjevcevic and Gardner, Spurs were totally dominant and it was good to see Bunjy playing so confidently, bringing the ball forward out of the defence and there did not appear to be an visible sign of discomfort from his facemask.  Gardner was confident too and occasionally strode forward like Bunjy bringing the ball forward out of the defence.  Ben continued his improvement in fitness with a relatively composed performance although he failed to read some of Simon's passes.

Watford scored a goal just before time when their substitute, Anthony McNamee shot home in a packed area.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : SIMON DAVIES

Richard Porter

Back to homepage