One of

goalden reserves

 

One of the innovations Spurs have brought in this season is the free entry to reserve games held at White Hart Lane.  For those who cannot get access to the first team games because of price or ticket availability, it is a good opportunity to see the second string in action. 

On Tuesday (the chosen day for most home reserve games) 17th October, the stiffs played host to the Southampton second XI who were managed by old Orient and Saints defender, Dennis Rofe.  Sitting just behind him, you could hear that he enjoyed some banter with the crowd during the game as he tried to gee his side up !!   In the Soíton side were a few familiar faces from the Premiership, as James Beattie, Neil Moss, Francis Benali and the one and only, Le Tissier pulled on the all black strip (which somehow made Matthew look slimmer) to face Spurs.  They also had a couple of blokes playing, who looked like they had been pulled straight out of the pub !!  Tree-trunk legged and big bellied, they were conspicuous by their presence.  Tottenham had more of a traditional Reserve side out, with only Luke Young, making a comeback from injury, and Clemence who have regularly been in the top squad.  Others involved were the promising young French striker Kamanan, Korsten, Etherington, Davies, Thelwell, Doherty and Gardner. 

The match started brightly for Tottenham, as Etheringtonís run down the left wing produced a low cross into the Park Lane penalty area.  It missed his target at the near post and found Ciaran Toner, playing in midfield, at the back edge of the box.  He measured his shot between the keeper and the post to give Spurs the lead after five minutes.  After that same period he was denied by Mossí fingertips in an almost carbon copy of the first goal. 

Spurs generally had the better of the first half and Korsten was trying his best to emulate Freund with some wayward shots into Row Z of the empty South Stand.  At the other end, there was little action for Gavin Kelly, who will soon be understudy to Neil Sullivan.  The Saints did come close just before half time, when their number 10 had a shot that squirmed away from Kelly to James Beattie, but from about five yards out he missed the target.  Spurs coped pretty well as Le Tiss took all their corners and free kicks, but didnít really test the young Spurs custodian.

Into the second half and Spurs really took a grip on the game.  Davies and Clemence were bossing the midfield, while Korsten seemed to have got his eye in, with a couple of shots that were closer to the target.  One of the fat blokes got booked for trying to break Clemenceís leg after doing a two-footed tackle seconds earlier.  Clem was lucky himself to escape with a warning after a late tackle, but the ref handled the game pretty well.  The chances started to come thick and fast.  Etherington was waltzing past his man at will and provided a tempting string of low crosses into the box that nobody read.  After about an hour, his mazy run and delicate cross found Korsten on the edge of the six-yard box.  The Dutchman managed to squeeze it under Moss, but should have been more emphatic.  Even so it gave Spurs a 2-0 lead.

Matty then had three separate chances to extend the lead.  Two one-on-ones he slid past the post and the third was saved by Moss.  Davies had a couple of chances, while Clemence, Dominguez (on as a sub) and Korsten all went close.  In the end it was easy for Tottenham and a surprise that the senior Saints players didnít really give much of themselves or to help their team-mates.  There were a few good performances for Tottenham.  Gardner played at left-back and was more impressive than when I saw him in the reserves last season.  He even brought the ball out of defence well, as did Alton Thelwell, who had a solid match.  Davies was industrious again, while Clemence played a bit of an enforcer role in the middle of the park and Korsten showed a few nice touches and looked more interested than he had done previously.

Barry Levington

But what

WHAT A DIFFERENCE

But what a difference a week makes.  Spurs against Leicester City at White Hart Lane with free entry again.  The Tottenham side showed some changes from the previous week, but the reserves are always like that as it depends on who is called up to the first team, who is returning from injury and who is pushing for a place by doing well in training.

Walker returned between the sticks, with Young back after his stomach bug and Clemence missing in action for the top side last weekend.  His place was taken by Ledley King who had not featured in either Spurs team over the last week.  Despite the changes, the match started in similar fashion to the Saints game with Tottenham taking the lead after about eight minutes with Korsten finishing past the keeper neatly after Thelwell's precise pass eluded a defender and put the Dutchman in on the left side of the area.  The rest of the first half saw Tottenham have the better chances although the Foxes had a fair amount of possession, with only a Frank Sinclair free kick close.

The second half started with Spurs one up and no indication of what was to come.  Walker had to make a smart save from Danny Thomas (not our one) and saw a free-kick from Stefan Oakes go just over the bar, but apart from those scares he only had kicking duties to perform.  The defence were solid as a unit and got forward quite a bit.  Thelwell was particularly impressive, but so was Gardner on the left.  In midfield, Toner got through a lot of hard work alongside Davies who also covered the pitch well.  Etherington again had a good match, with a succession of good crosses into the box and King had a quiet game, but showed enough to suggest he would be capable of playing in this position in the first team.  Upfront Kamanan linked well with the midfield and provided an outlet ball to the rest of the team, as his ability to hold the ball up was well utilised.  

The other member of the team was the star of the show.  On previous showings, it would have been hard to imagine these words accompanying his name, but Willem Korsten looks to be fit and is starting to show why Leeds were so upset when he signed for Spurs.  He had been making good runs in the first half and showing a good awareness of where other players were, but he came into his own in the second period.  His second goal came after the hour when he was found on the edge of the box, shimmied past a defender, dummied to go around the keeper and slotted past him with a neat little chip that lofted the ball clear of his outstretched arm.  Then his goal for the hat-trick  as a break away found him free to shoot and it took a deflection to leave Royce stranded.  A minute or two later, a corner caused confusion and the ball fell to Anthony Gardner on the edge of the box.  He unleashed a low left footed shot that the unsighted Royce could only watch go in.  4-0.

As part of the flurry of goals, Korsten even had a hand in the next goal, when his run down the left ended with a square ball into the waiting John Piercy, who, standing near the penalty spot, jinked round a defender and shot past two more on the line.  Korsten completed the scoring when he was found out wide on the right wing after another corner came out to Simon Davies, who swept it to the winger on the edge of the box.  Korsten then effected a double drag-back, using both feet (!!) and smacked a powerful rising left footed shot across the keeper for his fourth goal to wrap up a convincing win for Tottenham.  It was a sign that he is now confident and could be just what Tottenham need when we are struggling with a striker crisis (but then when aren't we ??).   

For the Leicester side that contained more players with Premiership experience than Southampton the week previous, it was a total disaster.  Not that they played badly, it was just one of those days when everything went right for Spurs, who didn't play for the whole 90 minutes as well as they did seven days before.  It was just that their passing and movement was excellent on the day and in Korsten they had someone who made the difference.

Destin Makumbu was in the crowd and Sol Campbell watched cheerfully from the tunnel.  Let's hope GG was watching too.

Frank Grimes

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