the great escape
spurs reserves v coventry city reserves 22.10.2001
Tottenham H. Res. 3 Coventry City Reserves 2
What a difference a day makes, Sunday pouring with rain in Newcastle; Monday dry, mild evening in Stevenage. I tried a new ploy to avoid the queue, but without success, only one turnstile open twenty minutes before kick off. However, all was not lost at least they still had team sheets, a first at Stevenage, but I had to pay 20p for the single sheet. Surely a team sheet could be given to anybody that asked, bearing in mind the admission fee of £5, they were always free at St. Albans.
The match kicked off at 7 o'clock and Spurs fielded a fairly experienced team, including four of the substitutes from the previous afternoon's game, against a more youthful Coventry side. The opening minutes were quite frantic without much pattern to the play from either side. Then Bunjevcevic, back in his more accustomed centre of the back three role, played a great ball up to Kamanan, who headed it down, for Sherwood to drive his shot from 20 yards just over the bar.
During these initial phases Bunjevcevic strolled forward to spray several fine long passes across the pitch, but due to lack of control or good closing down by the lively Coventry team nothing came of them. One of these passes was neatly put away by Rebrov only for the referee to disallow it, presumably for minimal contact with the Coventry centre back Davenport.
The constant hurrying by the Coventry youngsters was not allowing Spurs the time to settle and therefore they could not get their passing game going. When Coventry got possession they mounted several swift attacks, which forced Keller to make several fine saves. A foul by Thelwell on Zuniga, after clever play by the striker, gave the visitors the chance to put pressure on the Spurs goal. The driven free kick was deflected into the air and Davenport stabbed the loose ball home, from two yards out.
For the remainder of the half Coventry continued to enjoy the better possession, McSheffrey having their best chance to double their lead, when he was put clean through. The visitors must have been pleased with their first half performance and deserved to go in one up.
Gardner, who had been his usual calm, assured self, throughout the first half, started the second period very hesitantly. First Toner had to make a good covering tackle following a mistake by Gardner and then he allowed Zuniga to pinch the ball away from him, when he looked in control of the situation. This proved a costly error as Zuniga took two paces before letting fly from 25 yards. Keller got his hands to the ball and tried to push it round the post, unfortunately it dropped just inside the goal; two-nil to Coventry. At this stage the visitors were buzzing and it looked like they would go on to win the game.
However football is never that simple, a shot from Piercy was deflected, Rebrov and a defender fought for the ball, which fell into the path of Sherwood and he shot from point blank range. Brush the Coventry keeper, parried the ball but was unable to prevent him following up to stab the loose ball into the net.
This obviously lifted the home team, whose passing became much crisper. The main beneficiary of this was Kamanan. First he had a rasping drive turned aside by Brush, after linking well with Rebrov and Sherwood. Then Kamanan turned provider, when his left wing cross was met by Sherwood, but he could not keep his shot down and clipped the bar from four yards. Next Kamanan got on the end of a Thatcher free kick, but put his header just wide.
Spurs were now in the ascendancy, with chances coming thick and fast. Rebrov headed over from a Piercy corner. Then Bunjevcevic started another attack with a cultured pass through the middle, Sherwood deftly flicked the ball into the path of Kamanan's surging run and he controlled it well before hammering the ball home from 20 yards. The several hundred supporters showed their appreciation for a well worked goal.
The Spurs side went in search of a winner, which was a complete turn around from only a few minutes before when they trailed by two goals to nil. Rebrov initiated another attack by spreading the play out wide on the left to Thatcher, his deep cross was met beyond the far post by Sherwood. He headed the ball back for Rebrov to run on to it and dispatch a first time shot into the back of the net.
There was still enough time left for both sides to have further chances to add to the score line, before the final whistle, but neither was able to do so.
Whilst it was very good to win after trailing by two goals and certainly good to watch, questions should be asked about the lack of urgency shown early in the game by an experienced Spurs team. The younger Coventry team played well and looked likely winners , until that rather fortuitous first goal they conceded.
There were several notable performances, particularly from Bunjevcevic, again in his mask, he looked assured throughout and his passing is exceptional. Kamanan had a good second half, but he must learn to hide his frustration better than he did in the first half. Sherwood had a good game and his experience helped the younger players around him. Ciaran Toner played in a more advanced midfield role which allowed him to make some good runs, whilst he helped out the defence with a couple of well timed covering tackles. Rebrov took his goal well, had another unluckily disallowed and was often involved in the best moves. However what can a player of his class gain from these type of games ? Surely he is only playing to keep match fit before returning to where he belongs the first team.
One last comment - where have all the sinks in the gents gone ? They have been missing for the last two games now, so any chance of them returning soon Stevenage?
Teams : -
TOTTENHAM : - Keller, Piercy,
Thatcher, Thelwell, Gardner, Bunjevcevic, Leonhardsen,
Sherwood, Kamanan, Toner, Rebrov.
COVENTRY CITY - Brush, Antonelius
(Pead 78), Guerrero, Quinn, Edworthy (Spong 46), Davenport, Telfer,
Strachan, Zuniga, McSheffrey, Norman.
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