Spurs Under-17's v West Ham
|Surprised by the number of
cars at the Spurs Lodge for the match, I was reminded that the first
team were in attendance to train before tomorrow's match against Bolton
Wanderers. Unfortunately, the youth side could not match the
recent result of the first team against the Irons. Watched at
various stages by Colin Calderwood, David Pleat, Teddy Sheringham, Ray
Clemence and under-19s Ricky Dobson and Marcel McKie, the youngsters
battled, but failed to find the decisive pass at the end of their play
to get on the score-sheet.
It all started off with an early corner from the visitors finding their Hayden Foxe look-a-like heading into the arms of Nicky Eyre, before Tottenham broke to the other end and Owen Price put in a low cross that skidded off the damp turf in front of his team-mates. Then on 22 minutes, Michael Malcolm was fed the ball in the box by Iyad Ahmed. The forward's shot was deflected and took the pace out of it, leaving a comfortable save for the keeper low down. Just before the half hour, McKenna played the ball into Malcolm with his back to goal. Having just signed pro forms with the club, Malcolm was determined to show what he could do and twisted and turned away from a couple of markers, before slipping a bending shot just wide of the far post.
There was much play from both sides in the middle of the pitch, but it usually broke down before it got to the last third. West Ham's first clean chance came on 33 minutes, when a ball to Tucker on the left produced a shot, which Eyre saved with his legs. Then just before half-time, Tottenham had a crazy spell where they nearly handed the game to West Ham on a plate. Firstly, a long ball into the area was misjudged by Nicky Eyre and it bounced off him and Stokes picked up the ball, but could only hit a weak shot at the keeper. The same player produced the powder puff effort with Eyre saving easily, juts a minute later and then Eyre had to keep a fierce shot from Bunce out. From the resulting corner, Parrington headed goalwards and Eyre was alert to save once more, just prior to Collington curling a shot a foot wide.
Equal at the break, both teams must have been asked to put more into it in the second half, as the physical contact increased markedly.
Six minutes into the second period, Owen Price had a shot from outside the box, but it went straight at the keeper, while in the next minute, West Ham's Cohen missed a clear goal with a diving header. This was followed by another scrappy period of play where neither team was on top, but found the ball difficult to keep on the pitch with their passing. Although there was a blustery breeze to start with, the weather settled to be sunny, but crisp and this should not have affected the play.
With 20 minutes left, the Irons midfielder Noble burst into the Tottenham box and was sandwiched between two Spurs players, going down with the ref pointing to the spot. The Hammers defender Blewitt didn't live up to his name and converted the spot kick to give them the lead. Spurs almost got level when Hodges lofted a ball into the box for Ahmed, but although he brought the ball down well, he could not get his shot on target.
Nicky Eyre was called into action once more, when he beat away a shot from Collington as he cut in from the left wing and then held the shot from the rebound.
With time running out, Tottenham pressed for an equaliser, with Hicks driving in a 25 yard shot that the West ham keeper did well to hold, but from their next attack, the visitors wrapped up the victory. A ball in from their right wing found Cohen, alone in the box and he steered his shot wide of Eyre and inside the post.
Tottenham tried to fight back in the remaining two minutes. Francis broke forward from left back to hit a low drive that the keeper kept out with his legs, but that was the last meaningful action of the match.
The Tottenham side are virtually all new to the Under-17s apart from Malcolm and Price, who played fairly regularly last season and Hicks and Eyre, who were mostly subs last term. They still look like a side gelling together, with the final ball lacking in quality and leaving the forwards with not enough service. The midfield worked hard, especially Hicks, while Ahmed and Price both showed skill on the ball, although they need to keep their play simple sometimes, rather than over-embellish it. At the back, Hodges was in good form, his height a great advantage against s trapping West Ham team. Philip Ifil had little time on the ball, but his defensive work was good and he saw the play early, allowing him to cut out some attacks before they became dangerous. Joe Watson, the captain of the side, was a gritty battler and he drove his side on to the end. In goal, Eyre had little chance with either goal, but proved a good shot stopper.
With time, the side should settle into an accustomed pattern of play and their use of the ball should improve accordingly. They will also probably not come up against such a physically imposing side as West Ham for a while either.
Tottenham : - Nicky Eyre; Joe Watson,
Andrew Hodges, Philip Ifil, Liam Francis; Iyad Ahmed (Charlie Lee 89),
David Hicks, Kieran McKenna, Owen Price; Michael Malcolm, Gavin
Toussaint (Danny Jones 46)
West Ham United : - Behoet; Wright, Laws,
Parrington, Blewitt; Cohen,
Noble, Bunce (Ketchell 56), Tucker (Yao 70); Collington, Stokes (Singh
To view photos from the match click here.
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