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Spurs Reserves vs. Ipswich Town Reserves  -  29.4.2002

As Jamie Redknapp got involved in his first Spurs encounter since returning on a free transfer from Liverpool recently, the skies opened and the hailstorm that followed must have stung him like the fact that the Merseyside club were willing to let him go.

There was great interest in his appearance and that of his wife, the lovely Louise, who was the target for a horde of autograph hunters in the Directors box ... or were they after John Gorman's scribble ??  Jamie played 80 minutes of this evenly contested match (which the official site said we had the better of) amidst a large following for the Suffolk side, who were chasing the title apparently.  Mick Harford (now on the staff at Luton Town) and Pat Jennings were also in the audience.

The game started going Spurs' way.  An early cross into the goalmouth was headed over by Brown, rather than in by the Spurs forward John Sutton, who seemed to be caught on his heels rather than his toes.  The striker did get the keeper Salmon leaping to his right to grasp a long range volley from about 20 yards, as the quarter hour approached.

There was a long spell of battling it out in midfield and Redknapp showed a nice touch in moving the ball around the Tottenham midfield and it was his shot, after Sutton laid on a header from Snee's forward chip, that crept just past the keeper's left hand upright.

The only threat to the Spurs goal in the first half, which saw four balls knocked out of the ground, was when Westlake hit a firm shot from inside the box and Hirschfeld managed to expertly throw up a strong hand to divert the ball away from goal.

After half-time, Ipswich pushed on and the game turned in their favour, whereas Spurs had had the better of the first period.  When Hirschfeld kicked a 52nd minute clearance straight to Naylor, who was about 20 yards out, his return shot beat the Canadian keeper, but smacked back off a post.  Spurs' luck held just a minute later, when Ambrose's header from around the penalty spot bounced down and away off the bar.  

The keeper was mysteriously booked when Spurs were awarded a corner and the awkward and over-physical Ipswich right back, who was given a roasting by Etherington all night, got the same punishment when he went straight through Matty in a most unsubtle manner.

As they were pushing for the Reserve League title, the Horses obviously were keen to take all three points, but Spurs came back with Sutton heading against a defender instead of past him and then having his follow-up shot blocked by a blue shirt.  From the next attack, the goalie was forced into action in diving to his left to turn aside a rasping low drive from captain John Piercy.  Tottenham were really going for a goal and Redknapp blazed over when set up nicely by George Snee and Leonhardsen did the same, when a cross might have been the better option.

The closest they came was when Redknapp took control over a free-kick some 25 yards out, just to the left of centre.  He bent the ball around the Ipswich wall, but unfortunately, around the post by about a foot.  Doherty was slipped through the visitor's defence, but his shot was pushed wide by the goalie.

Just after this Redknapp's 80 minute run-out ended, when he made way for Dean Marney.  He had showed an appetite for the ball and also a tough tackle.  Although his fitness might not be quite 100% yet, he demonstrated his passing ability to it's full and seemed to organise play from his central midfield position.  There are definite signs that he will be a good signing for the club, if he can avoid the injuries that have plagued him over recent times.

Chances continued to be created right up to the end.  A far post header from an Ipswich head was chested down by Ronnie Henry as it was going goal-wards and at the other end, Jackson shot high over the stand for the third ball in this half that went out of Broadhall Way !!

The draw was the right result, but the performance of Gary Doherty, who looked very classy in defence or up front, where he moved after Sutton went off and Jamie Redknapp was enough to give hope for the first team, where they will hopefully be playing most of their football next season.  Etherington showed he can be effective, but his final ball needs improvement and George Snee continues to impress even though he might not be blessed with searing pace.  Jackson and O'Donoghue showed continued progress, Kelly was sound at right back, but Leonhardsen was a disappointment.  His distribution was slack and he choose the wrong option on a number of occasions.

The end of the reserves season, when a number of them have progressed to the first team.  That, if nothing else, is something that Hoddle will be happy about.

Spurs : - Hirschfeld (Burch 73); Kelly, Doherty, O'Donoghue; Etherington, Leonhardsen, Redknapp (Marney 80), Piercy, Jackson; Snee, Sutton (Henry 62)
Unused Subs : - Hughes, Barnard
 
Ipswich Town : - Salmon; Artun, Miller, Brown (Beevers 64), Snowdon; Ambrose, Nicholls, Bloomfield, Westlake; Naylor, Counago (Richards 72)
Unused Subs : - Price; Logan, Robinson

MARCO VAN HIP

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