international quality

Arsenal Reserves vs. Spurs Reserves  3.9.2001

Getting to Barnet (after leaving work late) just as it started raining was an indication that things were not going to go as planned.  Having walked down from the cinema where I parked my car, there was the sound of shouts from inside the ground and when instructed by AFC stewards (aaargghh) to go round to the main entrance, I could see through the gaps in the gates, that the game had already started.  

I was surprised to find that the gates were open and entry was free (most unlike the Gooners).  There was a healthy crowd of a good thousand or so located around the ground.  As it had started to come down a bit heavier, I was among a large group of fans of both sides who were making their way to the covered terracing from the open ones.

On walking behind the goal, I spied a couple of Japanese girls in the horrible beige Gooner away shirt.  Then a couple more Oriental types in Gooner shirts.  It was then that I realised that most of the Japanese population of North London had turned out to see one of their own - Inamato - in an Arsenal shirt.  

When I got inside, I suddenly realised that I had not turned up to see Spurs reserves take on their counterparts of Arsenal, but the virtual Arsenal first XI.  I spotted Keown, Bergkamp, Kanu, Grimandi, Parlour, Stepanovs and Lauren.  For Tottenham, there were a couple of players I had never seen before !!

To say it was boys against men was a massive understatement, as I was informed Spurs' Academy players were already 0-2 down.  Kanu had scored one; Bergkamp the other and within five minutes of me getting settled on the terrace, Bergkamp had missed twice, Parlour blasted over (as he always seems to do, thank goodness) twice and Kanu then took on Lee Barnard in the box.  The Nigerian used his experience to get the youngster to challenge and made a fall as they linked arms.  The ref also fell ... for it and pointed to the spot.  Gavin Kelly didn't have a chance from the spot.

Spurs went in to turn around 0-3 down and having been given a bit of a chasing, but the second half had them playing down the hill and they gave it a bit of a go.

Ferguson's pace was causing Upson some trouble and he got a really good low shot in before half time and just failed to connect with a couple of crosses from Etherington in the second.  The best chance of the game for Spurs fell to him, but he dwelt on the ball - taking an extra touch - allowing the Gooner goalie to rush out to block his shot.

Matty got into his stride near the end and took his man on regularly, providing some crosses that caused panic in the Arsenal defence, but it was the home side that wrapped up the scoring with a goal from the Japanese golden boy, who shot high past Kelly after being set up by Kanu.

Kelly did well to keep out a ferocious drive from Bergkamp from 20 yards and Kanu curled the ball wide when trying to complete his hat trick.  

The second half showed that the Spurs side, denuded of their more experienced players, did show some battling spirit, especially when the tackles started to fly and a couple of yellow cards were dished out to the white shirted players.  Sherwood was disappointing as much should have revolved around him, although he did try and marshal the troops.  Not sure where the thigh strain he picked up came from.  He hardly got above a trot all game !!  It was a bit of an indictment that he looked bad in a reserve match.

Ronnie Henry and Steven Kelly formed the central defensive pairing and although unused to playing against the type of forward they were up against, they stuck at it and did a reasonable job.  Jackson and Piercy tried hard, while Ferguson and Kamanan didn't really have much service as the traffic was all the other way.

It must be hoped that when there is another international week, Spurs do not get more call ups than Arsenal - that says a lot about the quality of the Tottenham squad !!

Arsenal: Stack, Lauren (Oats 45), Upson (Chilvers 78), Grimandi, Keown (c), Stepanovs, Parlour, Inamoto, Kanu, Bergkamp, Sidwell. 
Subs not used: Holloway, Barrett, Itonga.

Tottenham: G Kelly, Consorti, Jackson, Henry, S Kelly, Piercy, Barnard (Bowditch 71), Sherwood, Ferguson (Marney 80), Kamaman, Etherington. 
Subs not used: Jalal, Herron, Quilter.

Benny The Ball

Back to homepage