play misty for me

Spurs Under-17 v Reading  -  8.12.2001

With the pitches at Spurs Lodge swirling with mist, it was lucky that it lifted before kick-off or there would not have been a match.

As it was, by the time both sides ran out from their dressing rooms, the mist was clearing and it was possible to see both end of the pitch.  I don't know if it was the cold weather, but neither side looked particularly up for it at the beginning, with Reading having the better of the early exchanges.  Straight from the kick-off they had a shot over the bar and another just a couple of minutes after.  However, it was the Tottenham winger Mario Noto who had the best early opportunity with a looping header from ten yards out that was cleared from under the bar by a defender's head.

There then followed a disjointed spell of play with neither side wanting to hold onto the ball and Jimmy Neighbour's plaintive cries for his team to talk to each other and to hold on to the ball echoed across the pitch.  However, he was more cheerful when a cross from deep on the the right by Tyrie found Nicky Wettner. He shot, but it was blocked and as the ball was played back in Michael Malcolm moved to the near post and got the final touch past the Reading keeper, although some felt it was an own goal.  So, 31 minutes gone and 1-0 up, despite not playing as well as they can.

This sparked Spurs into life though and in the next minute, Michael Malcolm seized on a chance in the box to force Young in the Reading goal tip the ball upwards and onto the bar.   However, Reading went down the other end of the pitch, drawing a free-kick on the right.  It was swung in and Rutherford did well to push the ball around the post as it shot off the wet surface.

As the game moved into injury time, Spurs forced a corner on the left was swung over and centre half Danny Foster flicked it into the heart of the penalty area.  It found David Tyrie, also up from the back and he controlled it and slid it in for the second goal.

Tottenham had been the more adventurous in the first half and for all the hard work the physical Reading side had undertaken in closing Spurs down, they had created few clear chances that had taxed the Tottenham rearguard.

An hour into the game, another Spurs corner was cleared, but as it was played back in towards three white shirted players, McKie shot and the keeper appeared to have the ball, but fumbled it and as it got towards the line, Malcolm rammed it into the roof of the net to make sure of the third goal for Tottenham. 

The floodgates looked set to open up, but although Spurs had chance after chance they could not add to the score.  two minutes after the goal, Wettner was presented with a chance by a poor kick out by the goalie, but shot straight back at him, while a minute later lobbed over Young as he came out of his box, but ended up too wide to get a shot in.

On 69 minutes, Yeates forced an acrobatic save from the Royals keeper, who tipped the ball over the top and then he denied Wettner again when one-on-one clean through the defence.  With just ten minutes left, Spurs took a short corner on the left.  Ford touched to Yeates, who put in a cross to the near post where Foster flicked on and Tyrie moved onto the ball in a replay of the second goal.  Unfortunately, this time he skied his volley over the crossbar from about three yards out.

Rutherford made his first save of the second half with 83 minutes gone, as he came out to block a shot from Reading substitute Cox and did the same in injury time to the same player, making a smart save at the near post to preserve Tottenham's scoreline.  However, in between, Michael Malcolm could have extended that lead. Just four minutes from the end of normal time, Malcolm was clean through, but could not feed the ball through to Yeates.  The same situation arose a couple of minutes later, when he went alone from the half-way line and was foiled at the near post by the keeper.

In the end, Tottenham deserved their win, as Reading were not quite up to it.  Of the visiting players there were only two who caught the eye.  Firstly, Simeon Howell, who looks a classy midfielder with vision and ability.  If Tottenham have a reciprocal deal with the Berkshire club, then this boy could be worth taking a close look at.  The second Reading player who was prominent was their centre half Theo.  However, it was for all the wrong reasons.  He was at fault for one of the goals and almost scored an own goal when he passed back to the keeper and the ball jumped over Young's foot as he went to control it.  He was constantly trying to wind the Spurs forwards up and if he could only play as well as he talked, he would be some player.

For Tottenham, Foster was outstanding at the back. he has presence and power, which can also be put to good use in the opposition's penalty area.  Tyrie had a sound game and found time to get forward to score, while McKie seemed a little nervous on the ball, but settled in the second half and looked good getting forward.  Lee Barnett looked quiet compared to the last time I had seen him play and was substituted.  Jonathan Black was also impressive - always available and wanting the ball, but covering huge areas of the pitch to cover defensively too.  Mario Noto didn't have a lot of the ball, but did well with the possession he did have, while his fellow winger Tim Ford got stronger as the game went on, showing a neat trick or two to make the most of his slight frame against a big side.

Nicky Wettner began the game by conceding possession too often, but again, as the game wore on, he imposed himself on the Reading defence and should have scored.  In the forward line, Mark Yeates was tireless in his work.  Both running off the ball and also closing down the visiting defenders, he worked his socks off and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.  Finally, Michael Malcolm ended up with two goals and he really does know how to work the line.  He plays right on the shoulder of the last man and has the speed to capitalise on any ball behind the defence.  Another one who is slight in build, but he is quick and has good skill too, along with a striker's knack of being on the spot when required.

A good win despite inclement conditions and a stuttering start , but Jimmy's boys are coming along nicely.  David Pleat, John Moncur (senior) and Alan Suddaby watching the game would all have approved.

For photos of the match, click here.

TEAMS : - 

Tottenham : - Rutherford; Tyrie, Foster, McKie (Dobson 75); Black, Barnett (Seitz (triallist) 65), Noto (Perry 75), Wettner, Ford; Yeates, Malcolm.
Unused Subs : - Price, Watson.

Reading : - Young; Castle (Ken 75), Theo, Middleton, Oliver (Cox); Howell, Jones, Davies, Earle; Campbell (Osano), Bailey


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