nicked by the rams

Spurs Reserves v Derby County Reserves - 16.4.2002

With a much changed team (as usual for Spurs this season), the home side took to the field against a Derby team who were chasing the title and their 2-1 win will help them a long way in their quest.  For long periods, the match was battled out in midfield and there were few goalscoring chances, but in the end, the Rams stole the points at the death with a last minute goal.

Spurs lined up with quite a young team, save the returning Chris Armstrong and Stephen Clemence.  The bulk of this side will form the reserve side next season with a few additions of players returning from injury and some breaking into the group from the Under-19s.

There had been little action, when Derby won a corner out on the right wing.  As it was sent over in the ninth minute, big defender Steve Elliott rose above the Spurs defence and planted a header over Taricco on the post.  The early lead gave the Rams the confidence to settle and cheered on by a large section of the 300ish crowd, they passed the ball around without penetrating into the Spurs box that much.

The game swung briefly Tottenham's way, when Clemence fed Johnnie Jackson on the edge of the box and his hard shot produced a good tip over the bar by the keeper.  From the resulting corner, Paul O'Donoghue won the header, but should have hit the target instead of putting it wide.  With Spurs' passing becoming more fluent, the Derby side were getting a little frustrated and the ball was kicked away by Twigg and this resulted in a booking.  Shortly after, a Derby corner was met with another header and this time Hirschfeld got to the ball at full stretch to push it out.

Clemence was starting to get the ball more and space was being found on the right wing, which resulted in a chance being made for Ferguson on the half hour, but his shot flew over the bar from 25 yards.  That concluded the entertainment for the first half, which in truth was a bit dull.

Come the second half, things looked like they might be a bit livelier.  Within a couple of minutes, Ferguson was put through by Armstrong in his most meaningful contribution down the left and as he cut into the box, his shot was deflected past the keeper, but also past the post.  However, Tudgay, the Derby forward had a first time shot wide of the mark and then Elliott struck a half volley over the bar as County broke forward.

Armstrong was replaced by Lee Barnard on 66 minutes, as the first teamer looked like he was struggling for match fitness.  His legs looked very thin and he was obviously trying to get some game sin before the end of his contract.  Brian Talbot the Rusden and Diamonds boss was there and may well have been looking at a few players, but probably only the Derby ones.  

Evatt, the Derby defender was booked for a foul, just before O'Halloran hit a rasping drive from 10 yards out that hit the post, bounced across the goal and was forced over off a Spurs body.  Spurs hit back straight away with a cross field ball from Piercy to Taz, he played it across the box and it luckily found it's way to Ferguson at the far post and his fierce shot was pushed out for a corner by Foletti.

Spurs did finally get level when Johnnie Jackson (my man of the match) went on a  skillful run that took him past five men on the edge of the box and ended with him prodding the ball past the keeper and toward the corner of the net.  He didn't look too pleased when Steven Ferguson ran in at the far post to ram home, but the goal gave Tottenham a chance of getting something out of the game.  With Elliott joining his colleagues in the book for a rash challenge from behind on Jackson, the Derby side looked shocked by the goal.

Spurs could have taken the lead, when from a corner Henry flicked on and O'Donoghue was just too wide at the far post to meet the ball. However, the ball moved to the other end of the pitch and Mills, who was impressive all might for Derby, made a run from right back and won a corner.  It was played to the far post, where it was headed back into the middle finding Tudgay, who planted a header back across goal and in off the far post despite Hirschfeld getting a hand to the ball.  They celebrated hard as the cheers from the stand showed how much it meant to them.  

Even then, Spurs could have nicked a draw at the death, as one last attack saw Jackson force the goalie to a low save at the foot of his post with an 18 yard shot.  But it was not to be. Derby looked solid and strong, while Tottenham's day will come.

Clemence added grit and some good passing to the Spurs midfield, while Piercy (or Percy as the scoreboard named him) had a quiet game, but did look able to see the options that were on around him.  Jackson was undoubtedly the star, running all over the pitch and producing the one moment of magic in the Tottenham side.  Snee managed to show some good pieces of skill in midfield, but too often he got pushed down the left wing, where he could not manage to manouevre the ball onto his right foot.

Taricco looked sound and went forward well, while Henry and O'Donoghue brought their Under-19 partnership to the reserve side and showed that they work well together.  Ben Bowditch adapted to right back well and made some good runs up the line and showed good pace in chasing back too.

Upfront, Steven Ferguson worked hard and shows good perception in finding space.  I like him as he always seems to be in the right place at the right time, as evidenced by his goal.  Armo will need some more games, but probably won't make it back into the first team and come the end of the season, he might be surplus to requirements, if the expected signing of a forward comes about.  Neither sub really made an impact on the game.

All in all a thrilling finish to a game that looked destined for a single goal defeat, but it is valuable experience for the younger players and 

Team: Lars Hirschfeld; Mauricio Taricco, Ronnie Henry, Paul O'Donoghue, Ben Bowditch;  John Piercy (Dean Marney 80), Johnnie Jackson, George Snee, Stephen Clemence; Chris Armstrong (Lee Barnard 66), Steven Ferguson.
Unused Subs: Rob Burch, Mark Hughes, David Galbraith

Derby County : - Foletti; Mills, Mawene, Elliott, Hunt; Twigg, Bolder, McArdle, Evatt; Tudgay, O'Halloran
Unused Subs : - Ducroq, Freeman, Weckstrom, McKeown, Molloy

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