|Billericay Town v Tottenham XI|
New Lodge - Tuesday 6th August 2002
sized crowd gathered at Billericay Town's ground to watch a Tottenham XI
side composed of mostly the Under-17 side, with some Under-19s thrown in
to contest a fairly fought match in warm evening sunshine.
Almost before we had taken our seats at the start of the match, Jamie Slabber was released through the right hand channel and rounded the keeper, being pulled down in the process. A first minute penalty was awarded and John Sutton stepped up to ram the ball home.
Spurs almost went 2-0 up shortly after, but Slabber could not control the ball and a home defender shepherded the ball away from him. Billericay had their first strike on goal, when a header went harmlessly over the bar on 17 minutes, then Spurs nearly increased their lead two minutes later, as Sutton just failed to connect with a Galbraith cross.
There was a patchy spell, where possession was given away by both sides, but Tottenham had the next opportunity, when Slabber went through and hit a low shot that brought a save from the keeper. On the half hour, he was to be rewarded for his persistence. Paul O'Donoghue broke up a Billericay move in the centre circle, strode forward and knocked the ball in to Slabber on the penalty spot. He controlled the ball and swivelled to hit the ball past the keeper to score Tottenham's second. It was a calm piece of finishing and was well set up by the Spurs central defender.
This kick started Billericay and they pressed forward, with Fewings having a shot from 18 yards saved by Burch above his head. This preceded a 36th minute low cross into the Tottenham box, that O'Donoghue did well to clear in the six yard box. A minute later, following a couple of corners, Billericay got back into the match. As the ball was headed across goal, Sodje, the centre half hit a spectacular overhead kick from six yards into the roof of the net. It was a great piece of skill and set up a period of pressure before the break that Tottenham had to withstand.
Graham was left in the clear five minutes before half time and he was not flagged offside. His low shot was well kept out by Burch's legs, before another 18 yard shot flew over the Tottenham keeper's bar. Just prior to the break, Slabber was free again and let go a dipping drive from 13 yards, that went just over the crossbar.
After the interval, there were a procession of substitutions and the flow of the game was interrupted. Billericay had the better of the half and Spurs seemed content to try and play the ball around, without seriously threatening the home goal.
Town almost got on level terms with a volley from their number six, just on the left side of the box, that flew about a foot and a half wide ten minutes into the second half. Spurs had to wait until the 74th minute for their next shot on target as sub Lee Barnard hit a snapshot from 25 yards out that made the keeper scramble to stop it. He also made his mark on the centre half Moore's head following a clash in mid-pitch. Moore was not happy about it, but had to leave the pitch with his head injury.
Ten minutes left and the Blues nearly grabbed a draw, with Sodje, again, the man in the thick of it. His far post header caused panic in the Spurs defence and it was hacked clear in front of the goal. Another shot from their right back flew over the bar, with Rutherford, just about, covering it and then in the last minute the ginger keeper tipped over a speculative effort from the right wing to preserve the lead. Only a timely intervention from Foster as a Billericay sub broke into the box saved another goal.
It was a good game, with former Ipswich star Mark Brennan running the game for Billericay, while Spurs had Bowditch back in good form, although he sometimes left his foot in tackles. Slabber played the lone role up front well, while O'Donoghue looked serene in most things he did, although he once tried to play too much football on the edge of his own box. However, his set-up for the second goal shows he can use the ball very well. Most of this team will move up to the Under-19s with some being part of the reserve side for the coming season. They look like they will fare well and again, the youth process seems to be working at Tottenham.
Team : - Rob Burch (Paul Rutherford); Daniel Perry, Paul O'Donoghue, Danny Foster, Marcel McKie; Ben Bowditch, Mario Noto, Walter Thomas (Jonathan Black 62), David Galbraith (Tim Ford 73); John Sutton (Mark Yeates 68), Jamie Slabber (Lee Barnard 55)
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