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
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)