portman-toe

Ipswich Town  2   Spurs  1           (Half time: 2-1)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 27th November 2002
Venue :  Portman Road
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather : Persistent rain, cold
Crowd : -  1,896
Referee : -  N D M Appleby
SCORERS
Ipswich Town - D. Ambrose 2, Miller 18
Spurs  -  Thatcher 8
CARDS
Ipswich Town  -  None
Spurs  -  Blondel (foul) 35, Taricco (dissent) 45, Ricketts (dissent) 75
Ipswich Town :  Pullen; Artun (Bloomfield 47),  Naylor, Brown, Richards; Venus, D. Ambrose, Miller, Westlake; George (Logan 82), Reuser (Abidallah 76)
Unused subs: Price, Beevers.

Spurs : Hirschfeld; Marney, O'Donoghue, Perry, Thatcher; Clemence, Blondel (Galbraith 82), Ricketts (Snee 82), Taricco (Bortolozzo 46); Ferdinand, Rebrov. 
Unused subs: Burch, S. Kelly.

COLOURS
Ipswich Town  -  Blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks
Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
My player spotting started early ... about 3.00 p.m. to be exact, when I spied Paul O'Donoghue on the Central line platform in London.  Wearing a Spurs Kappa tracksuit and carrying his shin-pads did give the game away a bit.  The days of players travelling on public transport are supposed to be long gone, but here was one of our own, admittedly a young one, catching the tube to get the coach to Ipswich !!

It was the start of a good day for him too, as he gave a solid performance and rarely put a foot wrong during the evening's match, which was played in steady rain.

At 5 a head, the club must have made a pretty penny from the big crowd and I must have been terrible in a former life, as I was stuck with some young, extremely shrill voiced lamb botherers, who spent the whole match jumping from row to row and shouting "Come On Town !!"  Oh, how I longed for Leslie Crowther !!

They were even worse after just a minute.  Clemence had brought down an Ipswich player as Tottenham tried to play the ball out of defence and the ball was spotted about 30 yards out.  Young Ipswich star Darren Ambrose strode up and curled the ball straight into the right hand top corner of Hirschfeld's net.  It was an expertly executed free kick to give the home side a dream start.

Spurs got straight back into the match, when Marney broke forward, cut inside and hit a shot that the keeper could only parry.  Luckily for Ipswich, they got to the ball before Les to clear the danger.  Not that Les was likely to get their first.  If Dave Jones had turned up to watch him tonight, he would be off after other targets before you could say "your performance as no good".  Ferdinand really did have a stinker.  Poor control, lack of effort, little link play.  Not much to say that was positive about what he did tonight I'm afraid.

When Clemence got up the other end of the pitch in the eighth minute, he was felled on the edge of the D by Mark Venus.  While three Spurs players stood over the ball, Thatcher ran up and leathered the ball low through the wall and it skidded off the turf past the keeper into the bottom right hand corner.  It was a well struck effort and perhaps begs the question why he hasn't been allowed to take set-pieces before.

On the quarter hour, Marney denied Richards at the far post, after Ambrose hit a low cross across the goalmouth and the Hirschfeld and Thatcher combined to stop Finidi George, when he was put clean through.  However, from the corner that came from the goalie's save, Reuser headed back into the goalmouth and although the ball was cleared to the edge of the penalty area, Miller was waiting there to hit it straight back along the ground, which it skidded off and under Lars' body. 

It was lucky that Spurs did not go further behind in the 21st minute, as Hirschfeld made a hash of a diving punch.  It only reached the edge of the box and Reuser hit the ball towards goal, only finding Perry on the line to block his effort from going in.  Then more or less from the next attack, Thatcher missed a header in the centre circle and Ipswich had Reuser and George through, but the Dutchman curled the shot at the end of the move over the top.

The referee was being extraordinarily pernickety about things where Tottenham were concerned.  His allowance of Blondel being kicked all over the field obviously got to Jonathan, who took his frustration out on an Ipswich leg and got a yellow card for it.  Taricco was given a long lecture seconds before half-time for being fouled and having a free-kick given against him.  His failure to listen attentively enough earned him a booking too.

Ipswich had been passing the ball about nicely, with Tottenham allowing them too much space, whereas their own build-up lacked incisiveness and the last pass/flick was always missing it's intended target.  With Clemence being fed a diet of hospital balls and Rebrov being flagged offside all the time, there was little Spurs could do to get back on level terms.  Les blazed one over the top and Rebrov was too high with an effort from 20 yards.  As for the hosts, they had a Reuser header that gave us all a laugh when it hit the corner flag ... and stayed in !!

The rain that had started falling ten minutes before kick off had stopped during the first period, but came back for the whole of the second.  This seemed to put a dampener on the match as the subs came and went and the chances for Tottenham to equalise did the same.

After a nice spell of passing at the start of the half, Bortolozzo had a shot charged down on the edge of the box and then Ricketts was off target with a shot after he had won the ball in midfield and raced forward to hit his shot as he got near the area.  On 53 minutes, the Ipswich goal was threatened with an opportunity that nearly got the score level.  Thatcher launched a long throw and Ferdinand headed it on into the danger area.  Rebrov jumped and nodded the ball goalwards, where it looped over the keeper, but hit the post and bounced out.

Rebrov had been lively and looked keen to get on the scoresheet.  He kept trying shots, but most were off target.  He linked up with Les well in the second half to get wide on the right, but his low cross was blocked for a corner.  Like Keane does, Sergei got dragged out wide, but he has the ability to make good turns and to put the ball where it is needed, even if that is back to a supporting player.  Les himself almost got a goal on the hour, when he dispossessed Naylor just in the box, but his shot had the sting taken out of it by a good defensive block.  Following up as Spurs won the ball back, Clemence was bundled over in the area, but the ref was never going to give a penalty to Spurs.

This prompted a periods during which a number of wild tackles flew in, without the referee doing much about it.  It helped Ipswich disrupt Tottenham's spell of pressure and George got away at the Spurs end, only being denied by O'Donoghue's block that took the ball wide of the goal.  With Thatcher nipping the ball past the Ipswich right back, he was away down the left and fed Rebrov through the left channel.  Sergei pulled a dangerous cross back from the touchline and Les, running in, missed getting a toe to the ball from a yard out and the chance was gone.

The Horses' more simplistic approach in the second half of lumping the ball down the middle was getting more joy and causing Tottenham problems as their players tries to cover the spaces they were leaving.  Ambrose had another 30 yard free-kick, but this one was saved by Hirschfeld and then he volleyed low down from the 18 yard line and again the Canadian was behind it.  George and Abidallah were clean through with only O'Donoghue between them, but the young Spurs defender managed to get something on the ball to thwart their efforts.  

Tottenham were also attacking trying to get a point for the game and Rebrov's cross to the far post was headed out by a home defender before Blondel could get his head to it.  Sergei was also involved in the incident that could have earned an equaliser for Tottenham.  He turned on a ball in the box and was stopped by a desperate tackle by Brown, but the ball ran off to his right (much like it did to Teddy Sheringham last Sunday against Leeds), where George Snee met it, but he could not control his shot enough to hit the target and it flew over the bar.

With Clemence getting caught on the ball too often in midfield, Spurs had to defend the last few minutes of the game.  However, Bloomfield managed to misjudge a bouncing ball and handled, only for the ref to give him a free-kick not a yellow card and then Brown wrestled Rebrov to the floor with nary an iota of concern from the match official. 

There were few outstanding performances from this with much experience in the Spurs side.  Perry and Thatcher didn't do too bad, but Les and Taricco were not up to the standard expected.  The youngsters tried hard,  but when the ball was regularly being turned over to the home side, it made it difficult to turn the game around.  Ricketts worked hard, Blondel tried to open up their defence and Marney worked the right flank well without doing much wrong.

There was too much time spent passing the ball around when in promising positions and that allowed Ipswich to reform in front of Tottenham, which they did very effectively.  Town did not allow Spurs to dwell on the ball and made them look laboured, while their own play was swift and smooth.  They had a more experienced side out, with Spurs having half a side of younger players, but the onus should have been with Tottenham to take the tempo of the match up and put pressure on the home side, who should have been made to chase the ball ... unsuccessfully.

Another defeat and another week and a bit before the next match at home to Fulham on December 9th.  The reserve side is ever changing, but they need to maintain some consistency to make sure that they do get some benefit of playing together and maybe making the most of their talents to break into the first team.

MEHSTG Top Man: PAUL O'DONOGHUE

Marco van Hip

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