|The visit of a big club to
Spurs Lodge is always eagerly awaited and this was no exception.
Except they didn't turn up. Instead, we had to settle for the
Saints Under-19s, who also were somewhere else by their showing in this
To be truthful, neither team sparkled on
this crisp November noon, with the sun giving some warmth to the small
crowd, but then they were cheered in the second half by the action.
The first period had little to commend
it, as both teams got bogged down in midfield, with few clear chances
and the definite lack of a quality final ball. Three minutes
before half-time, Jamie Slabber (who had been moved up form the
Under-17s) went close, before Mark Hughes drove a shot straight into the
keeper's midriff. Apart from a few instances where the referee,
who had a good game, had to speak to players, there was little else to
get excited about.
The second half was much more open, with
both sides having goalscoring opportunities.
Seven minutes into the second period,
Mark Hughes (not that one) had a diving header well saved by Trueman,
while another headed chance from James Lee went wide on 59
minutes. Almost immediately afterwards David Galbriath showed good
skill in lobbing the ball over two on-rushing defenders and as he
latched onto the dropping ball in the box, hit a weak shot straight at
the keeper. There was a chance at the other end as McManus, who
Lee made way for John Sutton, who had
featured in the reserve squad for the last couple of matches and he
added a greater aerial threat upfront. However, the next chance
fell to the Saints left back, Fullam, who again shot way over with the
goal at his mercy.
Tottenham's best move saw the ball moved
around until it got to Lee Barnard, who passed the ball in to Sutton,
who as he got in behind the defence was bundled over, but the ref did
not look likely to give a penalty. The game switched to the other
end, where Burch caught the ball into his chest from a firm drive by
Breaking down the left wing, Galbraith
got in a low ball across the face of the six yard box and Jamie Slabber
came in and got a touch to it, but the keeper stuck out an arm and
stopped it on the line. In the 80th minute another good move saw
some neat inter-passing and the ball was played through to Mark Hughes
running into the box. However, instead of stepping over the ball,
Sutton chose to take a touch and then play Hughes in, but he was closed
down and the chance was gone. The Irishman was not best pleased.
However, it was only two minutes later that the goal that Tottenham had
been threatening arrived.
The ball was played across the box from
out on the right and the Saints defence brought the ball out.
However, trialist Channot was caught in possession by Galbraith, who
nicked the ball away from him and ran on to the edge of the box, before
firing the ball past the goalie for the only goal of the game.
The visitors responded straight away with
Mills shooting over and then in injury time, the same midfielder tried a
speculative long shot, but the ball went wide of the target. The
final whistle was greeted with relief all round.
Playing a much changed team since the
Bristol City fixture, Spurs played a bit better than on that day and
although the opposition was not as strong, they still looked too good
for the Saints. Burch did everything he had to well and took some
good high balls under strong pressure form their physical centre
forward. Kelly and Herron went about their work without any fuss
and got forward to launch balls forward to the strikers whenever they
could. Henry was most impressive; talking to his team-mates
constantly and providing a solid presence at the back. O'Donoghue
alongside him won most of the aerial challenges and wasn't going to be
muscled out of the game by the Saints forwards.
In midfield, I was struck by the Northern
Irish youngster Mark Hughes. This was the first view of him I have
had and he was the image of Ben Bowditch; running opponents down and
tackling fiercely, while finding time to link up with the front
men. A very good game was played by the captain of the team.
Lee was the outlet on the left and he was industrious, while Galbraith
showed a nice touch on the ball and an awareness of when to play the
ball and when to hold it. Walter Thomas was another I was seeing
for the first time. A slight figure, he looked a bit like Boa
Morte, but was not afraid to get stuck into the midfield tackles as they
flew around him. He showed good passing ability and if he fills
out, he might be a more effective and creative source for the forwards.
Jamie Slabber had scored a lot of goals
in the U-17s this season and was stepping up to see how he got in at an
older age level. He looked a big lad for an U-17 and showed that
he could use his physique to the best advantage. He was unlucky
not to be getting great service, but fed off the scraps and linked up
play when he got the ball. Needs to find his feet at this
level. Lee Barnard found it to be a frustrating day. Constantly
being kicked, he got little protection from the officials and on his
recent showings in the reserves, has looked more accustomed in that
side. He didn't give up though and ran his socks off chasing
defenders down. John Sutton came on near the end and didn't really
have much opportunity to show much, but he did enough to demonstrate
that he has learned from the others at a higher level, how to play with
his body. He needs to be aware of what is best for others and not
just himself though (not easy for a goalscorer, I know), as the incident
with Hughes showed.
A better outcome than last time I saw
this side, but a better game altogether, with some good play, some good
individual performances and some well-earned points.
Spurs : - Rob Burch; Stephen Kelly, Paul
O'Donoghue, Ronnie Henry, Chris Herron; James Lee (John Sutton 74),
Mark Hughes, Walter Thomas, David Galbraith; Lee Barnard, Jamie Slabber.
Unused Subs : - Jawal, Vedeux
So'ton : - Trueman; Channot, Fullam,
Rosier, Byles; McManus, Broxton, Mills, Crowell; Lucas (Saunders 81),
Unused Subs : - Poate, Davies
For action photos of the match click here.