One of the most eventful reserve games in
many a long time saw Spurs rip into a four goal lead by the break and
then have to fight to maintain their lead after Derby hit back after the
Lining up with a four man defence and
three in midfield, Tottenham had Michael Malcolm floating on the right
behind the front two. It was an attacking line-up as Hallfredsson
and Dilevski are naturally midfielders and they were our full backs
!! But the run of five games without a win must have made Clive
Allen think that he needed the number of attack minded players that he
put out ... and it certainly paid off.
The first goal arrived after just two
minutes of the game and it was a well-crafted one. Mark Yeates
made a fast break from the halfway line and played the ball out left
with the outside of his left foot to Mounir El Hamdaoui. The
Moroccan took the ball in his stride and then finished with a five-yard
shot over the keeper as he dived in front of him. It was a neat
finish and the passing was crisp and precise, which caught the young
Derby side cold.
Yeates was instrumental in much of the
early play and taking a short free-kick on the right wing, he stepped
forward and drove in a ball that was looking for a touch, but none was
forthcoming. On 12 minutes, the lead was doubled. Michael
Malcolm made good ground on the right and put in a near post cross,
which caught a deflection off a defender. The ball dropped at the
near post and Lee Barnard was the sharpest player in the vicinity and
reacted to drill the ball home from close range.
One player for the Rams who impressed was
the little forward Lionel Ainsworth, whose pace troubled all
night. He got away and bore down on goal, but a timely saving
tackle by captain Bunjy stopped his progress. In the next attack,
Ainsworth raced through again, with no offside flag forthcoming, but hit
his shot early and dragged it across the goalmouth.
Tottenham were playing the passing that
Clive Allen would surely have liked to see, so a great move in the 24th
minute saw Spurs carve the Rams open. Yeates hit a long ball up to
the head of Barnard and his knockdown to Michael Malcolm saw him lay the
ball off to El Hamdaoui. Taking the ball down, he squared it to
Limbersky on the edge of the box and his powerful drive looked destined
for the top corner until Derby keeper Miller rose to tip it over the
When the third goal came in the 32nd
minute, it was another well-worked move that set it up. Chris
Riley, moving up from the Under-18s and looking very comfortable in this
solid performance, played the ball up to Mounir, who was on the halfway
line and nodded the ball square to Mark Yeates. Looking up,
he hit a pass out left to Hallfredsson and the Icelander hit a long
cross to the far post that found Malcolm rushing in. He did well
to get his head around the ball to put it back in the direction it had
come from and across the front of the goal, leaving Barnard the easy
task of knocking the ball into the net from a yard out at the far post.
Three became four on 36 minutes, as
Hallfredsson raced away up the left wing and played a low cross towards
Limbersky and Malcolm on the edge of the box, near the 'D'. Both
missed it and it ran through to Lee Barnard, who struck the ball low and
true through a defender's legs and past the keeper into the bottom left
corner of the net. With space to move into and showing good skill,
Emil was ripping up the left wing and was a constant threat.
However, right on the stroke of half-time, Derby almost got back in the
match. Ainsworth broke through on the right side of the box and Cerny stood up long enough to put off the youngster and he hit a shot
that struck the crossbar. Spurs broke away quickly to earn a
corner and from it Bunjevcevic had a free header, but he failed to get
it on target and it flew over the top.
The Spurs boys left the field to good and
well-deserved applause and when they returned, Riley got an elbow in the
eye, but was able to continue after the club doctor had looked at
it. Within seven minutes of the restart, Derby had pulled a goal
back. Limbersky hit a short cross-field pass, which David Cassidy
picked off and he played in Ainsworth on the penalty spot to drive past
Cerny for a goal his play deserved.
Spurs broke forward and El Hamdaoui
linked with Yeates for the Irishman to try a low curling shot that was
easily saved and then on 54 minutes, Spurs had a great chance to extend
their lead. A long ball through saw Mounir chase it on and the
keeper came out of his box, as the ball was lobbed over him. He
turned and grabbed the ball but was still outside his area, thus giving
a free-kick to Tottenham and getting a booking in the process.
Once more Yeates tried a similar shot from the dead ball, much to the
anguish of Allen. Five minutes on, Barnard did well to hold up the
bal on the left wing, then pulled it back to Limbersky 25 yards out in a
central position, who hit a swerving drive that bounced back off
Miller's chest and EL Hamdaoui was in for the rebound, but was given
Barnard was again involved, when Bunjy
played him in on the hour and his early shot went across goal, before
Derby pressed forward and robbed Limbersky in midfield. Cassidy
was the creator once more, as he played the tall midfielder Barnes into
the box and his early shot beat Cerny to make it 4-2. Clive was
not a happy man. Especially when a ball was chipped into the Spurs
box and with the goal beckoning, Ainsworth took and air shot at the ball
and Hallfredsson cleared the danger. In the next action on the
Tottenham goal, the same player did connect and Cerny stopped the fierce
drive at his post.
It was the first time I had seen Cerny in
action and he has a strange running style, which features his hands
staying at his side, slightly away from his hips, but they waggle as he
runs. His handling was sound and in the 75th minute, he made a
good dive to hold a free header from a free-kick.
When Spurs piled forward again, Mark
Yeates drove a 28 yard shot that spanked off the bar and over, after the
ball broke to him from a blocked Limbersky shot. The Czech
midfielder was urged to hold onto the ball by Clive Allen and his
contribution was better tonight and he looked good on the ball, seeming
to be stronger now than when he first arrived. The same could be
said for Hallfredsson, while Dilevski played a good game at right back,
having firmed up and lost a bit of weight.
With the two goal lead, Tottenham pressed
onwards to keep Derby way from our goal. El Hamdaoui produced a
cheeky drag-back for Johnnie Jackson to bring a flying save from Miller
to tip his 30 yard shot over the top. This came shortly after the
midfielder had shouted at Allen after being encouraged to pass the
ball. This could have been borne of frustration over his loan to
Watford and the fact that he has stated that he wants to leave the club
to get first team football.
When Limbersky went to the bye-line in
the 86th minute and pulled the ball back to El Hamdaoui just seven yards
out, it looked like Spurs might wrap the game up, but Mounir skied the
ball over the bar. When Dilveski over-lapped on the right and put
a high cross in, the Moroccan was there again and his downward header
was well kept out by Miller's save. Barnard attempted to add to
his own personal total in the 88th minute, as Derby tired, but his long
range effort cleared the stand behind the goal !!
With two minutes of added time, Derby
broke on the left wing and a cross went all the way to the far post,
where Cassidy hit a firm shot, but it went straight into Cerny's midriff
at his post and then the play switched to the opposite end, where the
visitors were caught out. Limbersky jinked his way along the right
and picked out a cross onto Hallfredsson's head. Unmarked and
centrally placed, Emil headed into the net from six yards out to score
for Tottenham for the first time to bring the final score to 5-2.
The performance was in stark contrast to
the big defeat they suffered at the hands of SCBC back in January, but
the average age of the Derby team must have been very low. The on
field experience came from Jamie Vincent, the former Pompey man, who
spent most of his oxygen disputing the officials decisions, where ever
they happened in relation to him on the pitch. Throw-ins 50 yards
away on the other side of the pitch. "Our ball !"
claimed Vincent. Shouting for every foul and then kicking Yeates
to try and wind him up (after the Spurs midfielder had been spoken to by
the ref in the first half).
Barnard and El Hamdaoui linked up well
and the width provided a supply of crosses for them to feed on.
Riley looked like he could fit in at this level and Yeates was lively,
as usual, although he was frustrating, as usual. It was a good
team display and with Derby getting a foothold back in the game, it made
the second half a little more interesting, but in the end Spurs could
have had about ten and will need to produce a similar performance in
their next home game against Arsenal on 18th April.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEE