a good game spoiled

Spurs  0   Charlton Athletic  1           (Half time: 0-0)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 17th November 2003
Venue :  Broadhall Way
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather :  Light rain at start, then clear, mild. Rain had fallen for most of the day.
Crowd : -  approx. 300
Referee : -  D. McDermid
SCORERS
Spurs  -  None
Charlton Athletic - Long 79
CARDS
Spurs  - 
Blondel (foul) 27, Galbraith (kicking ball away) 37, Marney (foul) 69
Charlton Athletic  - 
Turner (foul) 75, Fortune (foul) 82
Spurs :  Burch; Foster, Henry, O'Donoghue, McKie; Marney, Hughes (c), Blondel, Ricketts; Barnard, Galbraith (O'Hara 58). 
Unused subs:  Eyre, Ifil, Barnett.

Charlton Athletic :  Leite; Sankofa, Turner (c), Fortune, M. Ricketts; Beckford, Hughes (Wilson 52), McCafferty, Gross (Cole 17); Long, Varney. 
Unused subs: Elliot; Jackson, Ndombe

COLOURS
Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
Charlton Athletic  -  Red shirts, white shorts, red socks

There is something about Charlton Athletic when they play at Stevenage Borough against Spurs reserves.  Last season, the fog descended and restricted the view so much that it was difficult to see the far side of the pitch and this season, the rain that dropped from the sky all day left the pitch a skiddy surface that made playing difficult.  It wasn't helped by the over officious refereeing that formed a major part of the match. 

The first Charlton attack showed the effect the rain had on the pitch, when the ball sped off the turf and left Rob Burch's attempted grasp looking very loose with the ball flying straight through both arms in the fourth minute.  Spurs were using the pace on the grass to their benefit.  Galbraith won a header, that flicked through to Lee Barnard in midfield.  His pas out to the left took out the right back and Ricketts cut inside to hit a shot that brought a save from the goalie.

Charlton threatened from set-pieces, but generally O'Donoghue and Henry were tight at the back.  A free-kick almost lead to a goal in the 14th minute, as Henry stooped to head clear and almost diverted the ball inside Burch's far post, but luckily, it flew past the right side of the upright for Tottenham.  A minute later, a cross to the far post from Jonathan Blondel was a little behind Dean Marney and his header went wide.

Carlton Cole made an early entrance, coming on after 17 minutes, in what seemed like a swap made because Cole had turned up of his own volition (and not travelling with the rest of the squad), after being held up on the A1(M) in the road works !!  The ref started to take a detrimental grip on proceedings, with a yellow for Blondel for a foul and then Galbraith for kicking the ball away.  Such decisions and the ref's ability to pull play up at virtually every given opportunity left manager Clive Allen exasperated.  The fourth official's over-bearing attitude did little to lighten Clive's mood and we all hoped that the mother of the man in black on the touchline would come to take him home soon, as he was out way past his bed-time.

On the half hour Marcel McKie had to head a free header from a corner off the Tottenham goal-line and six minutes after, former Gooner Hughes shot on receiving a quickly taken free-kick, but Ronnie Henry threw a block in front of the effort.

In truth the half was scrappy and neither side looked settled or happy in the conditions, even though it had stopped raining now.  The assembled glitterati for this game included Terry Dyson, Pat Jennings, Hans Segers, Pat Holland, David Kerslake, Michael Stone, Stoke scout Keith Burkinshaw, Kunle Odetoyinbo, new Spurs boss Alan Curbishley, Luton's Mick Harford, West Ham boss Alan Pardew and Spurs Ladies Under-11 captain ZoŽ Jackson.

The second half produced slightly less action than the first period and an early block by Henry again, as Cole, on loan from Chelsea, drew his foot back to shoot stopped an early breakthrough after the interval.  The official was warming to his task with yellow cards produced for Marney for a foul and then Turner for Charlton after bringing down O'Hara in the 75th minute as he ran through.  Jamie was adding a bit of variety to the Spurs play, as he was willing to commit Athletic's players and from the free-kick Marney curled the ball just wide. 

Both sides were lacking the final ball into the box, but one good cross found Varney in the area.  His neat turn produced a fierce shot that Burch did well to beat out, but unluckily for him, it flew up in the air and Long nodded the ball into an unguarded net to give Charlton the lead on 79 minutes.

Within three minutes, Fortune was yellow carded for bringing down Blondel and the dead ball was played short to O'Hara who shot wide of the goal.  Ironically, Tottenham's best chance came with two minutes left.  A neat move saw Rohan Ricketts play a ball inside the full back to leave Lee Barnard in on the keeper, but his flicked effort was blocked and ballooned up into the air like Burch's save that lead to the away team's goal.  In an almost identical replay of the action, Blondel headed goalwards, but Fortune threw his massive frame in the way to keep the ball out and that was the end of any meaningful activity in the goalmouths.

The midfield of Ricketts, Blondel, Marney and Hughes were mobile and had a lot of possession, but failed to make the passes through to the front two incisive enough, while Barnard and Galbraith battled away without much success against two huge defenders.  O'Donoghue matched up well against Cole and he and Henry still look to have a good partnership at the back, while McKie and Foster were solid on the flanks.  Burch had little to do and apart from the early scare, did what he had to do well.

The high point of the night was when Charlton were preparing to bring on a substitute and a huge fat bloke emerged from their bench in a tracksuit (as it was probably all he could get to fit him).  Unfortunately, he was not one (or more) of their squad for the match !!

In truth, if the fog that came down last season had returned tonight, it would have been welcome, as the match provided poor entertainment and a disappointing result.

MEHSTG Top Man:   PAUL O'DONOGHUE

Marco van Hip

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