A nervy ending to this reserve North London derby almost
undid the good work the Spurs team had put in to establish their lead,
which they just held on to at the final whistle.
watching Martin Jol and Arsene Wenger made of it is anyone’s guess,
although the Spurs Head Coach had a wry smile on his face when he looked
three seats along to where his opposite number was sat when the score
assembled managers and scouts watching a number of players who may be
available in the summer and one of whom – Johnnie Jackson – put in a
sterling performance as captain of the Spurs side.
In fact, the whole Spurs team seemed more up for this than their
(supposedly) illustrious neighbours.
With Defendi suspended, Burch returning in goal and some of the
more experienced players missing with a first team game on Wednesday, it
was a young team that took to the field.
first minute when Limbersky scooted away down the right wing to put in a
firm cross that Jamie O’Hara hit over the top, Spurs were the sharpest
off the mark. O’Hara
was determined to show his old team-mates that he had progressed as a
player and another shot flew over the bar a couple of minutes later
after Yeates had jinked his way through three Arsenal defenders.
Limbersky was impressive all night, which was a bit of a surprise, as he
is not the strongest of players and in a derby you might have expected
him to get buffetted around, but he ran well with the ball, held it up
and got in some strong challenges.
Oh … and he performed a perfect nut-meg on Smith.
It had all
started so well for Tottenham, but the first goal came from the
visitors. Spurs were
playing the ball around at the back and Leigh Mills, promoted from the
Youth side, stood on the ball and left if for an Arsenal forward to hit
a shot that Burch blocked with his legs.
Unfortunately, the ball rebounded straight to Lupoli, who stroked
it into the net from just inside the penalty area.
It was a
mistake that was taken advantage of and one at the other end went
begging. Taylor, who had an
uneasy time in the Arsenal goal all night, sliced a back-pass sideways
and with Michael Malcolm in attendance, the ball went just wide enough
to deprive him of a shooting opportunity.
He squared the ball to Mark Yeates, but as the striker was about
to shoot, a foot robbed him of the ball.
Larsson appeared to be the free-kick expert for Arsenal.
And I don’t just mean taking them, but also giving them away,
so when Yeates broke into the box, the Swede’s tackle brought him down
and the ref pointed to the spot. O'Donnell
was unhappy enough to talk himself into the book and when the fuss had
died down, Lee Barnard stepped up to blast the ball past Taylor to make
it 1-1 in the 14th minute.
seemed to be rattled by Tottenham’s feisty start and Skulasson picked
up a yellow card for kicking the ball away, but the free-kick brought a
good low save from Taylor, as Yeates drilled a shot through the
defensive wall after 20 minutes. Spurs
were breaking with speed and when a defender went in on the back of
Barnard, everyone expected a free-kick, but the ball ran through to
Limbersky on the right wing and his low ball in was cleared from six
yards out by a grateful Arsenal boot.
The back four
had a reasonably quiet time and Charlie Lee, also promoted with Mills,
had a steady game, with the new full-back pairing of Hallfredsson and
Dilevski both solid and looking to attack at any opportunity.
Dilevski was lucky to only receive a talking to for a deliberate
trip on Smith, but when a shot did eventually come in from Cregg,
Johnnie Jackson showed a resolve to keep it out by throwing himself in
the way to block it.
clock showing 35 minutes gone, Jackson was in action at the other end of
the pitch. He won a ball 25
yards out and ran left across the area to the other side of the ‘D’,
where he hit a shot that Taylor saved, but could not hold.
Lee Barnard was alert and poached the loose ball into the net
from about four yards out to give Spurs the lead, which they deserved
for their football and their effort.
Malcolm was having a good game, holding his own against the bigger
defenders of the Gooners, but when a ball came in his weak header was
easy for Taylor to take. In
Tottenham’s next attack, another goal almost came about ... for
Arsenal !! Breaking as the ball was cleared, Lupoli raced towards goal
and Burch came out to meet him, then went back and as the Italian tried
to chip him, the ball barely got above chest height and the Spurs goalie
took it comfortably.
chance came Tottenham’s way before the break, when Yeates’ whipped
in corner found the head of Hallfredsson or Malcolm (both together in a
crowded penalty area), but the header went too high.
It was a 45
minutes of high tempo football and non-stop harassing that had seen
Spurs earn their lead and Arsenal had been second best on numerous
occasions during that first half. We
thought things would change in the second half, but the incidents came
thinker and faster if anything in the second period !!
action saw the Arsenal fans yelling for a red card, as a long through
ball was intercepted by Burch, but his momentum carried him outside the
area, stilling holding the ball.
As he flew out of the side of the area and the opportunity was
not necessarily a goal-scoring one, the ref produced a yellow card and
Arsenal were awarded a free-kick right on the edge, which Cregg bent
wide of the far post.
Larsson got a
foul given against him for a foul tackle and he picked up a yellow too,
which might have been for dissent and from the award, Jackson put in a
vicious cross that was met by Malcolm.
His volley went wide, but it did look as though he as being held
as he went into the goalmouth.
The young striker than exchanged passes with Barnard, allowing
the latter to curl a shot a yard wide as he looked for his hat-trick.
Spurs seemed to be really enjoying it and O’Hara sold an
outrageous dummy to two Arsenal players – one each side of him –
with a great piece of skill, to turn 180°
to leave them bamboozled.
ventured forward and had a free header from a Yeates corner, but once
more the ball ended up too high, but Jackson’s 58th minute
interception of a square ball across the Arsenal back four was on
His low drive was just touched onto the post by the keeper and
the ball then bounced back into his arms.
Four minutes later, Taylor had no hope of keeping the ball out
tormenting the Arsenal right back Hoyte and beating him again, the
Irishman put in a wicked pacy in-swinging cross that Michael Malcolm got
to first, hitting the ball into the net from close range.
get into some threatening positions after they introduced the speedy
Birchall, but they seemed hesitant in taking a shot and when one was
fired in across the face of goal, it was met at the far post and hit
into the side-netting, causing the pitch of the Arsenal fans chanting to
rise an octave for no reward.
conceded another free-kick, this time with 20 minutes to go and Jackson
took it quickly, spotting Lee Barnard in space in the box.
It was a delicate free-kick as it just cleared the defender’s
head to drop for Barnard to control and then volley across Taylor to
seal his hat-trick from 10 yards out.
Barnard shows all the attributes of the modern striker.
A willingness to work for the team, an awareness of where others
are and a predatory instinct for goal.
This was his second hat-trick in two games and he has been on
fire since he returned from a loan spell with former Spurs Reserves
Colin Calderwood at Northampton Town.
a quarter of an hour left, Smith made strides down the left wing and put
in a cross that popped up and Hallfredsson handled to concede a penalty,
which the same Arsenal player stepped up to convert. Arsenal were
set for a final assault on the Spurs goal, not that Arsene Wenger would
have seen it ... this time he had a valid excuse, as he had gone home
!! But Tottenham moved the ball well to attack and when Limbersky
played a pass in from the right wing, Yeates laid it back for Jackson to
hit a shot that struck Yeates and deflected just wide with Taylor
Lee spoiled a fine performance by obtaining a yellow card with a
scything tackle on Smith, who the Arsenal bench were very concerned
about and called for the stretcher ... only for the winger to be up and
running around a minute or two later. McKenna joined him with a
tackle on Smith, who ran after the ref imploring him to be booked.
made amends with a good block of Smith's drive in injury time and then
Spurs broke up the left wing, with Barnard being pulled all over the
place by the Arsenal defender, but nothing was given. Larsson
played the ball down their right wing and Lupoli dashed away, cut inside
Hallfredsson and smashed a rising shot across Burch and into the far top
corner to make it 4-3 with a minute and a half of added time remaining.
Arsenal looking for an equaliser, Spurs held the ball, drew fouls, which
the Arsenal players were happy to commit and ran time down to run out
winners in a very good showing by Clive Allen's boys. The team
played at a good pace and with some crisp passing, making the Arsenal
players look ordinary for long periods.
City are the final opponents of the season at Broadhall Way on Thursday
28th April and one more win will see Spurs finish the season on a good
run and in the top half of the table.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEE BARNARD