foxes on the run

Spurs  2   Leicester City  1           (Half time: 0-1)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 19th January 2004
Venue :  Broadhall Way
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather :  Mild, but heavy rain towards the end of the game
Crowd : -  approx. 300
Referee : -  Mr. Melin
Spurs  -  Slabber 54, Ricketts 67
Leicester City - Lewis 9
Spurs  - 
McKie (foul) 2, Hughes (high tackle) 32, Ifil (high tackle) 45
Leicester City  - 
Deen (handball) 33
Spurs :  -  Eyre; McKie, Bunjevcevic, Kelly, Ifil; Hughes (c), Blondel, Ricketts, Yeates; Slabber, Barnard
Unused subs:  Forecast, Foster, O'Hara, Daniels, Malcolm

Leicester City :  Murphy; Sinclair, Elliott, Heath, Lewis; Nalis, Gillespie, Priet, Deen; Brooker, Hignett 
Unused subs:  Coyne, Pearmain, Williams, Gondal, O'Shea

Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
Leicester City  -  Blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks

With a small gathering for this reserve game, the youthful Tottenham team fought back to gain an unlikely victory in fine style over an experienced and grizzly Leicester side.

The crowd were treated to a very mature second half display that took the game Tottenham's way and in the end the score could have been about 6-4.  Watching on from the Directors Box were Pat Jennings, Jimmy Neighbour, Roger Cross, Mick Harford and Eddie Stein.

The game began with a committed tackle by McKie that saw Nalis fly through the air and on landing the ref brought out a yellow card for the Spurs defender.  It set the tone for a first half yellow card spree in a game that wasn't played in an unsporting atmosphere.  Further bookings followed for high challenges by Hughes and Ifil and Deen of Leicester got a caution for stopping a ball reaching Mark Yeates as he broke through.

Spurs featured some nimble and fleet footed players in midfield and three linked up for their first shot on goal in the sixth minute.  Blondel played the ball in to Barnard's head and he knocked it down for Ricketts to volley the ball a couple of yards wide.  Hughes broke forward well all match and his run in the eleventh minute caught out the Leicester defence, but his low shot was weak and too near the keeper.

In between these Tottenham forays, Leicester had taken the lead.  A corner on the right saw Elliott head goalwards and Phil Ifil managed to get the ball off the line, but it went straight up in the air, Eyre saved, but the loose ball was hit overhead into the net by Junior Lewis to give the Foxes the lead.

They almost scored a second in the (unlucky) 13th minute, as Marcel McKie raced back to get to a through pass and got there before Nicky Eyre, but nudged the ball past him and fortunately for Tottenham, it went past the post on the right side.  The only other Spurs attack of note saw Lee Barnard produce a neat bit of dribbling tight to the goal-line, but his cross was begging to be put in, but there was nobody there to do so.

It looked like the Premiership experience of the visitors would come out on top at this stage and Peter Shirtliff and Tim Flowers on the City bench must have had an easy half-time team-talk.  However, the one Pat Holland gave his side must have sparked something in their minds, as they were a different side in the second period.

Two minutes after the break, Phil Ifil launched into a fine run down the right wing and fired a shot across the goal and missed the far post by inches, then on 50 minutes a Yeates corner found Mark Hughes' head, but he put his unchallenged effort over the top.  When Hughes found Barnard, there looked little problem, but he knocked Elliott off the ball and put Jamie Slabber in on the keeper and his cool low finish pout Spurs level. 

A free-kick about 25 yards out caused Nicky Eyre some problems, as he saved the ball, but it swerved and as it fell precariously near the line, he had to dive on the ball before Brooker got there.  that was in the 56th minute, then six minutes later a combination of Kelly and Bunjy stopped a header crossing the line.  Spurs weathered this Leicester pressure and in the 67th minute they got a corner at the other end.  Yeates drilled it across the box and it found Ricketts at the far side of the area.  his neat footwork made a half yard and he smacked the ball into the opposite top corner of the net to give Spurs a lead that could not be contemplated after a sterile first half.

It was all Tottenham from here on in.  Yeates wriggled into the area and produced a neat bend to his shot that the keeper Murphy just about saw and got a hand to keep it out, a save that he had to repeat in the next minute to another Yeates drive.  It looked like the sea-air at Brighton had made Mark hungry for football and he played a perceptive and vital part in the team' success tonight.  Alongside captain Mark Hughes who put in a lot of hard work, as well as some fine passing to keep the side ticking over, the Irishman was a livewire, who caused the Leicester defence a lot of trouble.

With Frank Sinclair almost getting his obligatory own goal, it was only Murphy's reflexes that stopped it at the cost of an indirect free-kick in the box.  As almost always happens, Tottenham failed to score as the rain fell more heavily and the ball skidded wide after the initial shot from Yeates had been blocked.

It was a good team performance with Blondel looking good after his knee injury and the defence seemingly at ease with a young trio among that section of the team all putting forward good performances, with Bunjy doing a solid job there too.

Next week, the reserves host Portsmouth and will be looking to carry on the good form that is reflecting that of the first team.


Marco van Hip

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