robbing the robins

Spurs  1   Swindon Town  0                       (Half time: 0-0)
FA Youth Cup - Fourth Round
Wednesday 15th January 2003
Venue :  White Hart Lane
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather : Clear, cold
Crowd : -  A good number
Referee : -  N. D. Appleby
Spurs  -  Slabber 86
Swindon Town - None
Spurs  -  None
Swindon Town  -  None
Spurs : Paul Rutherford;  Philip Ifil, Ricky Dobson, Danny Foster, David Tyrie; Nicky Wettner, Lee Barnett, Jonathan Black (Owen Price 80), Mark Yeates; Jamie Slabber, Michael Malcolm 
Unused subs:  Nicky Eyre, Mario Noto, Daniel Perry, Liam Francis

Swindon Town :  Smith; D. Taylor, Garrard, Bampton, Oliver; C. Taylor, Hambidge (McKay 59), Pook (Bullman 90), Stroud; Draycott, Cheeseman   
Unused subs: Lapham, Salter, Jones

Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
Swindon Town  -  Red shirts, white shorts, red socks
With the announcements made at the ground sounding like they came from Mike Read (of "EastEnders" fame), the evening had a strange feel to it from the start.  As the Spurs team came out a Christian Ziege look-a-like took the place of the left wing back and the weirdness was complete.  The fact that it was Nicky Wettner made it even odder.  Having confused him and Jamie Slabber in a  pre-season friendly, perhaps he was trying to make things easy for me !!

For a Cup game, the first half contained little action.  Swindon were content to get men close to their opponents, shutting the game down and allowing Tottenham no real time on the ball.  Spurs started smartly, with Michael Malcolm putting a low cross into the box, where Lee Barnett met it well, but got it just wide of the target.  The next chance didn't come along until the 12th minute, when Philip Ifil got down the right flank and knocked in a good cross to the middle of the box.  Although it was a little behind him, Slabber managed to loop a header goalwards, but the keeper plucked it out of the air with ease.

With 12 minutes to half time, Tottenham won a corner at the Paxton Road end and as it was flighted in, the Swindon keeper Smith, could not hold the ball and as it dropped, David Tyrie latched onto the chance, but could only hook the bouncing ball over the top.  As half-time approached, Malcolm put the keeper under pressure from a long throw and the ball dropped invitingly in front of goal for Nicky Wettner, just a yard or two out.  Sadly, the defence managed to block his effort, which would have given Tottenham some reward for the first half dominance. 

Thankfully, the game hotted up in the second half, as the winter chill swept across those gathered in the West Stand.  There were a fair few people watching, although it wad difficult to assess how many, with the top tier being opened to the public too.

Spurs were finding joy down the flanks and an early cross in from Ifil was cleared to Yeates on the edge of the box, who knocked the ball up, Redknapp-like, and hit a volley that was straight at the keeper.  The Irish midfielder was on the spot again to hit a rising shot well over from 25 yards out on the hour.  Yeates' influence on the game was becoming more important as he slung in a cross to the far post and it was only a header by a Town defender that beat Michael Malcolm to the ball.

Tottenham were controlling the match, but almost got caught with the sucker punch, as on 72 minutes Swindon sub Mckay broke down the left and put in a wicked low cross.  It was met by striker Draycott running in and from about five yards out, he put the volley wide with Rutherford stranded.  It was a very good chance and was the precursor for Swindon to have their best spell.  Two minutes later, Cheeseman took the ball as he broke into the box and hit a shot that the Spurs goalie did well to reach and push aside.  From the corner and a following cross, Rutherford was put under pressure, not being the tallest keeper, but he made a good punch and was then fouled as the ball was in the air.  Swindon Town youth team manager Viv Busby (formerly of Luton Town, Norwich and Stoke City) was not impressed by the refereeing, but the man in the middle handled the game sensibly and talked to the players, which at this age is a good way of dealing with them rather than brandishing cards at every occasion.

With ten minutes left, Pat Holland brought on Owen Price for Jonathan Black as a more attacking option and straight away, Spurs had a good chance when captain Danny Foster broke up a move near the halfway line, carried the ball forward and hit a shot from outside the box that went a foot or so over the crossbar.  Price had the impact on the game the manager would have hoped for, when in the 85th minute, his low cross into the near post from the right was volleyed only just wide of his own goal by Swindon defender Bampton.  The Spurs sub took the corner from the right flank, playing it in to the near post once again.  There it was met by Jamie Slabber, rising in front of his marker and glancing the ball inside the near post.

Swindon tried to press for an equaliser, but they could not find the pass into the box to open Spurs up and Tottenham ran out time for their passage through to a Fifth round tie away to Notts. County or Crystal Palace.

Spurs had found it difficult against a determined Swindon side, who's forward Draycott was lively, but the Tottenham defence was rarely troubled, playing tightly together.  It was a match where Spurs had to keep going and they were driven on by Keates, who turned in a very good performance.  With some good passing, Tottenham made Swindon run hard, but failed to create enough clear-cut chances for Malcolm and Slabber and they will have to be more inventive in the next round against what should be tougher opposition.


Marco van Hip

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