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Spurs Reserves v Arsenal Reserves - 21.03.2002

There was little in the match in the first half that would indicate that Tottenham would be so comprehensively dismantled in the second period.  Among those watching were John Gorman and Chris Hughton, while Under-19s Ronnie Henry and Mark Hughes were also in attendance. 

With the first effort of the match coming from Francis Jeffers (a star reserve player if ever I saw one), the Spurs keeper for this match, Canadian international Lars Hirschfeld, stood rooted as it flashed narrowly past the post.  However, this was not a reflection on the goalie, but a strike of such power that flew away before anyone had a chance to move.  At the other end, a similar effort from Irish midfielder Ciaran Toner who fired wide from a dropping ball.

The first goal of the game went Tottenham's way, when Toner hit a long ball down the right channel, finding George Snee.  The striker did well enough to control and outpace the Arsenal defence, but excelled when hitting a rising shot into the roof of the visitors' net.  Throughout the game, Snee impressed most out of all the Spurs players.  His control and confidence on the ball made him stand out among the younger players , who often gave the ball away or were knocked off it by the bigger opponents.

Tottenham's lead sparked some good football from the Arsenal second string.  They passed the ball well and but for some last ditch challenges, could have been equal earlier than the 21st minute, when Jeffers was put in by Pennant with a pass to the edge of the box.  His finish past Hirschfeld was clinical.  The Gooner left winger Thomas was a big, strong player and he muscled past Consorti on a number of occasions, having two chances, both of which he missed.  With Pennant's finishing not matching his build up play, Spurs escaped with a cross shot across the face of the goal and Toner was again a threat, when he struck a cleared corner again just past the post.

The second half was a different affair as Jeffers was replaced and Arsenal closed down Spurs so quickly, there was rarely time to do anything, before the ball was taken off them or it was passed to a red shirt.  However, Tottenham had two chances to put themselves back into the lead, with Kamanan too slow to read a good low, near-post cross and Clemence's long ball over the defence did find George Snee, who took the ball on and hit a low shot that forced a full length dive to save by the keeper.

Unfortunately, Arsenal got a goal that should have been ruled out almost from the next attack.  The ball was played to Thomas, who grabbed a handful of Consorti's shirt, but spun away from him without a whistle from the ref.  His left wing run ended with him pulling the ball back to Ricketts, who's shot was deflected on the way and Quilter could not stop it going in the net.  From this point, there was little on show going forward by Spurs, until Ferguson replaced the disappointing Kamanan.  Seeing as how he is keen to leave because he cannot break into the first team, Yannick did little tonight to show that he would merit that move.  His touch was not good and his inability to read the game left him off the pace.  He did keep his cool, but often let the fact that the ball did not reach him get to him.  He showed one good turn against Keown and controlled a few difficult passes well, but both Sutton and Ferguson looked more mobile and dangerous when they were introduced.

Ten minutes later, Pennant sent a pass through the Spurs defence to Osei-Kuffour on the right, who hit a low shot past Hirschfeld, who was left exposed.  Spurs looked like they might get a chance to go forward, when Ferguson nearly got to a long ball, but he was beaten to it by their goalie.  Clemence did set up another chance, when he spread the ball out to the right wing, where Consorti ran on to the ball, but looked like he lacked confidence, but hit a low shot that the keeper held.

There was time for the Spurs keeper to show what he can do, with a header from Keown, that was plucked out of the air as it looked like it was behind him and in the angle of crossbar and post.  While he did let four goals past him, Hirschfield wasn't as bad as that suggests.  His handling was excellent.  On each occasion he had to field a shot, the ball stuck in his hands and the only thing he spilled was a low cross that he tried to punch out continental style, but he had a bit of luck as it bounced back to him off an Arsenal forward.  Three of the goals were from clear shots where he was exposed by the defence.  No real blame could have be allotted to him for them.

As the game ran to it's end, Pennant picked up the ball from Ricketts and struck a shot across the goalie.  Four-nil was not an unfair reflection of the play in the second half.

For Tottenham, the side was fairly young in make-up, while the pitch was boggy in the middle, which did not assist the passing the team tried to effect.  Clemence was embroiled in a running feud with Svard, his opponent in midfield, but did ping a few good passes around.  However, he did get caught in possession and ran out of steam around the 80 minute mark, as he comes back to match fitness.  He was joined by Gary Doherty, who played very well in defence, blocking a couple of dangerous shots and getting in some good tackles.  However, he looked very tired in his first start for six months and was brought off near the end.

Quilter did OK, but looked rusty, while Consorti got knocked off the ball too easily and was constantly being given advice by Calderwood on the bench.  Thelwell looked solid, but was dragged out of position by the movement and passing of the other side and Johnnie Jackson did well in midfield, before being moved to cover the left back position when Marcel McKie was substituted.  McKie had got some joy down the left wing in the first half, but there was little chance to get forward after his early cross in the second.

It is a few months since I have seen the reserves in action and the opposition seemed to have been in a class above the current XI put out.  Admittedly, there was not too many reserve regulars out there for Spurs, but the gap is still there to be seen.

Team: Lars Hirschfeld; Mauricio Consorti, Marcel McKie (John Sutton 73), Gary Doherty (Paul O'Donoghue 85), Alton Thelwell, James Quilter, Ciaran Toner, Stephen Clemence, Yannick Kamanan (Steven Ferguson 65), Johnnie Jackson, George Snee.
Unused Subs: Shwan Jalal, Ghyslain Vedeux
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