Special Reserve


On a cold evening, when the rains had stopped, the reserves finally got a game at St. Albans.  With Wimbledon lining up against Middlesbrough in a FA Cup replay the same night, their side looked very young (or maybe I am getting old) and only a couple of players leapt out as I scanned the team-sheet for familiar names.

So the game began and Spurs did most of the pressing.  The pitch was in reasonable condition considering all the rain that had fallen in the country over the last couple of weeks, but it did cut up a bit and that did not help the passing of either side.  Piercy moved forward onto a return pass to hit a shot which tested Heald in the Dons goal, while Hillier hit a shot wide and then crossed behind the goal when the ball took a nasty bobble off the pitch.

Walker was reduced to fielding back-passes as Wimbledon failed to set up any sort of rhythm, but Tottenham's wing backs were pushing up and Etherington went on one run and set up Davies, but he could not keep his shot on target.  Korsten was his usual lumbering self and hit a couple of shots, one blocked and the other off target, while Yannick Kamanan was trying to hold the ball up as the target man.  The Spurs keeper was called into action when he saved a low shot and then collected an innocuous free-kick played into the box.  The most worrying moment came when a high ball was missed by Walker and Hillier was on hand to clear from inside the six yard box.

In truth, the first half was a disappointment with play being very scrappy.  But the second period was vastly different.  Within a couple of minutes of the start, Korsten played a nice back-heel into the path of John Piercy running into the box and he was bundled over by the Wimbledon defender for a penalty to be awarded.  Korsten himself stepped up to take it and calmly hit it with the outside of his left foot, straight down the middle of the goal as the keeper dived right.  Two minutes later, Ian Hillier arrived at the far post to steer home a low cross from the left wing by Matthew Etherington for the second.  In effect this killed the game.  The South Londoners rarely threatened after that and Spurs pushed forward to try and add more.  The Spurs Dutchman also was keen to add to his penalty and had a shot go over, while a scramble from a corner saw Gardner causing mayhem among the opposition's defence.

With 20 minutes remaining, Chris Hughton brought on Les Ferdinand and Steffen Iversen (or Steven as the announcer proclaimed). Coming back from injury this was a good run-out for both the Spurs forwards, who both looked lively.  Ferdinand stung the Dons goalie's fingers with a long range effort which was grabbed at the second attempt and Iversen turned his marker and hit a first time shot from 20 yards out that was pushed over for a corner.  With just a couple of minutes left on the clock, Ferdie was played in on the edge of the box by a neat flick from Korsten and his powerful drive left Heald grasping air.  It sealed the result and a reasonable performance against a side who were inexperienced, but well versed in Wimbledon's ways.

For Tottenham, the players did well. Walker did all that was asked of him and his long ball lead to the third goal.  Hillier was solid in the tackle and keen to get forward, as demonstrated by his goal.  Gardner coped with all that came his way and while he was head and shoulders above the Wimbledon forwards (quite literally), he tried to play the ball out of defence even though the pitch was not best suited to dribbling.  Thelwell played much as he had in the first team, doing the simple things and doing them well, while at left back was Destin Makumbu from the Under-19's. He also got stuck in and although all his headers didn't go perhaps exactly where he wanted them to go, he was not going to let anyone get past him.  

In midfield, Davies worked hard up and down the field, while Matty was quick and decisive on the left, matching skill and work-rate.  Johnnie Jackson was a revelation.  Stepping up form the Under-19's, he tackled, ran, passed and generally had a terrific game.  Korsten takes laconic to the extreme, but once again scored and then set another goal up, so he can do it.  Shame he doesn't put himself out a bit more, as he could then be some player.

Kamanan tried hard, but rarely got the service that he would have liked. A couple of half chances came his way, but he didn't get the shot away before being tackled and when he did, he was off target.  He did hold the ball up well though and John Piercy also made up a lot of ground to support the forwards when the ball went upfield.  When the two first team forwards came on their skill showed and Les looked a class above the Wimbledon Youth team he was playing against.

Next week they are away at Watford and then at home at Clarence Park again on March 6th against Charlton Athletic.  It's worth a look in to see how things are going and especially when they return to White Hart Lane on March 20th against Derby County, when admission is free !!

Spurs Reserves: Walker, Hillier, Gardner, Davies, Thelwell, Makumbu, Piercy (Iversen 70), Jackson, Kamanan (Ferdinand 70), Korsten, Etherington.
Unused subs : Attwell, Toner, Ferguson.

Wimbledon Reserves: Heald, Shepherd, Byrne, Lewington, Okikilou, Leigertwood, Morgan, Tapp, Robinson (Unal 69), McAnuff (O’Flynn 77), Jenkins.
Unused subs : Gore, Sloma, Small.

Marco van Hip

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