star striker

Spurs Reserves v Leicester City Reserves  24.9.2001

Having switched their home reserve games to Stevenage Borough's Broadhall Way ground makes the dash from work a little more desperate.  An hour's drive up the wonderful A1(M) left me minutes to reach the ground after finding somewhere to park on the nearby industrial estates.  Enough time to get there I thought.  WRONG !!  Walking up to the ground, I found no turnstiles open.  Going round to the main entrance, there were none open there either and a surly steward invited me to go around the footpath to the top corner of the ground where I found a queue at the turnstile.  Yes, turnstile, as only one was open.  Another two were hurriedly opened up as the whistle went for the kick off and I eventually entered with a couple of minutes gone, not knowing who was playing as all the team-sheets had gone.  Not what you expect when  you shell out 5 for a reserve match.

At least there was a healthy gathering of 488, which included Hans Segers, Pat Jennings, Adekunle Odetoyinbo (the club's fitness coach), John Gorman, Chris Hughton and Glenn Hoddle, who were huddle together in the centre of the stand.  The ground had changed since our pre-season friendly there, with steel framework for a roof over the stand behind the goal that housed the Spurs stand that very wet evening, which will give the ground four covered stands.  It is obvious that they have done well out of this deal with Spurs playing their games there.

Spurs were attacking the building site end in the first half and there was a fair amount of midfield jousting going on.  Piercy let fly from distance with a shot that went over Flowers' goal.  There was some purposeful build-up play from Tottenham, but a lack of killer instinct  at the end of it (sound familiar ??).  Balls were slung into the box without any real intent to pick out a white shirt, while players were not moving to make space when we had good possession outside the area.

Tottenham took the lead deservedly in the 35th minute, when Sergei Rebrov rose above a static defence to head home Etherington's corner powerfully past the Leicester keeper.  The best moment came when Piercy raided down the left to put over a first time cross and Steven Ferguson running in had a clear header.  Unfortunately, he failed to get decent contact on it and it slipped off his forehead and went wide, when he had only to get a good header in and it was a certain goal.

As the half drew to a close, the home side pressed home their advantage and Toner strode forward to hit a cross shot from the right hand side of the box, which went past the post, while Ferguson did get one on target, but Flowers beat out his fierce shot, only for it to rebound to Matthew Etherington. His follow up was struck first time, but went over the bar and into the new stand.

The second half started with Calderwood bringing on Kelly for Keller, who had only one real shot to save in his 45 minutes on the pitch, when Gary Parker (yes, he's still playing) hit a strong shot destined for the corner, which Kasey pushed away.  Having received a kick to his ankle in the first period, Sherwood made way after the break for Johnnie Jackson.

It was a couple of minutes into the half that Spurs went further ahead.  A move saw some nice passing across the face of the Leicester penalty area and Sergei laid the ball wide to the right corner of the box, where Ciaran Toner arrived to send a powerful drive arrowing past Flowers and bulged the back of the net.  The young Irishman looked delighted with himself and with good reason.  The front two for the Foxes had been giving Spurs a physical going-over all night and Trevor Benjamin struck a good shot that nearly brought down the structure for the new roof !!  His younger partner, Matthew Piper had rained shots on the Tottenham goal in the first half, without to much accuracy, but he got his reward in the 55th minute, when Gavin Kelly took a back-pass and topped the ball as he attempted to pass it wide.  The ball stopped and Piper nipped in to go around Kelly and stroke it home.

Spurs stepped it up again and had chances through our star striker Sergei Rebrov.  He showed good effort tonight and some exasperation as his team mates were either not on the same wavelength as him or were not running to close others down when he went to a defender with the ball.  His first chance was latching onto a long ball, but a blue shirted defender got back to deny him, then Leo threaded the ball into the box for the Ukrainian.  He twisted past his defender and just as he went to go round Flowers, he was brought down by a defender.  A few moments later he drove a fierce volley over the bar.  The ref blew the whistle and as we expected him to point to the spot, he pointed towards the Spurs goal and he had awarded a free-kick to Leicester !!  No-one knew what for though !!  Towards the end, Sergei hit a stunning free-kick over the wall and got it down to hit the post with the keeper stranded.  Unfortunately, it bounced across the goal-line and out.

Other than a couple of headers by Gardner that went wide form corners, Spurs didn't produce a lot more and it was left to Gavin Kelly to redeem himself with a flying save from a Parker free-kick to stop a point slipping form Tottenham's grasp.

So another home win and a better performance than the match against Arsenal.  Jackson showed that he is progressing nicely, with some thoughtful first time passing after coming on.  Thatcher did what he had to do and didn't react on a couple of occasions he was hit late.  Alongside him, Gardner looked class, even without much match practice.  Leo buzzed around, but I would have liked to see a bit more quality from him, while Sherwood did OK in the first half, encouraging the younger players.  Piercy was a dynamo in midfield and Ferguson showed lots of confidence although tonight, it just didn't work for him.

The side showed that they are adapting well to Hoddle's passing philosophy and they moved the ball around effortlessly.  The ease with which they opened up the young Leicester side was perhaps not surprising as most of the Spurs team had some first team experience.  The surprise was that they did not play through Rebrov more.  I presume he was playing to get match practice and to sharpen him up.  He was often missed out in the moves and looked like a fish out of water with his skills not being properly employed.  In the second half, he showed he can shoot as well as provide and those abilities will be needed soon in the first team, so he should be getting the chance to put them into practice now.  The youngsters around him can only learn from what he does.  He just needs the belief to play him in to do so.

Spurs :- Keller (Kelly 46), Toner, Thelwell, Gardner, Thatcher; Leonhardsen, Sherwood (Jackson 46), Piercy, Etherington, Rebrov, Ferguson (Kamanan 74)
Subs not used :- Consorti, O'Donoghue

Marco van Hip

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