drawing the hornet's sting


Spurs  0   Watford  0           (Half time: 0-0)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 7th October 2002
Venue :  Broadhall Way
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather : Fine, dry
Crowd : -  slightly bigger than usual (!)
Referee : -  M.A. Harris
Spurs  -  None
Watford - None
Spurs  -  None
Watford  -  None
Spurs : Hirschfeld, Carr, Galbraith (S. Kelly 29), Hughes, Henry, Perry (Slabber 65), Bortolozzo, Poyet, Barnard, Marney, Ricketts. 
Unused subs: Burch, Snee, Wettner.

Watford :  Baardsen, Herd, Smith, Hughes (Vernazza 45), Mahon, Ifil, Swonnell, Godfrey, Foley (Patterson 45), Johnson (Blizzard 63), Matthews. 
Unused subs: Lee, Williams.

Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
Watford  -  Yellow shirts, black shorts, red socks
The Tottenham "Tribute" match seemed to have come early ... spotted in the stand at Broadhall Way were Chris Hughton, John Gorman, David Pleat, Keith Burkinshaw, David Kerslake and Justin Edinburgh with reserve coach Colin Calderwood in the "technical area".  Also, sad to see former Spur Espen Baardsen grubbing around in Watford's reserve side.  Baardsen, who is a full Norwegian international, has not played a single first team game for Watford this season and can't even get a place on the bench.  Strange how promising careers can suddenly go into free-fall.

The match itself was really about the return from injury of Gus Poyet and Stephen Carr.  Both lasted 90 minutes and looked relatively comfortable.   Watford had Richard  Johnson and ex-Arse Stephen Hughes coming back  from injury. They also featured a second ex-Arse in Paulo Vernazza. 

The game itself was a snooze.  Like the majority of reserve fixtures there was much huffing and puffing in midfield, played to a soundtrack of unintelligible "technical" gibberish from the coaches, but very few goal-scoring chances.  

Rohan Ricketts stood out for Spurs.  He seems to have grown in stature and confidence as the season has progressed.  It may be that his recent upgrade to the first team bench has had a positive effect on confidence levels.  Ricketts was constantly demanding the ball and  making smart use of it when it arrived.  His skill level is high ... but there is always the nagging doubt the other mob did not consider him to be up to scratch ... 

The first chance of any description did not arrive until mid-way through the first half when a Godfrey header was comfortably held by Hirschfeld.  Shortly afterwards, the customary first half Spurs injury occurred and David Galbraith was replaced by Stephen Kelly.  Spurs registered their first corner on 34 minutes.  Diego Bortolozzo's kick was headed over by Gus.  It's odd that, despite the maestro Hoddle being in charge, both reserve and first team set-pieces have been so poor this season.  Acimovic's corners are pants and the Thatcher free-kick routine is a mystery to all.

Watford made two substitutions at half time.  Vernazza and Patterson replacing Hughes and Foley.  

On the hour Bortolozzo side-footed wide when he should have done better.  Two substitutions followed immediately with Blizzard replacing Johnson for the Hornets and Jamie Slabber replacing Chris Perry for Spurs. 

Gus squandered two half chances and Slabber hit the bar as the game began to open up in the last 15 minutes.  Blizzard headed past the post from a Watford free kick.  However, the best moment of the game came in the last minute when Hirschfeld made a blinding save.  Vernazza looked to have scored with a powerful header, but the Canadian keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar.

It would be nice to think that one day reserve games will be about a fit group of fringe players pushing hard for a first team place.  Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, that will not be possible as the sequence of returning "stars" is set to continue for the rest of 2002.  For as long as that situation remains these games will yield zero entertainment value and will simply take the form of glorified fitness tests.


Olive Branch

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