stuck down

FA Youth Cup Semi-final second leg 
Spurs Youth v Everton Youth  -  White Hart Lane  -  03.04.2002

Coming into the second leg of the semi-final 1-2 down from the game at Goodison, Spurs really had to chase it from the start.

Maybe this explained the direct approach they adopted, but by the time they had found their form, they were a further two goals down and it could have been more.

The lively lads of Everton took the initiative early on and lanky striker Symes was put clear through, but lamely hit a shot high over when he only had Burch to beat.  The respite didn't last for long as a Spurs defender had to keep out a fierce over-head volley from the highly rated youngster Rooney, as it looked like it would sneak inside the post.

He was to get the ball into the net in the eleventh minute though, when he received the ball on the edge of the box and turned expertly around his man, before slipping the ball beneath Burch.  It was an exquisitely taken goal.  One which he could have added to shortly after when a cross to the far post from the left at the Paxton Road end found his head, but from a yard out he headed over the angle of the goal, when it looked easier to score.

Everton were playing some fluid football, while Spurs struggle to put together any decent moves.  The ball forward to Sutton was employed too often and he was getting little change out of the formidable Schumacher in the heart of the Toffees defence.

Marcel McKie was adjudged to have fouled an Everton man about 30 yards out and Rooney ran up to hit the free-kick goalwards.  He was a bit hopeful, as his kick hit the one man wall and it looked as though the danger was over.  However, he hit the rebound first time and it shot past Rob Burch into the net about three feet off the ground all the way.  It was a truly powerfully struck shot that stunned everyone except the large Everton contingent among the crowd.

So, half an hour gone and 1-4 down on aggregate.  Spurs were still struggling, but towards the end of the half, they started to put together some passes and earned a corner, which was landed on Ronnie Henry's head.  It was heading goalwards, but hit Symes and flew just over the goal.  Just on half-time another corner caused consternation in the visitor's defence and Mark Hughes diving low, headed the ball about a yard wide with the goal at his mercy.

In the second half, Everton rarely threatened.  Rooney was the main danger as he hit the side netting with one effort and forced Burch to dive at his feet to end a mazy run, which put his off sufficiently to miss.  The only other moment of panic came right near the end, when Rooney again darted into the box and dived over Burch's block.  It was a blatant attempt to win a penalty, which spoiled his performance somewhat.  Symes was also guilty of what they call simulation, but the ref was determined to keep his match report short by not booking anyone.

As for Spurs, they still plugged away with Hughes industrious in midfield, while Henry and O'Donoghue tied up the defence well.  When Galbraith was brought on, Tottenham were given some width and he was the target of a number of passes to open out the Everton defence.  This gave Tottenham some impetus and Lee Barnard had a couple of chances - one a well directed long shot that just flew over and another a header that went wide, while Marney had also driven over form long range too.  The introduction of Ben Bowditch and Michael Malcolm finally added some class to the Spurs side.  Bowditch kept things moving in midfield and managed to get his head to Stephen Kelly's right wing cross to divert it across the goalkeeper and two defenders on the line and into the net. 

There followed a period of four minutes injury time, which allowed Spurs to attack some more, but they were unable to breach the Everton back line again and they go through to the final as worthy winners.  They controlled the game and looked the better side for the majority of the match.  Tottenham had gone a long way in this competition, but had met a very good side and not truly performed to the best of their ability over the two legs.

Few players really stood out on this night, but there will be more opportunities for some of them next year, while others will move up to the reserve squad for next season.  But with the Under-17 play off match on Saturday, the next big match soon comes around.

Spurs: Rob Burch, Stephen Kelly, Ronnie Henry, Paul O'Donoghue, Marcel McKie; Mark Hughes, Dean Marney (Michael Malcolm 78), Lee Barnett (Ben Bowditch 65), Nicky Wettner (David Galbraith 52); John Sutton, Lee Barnard.
Unused subs: -  Paul Rutherford, Mario Noto

Everton: Pettinger; Moogan, Crowder, Schumacher, Gardside (Flood 80); Moogan, Brown, Beck (Colbeck 75), Carney; Symes, Rooney.
Unused subs: -  Cole, Jones, Gerrard

Marco van Hip

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