valiant effort

Spurs Under 17's v Charlton Athletic  -  3.11.2001

A bright autumn morning awaited a large gathering of about 50 for the Under-17's local derby against their South London rivals Charlton Athletic.

Spurs lined up without top scorer Jamie Slabber, who has specialised in scoring in twos this season, but did have Michael Malcolm in the team, as well as Lee Barnett in midfield and Danny Foster in defence.

The game kicked off with Charlton attacking the Spurs goal from the start, with a full back getting on the end of a cross within 20 seconds of the first whistle.  Luckily, it flew way over the Spurs bar.  The game settled down to a more sedate pace and the heavy dew on the grass made the ball hold up rather than speed off it, causing difficulty in putting moves together.  Charlton favoured the longer ball approach, while Spurs tried to build by passing the ball across the width of the pitch.

The home side's first chance came in the 14th minute, when a corner  eluded the keeper, who came for the cross, leaving a low drive from Nicky Wettner to be blocked in the six yard box.  About five minutes after this, there was a lengthy stoppage when Yeates was clobbered in the air by a visiting defender and required treatment for a blow to the head.  The injury seemed to break Spurs' concentration and from a left wing cross, the ball fell to Ritat, the Charlton right back on the edge of the area and he hit a shot high to Rutherford's left hand side.  The goal was against the run of play and gave Spurs a reminder of what was needed in the match.

Daniel Perry hit a free-kick in the direction of Malcolm and his instinctive shot came off the back of the post and went behind in the 22nd minute.  A patchy spell of play followed, where the visitors tried to pass the ball short, but only found the sidelines.  In the 32nd minute, Mario Noto got away on the right wing and swung over a low cross.  As Michael Malcolm went in for it, the keeper blocked his effort and the ball bounced out to Jonathan Black, who had the same misfortune with his effort.  However, this time the ball went to Mark Yeates on the edge of the box and his low shot found the bottom right corner of the net to bring the scores level.

Spurs still had to be on their toes though, as a quick free-kick at the end of the half brought David Tyrie into action and his cleverly took the ball away from the Charlton striker to prevent a break-away and eventually frustrated his opponent with good skill that he was fouled.  Almost immediately, a long ball down the left was aimed towards Malcolm, who let the ball run across him, selling his marker easily.  He showed a quick turn of pace as he ran away down the line and crossed for the on-running Lee Barnett to smash a volley against the bar.  It was the last action of a satisfactory first half for Tottenham, who seemed set to go on in the second half to a decent victory.

That didn't happen though. For a couple of reasons, namely some poor finishing and some more spirited Charlton play, which never really threatened to get them back into the game, but made it more difficult  for Spurs.  They mounted some attacks, but the final ball was almost always lacking.

Whereas, Spurs made an enterprising start to the second half, when eight minutes in, a cross came in and Malcolm was thwarted by a defender, as he was for the first goal.  Again, the ball rebounded away, this time to Barnett on the edge of the box and he fired it straight back past the defence and the keeper.  This prompted a spell of tough tackles in which Charlton felt they were being hard done by and their coach could be heard moaning away about the referee from the other side of the pitch.  Penfold, the Charlton centre half, was also unimpressed by the main official and whinged non-stop; at one stage I thought he was going to cry, as he was so distraught about not getting a free-kick or seven.

The twenty minutes after the goal saw little goalmouth action, then Yeates broke away and had a chance to go around the goalie, which he did, but he could not direct his shot into the goal, only the side-netting.  With 12 minutes left, Charlton had their best chance of the half, as Rutherford didn't get to a corner and the ball bounced for Dalton, the Charlton defender, who couldn't direct the ball goalwards. He knocked it across, it was headed on and blocked before the same player blasted over the bar.  Rutherford needed some treatment after this incident and Barnett had required the physio's aid when he was clattered in midfield a few minutes before.

On 36 minutes, Wettner gave the ball away in his own half, leaving Charlton's winger - Evans - a free run on goal, but he lashed his chance wide and high.  Spurs hit back straight away with a left wing free-kick missed by everyone in the box and Owen Price, just on as a substitute, hit his shot into the side netting with the goal gaping.  Into added time, a Charlton corner was the cause of a scramble in the Spurs box, but the resulting shot went over, while Spurs had one last attack, when Price broke away on the right wing.  His low cross in to Malcolm didn't get a proper connection from the Tottenham forward and the ball slid off his foot for a goal-kick.

Overall, it was a good performance without the goal-grabber Slabber, but there were enough promising showings for hope for the rest of the season.  Foster was calm at the back and happy to bring the ball forward, while his partner Tyrie showed good strength and composure on the ball.  Both full backs Perry and Dobson made forward runs on the wings and were quick to get back and tackle.  In midfield, Black was a dynamo and created a few good opportunities, while Barnett alongside him was a dominant presence.  He seems to have a shrewd awareness of the game and arrived just when he was needed, wherever it was on the pitch.  Nicky Wettner looked a tricky winger and created a few panics in the Charlton defence, also getting into a verbal spat with a Charlton defender, who kicked the ball out of his hands, just as he picked it up for a throw in.

Mark Yeates also looked to have a great appetite for the game and ran the whole match, closing down and making himself available for the ball.  This was something that Michael Malcolm did and he had the look of Michael Owen about him as he ran along the back-line to get a break on his markers.  He showed excellent skill, good pace and an awareness of where the goal was.  I can see why Spurs spent 100,000 on him as a 14 year old.  On the right wing, Mario Noto is a strongly built youngster and he has the ability to put in good crosses, causing difficulties for opponents with his pace too.  He could be a very good player too.

Joe Watson came on as a sub, but had little chance to shine, as did the other young star in the Academy - Owen Price.  Short and strong, he showed a few short glimpses that he has the ability to take him much further with time and more opportunities in the side.

It was not difficult to see how they are top of their league, as the bigger boys of Charlton could not muscle them out of their pattern of play and they ran out comfortable winners, although the scoreline did not reflect that.

By the end of the game, there was a few notable faces in the crowd, appreciating the win. Colin Calderwood had been training some youngsters and came over to observe, along with John Gorman, who had been with the first team at their last session prior to the trip to Leeds.  Kit man Roy Reyland, who has always been a keen supporter of the youth sides, watched on and Terry Dyson, the Sixties winger, was present to act as an observer for the Premier League.  Maybe some day, a few of the players on show might attain the achievements of some of these on-lookers.

Spurs : - Paul Rutherford; Daniel Perry, Danny Foster, David Tyrie, Ricky Dobson; Nicky Wettner, Jonathan Black (Joe Watson) 81, Lee Barnett, Mario Noto; Michael Malcolm, Mark Yeates (Owen Price 81)
Subs not used : - Nicky Eyre, David Hicks.

Charlton Athletic : - Delo; Ritat, Penfold, Ricketts, Ashton; Dalton, Evans, Savage, Varney; Tucker, Ndome.
Subs : - Rhodes, Ombyje, Frempona


Click here for some action photos of the match.

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