FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (South)
MONDAY 10TH 0CTOBER, 2005
SPURS RESERVES 0 (0) ARSENAL RESERVES 2 (0)
Referee: - Mr. L. Hodgson
Attendance: - 3,107
Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Riley, Lee, McKie (sub Maghoma, 46), Kelly (Capt.); Lewis (sub Martin, 80), McKenna, O’Hara, Daniels; Hamed (sub Dawkins, 87), Barnard
Subs not used: - Forecast; Archibald-Henville
Booked: - Lewis
Arsenal (4-4-2):- Alumunia; Gilbert, Kelly, Connolly (Capt.), Murphy; Cregg, Muamba, Song, Stokes; Bendtner, Lupoli
Subs not used: - Mannone; Simpson, Tracy, Efrem
Booked: - Cregg, Muamba, Connolly
Spurs lost their unbeaten record tonight in front of a bumper crowd at Broadhall Way of over 3,000, most of whom were probably Arsenal fans, making it more like an away game for the weakest Reserve team that Spurs have fielded this term to date. The rumours of Bergkamp and Pires playing tonight had been unfounded, but both sides were well and truly “up for it”, as no less than 6 on the Spurs side and 5 on the Arsenal side had featured in an end of season 7-1 rout to the home under 18 side at London Colney in April this year. Spurs had won the last Reserve encounter in the same month 4-3, so the rivalry between the players was as intense as the enmity between the opposing fans.
The only experience in the Spurs side was that of the second choice keeper, Cerny, and Stephen Kelly, starting at left back, whilst the Arsenal keeper was the only player with any notable first team appearances under his belt. Three of the Spurs side, Riley, Lewis and Hamed had played on Saturday in the under 18’s game. With so many players out on loan, and absentees due to International week, Clive Allen had a tough job finding a 16 man squad. In fairness, the opposition were probably in the same boat, and I do wonder sometimes if the management collude over the strength of side they will field in these games.
The rookie centre-half pairing of McKie and Lee performed quite heroically against the really speedy Lupoli (scorer of two goals in that last Reserve fixture), and the taller Bendtner – also a regular scorer. Cregg had a Pires-like role, where he was allowed plenty of freedom to come into the middle, and Chris Riley at right back, had his work cut out defending against the pace of Stokes. Riley worked well going forward, as did Stuart Lewis in only his second game at this level. McKenna and O’Hara battled hard in the middle, but Muamba is a Vieira-type player, partnering Alexandre Song – also powerfully built. It is a fact that at whatever level you see an Arsenal team, they not only seem to play with skill, but at a lightning pace too, thereby putting their opponents under great pressure. Spurs only managed to match their pace on occasions, but did have some good chances.
Charlie Lee was fortunate to escape an early booking with his block of Bendtner as he advanced upon the Spurs area, and after 6 minutes, Lupoli was through the defence, with Riley struggling to keep up with him. Riley did well to at least lead Lupoli out to a sharper angle on the left, from where he shot, and Cerny saved at the foot of his post. Spurs got a free kick after 17 minutes, when Lewis had been fouled. Jamie O’Hara floated in a long ball, Barnard flicked it on, and Stephen Kelly hit the side netting from the back post. Stokes got down the left flank after 26 minutes, with Lewis in tow, before Riley over-committed himself in the challenge, allowing Stokes a shot across the keeper, which went wide of the far post. Five minutes later, Cerny was down well to a header from a corner by one of the centre-backs. Spurs had a good move on 33 minutes, when Riley’s low ball reached Barnard, who turned it sideways to Hamed, hitting a good shot across the goal mouth. Spurs wanted a corner, but the referee waved their appeals away. The referee did a good job in a high action, fast-paced game in front of a bigger crowd than I expect he usually has to face.
Spurs might have gone a goal down two minutes before the break, when Charlie Lee was penalised for his desperate lunge on Stokes. Lupoli stepped up, but Cerny was down sharply to his left to make a great save, and allow the teams to go in level at the break.
Marcel McKie had taken a knock to the head shortly before half-time and did not re-appear. Maghoma replaced him, and Clive Allen had to re-shuffle his pack, as Kelly moved inside, and Charlie Daniels fell back to left back. Sadly, I feel that Kelly struggled with the pace of the Arsenal strikers too many times, and I think that McKie had been doing a great job in tandem with Charlie Lee. There was some desperate early defending for Spurs, as Lupoli threatened again, but five minutes into the half, Stuart Lewis tested Alumunia with a decent shot, after Lee Barnard and O’Hara had done well to hold the ball up and feed it back. Lewis then got booked after a skirmish with Muamba, before the game settled down again, and Spurs entered a period where they did match Arsenal’s speed of play. Maghoma and O’Hara fed Barnard, who had to take his shot quickly, but at least he got close.
Lewis did well to cross after 61 minutes, and young Radwan Hamed tried an audacious scissors kick that entertained the crowd. Hamed then got onto a good long ball, after Lee’s heroics at the back, before crossing for Barnard, whose first-time effort was over the bar. Sadly, the lead was conceded in the 68th minute, when Cregg slipped the ball to Bendtner, who left Kelly behind and got to the right side of the box, beating Cerny with a low shot in front of the ecstatic gooner-filled Buildbase stand.
Spurs tried to get even, with McKenna getting forward and having a shot after a 1-2 with Barnard, but Arsenal doubled their lead with just over ten minutes to go as a long free kick was headed on for an easy finish by Lupoli. If anything, the visitors came closest to scoring, especially with Lupoli’s late shot, saved well by Cerny diving to his right.
Spurs therefore lose ground on tonight’s opponents in the Reserve League. Our next fixture is away to West Ham, next Tuesday night.
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