FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
(at Broadhall Way, Stevenage)
MONDAY 10TH APRIL, 2006
SPURS RESERVES 1 (0) COVENTRY RESERVES 0 (0)
Referee: - Mr. G. Evetts
Attendance: - Est. 750
Spurs (4-4-2):- Forecast; Lewis (sub Davis, 77), Mills, Bunjevcevic (Capt.), Martin (sub McKie, 19); Marney, Ghaly, Huddlestone, Jackson; Barnard, Barcham
Subs not used: - Burch; Maghoma; Hamed
Booked: - Marney, Huddlestone, Barnard
Coventry (4-4-2):- Tuffey; Jones, Bains, Wall, Giddings (sub Davis, 46); Hildreth (sub Burtoft, 69), Thornton (Capt.), Ogarro, Lynch; McCrink (sub Lorougnon, 69), Reid
Subs not used: - Belford
Booked: - Thornton
John Jackson’s 58th minute piledriver ensured that the Champions of the Reserve League (South) achieved their 19th win from 25 games this season, before their celebrations could begin after the game, when almost the entire Reserve Team squad was presented with medals and a magnificent looking trophy in front of a healthy crowd at Stevenage tonight. Clive Allen got to hold aloft a trophy in Spurs colours for the first time, as he and skipper for tonight, Goran Bunjevcevic lifted the sparkling cup to deserved applause.
Coventry are our opposition for the last game of the season on 25th April, and bearing in mind they sit in fourth place in this league, and the fact that they were very combative throughout proceedings tonight, Spurs will have no easy task in the away fixture. It looked a little as if the Spurs team had more than half an eye on keeping fit for the play-off final against opposition yet to be decided. They will probably have to play against Man Utd, and I understand that the final will be away from White Hart Lane.
Partly though injuries to the likes of Kieran McKenna, Charlie Daniels and Charlie Lee, but also no doubt to give an outing to others, Clive Allen fielded an inexperienced defence, well-marshalled by Bunjevcevic, who has been a model pro, not only throughout this season, but throughout his stay at Tottenham. Bunjee on the pitch and Clive Allen in the technical area never miss a chance to give the players a part on the back for good work, thus assisting the motivation and development of their protégés.
Stuart Lewis had to play in the unfamiliar role of right back, and Leigh Mills returned to action following injury, beside Goran. Sadly, Joe Martin (watched by his Dad, Alvin) picked up a nasty ankle injury after only a quarter of an hour, and had to be replaced by another recuperating player – Marcel McKie. The midfield was more experienced of course, and Lee Barnard was partnered by Andy Barcham. Coventry had no qualms about getting stuck into Spurs, and their Captain, Kevin Thornton played with aggression that was mostly controlled. However, one or two of his team-mates such as Stuart Giddings succeeded in winding up their opponents, and allowed them little time to play their natural flowing football. What with flags and whistle, the game rarely had a chance to flow, and desperately needed a goal to liven up the entertainment.
Spurs strategy for a lot of the time was to spray long balls for Barcham, Marney and Barnard to chase, and for the most part, the Sky Blues’ defence held firm. Huddlestone’s short pass to Barnard on the right ended with the top-scoring striker cutting in, then trying a left-footed curler that just went wide of Tuffey’s right post. Spurs had plenty of scares at the back, the first of which came after three minutes, when Mills was beaten by Hildreth’s deep cross, and Lynch spurned the opportunity to score by firing across and in front of the goal. Ghaly hit a neat ball over the defence after 9 minutes, from which Marney should have scored but also hit wide.
It was a long time before any more meaningful action, and ten minutes before half time, Reid got behind the Spurs defence, and was not given offside. Tommy Forecast challenged the striker in the area, and the ball ran out of play as the Coventry striker was left in a heap. A goal-kick was given, where I would not have been surprised to have seen a penalty awarded. At the other end, Wall failed to control John Jackson’s cross, and Barnard pounced to try a first time shot, that went over the bar. Marney then got involved in a skirmish with Giddings. Marney got the booking, but Giddings was replaced at the interval.
Spurs survived another scare after 53 minutes, when Tommy Forecast could do nothing but make a short clearance of Lewis’s over-hit back pass. Hildreth hit the shot well over the bar. Five minutes later, Spurs took the lead from what might have been a training ground manoeuvre. Forecast took a free kick just outside his area. Barnard won the header, and Barcham touched the ball back to the advancing Jackson who hit a pearler of a shot with his right foot high into the keeper’s left corner. It was a goal similar to that scored by Jackson against West Ham a few weeks ago.
Ghaly stole the ball in the midfield and tried to tee up Marney, whose shot went agonisingly wide across the goalmouth. Coventry’s Reid hit the back of the Spurs net with a good shot, but luckily for us, it had passed outside the post and rebounded into the net! Bunjevcevic came to the near post to head Jackson’s corner, but was cleared for another corner, and Marney had another shot cleared in front of goal. Jamie Davis then replaced Lewis, and Marney reverted to right back. Spurs then played out the game with plenty of zip, not least because of Davis’s presence. This lad had settled in well when given the opportunity at this level, and has bags of genuine pace.
Barnard had a header land on the net from a corner, whilst at the other end Ogarro made a good run down the right before hitting a low cross which substitute Davis hit a little tamely at Forecast. Barcham might have made it 2-0 in the closing stages, when he met Jackson’s free kick, but headed into the ground and saw the ball bounce up onto the bar and out.
There was a brief interval before the presentation of medals to the squad and the trophy, before a brief parade along the main stand. It was great to see Jamie O’Hara amongst those receiving their medals. Jamie is currently on loan at Chesterfield, having been a stalwart of the reserve squad until January. The injured Daniels and McKenna were present, and even Joe Martin hobbled out on crutches to pick up his gong. I should also mention Charlie Lee, another regular, who got injured at Barnet when we beat Arsenal Reserves on their patch. A large number of players have played their part in this success, including senior players and youth members alike, but for me it has been the likes of Lee, McKenna, Daniels, O’Hara and Barnard who have been the real stalwarts of this campaign
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