Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Coventry Reserves v Spurs Reserves - 22.08.2000
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Spurs Reserves v Coventry Reserves, 22.08.00

This very detailed report comes from Chris Fincham

Tues. August 22nd, 2000.

Coventry City Reserves 3, Tottenham Hotspur Reserves 0

Highfield Rd Stadium, Coventry.

Attendance: Approx 500

Admission: 2 (adults) 1 (Children), Free to season ticket holders.

Teamsheets: 5p

Teams:

Tottenham

1. Gavin Kelly
2. Ian Hillier
3. Johnnie Jackson
4. Simon Davies
5. Gary Doherty
6. Alton Thelwell
7. Ruel Fox
8. Mark Gower
9. Dave McEwan
10. Neale Fenn
11. Matthew Etherington

Substitutes

12. John Piercy
13. Jamie Attwell
14. Ciaran Toner
15. Yannick Kamanan
16. Maurizio Consorti

Coventry City: 1. Morten Hyldgaard
2. Richard Spong
3. Runar Normann
4. Lee Fowler
5. Muhamed Konjic
6. Calum Davenport
7. Laurent Delorge
8. Gavin Strachan
9. John Aloisi
10. Jay Boothroyd
11. Stephen McPhee

Substitutes

12. Aaron Shanahan
13. Gary Montgomery
14. Craig Strachan
15. Daniel Hall
16. Jason Ashby

Match Referee: G.J.Chapman
Assistant Referees: S.Bradshaw, A.Dewfield

This was to be a very disappointing night for us small band of Spurs supporters who made the short trip on a mils summers night to Highfield Rd, to see the Reserves in their first League game of the Season.

Accompanying me was my son Adam with his friends Barry and Jonathan, all resplendent in various replica Spurs shirts, all looking forward to seeing a team with a decent reputation with their all new Away kit, battling away in the hope that one day, they will be allowed to perform on the bigger stage. In truth, Spurs were out fought, out thought and altogether outclassed, by a much younger but enterprising home team, cheered on by a sparse support in an eerie like atmosphere in a Premiership stadium.

Spurs played with a flat back four comprising Doherty and Thelwell in the middle with Hillier and Jackson as fullbacks with a licence to go forward when the opportunity arose.

Midfield consisted of Etherington wide left, Fox on the right, Davies as playmaker with (Captain) Gower in a slightly more defensive role. Up front, Fenn was alongside McEwan.

Coventry played a similar formation with Gavin Strachan pulling the strings in the middle of the park, the giant Bosnian International Konjic at the back and the dangerous John Aloisi up front, all of whom have Premiership experience, but Spurs certainly looked good enough on paper.

These are the main moments of the game.....

5 mins. Dangerous low cross by Fox into the box, cleared by Konjic

8 mins. McEwan put through by Davies ending in a poor cross into the box, looking for Fenn

10 mins. Fenn nearly put McEwan in on goal but overhit the pass.

15 mins. Fox tries to thread an imaginative pass between 2 defenders for Fenn but too much weight on the pass.

McEwan and Fenn are finding it tough against the Coventry defenders and clearly have little hope of winning any aerial balls. However, Spurs started the more enterprising team without really looking threatening.

17 mins. Fenn is put through by Gower but has strayed offside, something he was to do consistently throughout the evening.

18 mins. Neat pass by Gower to Etherington (who's coming more into the game) but his tackled and Spurs win the first corner of the game. Gower's corner finds Doherty but his weak header is eventually cleared by the Coventry defence.

20 mins. In the best moment of the game so far, and in Coventry's first real attack, the impressive tall figure of Boothroyd shoots just over the bar from 30 yards which Kelly might otherwise had a problem in stopping.

21 mins. Etherington is put through by a neat angled ball from Davies and shoots from the angle of the box, only to see his effort go wide of the far post.

22 mins. McEwen fouled near the right hand angle of the box. Fox steps over the free kick, allowing Jackson to hit a curling left footer saved reasonably comfortably by the goalkeeper, Hyldgaard.

26 mins. Coventry respond with a low shot from Aloisi just past Kelly's left hand post.

28 mins. Etherington tackled near the corner flag when trying to go between 2 defenders, Spurs 2nd corner kick of the game which subsequently came to nothing.

29 mins. Etherington is obstructed. Gower's free kick finds the head of Fox, eight yards from goal butt ht effort went tamely wide.

30 mins. Kelly parries a low shot from Boothroyd but Aloisi beats Doherty to the rebound and slides an easy chance past Kelly from 5 yards out. Coventry 1, Spurs 0.

33 mins. Sparkling 30 yard run by Gower ends with a low, hard shot which cannons off the Coventry keeper's right hand post. A good effort which deserved a goal.

36 mins. Davies carelessly loses the ball just outside the Spurs penalty area, Aloisi latches onto it and coolly slots home his and Coventry's second with Kelly having no chance. Coventry 2 Spurs 0

38 mins. Etherington (easily our best and most enterprising player at this point) crosses low into the box for Fenn but the defender beats him to the ball.

41 mins. Gower is bundled off the ball by Fowler, the referee waves 'play on' and the Coventry player shoots just wide. (Gower was to lose the ball on numerous other occasions in this way)

42 mins. Blocked cross from Hillier leads to another Spurs corner kick which is subsequently wasted with a poor cross by Gower.

45 mins. Spong the Coventry right back is becoming increasingly frustrated and fouls Etherington just inside the Spurs half. Etherington receives treatment but carries on with an exaggerated limp until half time (I was surprised to see him reappear after half time)

Half Time. Kenco coffee for me and hot dogs for the lads. Brief entertainment provided by Coventry's cheerleaders, presumably hand picked for Reserve games, slightly podgier, uglier and out of step, but who am I to talk?

46 mins. Weak Doherty header meant for Thelwell is intercepted by McPhee on the corner of the left hand penalty area, who then proceeds to nonchalantly lob the ball over the advancing Kelly for Coventry's third goal. Coventry 3 Spurs 0.

From then on, it looked more like a damage limitation exercise by Spurs as they did not commit more men forward but seemed to lack confidence, particularly defensively and put more men behind the ball as a result. Problem was that this reduced our attacking options greatly and from then on, we were never likely to get back into the game.

47 mins. Spurs looking very square at the back and Coventry were playing short through balls for Aloisi to run on to. Hillier makes a last gasp tackle to deny another Coventry shot.

48 mins. Fox cuts in from the wing (first time he's looked any where near dangerous) and plays a short pass to Gower who was upended on the edge of the penalty area. Jackson takes a half decent free kick aiming low inside the near post but the Coventry goalkeeper makes a save. This was one of very few genuine Spurs attempts on the opponents goal and one of only 3 (think) that were on target.

53 mins. Davies crosses and Jackson makes a 'ghosting' run but couldn't keep his effort down.

55 mins. The totally ineffective McEwan (why did Spurs buy him?) is replaced by Piercy.

57 mins. Another poor clearing header by Doherty falls to McPhee who volleys a yard over the bar with Kelly beaten.(It's getting pretty embarrassing by now, the home support is really warming to it, while my younger guests disappear to buy more sweets).

60 mins. Gower loses possession which leads to a through ball for Aloisi who was again foiled by a last ditch tackle by Thelwell.

67 mins. Double substitution by Coventry, Hall for Normann and Strachan (this time, the younger brother Craig) for Aloisi who goes off to a rousing reception. Nice to see nepotism is alive and well in Coventry.

68 mins. Gower takes a free kick from inside his own half which is met on the volley by Doherty who hits row Z.

70 mins. Etherington goes on a long run but his cross his charged down for a corner kick which came to nothing.

71 mins. Fenn is put through by Fox but he hits a weak effort well wide.

72 mins. Fenn is replaced (not before time, I used to really rate this fella) by Kamanan.

75 mins. Free kick by Gower is cleared, but only to Piercy whose first time shot was well saved by the goalkeeper low to his left. Not sure it was going in though.

76 mins. Etherington gets his own back by fouling McPhee but the Coventry wastes a promising situation by shooting over.

83 mins. Toner replaces Gower (who, I fear is destined to be a Reserves player for the rest of his career)

86 mins. A curling shot by Strachan (senior brother variety) goes just over the bar.

90 mins. Strachan (junior brother variety) latches onto a poor pass by Toner and shoots low and hard to Kelly's left from just inside the angle, but sees his effort take the top 2 coats of paint of the outside of the post.

Summary. A bitterly disappointing night for Chris Hughton's start of a new campaign with very few encouraging aspects. Etherington and Davies again showed first team potential but it remains to be seen as to whether they are considered to be too lightweight for the Premiership.

Etherington ran his socks off tonight and clearly has an eye on the void left by Ginola. Davies had his work cut out in trying to deal with an enterprising Coventry side which minimised his attacking opportunities.

The biggest puzzle of all for me is why Spurs paid 1m for Doherty when he is clearly uncomfortable playing in defence against half decent attackers with some Premiership experience. His first team opportunity came briefly at the end of last season in an attacking role so why is now playing for the Reserves as a defender, not sure which is his best (or should I say worst?) position, to be honest.

Fenn and Fox went through the motions and I thought they both cut sad figures out there. With these performance and attitude, they will never regain a first team place in my opinion.

Difficult to form an opinion on Kelly who is not the tallest keeper in the world. He had little chance with any of the goals tonight and was playing behind a poor defence. If Ian Walker leaves, it will be interesting to see if Kelly is called up to the first team bench.

The others seem to be all very average players to me and from what little I've seen, will be personally surprised if any of them break through to a regular first team place. Maybe I just caught them on a (very) bad night?

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