TUESDAY 10TH OCTOBER, 2000
STEVENAGE BOROUGH 0 (0) SPURS XI 3 (1)
Clemence (pen), 26
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Stevenage (4-4-2) First Half:- Wilkerson; Miller, Ayres, Trott, Kirby; Martin, Metcalfe, McMahon, Clarke; Leadbeater, Pearson
Second half:- Taylor; Wraight, Okpala, Trott, Duckett; Dour, Dyer, Fowler (sub Miller, 68), Randall; Illman, Armstrong
Spurs (4-4-2):- Kelly; Shay Campbell (sub Consorti, 83), Hillier (Capt.) (sub Saker, 83), Gardner, Lacy; Piercy (sub Norbert, 71), King, Clemence, Dominguez (sub Etherington, 46); Korsten (sub McEwen, 83), Armstrong (sub Kamanan, 54)
Stevenage are celebrating their 25th season in their current incarnation, and Spurs were happy to accept the invitation to fill the bill for the hosts second friendly encounter of the season against top opposition.(I believe Aston Villa visited pre-season) It would seem that the locals had worked out that the visitors would not be sending many top line players, as a moderate crowd turned out. It was a cold, wet and miserable night though. Spurs took a while to get into their stride, but after surviving one or two scares inspired by Dean Martin, they settled down to dominate the play, as of course they should. The scoreline could have been greater, as both Piercy and Armstrong hit the woodwork, and Kamanan had two "goals" disallowed, after he replaced a sharp looking Chris Armstrong.
Willem Korsten was a big disappointment to me, as he seemed to be in his "lazy" mode, but in the end he redeemed himself with the goal of the night to cap a convincing win. There was a Campbell in the Spurs defence, but it was a youngster I have not heard of - Shay Campbell, who played at right back. I can't even find him in the handbook, so I wait to be advised by more knowledgeable observers. The other full back was third year trainee Neil Lacy, who grew in confidence and stature, and impressed me in the second half, in all areas of his play. Lacy had to try and quell the challenge of Martin, who plays on the right wing for Borough, but was obviously given more freedom in the second half, as Stevenage fielded a totally different, and probably their second team.
Chris Hughton rang the changes, and played Captain Ian Hillier in the middle alongside the returning Anthony Gardner. I have never seen Hillier in this position, and he too impressed, particularly with two fine saving tackles when Leadbeater was put in by Martin's crosses. For me though, Spurs man of the match was Ledley King, playing in the central midfield. In the second half, King sprayed many long balls for his forwards, and he was always on top of things in the middle. Clemence too played well.
Ian Hillier got forward and had an early shot from a free kick, which went just wide, and then Spurs had their first scare as Leadbeater's shot was deflected after good work by Martin. In truth this should have been a corner, but local Premiership referee Halsey missed the defender's touch. Armstrong was put through by a Piercy ball, but had his low shot saved in the one on one with Wilkerson. After 22 minutes, Martin picked up a half clearance from Gardner, and belted down the inside left channel. Gavin Kelly parried his first shot, and then Martin put the rebound over the bar. Stevenage should have had a lead by now, but this was the spark needed to get the Spurs going.
Spurs took the lead after 26 minutes, when Clemence converted an easy penalty decision after Armo had been brought down. King passed to Dominguez after a powerful run through the middle, and Jose's cross beyond the back post, was fired back by Piercy, but hit the post. Chris Armstrong then hit the underside of the bar, after a good build up through the middle, and the goalkeeper managed to retrieve the ball safely.
Matthew Etherington replaced Dominguez at half time. I think Jose took a heavy knock in the first session. Etherington flitted between the left wing, and the inside left, where he was at his most effective, setting up many opportunities. Sharp passing from King and Piercy led to another Armstrong shot being saved before Chris was replaced by Yannick Kamanan. Straight away, Yannick had two efforts disallowed from King through balls. In fairness the whistle had gone for offside before he put the first in, but he was unlucky to have been adjudged to foul a defender, when converting a second chance. Another penalty to Spurs may have ensued, if Kamanan had not tried to stay on his feet.
The lead was increased after 62 minutes, when Piercy cracked home a superb ball from Etherington from the edge of the box. Almost immediately, Piercy was through in another one on one situation, but the goalie made the save this time. The lethargic Korsten fumbled his attempt to finish when he was set up by Etherington and Kamanan, but then he scored the best goal, with a solo run through the middle, beating two defenders and chipping the keeper.
Stevenage did have enough moments in the second half to keep the home crowd interested, but Kelly was equal to anything sent his way. Presumably he will be the substitute keeper at Coventry this week-end, as I think Neil Sullivan will be serving his one match suspension then. I understand that Darren Anderton was in attendance tonight, but obviously not in a playing capacity. Stevenage are once again managed by Paul Fairclough who lead them to their moment of "glory" in the FA Cup tie against Newcastle a couple of years ago. However, they lay mid-table in the Vauxhall Conference and seem unlikely to challenge for any honours this season.
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