Another detailed report, exclusively for Spurs Odyssey, comes from Jonathan Adelman. Thanks very much Jon!
SATURDAY 4TH AUGUST, 2001
MILLWALL 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Spurs (3-5-2):-1 Sullivan,2 Perry,3 Taricco,4 King,5 Bunjevcevic,6 Clemence,7 Leonhardsen,8 Sherwood,9 Davies,10 Iversen,11 Rebrov (Ferdinand 46)
Millwall:-1 Warner,2 Neill,3 Ryan,4 Cahill,5 Nethercott,6 Dyche,7 Ifill,8 Livermore,9 Sadlier,10 Reid,11 Bull
(Keith "Rhino" Stevens, whose testimonial it was played the first couple of minutes as No. 6 - other subs were used but I do not know who came on for who!)
This may have been billed as a pre-season friendly and although it was
certainly a pre-season game there was nothing friendly about it either on or
off the pitch. For those that have not had the misfortune of travelling to
the New Den before, it is located in the midst of train tracks and scrap
yards and a nice neat stadium like the New Den does not deserve either its
surroundings or its disgusting "fans".
It was interesting to see the shape and make up of what was ostensibly our
2nd XI. Only Sullivan, Bunjevcevic, King and Rebrov were retained from the
team that whipped Reading on Wednesday. We kept a 3-5-2 formation although
Rebrov played much further up with his partner, this time Iversen. Leo
played as the right wing back with Taricco on the left. They generally did
okay but as the game wore on Leo was out of position too often and Taricco was
skinned once and another time had to blatantly hack down a striker from
behind with a tackle which may well have earned a red card in a
"competitive" fixture. Having said that Morry was on the receiving end of
some of the more agricultural challenges dished out by the Millwall team.
Generally I felt that Bunjee had a good game, I had worried from previous
games that he would struggle against physical opponents but he proved adept
at that side of things although as a unit we did not deal with the aerial
threat of Millwall as well as we should have. The lack of Doherty, Ziege,
Poyet and Teddy exposed a weakness to crosses and I suspect that any
defender we do sign will be one who is dominant in the air.
My man of the match was Davies, he was at the heart of everything good that
we produced and he was always so lively and creative. What a talent we have
on our hands. As early as the 10th minute he engineered a move which at one
stage saw us with a 3 on 1 break but the final ball to Rebrov was misplaced
and Sergei could only skew his effort over the bar. Ten minutes later
Davies again spun away from his marker carried the ball at pace and released
Leonhardsen down the right, his cross looked too deep but Iversen strained
his neck beyond the far post to divert the ball back to the danger area
where Rebrov seemed to turn and volley in one movement and the ball was
buried beyond Warner to make it 1-0.
Spurs at this stage had all the quality possession and only a couple of too laid back moments from King gave
any hint that Millwall were able to do anything other than hack away at
their more skillful opponents. Iversen missed a good opportunity when Rebrov
put him clean through and Millwall's best chance of the half was a decent 30
yard free kick that went over the bar with Sully having it well covered.
Rebrov, who had been the victim of some truly nasty challenges from
Nethercott in particular and who had lengthy treatment from one such
"tackle" was replaced at half time by Les Ferdinand who looked very sharp. The combination with Iversen worked reasonably well. To my knowledge it was the first time we have played the two "front men" together during
pre-season, although in truth Iversen was a peripheral figure most of the
game. He seems so reactive as opposed to proactive and so is hardly ever
alive to possible passes from team mates. He rarely attacks the ball when it
is played to him and is therefore dispossessed easily by his markers. He
needs to sharpen up his act or face the season on the bench.
The same could be said for Sherwood who was poor, and responsible for the majority
of our misplaced passes. Anyway Les made an almost immediate impact when
Davies played a super through ball between two defenders and Les raced on to
it drew the keeper and very calmly rolled the ball inside the near post - a
For the next 20 minutes we played almost exhibition football with Millwall rarely touching the ball, we were perhaps guilty of over elaboration and we tried neat flicks and one-twos as we approached the
Millwall area. Davies and Les were involved in a neat move from which Davies
set Iversen free but his chip over Warner was cleared off the line. This
seemed to spark Millwall in to action and the appearance of their sub
Savarese was a catalyst for a succession of long balls into the Spurs box. Sullivan had claimed these with ease until the 64th minute when he tried to claim a catch beyond the far post and seemed to me to be shoved by Sadlier
and Nethercott pounced on the ball when it came loose from Sully's grasp to pull one back for the Lions.
Millwall then penned us back with lots of shots and crosses and although
there were some scares with Savarese heading a corner wide from deep inside
the box and Sully forced in to a great save from Neill. From the resulting
corner Cahill hit the bar with another header.
Spurs weathered the storm and broke with regularity but without the required
penetration and one move involved Bunjee storming forward and playing a great
one-two with Les who shot straight at Harper. Millwall responded with more
pressure and Cahill probably should have scored with a free header from 15
yards which Leo scrambled away and our Norseman repeated the trick a few
moments later from Nethercott.
I mentioned before our weakness in the air without several of our taller
players but it was noticeable that even under pressure the response was not
to belt the ball aimlessly but to try and pass our way out of defence and
retain possession which for the most part we did. I wouldn't let a
difficult 20 minute spell at the end of a game which we dominated cloud
another decent performance against a team who will be no less physical than
any we come up against in Premier League action. It was a good work out and
I believe a deserved win, quality outshone endeavor on Saturday, maybe
George Graham should have been there to see it.
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