WEDNESDAY 25TH JULY, 2001
PORTSMOUTH 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 (2)
Crouch, 10, 74
Rebrov, 52, 67
Referee:- S. Tomlin
Portsmouth (4-4-2):- Flahavan, Crowe, Vincent (Edinburgh, 68), Hiley
(Gnohere, 63), Moore, Miglioranzi (Harper, 56), Bradbury (Panopoulos,
68), O'Neil, Crouch, Quashie, Pitt (Brady, 56).
Spurs (3-5-2) First Half:- Sullivan; Doherty, Bunjevcevic, King; Carr, Davies, Freund, Anderton, Ziege; Sheringham, Iversen
Second half:- Sullivan; Perry, Doherty (sub Bunjevcevic, 79), King; Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Clemence, Poyet, Taricco; Rebrov, Ferdinand
Sub not used:- Gavin Kelly (GK)
I have seen a complaint on a Pompey web site to the effect that Spurs only sent a second rate team last time they played a friendly at Fratton park, to the disappointment of the home fans, who have been starved of top class football for so many years. Well, tonight, they can have no grievance, as they saw not one, but two high class sides wearing the lilywhite and blue. While England under-21 defender, Luke Young, was away signing for Charlton for a reported 3 million pounds, the remainder of the first team squad had an outing before taking a week's rest before playing at Reading next Wednesday.
Needless to say, with 7 goals to shout about, and with 3 ex-Spurs on show for the hosts (Crouch, Brady and Edinburgh), the sound of the "Pompey Chimes", this was a very entertaining way to spend a warm sunny evening in front of a bumper crowd, some of whom (me included) did not make it into the ground for the start of the game.
Portsmouth were totally out-classed in both halves, and the only thing they had to shout about was the two headed goals by lanky Peter Crouch. It was a shame to hear some Spurs fans calling him a Tottenham reject, but this young man has been transformed from a £60,000 sale to QPR this time last year to a million plus player this summer, and I suspect that most of the Spurs faithful did not follow his progress through the youth and reserve side. I for one was pleased to see him testing Bunjevcevic, Doherty and Perry to the full. None of the defence mastered him, and they will of course be facing a certain Niall Quinn in the forthcoming Premiership season. Late in the second half, Hoddle took the tiring Doherty off, and gave Bunjevcevic another go at Crouch, after the youngster had reduced the deficit to 5-2!
There was a subtle variation in the formation tonight, as the back three were spread wide across the park, and the wing-backs were pushed more forward than in previous outings. Ledley King would often take the defensive responsibilities at the far left, whilst Ziege would cut inside him to cover. Steffen Freund's role was to hold back whilst Anderton and Davies were given free reign to attack. Teddy looked sharper tonight, and has been used sparingly so far. It was Sheringham who gave Spurs the lead with another goal made by Carr, whose low cross threaded through the defence, allowing Teddy to hit a low right foot shot just inside the post the keeper's left.
A minute later, Portsmouth were level, as Crouch rose majestically at the back post to head back a right field cross across the goal beyond Sullivan. A clever pass from Bunjevcevic allowed Iversen to restore the lead. It was a straight ball from 35 yards out, into the area, and it looked as if it wouldn't make it to Steffen Iversen, but the Norwegian managed to get a delicate touch to guide the ball into the corner. Crouch was a threat again after 27 minutes, when he had a header tipped over by Neil Sullivan. The other main excitement in the first half was a good ball from Freund to Carr, who went on a typical run, before firing a low ball into the 6 yard box, that only just eluded Sheringham.
Overall, this was the most competitive game so far, and in a competition, there would have been several bookings on either side, as the ref administered verbal advice to the miscreants. Portsmouth introduced their new director of football at half time - Harry Redknapp, and their manager Graham Rix escaped most of the game without ritual abuse from the Spurs fans.
Stephen Clemence finished off the first of several fine second half moves, when Taricco pulled back a Rebrov cross, for Clemence to hit a strong left foot shot across the goalkeeper. 3 minutes later, Rebrov scored the first of a fine brace. A free kick was awarded just outside the area (foul on Sergei), which Les Ferdinand headed down, for Sergei to rifle home a right foot shot.
The game became punctuated by Pompey's substitutions, but Poyet had a good 1-2 with Rebrov, then missed the goal with his shot. Leonhardsen was lurking beyond the back post, and could only hit the side netting. Leo played right wing-back, and with the departure of Luke Young, there is a vacancy for full back cover again.
Clemence forced a good save from Flahavan, before Justin Edinburgh entered to generous applause from home and away support. A gorgeous build up of one touch passing football (plenty of that from Spurs tonight) featuring Clemence, Poyet, Leo, and finally a cross from Poyet on the right led to Sergei's second goal - this time a diving header. 5-1 to the visitors!
Spurs eased off the gas, and that second goal from Crouch again followed a cross from the right, headed back across the disgusted Sullivan. A man like Crouch needs a defender in front and behind him, and maybe one to nobble his ankles!
Due to my holiday, I shall be absent from the remaining friendly fixtures, and look forward to reading eye-witness accounts from Reading, Millwall, Luton, and the Bill Nicholson match on August 8th. "See" you on August 18th!
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