FA PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
MONDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER, 2001
ARSENAL RESERVES 4 (3) SPURS RESERVES 0 (0)
Kanu, 17, 33 (pen)
Referee:- Mr B. Baker
Attendance:- Est 1,000+
Arsenal (4-4-2):- Stack; Lauren (sub Oates, 46), Keown (Capt), Stepanovs, Upson (sub Chilvers, 77); Parlour, Inamoto, Grimandi, Sidwell; Bergkamp, Kanu
Subs not used:- Holloway; Barrett, Itonga
Booked:- Sidwell, Upson (both for fouls)
Spurs (4-4-2):- G. Kelly; Consorti, Henry, S. Kelly, Jackson; Barnard (sub Bowditch, 71), Sherwood, Piercy (Capt), Etherington; Ferguson (sub Marney, 80), Kamanan
Subs not used:- Jalal; Herron, Quilter
Booked:- Henry (foul)
This match was over as a competition from the moment Arsenal announced their squad, and then fielded a team featuring 6, arguably 7 established Premiership players, against a very young and inexperienced Spurs side who could only claim that Tim Sherwood was a regular first-teamer. In the circumstances the Spurs side did well to restrict the opposition to the same score-line as the fixture at Highbury last season. Played at Barnet's Underhill ground, in front of a healthy crowd, John Piercy elected to play uphill in the first half, and such was Spurs task to be throughout.
Spurs did in fact manage a relatively bright start, with Steve Ferguson forcing a corner after racing onto Johnnie Jackson's lofted ball. The youngsters even succeeded in closing down the opposition for a few brief minutes before the inevitable onslaught came. Kanu, who can't get into the first team at present, showed all the tricks in the book, and young Henry and Steven Kelly were challenged throughout by the big African, and Dennis Bergkamp, playing in his usual style from a deep position.
Kanu had an early shot over the target, before shooting wide under pressure from the two central defenders, after Bergkamp had put him in. It was Grimandi (getting plenty of stick from home fans) who pierced the defence for Bergkamp to beat the challenges on the left of goal, before firing home with his left foot. Very quickly, Bergkamp was onto a lofted ball, and Gavin Kelly saved well from his powerful shot. Bergkamp got a second chance, but the ball rocketed back into play off the bottom of the post. Keown was next to try his luck, heading over from a Bergkamp free kick on the left.
Kanu put the Gunners two up from close range, again deceiving Henry. Gavin Kelly got a touch, but the ball rolled into the net. Spurs could only muster the occasional chance, with too many of their team looking way out of their depth against this opposition. Even Sherwood could not make an impression, even being shoulder-barged off the ball by Inamoto, the Japanese import, obviously keen to impress the watching Mr Wenger.
Ferguson and Sherwood did have an exchange which gave Yannick Kamanan a snatched chance. He drove low and hard, but the goalie saved. From the following scramble, Matthew Etherington tried a long range chip, that went way beyond the post. Kanu scored his second from a penalty, conceded by Lee Barnard, tugging in the area. Spurs got a free kick on the edge of the area, when Stack handled illegally, but Sherwood hit this way over the bar. Spurs best chance fell again to Kamanan, waiting at the back post for Ferguson's deep cross, but sadly missing what could have been a spectacular volley altogether.
Spurs showed a bit more energy and fight at the start of the second half, and Upson was possibly lucky to escape with a yellow card, after he impeded Ferguson in front of goal, after the goalkeeper had lost out to Barnard, challenging hard. Arsenal Junior Steve Sidwell thrived against Consorti, and Gavin Kelly made super reflex save from the left winger, after he had beaten the defence again. Sidwell then crashed a shot against the bar with a rising shot after leaving Ronnie Henry behind. Henry is the grandson of the great Ron Henry, and learnt a lot from this game, actually gaining in confidence over the last quarter of the game.
Arsenal increased the score after 70 minutes, when Inamoto first skied a shot from a Bergkamp pass, but then made no mistake from the edge of the box, when Kanu pulled the ball back for him. Ferguson took too long in a one on one situation before being replaced by Dean Marney - yet another novice. Matthew Etherington was starting to get some change out of the substitute right back, Oates, and the best he did was to fire a powerful cross/shot across the goal, and past the post. Gavin Kelly was forced into dynamic action before the end reacting well to a Bergkamp rocket shot.
Also in attendance tonight were Glenn Hoddle, John Gorman, Chris Hughton, and Teddy Sheringham with young Charlie in tow, no doubt being weaned off Man Utd. Mick Harford was again present, and one wonders who Luton are interested in now?
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