FA PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
THURSDAY 21ST MARCH, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) ARSENAL 4 (1)
Referee:- F. Graham
Spurs (3-5-2):- Hirschfield; Doherty (sub O'Donoghue, 85), Thelwell (Capt), Quilter; Consorti, Toner, Clemence, Jackson, McKie (sub Sutton, 74); Kamanan (sub Ferguson, 65),Snee
Subs not used:- Jalal; Vedeux
Arsenal (4-4-2): Ashdown; Halls, Keown (Capt) (sub Oates, 71), Chilvers, Juan; Pennant, Ricketts, Svard, Thomas (sub Brown, 85); Jeffers (sub Aliadiere, 46), Osei-Kuffour
Subs not used:- Niedwzwiecki; Paulhino, Skulason (6 subs named)
The losing malaise seems to be running through the club at Tottenham currently. Back in early September, a very young Spurs reserve side lost 4-0 at Barnet to an Arsenal team featuring several first teamers, such as Bergkamp, Kanu, Parlour etc. One thought that with their Champions League commitment last night and the FA Cup quarter final replay this Saturday, that Arsenal would field a weakened side, and so they did, but they still ran out classy and convincing 4-1 winners at Broadhall Way, Stevenage in front of a crowd boosted by a strong Arsenal support.
Perhaps Spurs were fielding too many players returning from injury, such as Doherty, Clemence and under-18 international Johnnie Jackson, but I feel their greatest weakness was on the left of defence where novices Quilter and particularly Marcel McKie (playing his first reserve game) at left back suffered the penance of playing in Jermaine Pennant's territory. Pennant was certainly flying, and we must be grateful for the fact that he struggled at times to keep his feet in the mud, and charitably played the ball into touch on a few other occasions. He was the key to Arsenal's success, creating two and scoring the last goal of the night.
Arsenal fielded Keown, and Francis Jeffers, both of whom were substituted (after 71 minutes and at half time respectively). Thomas on the left wing was a Pennant clone in looks and talent, and sadly I have to report that there always seemed to be twice as many men in red to those in white wherever Spurs tried to play the ball. Too often Clemence settled for the easy ball, but showed in the second half what he could do with a few very good passes. Toner impressed at times, but overall, Spurs gave the ball away too cheaply, and struggled to even get possession.
The visitors showed their intentions early on as right back Halls made a run into the box, passed to Pennant who shot wide. Toner responded with a similar shot before he supplied a great ball down the right after 8 minutes for Snee to make his own, and to beat the keeper with a powerful rising shot. Spurs were fielding the Canadian keeper Lars Hirschfield (presumably on a trial), and he was getting plenty of work, and generally handling well, displaying confidence in his area. He had no chance however when Arsenal equalised after 22 minutes. Pennant raced through the centre into the box, passed to the left for Jeffers to hit a right foot shot past the keeper.
Ten minutes later, Jeffers was the supplier for Osei-Kuffour, who hit the side netting at the back post, then Pennant again got through before shooting across the goal and wide. After 35 minutes, a Jackson corner from the right reached Toner lurking outside the area on the left. Ciaron hit a typical pile driver that rattled a stanchion behind the goal. At the other end, Jeffers had a shot well blocked by Thelwell, but Osei-Kuffour was following up and Hirschfield held his shot well. An entertaining half came to an end with the scores level, but one team clearly on top.
Spurs could have taken a lead when Clemence found Snee with a glorious ball. George hit a powerful 25 yards shot, which the keeper stretched to save, and had to reach out for the ball at the second attempt. Almost immediately Arsenal took the lead as they attacked down the left, Ricketts' shot across goal may have gone wide, but got an unfortunate (for us) touch from Quilter to hit the net. Hirschfield started to lose his confidence, as he showed too much of the ball to Osei-Kuffour, but Doherty was on hand to block the goalbound shot.
Arsenal's lead was increased after 70 minutes, when Pennant cut inside McKie with ease and sent a clever ball to Osei-Kuffour, who hit a right foot goal to the far post. Clemence finally showed some great determination with a great run through the middle, before setting up Mauricio Consorti for a shot, which went wide across the target. Spurs were on the back foot for the rest of the game. Jackson had switched to left wing back, after McKie was replaced, but it could not prevent Pennant picking up a long ball from Ricketts (gifted by Thelwell) and to score with another right foot shot across the keeper.
It is a while since I have seen a Spurs team win, but at least I saw a goal tonight. I cannot see any of this side being in contention for a first team place just yet, and that includes Clemence, who must now be sniffing out a midfield slot.
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