FA PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
TUESDAY 16TH APRIL, 2002
SPURS RESERVES 1 (0) DERBY RESERVES 2 (1)
Referee:- Mr J. Singh
Spurs (4-4-2):- Hirschfield; Bowditch, Henry, O'Donoghue, Taricco; Piercy (sub Marney, 79), Clemence (Capt.), Snee, Jackson; Ferguson, Armstrong (sub Barnard, 66)
Subs not used:- Burch; Hughes, Galbraith
Derby (4-4-2):- Foletti; Mills, Mawene, Elliott, Hunt; Twigg, Bolder, Evatt, McArdle; Tudgay, O'Halloran
Subs not used:- Freeman; Weckstrom, McKeown, Molloy, Ducrocq
Booked:- Twigg, Evatt, Elliott
This was a game which had little to distinguish itself until the closing stages, when, first, Spurs equalised thanks to a magnificent and determined run from Johnnie Jackson into the area, and a finish from Ferguson, but Derby scored a last minute winner with a header that Lars Hirschfield should have reached. At the end of the day, the big difference between the two sides is that Derby have probably played as a unit throughout the season, explaining why they are still challenging Arsenal for the reserve league title, whereas Spurs have spent the season fielding returning crocks, and had to field youth team players rather than peripheral first teamers who have just not been available through injury.
Mauricio Taricco made a welcome return to action, after his five match suspension, and will probably be required at Bolton on Saturday due to Ziege's injury.Chris Armstrong played just over the hour, making little headway, and will probably just reach match fitness in time for his release at the end of the season. Ben Bowditch played in an unfamiliar right back role, and Ronnie Henry and Paul O'Donoghue formed a young central defensive pairing. John Piercy also returned to the fold, and has been absent for much of the time recently (I believe through injury). It was left to Stephen Clemence to provide the experience in the middle, but Johnnie Jackson, beside him, played the starring role for Spurs, especially in the second half, when Taricco got forward, whilst Jackson was the engine that led to our comeback.
Neither goalkeeper had much to do in the first half, as the game was very tight in the middle of the park. The visitors did have us on the back foot for much of the time though, and took an early lead when their big centre half Elliott headed home a corner from the right. Hirschfield did get a touch, but not enough, and to be honest it illustrated his efforts on the night, as his handling was not convincing. He has definitely had an "in and out" time during his loan spell.
Jackson forced a great save from Foletti, after Clemence side-footed to him to hit a powerful shot towards the top of the net. The keeper just managed to tip the ball over the bar. Spurs had another scare when Hirschfield failed to hold a cross by O'Halloran, then from the corner, Elliott hit a low shot, which our keeper could not hold, having to rely upon his defence to clear the ball.
Spurs looked keener after the break, and Armstrong did put a great ball through releasing Ferguson who got into the 6 yard box, but had his shot blocked for a corner. With fifteen minutes to go, a Derby pile-driver of a shot bounced across the goal after hitting the post, with Hirschfield knowing little about the ball (or those around him for that matter!). Taricco received a great ball on the left, passed back for Snee, whose pass to Jackson was skewed to Ferguson, who hit a great shot, but was deflected for a corner. Then with 6 minutes to go, John Jackson made a great powerful, determined run into the box, going left and right, forcing the keeper to commit himself. Jackson shot beyond the keeper across goal, and Ferguson was on hand to finish off.
It looked as if Spurs were going to get a draw which they deserved on their second half efforts, but then Hirschfield again failed to get enough on the ball when Tudgay headed the ball in from a cross from the right. The keeper looked a little too far off his line for my liking, and is a little on the short side. Judging by the way Derby celebrated this winner, they must still be in the reserve title race, and of course, even if their senior counterparts get relegated, the reserves will stay in the Premier Reserve league for two years by virtue of the "parachute" arrangement, so we will see them again.
Glenn Hoddle made it to the game, after all the excitement today with the Redknapp signing, and must have been impressed with Jackson. If I had my way, he would get a chance at least on the first team bench before the end of the season - and why not give him a full appearance?
Spurs have one more official reserve fixture, at home to Ipswich on Monday 29th April.
It was great to see the most committed Spurs fan of the night - Haruldur from Iceland, who is hoping to take in a game at Spurs Lodge this Saturday, before the Liverpool game on 27th April. Ray Lo also joined us. Maybe a picture or two will be available soon!
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