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Spurs Reserves v Ipswich Reserves, 29.04.02

FA PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
MONDAY 29TH APRIL, 2002
SPURS RESERVES 0 (0) IPSWICH RESERVES 0 (0)

Referee:- Mr N. Perkin

Attendance:- Est 400

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Hirschfield (sub Burch, 73); Kelly, Doherty, O'Donoghue; Snee, Leonhardsen, Redknapp (sub Marney, 80), Piercy (Capt), Jackson; Etherington, Sutton (sub Henry, 62)

Subs not used:- Hughes, Barnard

Ipswich (4-4-2):- Salmon; Artun, Miller (Capt), Brown (sub Beevers, 64), Snowdon; Ambrose, Nicholls, Bloomfield, Westlake; Naylor, Counago (sub Richards, 72)

Subs not used:- Price; Logan, Robinson

Booked:- Salmon (Dissent), Artun (Foul on Etherington)

Jamie Redknapp made an impressive appearance in his first competitive game for Spurs tonight, as the home side put the visitors' reserve league title hopes on hold with a fine all round performance in an entertaining 0-0 draw. Spurs youngsters were bolstered by the strength and experience of Gary Doherty, Oyvind Leonhardsen and the skill of Matthew Etherington as well as that of the debutant. Indeed Gary Doherty looked very sharp tonight, and played in defence for the first hour, then went up front, where he had a few good chances. The management team was present in force tonight, and Gary will be hoping for a game at Filbert Street in a bid to make a late impression on Mick McCarthy to get a trip to the World Cup.

Spurs played a 3-5-2, but at first it looked like Sutton was alone up front, with Etherington stationed on his left wing, and a fluid five across the middle to staunch Ipswich's attack. Redknapp started as the anchor in the middle, but later switched with John Piercy, whilst John Jackson seemed to have licence to roam left and right. Town's front two, Naylor and Counago, have plenty of Premiership games between them, and tested the back three to the full, with Doherty marshalling his young compatriots well.

Matthew Etherington looked sharp on the ball, with good close control, speed and the desire to pass his marker, coupled with a good degree of physical contact. Sadly, his final ball was often lacking, but he entertained all night. It was Etherington who provided the first moment of danger with a cross that defender Brown bravely headed over his bar from within the 6 yard box. After 12 minutes John Sutton tested the keeper with a good early shot from 25 yards. The best move of the game came after 38 minutes and nearly provided a goal for Redknapp. George Snee chipped over the defence to Sutton, who headed down for Jamie, whose first time shot went only just to the left of the post.

Redknapp is a Hoddle-esque player, sending good long passes from the back of the midfield, but also more able to win tackles and get stuck in. He is taller than I had thought, and hardly put a foot wrong tonight. I think we all recognise that if he can keep fit, he will be a great acquisition for us. Hirschfield had not had too much to do, apart from diving backwards to fend off a misjudged corner kick, but after Redknapp's chance, Lars made a great save from Ian Westlake, who had been put through on the left of the area by Richard Naylor.

The conditions were not great for football, with intermittent heavy showers of rain and hail, wind, and temperatures far colder than one expects in late April, but both sides gave it their all in the second half. Hirschfield is quite an enigma, as one minute he gifted a poor clearance to Naylor, who shot against the post from 20 yards, and then the next Hirschfield was stretching to make a great save from an Ambrose header, pushing the ball against the bar. John Sutton had a shot blocked after a goalmouth skirmish, before being replaced by defender Ronnie Henry, allowing Doherty to move up.

John Piercy had a low drive pushed round the corner by the keeper, and the pressure was on the visitors, who had their keeper booked for dissent, and right back Artun booked for one of a number of desperate tackles on Etherington. Redknapp had another shot on goal, when he curled a free kick from 25 yards just to the left of goal. Hirschfield had to be replaced by Burch due to a knock, and Jamie's last telling contribution was to thread a pass for Doherty, whose shot was just pushed wide by the keeper. Ron Henry was on hand to clear a Westlake header from just in front of goal, before the referee brought the night's proceedings and the Spurs Reserves' season to a close.

I believe that Ipswich have one more game in which to try and seal this league. They too will be back next season, even if their first team is relegated, due to the "parachute" system.

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