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Match Reports
Watford Reserves v Spurs Reserves, 26.03.02

(at Vicarage Road)

Clemence (pen), 83

Attendance:- 415

Referee:- Mr K. Friend

Watford (4-4-2):- Lee; Neill, Ifil, Issa, Gibbs (sub Forde, 75); Wooter, Swonnell, Noble, Glass (sub Wright, 46); Foley, Norville (sub Godfrey, 78)

Subs not used:- Watson (GK); Mawer

Booked:- Wooter (dissent)

Spurs (3-5-2):- Hirschfield; Doherty, Thelwell (Capt), Quilter; Consorti (sub Perry, 90), Leonhardsen (sub Yeates, 60), Clemence, Jackson, Kamanan; Ferguson (sub Black, 73), Snee

Subs not used:- Jalal; Foster

Triallist goalkeeper Lars Hirschfield was outstanding for Spurs who defended well against a first half Watford onslaught, before settling down, and taking a late victory through a Stephen Clemence penalty, after Johnnie Jackson had been brought down by a late tackle. Hirschfield was really sharp and brought off a full repertoire of saves in front of a healthy gathering of 415, plus the watching John Gorman, Chris Hughton, and goalkeeping coach Hans Segers. Neil "Razor" Ruddock was also present, making assiduous notes as he seemed to be watching either Yannick Kamanan, or perhaps someone in the Watford back line.

Spurs played the now traditional 3-5-2, with Doherty on the right, Thelwell in the middle, and young Quilter on the left. Rather surprisingly, Yannick started as left wing back, and played well in that position, getting a few decent runs. It wasn't long before coach Colin Calderwood put Yannick up front, and withdrew George Snee to the midfield. In truth, Spurs struggled to create from the middle, with Snee and Jackson failing with their first touch a lot more than usual. Clemence and Leonhardsen played up to their usual standard, but Mauricio Consorti had an impressive game at right wing-back, sometimes rescuing Gary Doherty, whilst also making good headway down the right.

Watford switched their flank men, and Wooter would turn up on the left or right, as the mood seemed to take him! The home crowd gave a big welcome to veteran left back Nigel Gibbs, presumably returning from injury, and also fielded ex-Newcastle player Stephen Glass on the left wing, although he was replaced at half time by Nick Wright.It was midfielder David Noble who so nearly gave Watford an early lead with a free kick just outside the area, which hit the underside of the bar, bounced down, and rebounded out of danger off the un-knowing Hirschfield. Hirschfield knew very well what he was doing a couple of minutes later, when he was down sharply to his left to stop a Glass shot after a cross from the left.

Spurs nearly got off the mark after 11 minutes when Kamanan collected a long ball from Doherty, ran into the area, and hit a left foot shot just past the far post, with the keeper beaten. The play was very open and entertaining, and Quilter did well to force Foley out to a sharp angle on the right side of the area. Foley did manage to cut the ball back though, but Wooter shot over the bar. It seemed to be the story of Wooter's night, as he had a lot of good possession and positions, but failed to take his chances.

Jason Norville is a strong lad, and he got round Thelwell after 21 minutes, but shot across the goal and wide. Kamanan, still in his semi-defensive role, tried valiantly but failed to keep the ball just outside his area, and the ball fell to Wooter who shot on target, but Hirschfield was down sharply again. The next minute, Stephen Ferguson was beating the offside trap at the other end, and had a 1 on 1 against Lee, tried to measure his shot, which hit the far post, and was cleared.

Ferguson had another good chance, when Yannick got away down the left and sent a lovely cross just in front of the striker, who missed his kick embarrassingly in front of goal. Thelwell lost out on a long ball to Norville after 39 minutes, and Hirschfield was down well to save at the striker's feet. Leonhardsen made a penetrating run into the box, fed the ball to Consorti, who passed back to Clemence. His shot was on target, but saved by Lee. The play was straight back to Spurs end, as Norville hit a left foot shot that Hirschfield pushed round for a corner, then made a flying save from a header from the corner.

Having replaced Glass, Nick Wright made headway down the right flank, and got a cross to the near post where Foley turned and shot high across the target. Hirschfield had to stretch to flick the ball over the bar. There was a shaky moment for the Spurs defence, as Gary Doherty hit a weak header, and Wright hit a return header over the keeper, for Jackson to make a goal-line clearance. The keeper was then equal to Foley's header. Spurs defended well as a unit, and prevented most of the danger as the game progressed.

After 55 minutes, a Jackson corner ball reached Leo at the back of the area, but his snatched shot was over the bar. Clemence then gave Doherty a difficult ball 35 yards out, and Doherty could not control the ball which ran to Wooter, but luckily he put his shot wide in a 1 on 1 situation. Spurs were restricted to very young substitutes, and the first of those to get on was Mark Yeates. I believe this was his first appearance at this level. He normally plays in the under-17s, and was full of energy tonight. The Youth team are of course engaged in the Youth Cup semi-final at Goodison Park tomorrow night (Wednesday).

The Watford keeper did well to reach a Kamanan downward header from a Clemence corner, and a short while later Yannick stole the ball from Ifil near the left corner flag, putting a cross in for George Snee to hit a shot which was blocked in front of the target. Wooter had yet another chance go wide at the other end, before Jackson made his determined run into the box, and was brought down for an easy penalty decision for Mr Friend. Clemence calmly put the spot kick away. There was still time for Hirschfield to look sharp as he made a great save from substitute Godfrey - not knowing that an offside decision had already been made. Spurs held on, despite 5 minutes of added time, but Watford had looked less like scoring as the time went by.

The reserves next match is at Broadhall Way, Stevenage, at home to Chelsea, who they beat 3-0 earlier in the season, thanks to 2 goals from Kamanan, and one from Piercy.

(Try this URL for google search results on Canadian Goalkeeper Lars Hirschfield)

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