FA PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
TUESDAY 26TH FEBRUARY, 2002
(at Upton park)
WEST HAM UNITED 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)
West Ham scorers:-
Referee:- M. Thorpe
Attendance:- Est 400
West Ham (4-4-2):- Forde; Johnson, Potts (Capt), Iriekpen, Soma; Newton, McCann, Byrne, Courtois (sub Britton, 78); Riza, Camara
Subs not used:- Bywater; Ferrante, Eastwood, Dean
Booked:- Iriekpen (foul), Camara (Dissent)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Kelly; Consorti, Thelwell (Capt), O'Donoghue, Gardner; Toner, Clemence (sub Snee, 59), Leonhardsen, Etherington; Barnard (sub Kamanan, 46), Rebrov
Subs not used:- Burch; Henry; Hughes
Booked:- O'Donoghue (foul), Kamanan (Dissent)
Northern Ireland Under-21 international Grant McCann scored a cracking late winner for the Hammers tonight with just three minutes of the match left, to take their team level on points with Spurs in the top half of the Reserve League. After Spurs had taken an early lead in this strongly competed and entertaining game, it looked as if their might be a goal rout, as neither team looked in the mood for a dour defensive strategy. However, whilst Matty Etherington had been on fire in the early stages, and Spurs looked a real threat, the Irons soon closed down Spurs midfielders, and had numerous chances to take the lead before finally clinching the game.
Spurs fielded a slightly stronger reserve side than of late, and yet still there were 2 under-19s in the starting line-up, and three more on the bench. There was no sign of usual skipper John Piercy, and Alton Thelwell took the reins. Anthony Gardner played at left back to continue his recovery from injury, and Ciaron Toner made a welcome return from his loan spell with Peterborough, which also included a period of injury. West Ham were led by the veteran centre back, Steve Potts, and Titi Camara was a notable inclusion up front.
In front of a vocifierous home crowd of several hundred, The Hammers had an early chance as Newton raced down the right, passing to Byrne who raced around O'Donoghue, who had a bit of a struggle at this level tonight. Byrne crossed but Courtois headed a good chance over the bar. Etherington was giving right back Johnson a blistering test, and Sergei Rebrov had an early shot well blocked. All the early Spurs attacks came via Etherington, as even Toner tended to play towards the centre of midfield with Clemence and Leonhardsen, leaving Consorti to lead down the right. Barnard shows great promise, and physical strength, and was probably replaced by Kamanan at half-time more for a rest than through any perceived deficiency. Barnard was playing his third game in 7 days, having scored a cracking winner at Coventry for the reserves last week, and then playing the 90 minutes at the Lodge on Saturday for the under-19s.
Etherington had a sharp 1-2 with Toner, receiving the ball inside the box, but Matthew was unable to hit a decent shot. Spurs took the lead from a corner taken by Toner at the left side, met by Sergei Rebrov who headed home inside the 6 yard box.Soon after McCann hit a fizzing shot against the underside of the bar. The ball bounced down just in front of the line, and it was Gardner who cleared with Kelly having stretched for the initial shot. The keeper may even have got a touch to the shot.
To be honest, Gardner was not at his best tonight. He showed the ball play that we know he is capable of, but too often his distribution was lacking. He was not alone in this problem however, as the team often failed to take advantage of a good initital touch or opportunity. The Hammers started to penetrate the Spurs area with regularity, but Kelly's handling was excellent. Inexperience cost Spurs the lead though, as Consorti gave the ball away 40 yards out, then O'Donoghue was beaten by the cross, allowing Camara a free shot on goal, scoring to the right of Kelly.
There was a nervous moment just before half time, when Spurs conceded an indirect free kick inside the area, due to a back pass. However, Gavin Kelly made the initial save from the free kick into the wall, and then safely collected a low driven cross from the right. Into the second half, and O'Donoghue may have been fortunate to only be booked for a foul 20 yards out, with no other defender behind him. From the free kick, Kelly dived well to his right to push a low shot from Camara round the corner. West ham's star player, McCann tried a scissor kick from the corner, which went wide.
Although he had given his side their equaliser, Camara was getting some stick from the home fans, especially when he fired wide after Newton put him in the clear on the left of the area. Spurs had pushed Consorti up, and played a lot of good possession football early in the second half, without creating much in the way of chances. Rebrov was playing a few deft flicks, but not really asserting himself. Etherington saw less of the ball as the game progressed, but he was once again the main foil for Spurs. Kamanan flew at one of Matty's crosses to get a headed touch, but the ball went wide of the goal. Ex-Arsenal reserve striker Riza was one of the home side's villains as he fired wide, having given himself space to score.
There was a bit of comedy when first Camara, then Kamanan got booked for kicking the ball away, before McCann scored the winner with a powerful curling drive from a free kick 22 yards out at the right edge of the Spurs area. It was a cracking goal. The way the West Ham fans celebrated this win, you would think they had beaten us in the Premiership, but then they don't have much to celebrate these days, do they?
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