FA PREMIER ACADEMY LEAGUE (UNDER 19)
(at Spurs Lodge)
FIRDAY 19TH APRIL, 2002
SPURS 1 (1) ARSENAL 2 (2)
Bentley (pen), 32
Referee:- Mr M. John
Spurs (3-5-2/4-4-2):- Burch; Quilter (sub Wettner, 46), Henry (Capt), O'Donoghue; Kelly, Hughes, Bowditch (sub Slabber, 71), Marney, Galbraith; Barnard, Sutton
Subs not used:- Lee (no other named substitutes)
Arsenal (4-4-2):- Holloway; Hollington, Rouse, Skularson, Nicolau; Brown (sub Freeman, 67), Spicer, Blizzard, Islam; Bentley (Capt), Tonga (sub Godfrey, 46)
No other named substitutes
A match between Spurs and Arsenal at any level attracts a lot of interest, and this match (re-arranged from January) was no different, as no other than Spurs legend and Club President, Bill Nicholson was present to see how today's rising stars are doing. There was as much needle, and physical contest between these sides as you would also expect at more senior levels. Sadly, it was Arsenal, coached by Don Howe who came through, despite a tactical switch and more possession from Spurs in the second half.
Spurs started with three at the back, and Arsenal made the most of the space allowed, especially on the right, with full back Hollington, right winger Brown, and Captain Bentley impressing. Spurs were doing their best to close down their opponents, but the superior skill and quick passing of the gooners showed through. In fact, Don Howe could be heard in the second half giving one of his players a rollicking for running too far with the ball!
Andrew Burch in the Spurs goal made several valuable saves. A Hollington cross drifted right across the goal though, and had Burch struggling as it just went past the far post after 8 minutes. Then Bentley hit a right foot shot towards the top corner, and Burch did very well to push the ball round for a corner. Brown (wearing Kanu-like dreadlocks - although nowhere near the same height) was a constant threat, and forced another fine save from Burch, as he winkled his way through the Spurs left-side defence.
The game was pretty physical, although rarely too heated, and the referee showed a lot of understanding by not booking anyone, although he did have to have words with Barnard and his marker in the first half. Whilst I have some sympathy with Barnard over the amount of stick he gets from defenders, I am concerned about his discipline, and it would be nice to see a smile on his face sometime!
Spurs took a 16th minute lead against the run of play, when Stephen Kelly's cross from the right floated over Barnard and reached David Galbraith, waiting at the back post unmarked. Galbraith hit a strong left foot shot that went in off the post. Arsenal were soon level though, as a defensive slip up let Brown in with an easy finish after the ball was crossed from the left. Burch had no chance to prevent the goal. Another defensive error - this time by Paul O'Donoghue - gave Tonga a good chance, but Burch got down well for his effort.
On the half hour, a clever chip by Bentley found Blizzard just entering the area. James Quilter tapped his ankles - Blizzard went down, and Bentley made no mistake from the spot. I know I am here to talk about our players, but Blizzard looks a little tall for a midfielder, but reminded me of Liverpool's Hamann in stature and style. It has to be said that Arsenal had more grace in the middle where it counted, against the effort and determination of Hughes, Bowditch and Marney.
Pat Holland replaced Quilter with Nicky Wettner at half time, reverting to 4-4-2. Wettner usually plays left wing, but his pace prevented Brown making so much ground, and Spurs looked tighter, whilst Arsenal tried more attacks down the left. Spurs were defending pretty well and higher up the field. Ronnie Henry is a very vocal Captain, and sends many useful long balls for his forwards to chase, but he was very quiet when he nearly let Arsenal in with a poor pass back from the Arsenal half!
In truth there was little goalmouth action in the second half, just a few half chances from corners and crosses. Dean Marney is a good dead-ball kicker, but John Sutton was not getting much joy out of the centre backs, but did spend a fair bit of time on the ground due to their fouls! Spurs did get a free kick on the edge of the area, when Barnard was fouled (I thought this was inside the area). David Galbraith took the kick, which was on target, but the wall did its job and blocked well.
Jamie Slabber replaced Ben Bowditch, and Spurs tried their hardest to get a point, but the closest they came was when O'Donoghue rose to a Marney free kick from the left, but headed over.
There is an under 17 game at Spurs Lodge tomorrow against Sheffield United in the play-off quarter finals. I shall be at Bolton, and I did get the chance to see the first team squad going through some light training. I swear I saw Johnnie Jackson with the squad, and hope he gets a chance before the season is out (as proposed in my report on the Derby Reserves game this week)
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