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Cirencester v "A Spurs XI", 20.07.02

SATURDAY 20TH JULY, 2002
FRIENDLY FIXTURE
CIRENCESTER 0 (0) SPURS XI 0 (0)

Spurs Team (3-4-1-2):-
Jalal (sub Burch, 46); Foster, O'Donoghue (Capt), Thomas (sub McKie, 60); Snee, Hughes (sub Berkmans, 60), Bortolozzo (sub Black, 60), Galbraith (Sub Wettner, 60); Marney (sub Yeates, 65); Sutton (sub Noto, 60), Parisi (sub Slabber, 65)

Today was a big day in the history of Cirencester Football Club. Their brand new ground was officially opened by Premier League Executive Richard Scudamore, and, thanks to the former link between Spurs Coach Colin Calderwood, and Cirencester marketing man Ken Chapman (former Swindon Chairman), the honoured guests for the day were "A Spurs XI".

No doubt this was good turn-out of several hundred for this club which aspires to be a Conference side, but will need two promotions from the Dr Marten League to reach that level. I suspect also, that the locals were led to believe that Spurs might field at least a few big names, but they were not to know that the first team squad will be at Stevenage tomorrow (along with Spurs Odyssey).

Not one of the players wearing the new Kappa kit are likely to feature in the Premiership squad this season, as the team consisted of last season's Youth Cup side plus a few new names (Bortolozzo, Parisi, Berkmans - of whom I know nothing), and some of the under-17s. The ground is so new that the turf looked as if it had been laid yesterday, with three or four inch strips of soil visible between the lines of turf spreading the length of the pitch. It was dry and dusty as well, with a distinct slope from end to end. Add to these factors the fact that this was the first run--out for the Spurs side, and good football was hardly a prospect.

I wish I could tell you the Cirencester side, but the announcer's microphone was worse than Norman Collier's intermittent speaking act (which will be known to local readers). They were certainly a beefy and experienced (though amateur) side, who gave the Spurs youngsters a good test, with a few scares along the way. Spurs were trying a continental formation, with Foster, O'Donoghue and Thomas across the back, and Diego Bortolozzo part of the group of four just in front of them. Mark Hughes played his regular box to box style, and impressed those who had not seen him before, with some good tackling, and incisive distribution. Dean Marney played just behind Sutton and another new face Franco Parisi. I think that Cirencester featured their longest serving player in goal - Kevin Sawyer, aged just 22, but I would be guessing at any others.

The home side had the first opportunity when Bortolozzo miskicked a clearance and number 11 hit a quick chip goalward that Paul O'Donoghue raced back to scoop over the goal for a corner. Bortolozzo tried to redeem himself with a speculative shot from 28 yards after good combination work on the right from Hughes, Marney and Snee. Spurs were playing downhill in the first half, and John Sutton drew gasps as he so nearly got the right touch on a Foster cross. David Galbraith then made a typical piercing run, found Sutton with a through ball that the striker took to the bye-line, before crossing to Snee who was edged away from danger by the strong defence.

After 32 minutes, Parisi received a loose ball with his back to goal, spun well, and hit a powerful right foot shot across goal but wide. 6 minutes later, the red-shirted Cirencester number 10 curled a 30 yard shot, which had an uncertain Jalal stretching to his left to push the ball out for a corner. Spurs responded through Galbraith's measured cross to Marney, who had time to line up his low drive,, but hit it straight at the keeper, who failed to hold the ball, but found one of his own players. The only other bit of noteworthy first half action was when Snee exchanged with Bortolozzo, getting froward on the right, before George crossed to Sutton, whose shot to the far corner was deflected somewhat fortuitously for a corner.

The players went off to healthy applause, but the air display taking place in the distance behind the main stand, was more exciting than the second half fare. The hill was obviously making a difference, as Spurs struggled to create attacks, and their first effort came after 57 minutes, when Bortolozzo was brought down on the edge of the area, and then clattered into a fence behind the pitch, having to be replaced. From an ensuing corner, Marney again had a decent chance, but hit a left foot shot over the bar.

As always in these situations, there were many substitutions, and this time they were un-announced. The details above are from the official site, but I must admit, I did not recognise Wettner, and thought it was Kelly. I have never heard of Berkmans either, and thought he looked like Lee Barnett. Still, the official site must know best, mustn't it? O'Donoghue nearly miskicked into his own net from the 18 yard line, and the only other real chances fell to Mario Noto, who impressed on the right, firing over after a decent run into the box, and then scooping well over the target at the back post when he should have scored.

The Kappa kit does not seem to prevent shirt tugging as has been suggested, but perhaps the lads were wearing two sizes too big, as I shall be next week! I have to say that almost the nicest thing about today was the drive through Cotswold Country, and seeing a Stealth Bomber "in the flesh"!

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