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Spurs Reserves 1 v Ipswich Reserves 1, 31.03.03

BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE
MONDAY 31ST MARCH, 2003
SPURS RESERVES 1 (1) IPSWICH RESERVES 1 (1)

Spurs scorer:-
Ricketts (pen), 44

Ipswich scorer:-
Boardley, 18

Referee:- Mr M. Murphy

Attendance:- Est 400

Teams:-
Spurs (3-4-1-2):- Burch; Perry, Thelwell, Gardner (sub Foster, 67); Marney (Capt), Toda, Bowditch, Galbraith (sub Black, 85); Ricketts; Yeates, Slabber (sub Malcolm, 80)

Subs not used:- Eyre; Barnett

Booked:- Toda, Marney

Ipswich (4-4-2):- Pullen; Mitchell, Hogg, Collins, Chaffey; Bloomfield, Abidallah (sub Flack, 61), Westlake (Capt), Boardley; Armstrong (sub Read, 75), Bowditch

Subs not used:- Peat; Nash, Atay

Booked:- Hogg

In a lively and entertaining fixture at Broadhall Way, Stevenage, the young Spurs team just about held the visitors to a 1-1 draw, thanks to Ipswich scorer Stuart Boardley skying a last minute penalty conceded by substitute defender, Danny Foster. Along with all the other fans, no doubt the Bowditch family had a whale of a time, as there was a son on either side. Spurs' Ben played in possibly his best position, just in front of the defence, whilst younger brother Dean played up front, and nearly waltzed all the way to goal in the first minute, passing Ben on the way!

The only real experience in the Spurs side was in the back three, as both Chris Perry and Anthony Gardner figured. Gardner was making his come-back game, and was replaced after 67 minutes, thanks to Glenn Hoddle's intervention as his message was passed to Colin Calderwood by John Gorman. Whether Gardner is fit enough for Saturday's game against Birmingham must be in doubt, and to be honest, I felt his touch was not quite what it can be at times. Perry made some great saving tackles, and what he lacks in pace, he makes up for with determination and experience. Alton Thelwell is of course playing for a renewed contract, and gave a good performance on the whole, with just the odd ball going astray.

Kazuyuki Toda still seeks to put his stamp on a game for Spurs, in my opinion, and in the first half, I felt that Ben Bowditch out-shone the Japanese international. However, in the second half, Bowditch (Spurs model!) failed too often with his passing whilst Toda was quietly efficient, and made one or two very important contributions that drew applause from team-mates.

Jamie Slabber and Mark Yeates (who was fresh from a hat-trick game for the under-19s last Saturday) were up front with pacy Rohan Ricketts just behind. Ricketts and Yeates seemed to rotate their responsibilities throughout the game, but one of the problems for Spurs was that the attacking three were often ahead of their team-mates, and the solid 4-man midfield of the visitors dominated at times.

For Ipswich Nabil Abidallah impressed, but was taken off after only an hour. Perhaps the watching Joe Royle has him in his plans for Ipswich's final thrust for a Division One play-off position. It was Abidallah who nearly drew first blood after 6 minutes, by which time Toda had already failed to commit himself fully to a 50/50 situation. Abidallah took his opportunity sharply, hitting a low shot just wide of Burch's goal. Spurs first real threat came with a clever free kick on the quarter-hour mark. Galbraith, Marney and Bowditch hovered over the ball. Galbraith touched it to Marney, who shaped to set up Bowditch, but cleverly turned and hit a powerful drive wide of the left post.

Three minutes later though, Spurs were behind, as Ipswich broke through the middle. Westlake's clever pass sent Boardley racing clear of the defence, and the number 11 beat Burch, who dived a little early, with a left foot shot across the keeper. There was little in the way of direct threats, with Spurs struggling to make headway until a brilliant move after 39 minutes. Galbraith sent a great crossfield ball to Marney, who crossed from the right. Slabber headed down at the back post, and the advancing Ben Bowditch stabbed the ball goalward, which was saved and cleared.

Toda got booked for an innocuous foul, and the referee was starting to irritate with delayed reaction to various events. He was on the ball two minutes before the break though, as Slabber raced into the left side of the box after a ball won through Yeates determination. Hogg brought Slabber down in the box, and was booked for his trouble. Another Ipswich player was also booked, presumably for arguing. Rohan Ricketts made no mistake from the spot as Pullen went the wrong way.

Spurs upped the pace in the second half, and Slabber raced away down the left with a great run, before Ricketts fed Toda on the right and the Japanese player hit a quick low shot that was held by the keeper. Soon after that Marney tried a 30 yard chip that the Ipswich keeper had to stretch to catch on the line. Perry made a great saving tackle from the younger Bowditch, before Armstrong collected a good ball from Abidallah, turned and shot wide with his right foot.

David Galbraith was using his pace well, and hit a number of crosses into good areas. One such cross had the sting taken out of it by a deflection, but Jamie Slabber rose well and put good power into his header which was held by Pullen. Slabber then headed down a cross from Yeates, which Bowditch nearly converted with a clever flick with his back to goal. Marney's cross from the right evaded everyone and was returned to the 6 yard box by Galbraith. Slabber met the ball, but headed over, when he really should have scored.

After 73 minutes, Mark Yeates beat the defence to make Thelwell's long ball his own. Yeates crossed low, and Jamie Slabber couldn't quite get a shot; the ball ran to Ricketts, whose shot had no power. It was end to end stuff now, and Rob Burch had to save with his feet from substitute Read. It was the visitors who had the best chances late in the game, and Burch did well to hold on to Westlake's shot, then clutch Boardley's shot out of the air. Two minutes into injury time, it looked as though Spurs would fall to an all-too regular late defeat, when Danny Foster brought Read down. I thought it was just outside the box, but the referee thought otherwise (and there was no protest). Perhaps justice was done when Boardley stepped up and fired well over the bar from the spot.

Jamie Slabber had to go off with a knock 10 minutes from time, but had a good game against Aidan Collins, who had used more than a little force upon the striker, without so much as a by or leave from the ref. Galbraith's substitution by Black was one of the slickest I have seen, as the left wing-back slid into the dug-out with a knock, and Black raced on!

The reserves travel to Vicarage Road, Watford on Thursday night and may struggle to put a strong side out, as the Internationals will still be returning, and there were two or three injuries tonight. The only remaining home game is in two weeks time when we play Wimbledon on "Saint Hotspur Day" (14th April)

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