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Match Reports
Arsenal Reserves v Spurs Reserves, 23.04.03


Brown, 24
Pennant, 81

Referee:- Mr M. McCoy

Attendance:- Est 500

Arsenal (4-4-2):- Warmuz (Capt); Volz, Stepanovs, Tavlaridis, Garry; Pennant, Spicer, Bradley (sub Bailey, 82), Nicolau (sub Larsson, 90); Brown, Thomas

Subs not used:- Holloway; Shiels, Owusu-Abeyie

Booked:- Pennant (kicking the ball away)

Spurs (4-4-2/3-5-2):- Burch; Marney (Capt), Thelwell, Thatcher, Galbraith; Hughes (sub Foster, 46), Redknapp (sub Yeates, 64), Acimovic, Ricketts (sub Barnett, 82); Iversen, Barnard

Subs not used:- G. Kelly; Wettner

Booked:- Foster, Barnard (Fouls)

Two fatal defensive errors cost Spurs this entertaining fixture, played at Underhill, Barnet. Arsenal reserves still harbour hopes of winning the reserve league with this win, whilst Spurs completed their programme, and at least finish in a respectable position after a disastrous first half of the season.

It is two years since Spurs last beat their local rivals at this level, and despite the absence of much in the way of experience from their side, the young and pacy Gooners proved to be too good again. Like any good team, there always seemed to be two or three opponents around when we were on the ball, whereas Spurs lacked bite in the middle, and confidence at the back.

The big news for Spurs fans was the return to action of Jamie Redknapp, who had quite an effective game, but was puffing well, when he was replaced by Mark Yeates after 64 minutes. Spurs started with a 4-4-2, with Thelwell and Thatcher flanked by Captain Dean Marney on the right, and David Galbraith as a conventional left back. Galbraith has played wing-back before, but tonight seemed to have the task of neutralising the threat from Jermaine Pennant. Galbraith was equal to the task for the first half, enjoying a good battle with Pennant, who got booked towards the end of the half, after getting niggled by Galbraith's proximity.

Arsenal do however have another Jermaine. This one is Brown by name, and he is just as fast, and was even more dangerous tonight. The Spurs midfield looked offset, with Jamie and Mark Hughes rearmost towards the right, and Acimovic and Ricketts more forward on the left. Iversen and Barnard were up front. Arsenal had cult figure Igors Stepanovs at the back, partnered by Tavlaridis, who wound up Les Ferdinand to get sent off in the home fixture in December.

Spurs played up the hill in the first half, and in the early stages, were on top, looking to have the beating of their young opponents. Whilst never causing goalkeeper Warmuz to stretch too far, Spurs had the early chances, with Redknapp shooting wide from a corner, then defending well in his own area when Thomas was advancing past all and sundry. Ricketts then threaded a good ball for Marney, but Warmuz was out to the ball first.

After 7 minutes, Ricketts won a ball in the midfield, passed to Galbraith, whose cross was headed by Barnard to Acimovic who skied his shot, to the amusement of the home crowd. Barnard then did well to put Volz under pressure when chasing a long ball deep in Arsenal territory. The ball fell to Ricketts who passed to Acimovic who this time at least made the keeper do some work as his shot was on target.

Arsenal were starting to penetrate Spurs through the middle now, and Thatcher was slow to a ball, which Thomas made his own, teeing up Pennant whose shot was well saved by Burch. Burch had to make a great save from an angled shot from Nicolau, which he tipped over, then was down well to Thomas's shot.Burch has played well recently, and I recall an outstanding game at Watford, where his acrobatics secured a one goal win for us. He has what you might call a typical keeper's build and physique, and looks to have a promising future.

Volz slipped between Jamie Redknapp and Galbraith with ease down the right, and eventually, his cross led to Thomas feeding Nicolau, whose shot was collected by Burch. In the 24th minute, Alton Thelwell made an embarrassing mistake when he failed to dispose of an innoccuous long ball, allowing it to run to Brown, who hit a left foot shot beyond the diving Burch.

Spurs struggled to get back into the game, but as half time approached, Acimovic left a Barnard cross and Hughes forced a good save from Warmuz down at his left hand post. Redknapp then made a good intercepting header to Iversen, who passed to Acimovic on his right, but the shot was straight at the keeper.

Danny Foster replaced Mark Hughes at the break, and Spurs switched to a 3-5-2, with Marney at right wing-back, and Galbraith on the left. Foster took up station beside Thelwell and Thatcher as centre-backs. Within a couple of minutes, Burch was down well to a dangerous cross/shot by Pennant on the right, with Thomas in close attendance ready to snatch any error. There was some good play down the right from Acimovic and Marney, but the cross did not quite reach Iversen, who then had his best effort from a sharp angle on the left, following a deflected pass from Galbraith.

Just before he was replaced, Jamie Redknapp tried a dipping shot from just outside the area after a corner, but the keeper collected comfortably. Then, after the substitution, Iversen headed down for Ricketts who fired over. Brown put Nicolau clear on the left, and the left winger beat Rob Burch with his shot, but also missed the target as the ball passed harmlessly in front of the goalmouth. With less than ten minutes to go, Rohan Ricketts made a gift of the ball to his former colleague Jermaine Pennant, who hit a powerful rising shot into the net with his right foot.

Thelwell's mistake could prove very expensive personally, as he will be out of contract this summer, and is still looking for retention at Spurs. He will be most frustrated by the lack of observation of the referee, as Alton left the field with the front of his shirt ripped open. As for Jamie Redknapp, he must surely hope for a couple of behind closed doors games to regain match fitness before the last game at home to Blackburn, which I would have thought would be a realistic target for him.

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