FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE
MONDAY 9TH DECEMBER, 2002
SPURS RESERVES 0 (0) FULHAM 1 (0)
Referee:- Mr F. Graham
Spurs (3-5-2):- Hirschfeld; Doherty (sub O'Donoghue, 31), Henry, Thatcher; Marney (Capt), Ricketts, Clemence, Blondel (sub Hughes, 60), Taricco; Rebrov, Ferdinand
Subs not used:- Burch; Galbraith, Sutton
Booked:- Blondel, Hughes
Fulham (4-4-2):- Herrera; Rehman, Watkins, Hudson, Green; Buari (sub Fazakerley, 86), Shevel, Collins (Capt), Doherty (sub Pratley, 72); Cornwall, Nobel
Subs not used:- Flitney; Lock, Stratford
Booked:- Green, Rehman
Why is it that a Spurs Reserves team, peppered with big star names such as Ferdinand, Rebrov, Taricco, Clemence and Doherty lost to a team of kids? In short, I think it was down to team-work, cohesion and better coaching, on yet another disappointing night for Reserve watchers at Broadhall Way, Stevenage. This was their third consecutive defeat, and they have won only three out of eleven games played so far - seven of them at "home". Our wing backs seemed a bit far from the back three a lot of the time, and we played as individuals rather than as a unit.
The strolling Les Ferdinand probably has more than half an eye on the soon to be opened transfer window, and does not want to incur an untimely injury. Gary Doherty suffered an early injury and did not get the chance to convince the watching team of Hoddle, Gorman, and Hughton. Stephen Clemence did nothing to convince me that he should be offered a first team place. Yes, there was an occasional good ball from him, but I think the club should try to get at least a few bob for him in January, as I really do not see him establishing a Premiership place for himself. Ricketts and Blondel excited in the middle (moreso Ricketts), but too often that decisive final ball was lacking. Rebrov was to be found left and right, working hard, and playing quite well, but rarely was he in the middle where it counted. Sad to say, but almost the most entertaining feature of the night was the "take no prisoners" attitude of Ben Thatcher - particularly in the second half, during which Malik Buari felt the impact of a Thatcher tackle (hard but fair), and had to be replaced soon after, as a result.
Those that have called for Dean Marney to get a chance in the first team, based on his exciting performance against DC United, would have re-considered their view after this game. Sadly, it was Dean's mistake that led to the goal, and his crosses were very wayward tonight.
Fulham have a UEFA Cup game later this week (remember them?), which was the reason for so many youngsters on the park. And yet they defended well, holding their line, playing the offside trap efficiently, finding feet and colleagues regularly, whilst Spurs failed to hold them up in the middle. The experience of John Collins was a great influence for Fulham. Spurs did have the first decent chance after 10 minutes, when Ferdinand was brought down, with Marney going through, but the referee not playing any advantage. Clemence floated in a free kick, but Herrera was equal to Rebrov's header, and pushed it round to his right for a corner. Fulham's left back got a booking for a dive in the Spurs box, before Clemence gifted a sideways pass to Shevel, who thankfully shot wide.
Spurs had another good chance when Sergei crossed from the right and Ferdinand headed down. Herrera was out fast to save and also collected the rebound of Sir Les. Five minutes later there was some lovely ball play down the left from Ricketts. Ferdinand dummied over his low cross, but Rebrov skied the shot so high that it might have reached the top of the East stand at White Hart Lane!
Fulham had an opening through Collins reaching the bye line on the left, but Nobel hit his shot from the low cross weakly to Hirschfeld's left, enabling the keeper to save. Ferdinand headed on a long ball for Rebrov who got in front of the defence, but hit his left foot shot over the bar, when a goal beckoned.
Soon after the interval, Henry and Marney got too close to each other on the right side of defence. Marney half hit a back pass, and 17 year old Sean Doherty capitalised on the error to beat Hirschfeld's dive. Marney did try to redeem himself with a good run. His cross was tipped out by the keeper and from the follow-up, Taricco hit a shot, but without the power required to beat the keeper again. Spurs did lift their tempo once they were down, with Taricco taking a more attacking role, but Hirschfeld was kept busy, twice having to race out and bravely save at feet.
Blondel was replaced by Mark Hughes after getting booked, and Hughes gamely tried to create openings, but it always seemed to be a case of nearly but not quite for the Spurs tonight. After 68 minutes, Clemence and Ricketts did work their way into the area with a decent 1-2, but Clemence's shot was too close to Herrera. Taricco chipped the ball to Rebrov, whose lob landed on top of the net. Rebrov and Ricketts combined on the right before Rohan's cross was headed goalward by Ferdinand, but cleared in front of the line. Taricco had a shot tipped over by the keeper, and in injury time, a Clemence free kick reached Taricco whose ball took Les a little by surprise, and the shot ran to the keeper.
It was only in the latter stages that Spurs seemed to really have a go, and although they had most chances on the night, it's goals that count, and Fulham got one of those!
Next Monday, the Reserves play Arsenal at home. I hope for resilience on Sunday and Monday against the red horde!
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