BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE
MONDAY 11TH NOVEMBER, 2002
(at White Hart Lane)
SPURS RESERVES 3 (0) LEICESTER RESERVES 1 (0)
Clemence (2), 70, 78
Referee:- Mr N. Perkin
Spurs (3-4-1-2/4-4-2):- Hirschfeld; Kelly, Doherty, King; Marney (Capt.), Sherwood, Clemence, Ziege (sub Ricketts, 46); Acimovic; Iversen, Rebrov
Subs not used:- Burch; Henry; Bortolozzo; Slabber
Booked:- Ziege, Marney, Sherwood
Leicester (4-4-2): Murphy; Lyth, Mortimer, Tozer, Stewart; Reeves, Jones (sub McSweeney, 46), Lewis (Capt) (sub Williamson, 74), Oakes; Stevenson, Benjamin
Subs not used:- Logan; Been, Larvin
There was an array of talent on display for Spurs at The Lane tonight, but it took them till a ten minute spell late in the second half, before they could hit the net against a youthful Leicester side that had taken the lead at the start of the second half. After an early period in which skilful touches from Ziege and Acimovic led us to believe that a big score might be on the cards, the Leicester side got to grips with the situation and played some decent passing football, testing Hirschfeld with a number of long shots.
Spurs lined up with a back three including Ledley King on the left, with Ziege clearly looking to play an attacking wing-back role. Clemence and Sherwood held the back of midfield, with Marney at right wing back, and Acimovic sitting behind Rebrov and Iversen. Ziege, Iversen and Acimovic had early shots, with the latter testing the diminutive but impressive Murphy most. After a while, Spurs became a little predictable in the middle with both Sherwood and Clemence needing to dance around the ball before disposing of it, allowing the Leicester players to get behind the ball. Whilst it was a welcome sight to see Sergei Rebrov, he showed again, if anyone still needs convincing, why he cannot deal with the physical side of the British game. That said, he was to show some great touches in the second half.
Hirschfeld had to stretch to his right to get down to a decent Jones shot, before, on the half hour, Ziege and Iversen shared some great interplay to work the ball down the left flank. Ziege's cross just failed to reach Acimovic in a shooting position. Jon Stevenson paired up with Trevor Benjamin up front, and it was Stevenson, considerably the smaller of the two, who was to give Spurs most trouble. He had a good shot deflected by Doherty's legs just enough to allow Hirschfeld to collect comfortably.
The best chance of this entertaining game to date came after 34 minutes, when Rebrov collected a loose ball, and sent Ziege away through the middle. Christian fed Iversen on the right, but Steffen chipped the keeper, only to see his shot cleared off the line. Leicester got a quick break, and Stevenson tried to emulate Iversen, but his shot was wide of the goal with the keeper beaten, and no defender to cover. Sherwood and Acimovic sent Marney away down the right, and his cross was headed into the ground by Iversen at the back post, bouncing up easily for the keeper. Sherwood then sent Marney away again. His cross was cleared for a corner, taken by Acimovic, and Gary Doherty's back post header was somehow cleared off the line by Leicester.
Rohan Ricketts replaced Ziege at half time, having been unlucky to be restricted to the bench, as he has never failed to impress this season. Much as we might not like it, he has spent a fair period training with "the other lot" and must have benefited from the experience. When the Gooners beat us 4-1 at Stevenage last season, Ricketts impressed me as much as did Pennant, such is his potential. Initially, Ricketts started on the left, but we soon reverted to a 4-4-2, allowing Rohan to move to the right side and the middle, where he was to have considerable influence.
However, Leicester took the lead within a minute of the re-start. The ball was crossed from the left, flying over Doherty. Benjamin hit the post and Stevenson snapped up the rebound. Spurs were sparked into action, and had a number of chances. First Acimovic fed Rebrov whose long low drive was pushed round the corner by Murphy. Acimovic showed great skill at times, and one of his favourite tricks is the roll-back. On one occasion, he looked to pass outside but then rolled back, turned and chipped the defence to give Iversen a one on one chance. Iversen's shot was parried by the keeper.
Sergei Rebrov had two great chances around 56 minutes. First he headed a long ball from Sherwood goalward, but the keeper saved. Then from the corner, Rebrov's near post header was tipped over, when no corner was given. Iversen headed wide at the back post following great work by Ricketts in the middle and Marney on the right. At last Spurs equalised after 70 minutes. Clemence had played his part at the start of the move in the middle, sending Rebrov away via Ricketts. Sergei took the ball to the bye line then danced his way to the back of the penalty area with his back to goal. Suddenly he turned the ball to Clemence who beat the keeper from close range.
Spurs were ahead within a minute. Hirschfeld's long ball was controlled by Ricketts, then Acimovic chipped to Iversen on the left of the area. Steffen hit a strong low left foot drive past Murphy. Marney got booked for a tackle on the edge of the area, and Jones nearly surprised Hirschfeld with the shot. Nearly was not good enough, as Lars dived to his left to collect. The goal rout was complete after 78 minutes, when Iversen collected a long ball from the left, putting Clemence through in an advanced position, before Clemence beat the keeper with a fine finish for his second goal.
There was a healthy crowd in the West Stand tonight. The upper tier was occupied by a good contingent of school children, who no doubt enjoyed themselves a great deal. Blondel's absence makes me wonder if he is in the reckoning for the first team game on Saturday (or maybe he is just being shut out). It is also interesting to speculate how near to match fitness are Ledley King and Christian Ziege. I suspect that Ledley is closer. On this form, surely Acimovic deserves a start ahead of Poyet, and why not give Ricketts a go against his ex-employers?
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