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Match Reports
Spurs Reserves v Southampton Reserves, 03.09.02

The Stevenage Borough Scoreboard was actually obtained from the Saints' old ground at The Dell!

at Broadhall Way, Stevenage

Ferdinand, 43
Sutton (pen), 72

Referee:- Mr P. Melin

Attendance:- Est 400

Spurs (3-5-2):- Hirschfield; Perry, Kelly, Henry (Capt); Snee (sub Hughes, 74), Bortolozzo (sub Bowditch, 65), Freund, Ricketts, Galbraith; Ferdinand (sub Marney, 46), Sutton

Subs not used:- Jalal; O'Donoghue

Booked:- Kelly

Southampton (4-4-2):- Moss; Dodd (Capt), El-Khalej, Monk, Benali; Kanchelskis, Oakley, Draper, Howard (sub A. Davies, 65);K. Davies, Tessem (sub Sternham, 78)

Subs not used:- Blayney; Byles, Baird

Booked:- El-Khalej

A predominantly young Spurs side, bolstered by Les Ferdinand, Chris Perry and Steffen Freund, secured a convincing two goal defeat against a Saint's side with no less that 9 players with Premiership experience, including the recently acquired Andrei Kanchelskis, who ahs been languishing with Glasgow Rangers with little football to his credit for some time. Les Ferdinand scored his second goal in four days against Southampton just before the break, and, anxious to get as much football under his belt, took a deserved break, after which a striker at the other end of the spectrum; experience-wise, John Sutton converted a penalty justly awarded when he was fouled by El-Khalej.

Gordon Strachan was in the stand at Broadhall Way, no doubt to assess the fitness of returning players such as El-Khalej, but also with an eye to inserting one or more of this team into his ailing Premiership side. I don't think he will have been over-impressed by anyone tonight. Kanchelskis clearly needs match fitness, although he displayed several characteristic runs down the right. Matthew Oakley and Mark Draper were busy in the middle, and bothered Lars Hirschfield (who has now signed an 18 month contract for Spurs) more than the front two in the shape of Kevin Davies and Jo Tessem.

Spurs back three defended stoutly, marshalled by Chris Perry. Both Ronnie Henry and Stephen Kelly impressed with some good block tackles and tricky confident clearances. Spurs played wingers, rather than wing-backs, in the shape of George Snee on the right and David Galbraith on the left, with Rohan Ricketts on the left and Diego Bortolozzo on the right of Steffen Freund, who looked comfortable, and will be knocking on Glenn Hoddle's door in no time, asking for a first team game. Ricketts looked very bright and sharp. He has some smart ball-control, regularly bringing the ball down well from awkward heights. His final ball was sometimes astray, but he showed flexibility when moving up in place of Les, after the interval.

Stevenage Borough by night! The picture was taken from the occupied stand

There were very few goal opportunities in the first half, and the Spurs back three took a little while to come to terms with the strength of Tessem and Davies. Spurs best plays came with intricate quick passing down the flanks, assisted by Les Ferdinand coming deep. One such move came after 10 minutes, when Les did well to control a long ball, make a snappy pass, leading to a build up across the field on the left. John Sutton got on the end of Galbraith's cross, but he could only prod the ball to the goalkeeper's arms. Much of the play was in the middle of the park, and the next real goal chance fell to Kanchelskis who exchanged with Dodd on the right, then hit a 20 yard shot which was deflected for a corner.

From one corner, the ball fell to Draper who tried a right foot shot that was always going over the corner stanchion. Then with two minutes till the break, Les Ferdinand gave us the lead, after being part of a stylish build up down the left flank from our own half. Again it was a Galbraith cross which led to the chance, and this time Les did not fail from close range.

There were more chances in the second half. Firstly Kanchelskis received a long cross field ball, passed inside to Draper, whose low shot had no power and was saved comfortably by Hirschfield diving to his right. On 55 minutes Ricketts tried a low 28 yard short that was wide to the keeper's right. Hirschfield had a great save to make after Tessem's long ball from the left was headed back across goal by Davies, and subject to a clever overhead kick from El-Khalej of all people. Hirschfield was slightly unsighted but made a great save.

Dean Marney threaded a nice ball through the middle and John Sutton had the better of El-Khalej, who clearly brought him down, and could easily have been shown a red instead of a yellow card. Nonetheless, justice was done, as Sutton stepped up confidently to slot home the deserved penalty kick.

Stephen Kelly was also booked for a foul, and from the resulting free kick, Mark Draper hit a shot that bounced awkwardly just in front of Hirschfield. The Canadian keeper met the ball cleanly. There was even a bit of time for Henry and Galbraith to flick the ball over opponent's heads to play out of defence in a manner befitting Spurs players of any generation. The crowd was well pleased! Marney also drew applause with a good long range right footer that was not far off the target. Hirschfield was again Draper's equal as the midfielder hit another free kick towards the top right corner, and Spurs clean sheet was ensured.

Gordon Strachan could clearly be seen enjoying amicable conversation with John Gorman at the start of the game, tending to blow out of the water any talk of a rift after their spat last season.

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