FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE
MONDAY 14TH APRIL, 2003
SPURS RESERVES 3 (2) WIMBLEDON RESERVES 1 (0)
Referee:- Mr G. Lewis
Attendance:- Est 350
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Sullivan; Perry, Thelwell, Doherty (sub Bowditch, 46); Marney (Capt), Toda, Blondel, Etherington (sub Hughes, 27); Acimovic, Ricketts (sub Yeates, 71); Iversen
Subs not used:- Burch; Barnard
Booked:- Hughes (foul), Iversen (dissent)
Wimbledon (3-5-2):- Berni; Gier (sub Herzig, 79), Edwards, Chorley; Kamara (sub Oyedele, 73), Boyce (sub E'beyer, 65), Selley (Capt), Harding, Jarrett; Gordon, Ahmed
Subs not used:- Martin; Small
Booked:- Selley, E'beyer, (fouls)
Spurs reserves continued their recent good run, with a third consecutive win, and their fifth in the last seven games, in an entertaining game against a youthful Wimbledon side. It was a strong reserves' side, and the crowd were treated to smashing goals from Acimovic, Ricketts and Yeates, with Gordon getting a late consolation for the Dons. It could have been closer, as Thelwell conceded a 62nd minute penalty, which Albert Jarrett dollied into Sullivan's grasp.
Spurs played with Steffen Iversen alone up front, supported by Ricketts and Acimovic behind him. The four man midfield featured Captain Marney on the right, Toda and Blondel in the middle, and Matthew Etherington on the left. Perry, Thelwell, and Gary Doherty were at the back. The only experience that I recognised in the Wimbledon line-up was that of ex-gooner and Captain Ian Selley. However, young Shahed Ahmed (who has faced Spurs at under-17, under-19 and now reserve level in recent weeks) caught the eye, as did his strike partner and scorer - Michael Gordon.
Spurs had three similar shots from the left edge of the penalty area go wide across the goal and outside the left-hand post within the first quarter of an hour. Two of these came from Ricketts, after Matthew Etherington teed him up both times. Etherington had also provided the ball for Jonathan Blondel's similar effort. After these early scares, Wimbledon responded positively. Firstly Gordon raced into the Spurs area, only to be blocked by Thelwell, then Jarrett sprinted down the left flank, and provided a cross which Etherington failed to clear, allowing a decent shot from Kamara, which was held low by Sullivan. Kamara played on the right side in the first half, but was re-shuffled to left back in the second. Both sides maintained fluid formations, and Spurs were kept on the back foot for a while as Gordon was allowed space on the right to set up Ahmed. Sullivan parried the first effort on goal, and then collected Gordon's lofted shot. Etherington by this time was nursing a back injury, and The Dons were exploiting the gap down Spurs left to the full, as Boyce sent Gordon away, but Sullivan prevented a shot on goal.
Mark Hughes replaced Etherington (who I hope will be okay for the week-end), taking up a post in the middle, whilst Blondel moved to the left. Blondel was full of running, and always willing to challenge for the ball. Toda was having a quiet but fairly effective game, linking from the back, generally with short passes, but not so willing to commit for 50/50 balls as some of those around him.
In the 34th minute, Acimovic scored a marvellous goal, latching on to a ball deep in the middle and hitting a rocket dipping shot over the Italian-born keeper from fully 25 yards. Berni is quite small in stature. Jarrett had a decent effort at the other end, as he hit a rising shot from 20 yards that went just above Sullivan's left stanchion. Five minutes after his goal, Milenko Acimovic turned provider, as he chipped over the defence, and Rohan Ricketts had time to control the ball and pick his spot, giving Spurs a two-goal lead. Just before the break, Acimovic hit a powerful cross from the right, but Iversen's strong header was wide when he should have hit the net.
Ben Bowditch replaced Gary Doherty at the interval, but played in the middle, as Hughes reverted to right back, and Dean Marney played at left back. Spurs maintained their formation, whilst the visitors switched to 4-4-2, with Boyce taking Kamara's slot on the right. Spurs really should have made their superiority count for more, but they relaxed a little and tried some clever stuff, which didn't quite come off a lot of the time. The understanding between Acimovic and Iversen was not quite there.
Acimovic caused the goalie to panic on 57 minutes, with an inswinging corner which Berni could only tip over the bar for another corner. Then came the penalty for The Dons, as Thelwell should-barged Ahmed, but mistook the attacker's back for his shoulder! Up stepped Jarret, but Sullivan must have looked big in front of him, as he meekly hit the ball straight at the keeper. Dean Marney had a great run down the left, being fed by Toda and Blondel, and leading to a one on one with the keeper. Dean tried to curl his shot round the keeper and into the corner, but it did not quite curl enough, and went wide.
The tackles started to fly from the visitors, as they came under a little pressure, not helped by the arrival of young Mark Yeates, who has a great scoring record in recent weeks, hitting the net in almost every game he has played at under-19 and reserve level. First though, Gordon had a good run and his shot was well saved by Sullivan near his right post. Yeates made it 3-0 to Spurs with a great solo effort. He had already tried to set up Iversen with a cross from the left, before getting into the left side of the box, rounding the keeper and coolly slotting home with great aplomb. Yeates is one to watch, and must surely feature in the first team at some stage next season, if not before. He is a lightweight but spiky character, who likes to play behind a front two and run from deeper positions. He has plenty of pace and skill to match it.
Gordon got that consolation goal with a fine 22 yard rising shot after a good run on the left, whilst Iversen had a chance in the last minute of injury time to make it 4 for Spurs, as Acimovic lifted the ball over the defence, but the Norwegian's low shot was wide.
The Reserves' last match is next Wednesday - away to Arsenal - venue to be confirmed. It could be a particularly good game
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