FRIDAY 25TH JULY, 2003
BISHOPS STORTFORD 4 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (1)
Bishops Stortford scorers:-
A.N. Other, 73
A.N. Other, 88
Attendance:- Est 600
Referee:- Mr G. Ward
Bishops Stortford (to be confirmed)
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Eyre; Doherty, Foster, Henry (sub McKenna, 79); Barnett (sub Price, 79), Hughes, Bowditch (Capt), McKie; Yeates, Jackson; Slabber (sub Dobson, 49)
A game which started slowly, simmering to an open-ended first half, culminating in a one goal lead for Spurs, turned into a second half goal bonanza, as defence took a back seat, and both sides went headlong for goals galore. With 23 Spurs players on tour in South Africa, it was inevitable that the "Spurs XI" would be considerably weaker than the Spurs team that played one of the opening fixtures at Woodside Park in August 2000, when the result was 4-0 to the visitors.
The home fans had not been deceived though, as it was made clear to them that they were likely to be seeing Spurs' up and coming youngsters. The Spurs side was very much the same as that which played at Northwood (also in the Ryman Premier League with Bishops Stortford) on Wednesday night. Colin Calderwood started with the club's favoured 3-4-2-1, with Gary Doherty on the right, Danny Foster, and Ronnie Henry to his left; Lee Barnett in an unfamiliar right wing-back slot, with Mark Hughes and skipper Ben Bowditch to his left and Marcel McKie on the left flank. Mark Yeates and Jon Jackson played behind Jamie Slabber. Slabber had to be replaced early in the second half, by Ricky Dobson. Slabber may have been feeling the effects of a clash of heads just before half time. Gary Doherty was switched to the striker role at that point, but failed to impose his authority. This was a shame, because it is sad to report that Doherty was shown up badly by both Troy Braham playing on the left wing, and Richard Howell, when he switched sides on one occasion in the first half. Glen Southam was another to give the Spurs defence problems, as he too was able to run through the middle into the box with too much ease.
Bishops Stortford notably featured new signing Roy Essandoh as the main striker. Essandoh being the man famed by his goal for Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup quarter final against Leicester 16 months ago.
Mark Yeates was lively in the opening stages, and to be truthful was involved busily throughout the game. He would be the first to be disappointed on occasions with his final ball, but he did enough to entertain the crowd, who could not fail to admire his talents. Jackson too shone, and these two must have been disappointed not to have gone on the first team's tour, but then the "Spurs XI" does need some sort of strength and talent! Jackson took an early free kick, floating over a ball from the left, and Doherty had come forward to head down outside the post.
Southam had the first real threat though, as he beat the offside flag, and raced inside from the left, hitting a shot across the goal and wide, with Eyre stretched. After 17 minutes, Yeates sent Slabber away down the left and he cut inside the number 4, getting into the box, before Cooper got a great tackle in to snatch the ball. Mark Hughes won a header from Eyre's kick, sending Yeates down the inside right. Yeates fed Barnett, whose low cross.shot was saved by Micky Desborough in the Stortford goal. After 25 minutes a good long ball by Bowditch led to a threat for Spurs. Yeates and Barnett combined again, and Slabber seemed to be forced down when he tried to meet Barnett's cross. No penalty was given.
Just over half an hour had gone when Howell made mince-meat of Doherty. His cross reached Essendoh, but his shot outside the area, was blocked and sent safely into touch. The game was now opening up and going from one end to the other. Slabber hit the side netting after a good run down the left, then Howell latched onto a ball in the inside right slot, before hitting a powerful half volley just over Eyre's bar.
Jackson gave McKie a rare shooting chance, but the keeper saved, before Ronnie Henry headed the corner over. Slabber should have done better with a Bowditch cross, but failed to control the ball closely enough, enabling the two centre-backs to defend well. Just before half time, Gary Doherty advanced towards the area on a run, but was brought down 25 yards out. Up stepped Jackson to curl a hard left foot shot to the keeper's left to burst the net!
Stortford made a number of changes at half-time and switched their 4-4-2 to more closely match the fluid formation of Spurs. Spurs were caught napping from the restart, as the right back slipped the ball over the defence to Howell, who got almost to the bye-line before providing Essendoh with a simple finish. McKie headed on Henry's ball from right to left, and that man Yeates was on the ball, beating his defender, before having his shot touched away by the goalie.
Spurs went two down after 54 minutes, when a Spurs attack broke down, and the ball rebounded well into the Spurs half, with the defence on the hop again. Number 14 - Beale raced ahead of the chasers. His shot could only be parried by Eyre (who did not look at all confident), and Howell had the open goal to shoot into. Spurs were level within two minutes though, when Jackson made a lovely jinking run from left to right outside the area, and slid the ball to Barnett lurking on the right of the box. Barnett rifled in a right foot shot, which was unstoppable.
Essendoh forced Eyre into a save taken at the second attempt, before Spurs took a 70th minute lead through Mark Yeates on the right edge of the area. Yeates made a long ball his own, and hit a superb low right footed shot to give us a 3-2 scoreline. It wasn't over though, as Stortford scored on the break again from the left, when Dobson valiantly tried to retrieve the situation, but Southam passed inside for A.N. Other to score.
Kieran McKenna and Owen Price got ten minutes at the end, and in the 86th minutes, McKenna got behind the defence took the ball down the left channel and sent a low cross which was converted by the advancing Bowditch. Just when it looked like Spurs (wearing their light blue strip) would take the spoils, the home side equalised somewhat fortuitously when a free kick was cruelly deflected across the wrong-footed Eyre, who could not be blamed. Owen Price then hit a rocket of a shot from 30 yards at quite a sharp angle, which the substitute keeper tipped over the bar.
Even Stortford's manager Martin Hayes got onto the pitch for the last 5 minutes, and both sides were happy with the work-out. Stortford have their first competitive game on Tuesday, when they play nearby Ware Town in a local cup competition. This "Spurs XI" travel to Orient on Tuesday night, and I hope to see then in a more defensive frame of mind.
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