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Match Reports
Crystal Palace Reserves v Spurs Reserves, 18.01.05


(at Selhurst Park)

Referee:- Mr S. Yerby

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Butterfield, Hudson, Popovic, Borrowdale; Dolan, Hall, Togwell; Freedman; Torghelle (Berry 45), Shipperley
Subs not used: Wilson, Wilkinson, Smith, Grabban

Tottenham Hotspur: Eyre; Kelly (Kyriacou, 69), Richards, Defendi, McKie; Davies (Price 45), Bunjevcevic, Hallfredsson, Limbersky; Barnard, Malcolm
Subs not used: Mascarenhas, Yeates

Many thanks to new correspondent Jack Leather for his report on last night's game

A top of the table encounter in the Reserve League South ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw despite both teams fielding sides full of Premiership experience. The likes of Simon Davies and Dean Richards featured for Spurs while Tony Popovic, Dougie Freedman and Neil Shipperley, amongst others, turned out for Palace.

Spurs fans had the opportunity to monitor the progress of their two transfer window new boys, Emil Hallfredsson and David Limbersky, who both played the full game. While the latter was awarded a dubious penalty early in the 2nd half, it was the young Icelandic who really stamped his authority on the game with some strong play in the hub of the Tottenham midfield.

The game got off to a slow start and the late arrivers – including Martin Jol and Frank Arnesen – didn’t miss much. As the game got going, Spurs started seeing more of the ball and gaining control of midfield. Tony Popovic was still arguing with the linesman on the near side when Tottenham created an opening through the middle on 5 minutes, Mark Hudson covered well in the middle though. Soon after, Simon Davies showed great vision to release Limbersky but the cross and follow-up were both blocked. On the quarter hour mark, instigated again by Davies, Spurs put together a great passing move which ended in a blocked shot by McKie from 25 yards. Stephen Kelly was impressive, and with Richards and Defendi forming a strong combination at the back, Spurs looked comfortable, if not threatening throughout the first half.

For Palace, young Ryan Hall was catching the eye and he had the best Palace chance to date when he got on the end of a sweeping move but his shot from a tight angle went just over. On 20 minutes, McKie brought down Torghelle and the resulting free-kick was saved well by Eyre down to his left. It was Torghelle again who was involved in a great move by Palace five minutes later but his final ball to Shipperley was poor and the move broke down. It was the turn of Bunjevcevic – who looked subdued and may be looking for a move away in the next couple of weeks – to create an opening soon after for Spurs’ best chance of the half. He found young Malcolm on the edge of the Palace area and when he was tackled the ball fell to Davies whose well hit shot was parried by Speroni. The final chance of the half fell to the Eagles but Freedman failed to connect cleanly after outfoxing Kelly on the edge of the box. The half-time whistle went and queue the meeting of the directors of football (or sport) – Frank Arnesen and Iain Dowie – who greeted each other like long lost friends. Was the topic of Wayne Routledge brought up over the half-time cup of tea?

Tottenham had enjoyed the best of the first half but had to wait until the start of the second to make their advantage count on the scoreboard. Hallfredsson sent a superb 40-yard ball down the inside left channel to Limbersky and the Czech, whose great first touch took him inside of Butterfield, then went down easily inside the box for a disputable penalty. Barnard dispatched it convincingly. 1-0. Spurs then started to sit back rather than push forward to increase their advantage. Bunjevcevic was half-hearted in some of his interventions in the middle of the park and the lightweight partnership of Barnard and Malcolm up front was impacting little. Palace’s half-time substitute Berry, meanwhile, was getting more of the ball and making the most of it. He gave McKie a torrid time in the build-up and his final ball was often threatening. Proof of this came on the 60th minute when he fed Shipperley in the middle. Richards did enough to put him off but Ryan Hall came in with a rasping volley at the far post which went just over. The small home crowd were beginning to warm up and some anti-North London feelings were made plain.

Palace responded to the crowd with a goal. McKie was once again exposed as Freedman took the ball past him and fed the ball into the danger area. It was cleared by Richards only as far as Berry whose deflected shot wrong-footed Eyre. From then on the game got slightly messy. Limbersky, who wasn’t getting much luck down the left wing, cynically fouled Togwell to earn himself a yellow card. Popovic and Barnard were also booked for a tangle which threatened to turn into a wrestling match. Ryan Hall was taking the free-kicks for Crystal Palace and Eyre had to be alert in the 69th minute to tip the ball past the post. Neil Shipperley thought he’d given the home team the advantage in the 83rd minute but his shot into the net was ruled offside. After that Crystal Palace continued to look threatening until the end, but without creating much more of note. Spurs’ passing became ragged, although mention should be made of Owen Price who showed some good touches on the right flank.

Clive Allen and Kit Symons will be satisfied with a decent performance by their teams on the whole, although both will feel their strikers in particular could have done more. For Spurs at least, who will be encouraged by the enthusiastic return of Simon Davies, it was a vast improvement on the drubbing inflicted by Southampton last week.

(copyright)Jack Leather

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