FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (South)
MONDAY 7TH FEBRUARY, 2005
(at Broadhall Way, Stevenage)
SPURS RESERVES 2 (1) LEICESTER RESERVES 1 (0)
El Hamdaoui, 80
Referee:- Mr. D. Whitestone
Attendance:- Est. 250
Spurs (4-4-2):- Eyre; Ifil, O'Donoghue (Capt.), Defendi, McKie; Ricketts, McKenna, Hallfredsson, Limbersky; Barnard, El Hamdaoui
Subs not used:- Forecast; Lee; Dilevski, O'Hara; Malcolm
Booked:- El Hamdaoui, Limbersky
Leicester (4-4-2):- Logan; Canero, Stearman, Lycett, Wykes; Butcher, Wesolowski, Gemmill (Capt.), Muggleton (sub Norvall, 81); Wright, O'Grady
Subs not used:- Payne, Graham
Booked:- Wright, Muggleton, Canero, Stearman
Sent off:- Canero (2nd Yellow Card)
An opportunist 35th minute goal by David Limbersky, and a superb debut goal from Mounir El Hamdaoui ensured that the Reserves gained a win that keeps them in the Top Three of the Reserve League, despite a late scare from O'Grady who sneaked in a shot under Eyre even though the Foxes had been reduced to 10 men in a hard fought match.
Leicester's side consisted largely of their youngsters, guided by the now veteran Scott Gemmill, signed by Leicester on a short term contract that is due to expire this month. Gemmill's midfield partner - James Wesolowski seemed to set the template for the rest of the visiting side though, with a terrier-like battling attitude. Wesolowski just about steered clear of the referee's notebook, but the hard tackling, argumentative side had four men booked and one of those sent off for a second bookable offence late in the game. Spurs needed to be on the alert ready to leap and avoid some of the lunges that were too often ignored by a referee who struggled to keep a grip of this hard game.
Those who bothered to attend on a misty and cold night were treated to a sight of a great deal of potential in the Spurs ranks, and a debut in a competitive game by Mounir El Hamdaoui, who partnered Lee Barnard up front. David Limbersky impressed on the left wing, and Emil Hallfredsson had one of the best games I have seen from him in the middle next to young Kieran McKenna who surely has a bright future. McKenna did not give an inch in the midfield territorial battle. Rohan Ricketts had several good moments, but perhaps tried a little too hard at times, losing control of the ball and his passes. Phil Ifil at right back had another great game, and was instrumental to a number of good attacks, whilst also defending well, alongside O'Donoghue and a busy Defendi. Ifil will look forward to next Tuesday night's Youth Cup game at White Hart Lane with relish. The watching Martin Jol had plenty to enjoy in the performance of several Spurs protégés tonight!
The first half lacked too much in the way of notable action though. A promising early shot from Hamdaoui was deflected for a corner, from which Leicester managed to clear a near post scramble. Defendi's goal-bound shot from Ricketts' 6th minute corner was only halted by Lee Barnard, who suffered a hefty body blow. Leicester had their own goalmouth scramble at the other end, and from a free kick taken on the left, Muggleton's shot was well blocked and cleared by the Spurs defence. Butcher had a speculative shot from long range well over the bar, but after 32 minutes, Wright rose to a right field cross and beat Eyre to the ball, heading over the bar.
Spurs had been showing plenty of good touches and decent approach play, from the likes of Hamdaoui, Limbersky, and Hallfredsson, assisted by Ifil and Ricketts down the right, but they managed little direct threat to Logan's goal. Logan is a beefy keeper and with his shock of blond hair, puts me in mind of a certain Danish keeper, currently trying to be a pundit on the Beeb! When Spurs did take the lead, the goal came as something of a surprise and a gift, as Ifil's long ball from the half-way line was not dealt with by the Leicester defence, and Limbersky was on hand to lift the ball over the keeper to the far side of the goal.
Limbersky was taking a lot of punishment, and Wright got booked for a late challenge. Three minutes before half-time, Leicester broke well down the right and it was O'Grady who crossed low, met by Stearman on the half-volley, but held well by Nicky Eyre. Hallfredsson sent Marcel McKie away on a run, and Hamdaoui mis-cued his attempted shot from the cross. The ball ran to Ricketts, who also fluffed his attempt on goal, hitting the ball harmlessly across the penalty area.
Barnard hit a useful 25 yard drive that Logan held soon after the break, before 5 minutes later Hallfredsson cut in from the right and hit a powerful left foot shot from the edge of the box, over the far corner of the goal. That man El Hamdaoui did well to hold onto the ball despite the close attention of three defenders, before passing back to Defendi, whose low ball beat the defence and was hit first time by Lee Barnard just outside the post. Mckenna now got forward on the right, and crossed for Hamdaoui, who controlled well, before hitting a low shot just wide. Sadly, Mounir then got booked for chasing the referee for not giving a foul when he had clearly been kicked in the thigh.
Leicester had been given a dubious free kick against Marcel McKie, 25 yards out, taken quickly, and it looked like Eyre made a great double save to me, from two close range shots. Lee Barnard then had a couple of chances. One from a Ricketts cross which he prodded wide, then a header from Hallfredsson's free kick, hitting the side netting. Canero got his first booking for throwing the ball at Limbersky's head when the Spurs player won a throw, but Limbersky sought retribution and also got in the book for a foul, when another challenge upon Hamdaoui went un-noticed.
Limbersky and Hallfredsson combined down the left, with the number 8 passing inside to Hamdaoui, who slipped the ball across the area to Ricketts, whose shot was well saved by Logan. Two minutes later, Spurs extended their lead after Ifil made a great run from his own half, putting in a low cross to Hamdaoui, who did well to skip a lunge of a tackle, then delightfully beating the keeper with the outside of his right foot for a goal of real class. Spurs other 4 strikers have some more competition here!
Canero got his second yellow for another late challenge upon Limbersky, inside the Spurs half, but the game opened out, as Leicester desperately looked for a way back in to contention. Hamdaoui had a couple of shots saved in quick succession, with Ricketts, Hallfredsson and Limbersky all involved in the build-up. Hamdaoui's final shot was quick on the turn from a Limbersky ball, but Logan dived to his right and clutched the ball well. At the other end. O'Grady caught Eyre by surprise with a shot that crept under the keeper's body at the near post to make the closing stages more nervous than they should have been for Spurs.
The Reserves' next match is away to Charlton on Monday 21st February (likely to be played at The Valley), before playing Coventry here at Stevenage on Wednesday March 2nd. The Under 18 side have a match this Saturday at Spurs Lodge against Cardiff. Kick off is likely to be 11 a.m. but is subject to late change.
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