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Match Reports
Spurs Reserves v Portsmouth Reserves, 25.10.04

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
MONDAY 25TH OCTOBER, 2004
SPURS RESERVES 2 (1) PORTSMOUTH RESERVES 0 (0)

Scorers:-
Barnard, 38
Dilevski, 72

Referee:- Mr. S. Beck

Attendance:- Est:- 300

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Fulop; Ifil, O'Donoghue, Kelly (Capt.), Taricco; Marney, Carrick (sub Hughes, 63), Brown (sub Dilevski, 63), Yeates; Silva (sub Slabber, 75), Barnard

Subs not used:- Burch; McKie

Booked:- Marney (retaliation)

Portsmouth (4-4-2):- Guatelli; Angus, Pearce, Buxton (Capt.), Moore; Wilson (sub Day, 69), Pulis (sub Carter-Harris, 84), Harris, Horsted (sub Cousins, 46); Eyles, Clark

Sub not used:- Dean Harris

Booked:- Pulis (foul on Silva), Moore (foul on Marney)

Despite the onset of Wednesday night's Carling Cup tie against Bolton, Spurs fielded a strong Reserve side against a very youthful Portsmouth side that featured just one player (to the best of my knowledge) with Premiership experience. On paper, it looked like this could have been a very convincing win to follow last week's 5-0 trouncing of Coventry, but, whilst the result never looked in doubt, the scoreline was perhaps a little unsatisfactory for Spurs, although it was a fair margin for the fighting Pompey team.

Spurs featured Michael Brown and Michael Carrick in the central midfield for the first hour, and I expect they both will travel to Bolton. Of the two, Brown was the more prominent player, although both tried to involve themselves at the front and back of the midfield. Rodrigo Defendi is probably serving his one match suspension for his red card in the last home game, and it was a young central defence for the home side, with skipper Kelly beside O'Donoghue. Mauricio Taricco made a welcome return from suspension, and may also have a part to play at The Reebock, whilst Phil Ifil played a starring role at right back, enjoying plenty of successful ventures in attack.

On the wings, Spurs had Marney and Yeates. Marney looked a little out of sorts, but when the initial substitutions were made, he came into the centre of midfield, where he looked more comfortable. Yeates enjoyed plenty of action, and Barnard and Silva completed the line-up. Fulop was in goal, and had several good saves to make, one more spectacular than it needed to be, but he seems to be developing well, and assuming Kasey Keller moves on, Fulop looks as if he will make an able deputy to Paul Robinson.

Yeates was getting plenty of ball early on, and threatened the Pompey goal with a powerful cross/shot to the danger zone, unfortunately un-manned by a white shirt. Silva looked lively in these early stages, winning Fulop's long kicks, and giving the defence plenty to think about. With a strong run through the middle, he took three Portsmouth players out of the equation, before feeding Yeates, whose shot was blocked. Silva then suffered a nasty high tackle by Pulis, who got booked for his troubles, and whilst Silva resumed, he lost some of his edge due to that knock.

Portsmouth's first threat came after Yeates lost out near the half way line and the ball was sent to James Eyles who passed to Chris Clark, whose low shot to the left of Fulop brought a comfortable save. Moore got booked for a late challenge on Marney, who was perhaps lucky only to see yellow for his retaliation, which included raised arms. After 28 minutes, Brown's short corner nearly caught Taricco unawares, but he did return the ball to Brown who skipped towards the bye line, inside the area, crossing just in front of Barnard and other advancing Spurs, including Stephen Kelly.

A poor touch from Kelly on 34 minutes gave Horsted a chance, but Fulop made a great save, advancing to a good position and diving well to his right to stop the Pompey shot. Spurs took the lead in the 38th minute, when Ifil made perhaps the first of his advances, to take part in exchanged passes with Barnard, who hit a great low shot from 20 yards to the right of the keeper for his eighth goal of the campaign. Five minutes later, a Marney shot was deflected just wide of the post for a corner.

After the break, Horsted did not emerge, suffering a knock just before the interval, being replaced by Cousins, who took up the right wing slot, whilst Wilson switched to the left. Silva made a good touch on a Taricco floated ball, which fell to Barnard hitting a good opportunist shot from the edge of the box, saved by Guatelli. Barnard then had another shot parried, and Brown and Silva followed up as the keeper could only parry, but one of them was adjudged offside.

Brown gifted the ball to Harris in a dangerous area, and Harris hit a high curling shot, which Fulop pushed away with a dive that was a little more spectacular than necessary! Brown and Carrick were replaced by Dilevski and Hughes respectively, and whilst Dilevski took up a right side position, he tended to get into attacking positions in the middle, allowing Ifil more forward runs, which had good effect. The strategy paid off in the 72nd minute, as Yeates raced down the left passing inside to Dilevski, who firstly carried the ball to the left, then turned and hit a great right foot shot into the net.

Silva was replaced by Jamie Slabber, making his first competitive appearance of the season, having sustained that shoulder injury pre-season in Sweden. There was nearly a repeat of the Yeates-Dilevski combination, but Spase sidefooted his shot just outside the post. Yeates had a good effort saved for a corner, and Barnard had a late shot saved cleanly.

Next Monday, Spurs are at home to Chelsea reserves, and a few more glory-hunting locals can be expected to turn up. Those Blues' supporters might be disappointed with a line-up likely to be predominantly youngsters - who knows?

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