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Spurs Reserves v Southampton Reserves, 10.01.05

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
MONDAY 10TH JANUARY, 2005
SPURS RESERVES 0 (0) SOUTHAMPTON RESERVES 5 (3)

Scorers:-
Mills, 16
Blackstock, 25, 37
Tessem, 54
Surman, 58

Referee:- Mr. R. Lee

Attendance:- Est 300

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Fulop; Ifil, Richards (Capt.), Defendi, Bunjevcevic; Limbersky, Yeates, O'Hara (sub McKenna, 58), Hallfredsson; Barnard, Silva (sub Malcolm, 68

Subs not used:- Eyre; McKie, Lee

No Bookings

Southampton (4-4-2):- Smith; Dodd, Mills, Yahia, Cranie; Nilsson, Baird (Capt.), Oakley, Surman (sub McGoldrick, 75); Blackstock, Tessem (sub Gillett, 75)

Subs not used:- Poke; Anaclet, Macdonal

No bookings

There are a number of factors which contributed to this, the poorest fare I have seen for Spurs at any level this season:-

1. Spurs fielded a side with 6 changes since their last game 4 weeks ago. Dean Marney is currently part of the first team squad. John Jackson is on loan at Watford. Jamie Slabber has gone on loan to Swindon. Spase Dilevski is with the Australian Youth Squad for a month.

2. From the outset it could be seen that Spurs were going to be lightweight in midfield. Both the new boys had to be "given a run". Limbersky played throughout on the right, with pace and moments of skill. Emil Hallfredsson started on the left, but soon switched with Mark Yeates, as Jamie O'Hara was struggling as the anchor in midfield. Sadly, as neither Barnard or Silva made a success of holding the ball up, Spurs' midfield failed to stem the never-ending tide of Southampton attacks, and what should have been a reasonably formidable defence was under the cosh virtually throughout the first half, and for much of the second. Rodrigo Defendi was the most culpable of the defence, if one seeks to apportion blame. Hallfredsson contributed more to the game than Limbersky, but both will need more time to settle. This was a different and a lack-lustre side to the one which had such a great first half of the season.

3. Southampton, who now overtake Spurs in the Reserve League, beat us at St. Marys Stadium in September by 3-0. Tonight they featured no less than 5 players with Premiership experience, and whilst Spurs could name 4 such players, the Saints were the stronger and more experienced in that department. They were skippered in name by Chris Baird, but Jason Dodd at right back was very vocal, and directed operations very efficiently.

In front of an array of coaches, including Glenn Hoddle, Colin Calderwood, Adrian Heath, Harry Redknapp, Jim Smith and Kevin Bond, to name just a few, Spurs were overwhelmed and played quite dismally. Too many of them had clearly had too long away from the game over Christmas, and with the different line-up, communication seemed to be lacking too.

I can hardly bring myself to write much, beyond the goals. Fulop had given us an early scare when he dropped a corner and Yahia, followed up, but had his shot blocked at short range. After 8 minutes, Spurs provided almost their one and only attack worth mentioning, started and finished by Yeates, who pushed the ball out to Ifil, who passed inside to Silva. Eddie returned the ball to Yeates who had now moved from the centre to an inside-right position, hitting a great swerving and dipping shot that skimmed the bar.

Then the onslaught started. Fulop was down to a Baird shot, and then centre back Matthew Mills was up for a corner, but headed wide. Two minutes later Mills headed the ball into the net from a corner which technically was illegal, as it was not placed inside the quadrant, but let's not split hairs, eh? Saints then played some neat one-touch football down the left channel, ending with a first time shot by Blackstock, straight at Fulop. Blackstock had the ball in the net in the 25th minute though, as he received a ball through the middle and hit it across Defendi, past Fulop, hitting the net inside the far post. It got worse in the 37th minute, as Blackstock again got on the end of Tessem's cross, flicked on by Baird.

After the break, Spurs resisted better for a while, but in the 54th minute an O'Hara ball failed and was quickly sent down the right for Tessem, encouraged by Dodd to "take him on" (referring to Defendi). Tessem obliged cutting to the left of our young Brazilian, before hitting a great left foot shot beyond the despairing Fulop. Four minutes later, the assistant linesman's flag went up for offside and Spurs stood still, as Surman slotted home. The referee over-ruled the linesman, as he had spotted a back-pass by a Spurs man. Our agony was complete, although somehow we did manage to hold out for the remaining 32 minutes, despite a rocket shot from Oakley (just over), Blackstock getting the better of Defendi, before Fulop saved with his legs, and McGoldrick hitting a shot just over the top left corner of Fulop's goal in the closing stages.

Spurs had nothing worthy of mention to show for their efforts. They did at least look more solid when Kieran McKenna replaced O'Hara in the middle, but this was a surprising and embarrassing home defeat - the worse I can recall seeing at this level.

The Reserves have two away games against Palace and Norwich coming up, before they entertain Leicester at Broadhall Way, Stevenage on Monday February 7th.

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