FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
(at Aldershot F.C)
MONDAY 15TH AUGUST, 2005
CHELSEA RESERVES 0 (0) SPURS RESERVES 2 (1)
Referee: - Mr. S. Creighton
Attendance: - Est. – 3,000
Chelsea (4-1-4-1):- Pidgeley; Smith (D.), Mancienne, Pettigrew, Bridge; Diarra; Morais (sub Simmonds, 71), Jarosik, Hollands (Capt.) (sub Grant, 50), Elmer (sub Tillen, 50; Younghusband
Subs not used: - Hamann (GK); Smith (J.)
Booked: - Diarra, Pettigrew
Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Burch; Ifil, Lee, Bunjevcevic, McKie; O’Hara; Lennon, Brown (sub McKenna, 46), Jackson (Capt.), Hallfredsson (sub Daniels, 69); Barnard
Subs not used: - Forecast; Mills; Dawkins
Booked: - Brown
A genuine Spurs’ Reserve side overcame a tricky away fixture against a Chelsea team featuring Wayne Bridge and Jiri Jarosik, with a thoroughly mature and professional performance, capped by two superb strikes by firstly right back Phil Ifil, and then in the second half, skipper John Jackson rasped home a shot following brilliant work by lone striker Lee Barnard.
Bridge, of course is a recuperating player, but Spurs also featured one of their own come-back merchants – midfielder Michael Brown. Brown played a measured 45 minutes, patrolling the midfield, but did manage to get a booking for a cynical rather than violent foul, whereas Chelsea’s Diarra and Marcel McKie had escaped with words from the referee for more obvious fouls.
Lassana Diarra was signed in the close season by Chelsea. He is just 20, and looks like a young Makelele, and perhaps is being groomed for such a position. Certainly he played the holding midfield tonight for the Blues, but his passing was quite poor at times, as were many of his colleagues’ efforts in that area. Both teams played with one striker, ably supported by a fluid midfield keen to assist in attack and cover their defensive duties too. Hence the first 20 minutes or so was almost a chess board type scenario, with little to get the pulses racing, but plenty for the connoisseur to consider.
There was so much to praise about Spurs tonight. They rarely conceded possession cheaply, Bunjevcevic’s young compatriots in the back four displayed confidence on the ball beyond their years, and all the midfield were supporting well, ready for short passes to clear any threats. Jamie O’Hara was Spurs rearmost midfielder a lot of the time, and having had a scare last week, when his mistake had led to the Watford equaliser, I was pleased to see him recover well, winning a seemingly lost ball back in the middle. O’Hara regularly found Lennon and Hallfredsson on the flanks with superb long passes, and whilst Lennon was policed by Bridge, Hallfredsson had the beating of right back Dean Smith, without often finding a target with his final ball. Indeed, neither goalkeeper was tested too hard at any stage of the game. Certainly I cannot recall Burch having to make a direct save.
There was a healthy crowd of about 3,000, mostly Chelsea fans of course, but a decent smattering of Spurs support could be found around the ground. Chelsea nearly drew first blood after 3 minutes, when Morais got away from McKie down the right, crossed and Jarosik fired over from distance. Three minutes later, Diarra got his warning from the referee, when he chopped John Jackson in full flow about 35 yards out. John Jackson later put a free kick into the box from the left, and after a header from Hallfredsson, Lee Barnard was involved physically with Pidgeley who got the benefit of the referee’s whistle when the ball was bundled over the line.
After 27 minutes, a Chelsea corner was put back by Younghusband, into the path of defender Mancienne, whose shot went just outside Burch’s right post. Jackson sent Hallfredsson away with a quick ball, and Emil shaped to go outside Smith, then cut inside, threaded the ball to McKie, whose cross was held by the keeper. Then Spurs took the lead through Phil Ifil, who had been passing well, and who had made several decent moves down the line to assist Lennon. This time, Ifil cut in from the right, got a lay-off from Barnard, then beat the keeper with a great shot from 20 yards. Barnard was already making headway against either Mancienne or Pettigrew, upsetting them with his physical strength and application, holding the ball up effectively and laying it off well to his advancing midfield. Such was the level of frustration experienced by the Chelsea defenders that Pettigrew was carded in the second half for taking a kick at Barnard after the Chelsea player had been penalised for the umpteenth time by the referee, who certainly was not a friend of the home fans.
Michael Brown was replaced at half time by McKenna, and now each of the Spurs midfield tracked any attack diligently. Lee, Ifil and McKie were super-cool at the back, and we really did boss this game in the second half, as Chelsea struggled to muster a worthwhile attack. They tried to get more men forward, when they made two early second-half substitutions. Grant assisted Diarra at the back of midfield, whilst Tillen, Jarosik, and Morais tried to get nearer Younghusband.
O’Hara had a long range attempt on goal after a touched on free kick, and then Lee and Ifil tigerishly won the ball off Younghusband, then coolly cleared their lines. Spurs got a superb second goal in the 68th minute, after Barnard typically won a battle with Pettigrew (now wearing the Captain’s armband), before laying the ball up for John Jackson who hit a rasping drive that Pidgeley was never going to stop. Spurs maintained possession and absolute control of the game to secure a second win and a great start to their campaign which continues on Tuesday 30th August at Stevenage, when they entertain Norwich.
We must hope that the first team can compete with the Chelsea seniors in the same way on August 27th!
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