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Match Reports
Spurs Reserves v Chelsea Reserves, 14.12.05

(at Broadhall Way, Stevenage)

Rasiak, 15, 74

Referee: - Mr F. Graham

Attendance: - Est. 400

Spurs (4-4-2); - Burch; McKenna, Pamarot, Lee (Capt.), Daniels; Lennon (sub Barcham, 46), Davis, Brown (sub O’Hara, 46), Hallfredsson; Rasiak, Barnard

Subs not used: - Button; Mills; Lewis

Booked: - Lee

Chelsea (4-1-4-1):- Pidgeley; Smith, Pettogrew, Watt, Tillen; Grant (sub Mancienne, 49); Morais (sub Simmonds, 83), Smith (sub Sinclair, 65), Hollands (Capt.), Keenan; Younghusband

Subs not used: - Ma-Kalambay; Elmer

Booked: - Grant, Pettogrew, Tillen

Sent off: - Watt (Violent Conduct)

Spurs Reserves won their fourth consecutive game, with a similar run of clean sheets, repeating the 2-0 margin by which they beat Chelsea at Aldershot early this season. Those who have expressed doubts about the ability of Polish International Grzegorz Raziak should have been at Broadhall Way tonight to see his two goals, the first of which was of impeccable quality. Raziak also hit the bar after just one minute and had an injury time “goal” disallowed after an offside offence. Rasiak didn’t let us down earlier this season, when Mido was suspended, and he will do well when Mido goes to Africa in January and February for the African Nations tournament.

In truth there was not so much to report as far as goalmouth action is concerned, but Spurs, fielding a strong line-up, were deserved winners against a young Chelsea side that tried to play to their senior club’s system, but found themselves getting pushed back consistently. Grant played the Makelele role in front of the back four, whilst Younghusband was the lone front runner, supported by skipper Danny Hollands from the middle and Philip Morais, whose lightning pace took Charlie Daniels by surprise in the early exchanges.

With the exception of Noe Pamarot, the Spurs defence was youthful, with Rob Burch getting a rare outing in goal. Pamarot included, every member of the defence displayed total commitment, along with biting but fair winning tackles. Lee is a great distributor of the ball, whilst Charlie Daniels made many great forward runs, combining effectively with the ever-improving Emil Hallfredsson, who suffered a head wound early on and played most of the game with a “bubble” bandage. Sean Davis and Michael Brown started in the central midfield, but it is likely that both Brown and Lennon were being protected for the first team squad this Sunday, as they were both replaced at half time. Both Brown and Davis were enigmatic in that first half, sometimes not seeming to work as hard as the youngsters around them, whilst always capable of a sudden expression of great skill.

It seemed that when Jamie O’Hara came on in the second half that Spurs had more control and domination in the middle, where they had been swamped by dark blue shirts at times in the first 45 minutes.

After breaking out from that early surprise for Daniels, Hallfredsson sent over a good cross, met by a Rasiak header that rebounded into play off the bar. Rasiak and Barnard battled away throughout the game, chasing back to challenge and often steal the ball off defenders. At times, Spurs produced some delightful football, such as a triangular passing movement featuring the strikers and Aaron Lennon, or a great ball from Davis to Hallfredsson.

Rasiak stunned the Chelsea defence and the crowd in the fifteenth minute, when he received the ball with his back to goal at least 25 yards out. In one swift movement, Grzegorz swivelled and beat Pidgeley with a superbly hit left foot shot that beat the keeper hitting the net in his top right corner.

It was nearly half an hour before Chelsea had a meaningful chance, and that came following a throw on the left, when Younghusband cut inside and hit his right footed shot wide of the near post. Chelsea’s Grant got an early booking for his foul on Lennon, and was replaced early in the second half, no doubt to prevent his being sent off, as he also had a supplementary warning or two from the referee. Just before the break, Michael Brown picked up a lay-off from Lee Barnard, and after a brief run, hit a shot that Pidgeley saw late, just saving with a stretch to the left, as the ball nearly bounced past him into the net.

Seven minutes into the second half, Lee Barnard resisted a strong challenge to hold the ball then release it for Hallfredsson, who turned inside and forced a great save from a right foot drive, which was pushed over the bar for a corner. Chelsea replaced Smith with Sinclair and started to play two up front, with Sinclair beside Younghusband. It was still Spurs calling the shots though, and again Hallfredsson went on a run before seeing his deflected shot saved by the busy Chelsea keeper. Pettogrew got booked for a cynical foul on Jamie O’Hara, and Chelsea were suitably punished, as Sean Davis floated in the free kick, and Rasiak’s gentle looping header beat Pidgeley to put the game beyond the grasp of the visitors.

Charlie Daniels showed defensive skill, keeping Morais on his outside just outside the box, and the shot from the right winger never worried Burch, as it flew over the corner of the goal. Daniels’ work ethic was excellently represented when he continued a run down the line, after determined defensive work, received a lay-off from Rasiak, and was then unlucky to see his shot deflected and held by Pidgeley. At the other end there was some late action for the referee, who awarded a free kick against Charlie Lee, who he wanted to book. Tillen took the free kick without permission and got his name in the book, after Lee. Soon after that, there was some argy-bargy in the Spurs area, when Chelsea were preparing to take a corner, and centre back Steven watt got a straight red card, presumably for violent conduct.

Chelsea did have one threatening late effort, by Sinclair, that went just wide of Burch’s goal, but Spurs secured the win to maintain their second place in the Reserve League. Their next game is away to Watford next Monday night. I intend to be present to report on the game.

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