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Match Reports
Spurs Reserves v Crystal Palace Reserves, 23.11.05

(at Broadhall Way, Stevenage)

Barnard, 10, 28 (pen)
Reid, 67
Barcham, 84, 90

Referee: - Mr. G. Horwood

Attendance: - Est. 250

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Pamarot, Lee, Gardner (sub Mills, 59), Daniels; Routledge (sub Barcham, 46), McKenna (Capt.), O’Hara, Reid; Barnard, Rasiak (sub Martin, 65)

Subs not used: - Forecast; Lewis

Booked: - McKenna

Crystal Palace (4-4-2); - Speroni; Fray, Swaibu, Wilson, Straker; Black, Riihilati (sub Lyons, 59), Leigertwood (Capt.) (sub Starkey, 59), Hall; Macken (sub Peprah-Annan, 46), Grabban

Subs not used: - Wilkinson; Spence

Booked: - Riihilati, Starkey, Black

Be honest. You looked at the scoreline and thought how easy that must have been for Spurs! Well, of course it was a convincing result, but if I told you that Radek Cerny had to make at least two excellent saves at close quarters, Noe Pamarot made a desperate goal-line clearance and that Palace demonstrated profligacy in front of goal another two or three times, then you start to realise that the scoreline could have been a lot different.

Spurs did more than score five goals themselves, as Speroni had an enigmatic game, making plenty of good saves, but also presenting Andy Reid with a goal, and Lee Barnard with an easy chance before the break, which by the way was spurned by the double-scoring striker who easily tops the Reserves score chart again this season. Indeed, the Palace defence too often gave the ball back to the advancing Spurs midfield or strike force, even when the Lilywhites had managed to lose possession.

So, despite the scoreline, there was plenty for both sets of fans to enthuse about, and after all, we had all seen a cracking game on a cold night when the frost and fog stayed away. To give them credit, there was a fair smattering of visiting support, who saw their top outfield players withdrawn, presumably to be preserved for potential Championship action this week-end.

Spurs fielded a strong side, but had done the same two weeks ago, when they came a cropper at home to Leicester. There was to be no mistake this time though, as they returned to second place in the Reserve League, leaving the visitors down in sixth place.

Noe Pamarot is getting very close to full fitness levels, and will be knocking on the door for a first team outing in no time. Anthony Gardner made his return from injury and played the first hour. As Anthony likes to play on the left side of the central two, that might have put off Charlie Lee for a while, and there were times when Lewis Grabban got goal-side of the Spurs defence to cause some threat upon their goal. Wayne Routledge also made his comeback appearance, and was replaced by Andy Barcham. Routledge had demonstrated some good touches, and played a full part in some decent moves, featuring good link-up play all over the park. This was a particular forte of Grzegorz Rasiak, who fed Barnard for his first goal, and offered plenty more to the Spurs attacks.

Andy Barcham was to score not just his first, but also his second goals at this level, both of them superbly made and taken. Yes, there was so much to admire about this game tonight. Andy Reid played most of the night in a conventional left wing position, and he and Kieran McKenna were responsible for putting in some decent early balls for Rasiak and Barnard. Barnard was the first to threaten goal, as he headed McKenna’s chip wide. Palace’s left winger, Ryan Hall put Leigertwood in the clear, and his shot was held by Cerny. After the clearance, Rasiak’s ball across the field was gifted to Barnard by an errant piece of defence, and Lee was free with just Speroni to beat, which he did with aplomb, placing his shot to the keeper’s right.

Twenty minutes into the game, ex-Man City forward John Macken (scorer of the winner in that 4-3 Cup game) collected a ball down the line on the right, passed inside to Black, whose shot must have been finger-tipped by Cerny for a corner. Mid-way through the half, Palace gave away a rather soft penalty, as Pamarot just squeezed into the box, and was fouled. Barnard sent Speroni the wrong way, before planting the ball in the net.

Kieran McKenna made a great run behind the forwards to just reach Routledge’s cross, but Speroni stretched to his right to reach the attempt on goal. Palace had a log distance effort, before and Andy Reid free kick whistled just outside the post, after Rasiak had been fouled, having played a full part in a prolonged move by Spurs. Despite all the star players in the Spurs team, there were still opportunities for the youngsters to shine, and that’s just what Jamie O’Hara did. He and Kieran McKenna were mentioned by Martin Jol last week, as bright young players, and they both demonstrated 100% application tonight, coupled with skill aplenty. O’Hara led a break from the back, sending Reid away. Andy Reid (the much maligned one) gave Rasiak a cleverly weighted pass, and Grzegorz’s shot across the goal was only just wide.

There was plenty of action left in the first half, as Grabban got behind Lee, but was thwarted by Radek Cerny, saving with his right hand stretching low from close range. Reid then had time to demonstrate great skill outside his own box, before starting another attack. Routledge switched to the left temporarily and laid the ball into the path of the advancing Daniels, whose shot was well saved by the keeper. Barnard and McKenna had good chances, before Speroni dollied an attempted clearance to Barnard with the goal beckoning. This time the posts were not far enough apart for Lee!

Palace took off Macken after the break, and his replacement was our own Nathan Peprah-Annan, who may be on loan to Palace, or perhaps has transferred. Peprah had never reached the Reserve level for Spurs, and he faced up against his old team mate in the under 18s, Andy Barcham Within three minutes of the re-start. Reid’s free kick should have been converted by Gardner with a free shot, but it was hit wide. Rasiak tried a lay-off for Barnard, which was intercepted but then gifted to Barnard anyway, who then tested Speroni with a long range shot.

Pamarot had to make his great chase-back and goal-line clearance after 55 minutes, when Cerny had been beaten by a deftly chipped effort. Riihilati was then put in the clear for what looked like an easy chance, but he managed to fire wide. Gardner went off after the hour, and was replaced by Leigh Mills. Charlie Lee reverted to left side defence, and thereafter, Spurs were hardly bothered as the game turned into almost one-way traffic. Lee did make an early error to allow Hall a shot which Cerny saved with a good spread, but then Pamarot sent a cross that looked too deep. Joe Martin chipped the ball back into the fray, and Andy Reid had a clever shot saved well, only for Speroni to almost immediately hit an attempted clearance into Reid’s back and see the ball bounce back into the net for a 3-0 margin!

O’Hara’s great pass from his own half gave Barnard a long range powerful effort that was saved, and with 6 minutes left on the clock, Spurs were four up. O’Hara showed great skill in bringing down a high ball, controlling it, and turning to carry the ball down the left side, before sending a deep cross that Barcham advanced upon from a deep position to crack the ball high into the net. Andy Reid had been presented with the ball on the edge of the Palace area, before they had to make their own goal-line clearance from Reid’s shot.

Arguably the best goal of the night came as added time loomed. Reid slipped the ball to Barcham who made a great little run into the box, beating three players as he bore down on the goal and slotted home a low shot to the left of Speroni. Barcham puts me in mind of a compact Mike Tyson. He is a very well balanced player, able to play as an out and out striker or right side player. This second goal of his tonight put me in mind of the great Jimmy Greaves as he jinked into the box, and around those defenders.

As I am sure you will conclude yourself from reading this account, there certainly was plenty to admire about Spurs tonight. I am sure that Clive Allen will be very proud of his boys who travel to Portsmouth (possibly at Havant) for their next fixture on Tuesday.

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