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Spurs Reserves v Portsmouth Reserves, 13.03.06

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
(at Broadhall Way, Stevenage)
SPURS RESERVES 2 (1) PORTSMOUTH RESERVES 0 (0)

Scorers:-
Kelly, 22
Reid, 89

Referee: - Mr. G. Horwood

Attendance: - Est. 350

Teams:-
Spurs (4-1-3-1-1):- Burch; Kelly, Huddlestone, Bunjevcevic (Capt.), Daniels; Lewis; Marney (sub Maghoma, 60), Ghaly (sub Davis, 60), Jackson; Reid; Barcham

Subs not used: - Forecast; Martin; Hamed

No bookings

Portsmouth (4-4-2):- Guatelli (Capt.); Eyles, Day, Pearce, Hartman; McGlorry-Cuthberston, Songo’o (sub Rogers, 88), Fordyce (sub Roberts, 46), Horsted; Swayne (sub Jordan, 64), Mbesuma

Subs not used: - Torres, Bell

No bookings

On a bitterly cold night at Stevenage, a strong Spurs Reserve side extended their lead at the top of the table, with goals from senior players Stephen Kelly and Andy Reid. Pompey’s young team gave Spurs a few frights early in the second half, but the home side had enough domination in the first half and in the latter stages to have won by a more convincing margin. Reid’s goal came just a minute from the end, and bearing in mind Horsted beat Burch and hit the post 12 minutes from time, the score could easily have been different. By my reckoning, Spurs now need seven points from their five remaining games to be certain of the Southern Section Title.

A big attraction for the regular followers of the Reserves was the presence of recent signing Hossan Ghaly in his first official appearance in Spurs’ colours. Ghaly featured in an interesting formation of a traditional back four, and one man (Stuart Lewis) protecting the defence behind Marney, Ghaly and Jackson. Andy Reid was given a free role behind the lone striker, Andy Barcham, who had a tough task tonight, still covering for the injured Lee Barnard, who returned to training this week, and may make next week’s game at Leicester.

Ghaly is quite a tall player, and slender in appearance. The nature of his game as seen tonight was to stick leech-like to the man on the ball in the midfield and he managed a couple of strong tackles, which bordered on the “dodgy” – just on the right side of two-footed aerial approaches! Ghaly has pace and had the confidence to try a few tricky back-heeled passes, which did not necessarily come off. He also managed more traditional short passing, and started and finished one move where his header was wide of the post. Ghaly and Dean Marney played the first 60 minutes, and clearly will continue their recuperation at this level.

I didn’t spot any long distance passes from Ghaly, but his colleagues in the middle, plus Lewis, Kelly, Huddlestone and Reid all demonstrated the ability to feed the ball to left back Charlie Daniels from distance, as in the first half, the space that Daniels found down the left flank was exploited to the full – at least until the final ball. Spurs were dominating possession and fashioned some good approaches, but did not give Portsmouth skipper Andrea Guatelli as much exercise as they should.

Spurs were rewarded with the lead after 21 minutes, when Kelly advanced from the half-way mark. He was being tugged, but the referee waved play-on. Kelly exchanged with Reid in the middle of the pack, and ran onto Reid’s ball over the top of the defence. Kelly looked to me as if he was offside, but the assistant referee kept his flag down, as Steo closed in on the keeper, drew him to the ground, then rounded him and finished nonchalantly!

Reid and Barcham worked their way into the box down a middle path, and both had efforts smothered by the Portsmouth keeper, before the ball was cleared. With Daniels in the opposition half, Portsmouth broke after a Spurs attack, and McClorry-Cutherbertson raced down the right flank, before cutting in and hitting a fine shot which Rob Burch saved well, conceding a corner. Burch had had one or two minor scares in the early stages of the game, and was to have one or two more in the second half, chiefly from Collins Mbesuma, but this save was probably his highlight. Reid gave Marney a great chance with another good pass, but Deano fired wide across the keeper.

Portsmouth started the second half well, and Franck Songo’o was particularly impressive for the visitors. Soon after the break though came that move from Ghaly, spreading the play to Marney on the right, then making it into the box to meet the cross with a powerful header that was just wide. At the other end though Ghaly gave away a free kick on the edge of the box, and he was a bit slow to react, as the ball rebounded off defenders to Mbesuma, who just could not control the ball properly under threat from Burch, who did just enough to ensure the final attempt went wide.

Jacques Maghoma and Jamie Davis replaced Ghaly and Marney, and Spurs looked a bit more energetic, through both the youngsters. Maghoma fed Jamie Davis, who made a great run and then crossed, where Maghoma hit a shot that Guatelli saved stretching to his right. Davis had a great chance thanks to an interception by John Jackson, but Jamie’s rising shot was well held by the keeper. Reid gathered the ball from a throw on the right, cutting in along the bye line, crossing to Maghoma, who touched the ball back to Jacko, whose powerful curled shot went wide by only a foot or two. Daniels had not got forward too much in this half, and made a great run, supported by colleagues in the middle, before he too failed to test the keeper with his shot.

Songo’o took advantage of an overhit ball by Lewis to carry the ball upfield then give Horsted a chance on the left. Horsted cut inside Kelly and hit a glorious shot that beat Burch but bounced back off the far post. That was the final warning for Spurs, who responded with a scooped shot by Davis, before Andy Reid finally settled the match with a solo run through the middle, before beating the keeper with a shot to the right corner.

Spurs are twelve points clear of Arsenal, who have a game in hand, and next play at home to Charlton on Monday 20th March. Spurs are at Leicester on the following night, and their next home game is against Ipswich on March 28th.

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