FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
MONDAY 19TH DECEMBER, 2005
(at Borehamwood F.C)
WATFORD RESERVES 2 (2) SPURS RESERVES 5 (1)
Gardner (o.g.), 12
Barnard, 22, 64, 89
Referee: - Mr. I. Scarr
Attendance: - Est. 100
Watford (4-4-2):- Beasant; McCoy, Mariappa (Capt.), Cearuill, Parkes; Campana, Gill, O’Toole, Bardle; Grant, Francis
Subs not used: - Homand, Matthews, Robinson
Booked: - Cearuill, Beasant, Gill
Spurs (4-4-2):- Burch; Kelly, Pamarot, Gardner, Bunjevcevic (Capt.) (sub Daniels, 74); Barcham (sub McKenna, 60), Davis, O’Hara, Hallfredsson (sub Lee, 85); Rasiak, Barnard
Subs not used: - Forecast; Jackson
Booked: - Pamarot, Daniels
Having suffered a prolonged scare, when “David” held on to a first half lead over “Goliath”, thanks to a soft own goal and a quick response to a Barnard equaliser, Spurs operated the “on” button in the second half, and scored 4 goals to secure a convincing 5-2 victory, which included a hat-trick from goal-machine Lee Barnard, who now has 13 goals in just 13 games to add to his tally of 17 goals in the full programme of last season. To cap it all, Spurs have overtaken Arsenal to go top of the Reserve League (South) and double our Christmas joy of superceding The Gunners in the Premiership table. That fact alone was enough to warm the heart on an icy cold night at Borehamwood, where the bulk of Watford’s Reserve games are now played.
Spurs had been expected to run out comfortable winners, fielding a very strong side that included a back four, each of whom have Premiership experience, and also featuring Sean Davis in the middle along with Grzegorz Rasiak up front with Barnard. Andy Barcham played wide right, while Jamie O’Hara played beside Davis, and Hallfredsson played his familiar left wing role.
Spurs were up against a very young Watford side, including a familiar name in goal – James Beasant. I do not know if he is related to the former Wimbledon star, but he was a very busy man, right from the start, as Emil Hallfredsson won a header at the back post, putting Barnard in on goal, whose shot was saved with barely a minute on the clock. After 5 minutes, Rasiak demonstrated great skill down the left, with a clever back-heeled pass to Stephen Kelly, who was still in an advanced position following a corner. Kelly homed in on goal from a tight angle, and his shot was saved, with a corner being conceded. Indeed, Watford were only too happy to give Spurs plenty of corner opportunities, as they came under so much pressure, during which Cearuill got an early yellow card for unfairly bringing one attack to a halt.
The “Hornets” took a surprise lead when Gardner pushed back a routine pass to Rob Burch, who embarrassingly missed his kick, and saw the ball roll agonisingly into his goal. As small as the gate was, Rob must have wanted the ground to swallow him up, and whilst Gardner’s name goes next to the own goal, the fault was that of Burch. Jamie O’Hara started to inject some pace in the Spurs play, and he led the move when Hallfredsson’s cross was headed down by Rasiak, only to see the keeper dive bravely to his left, hit his woodwork, but concede a corner, rather than a goal. Spurs did equalise in the 22nd minute, though, as Barnard stole the ball off a defender following Burch’s clearance, and from the left side of the area, beat the keeper with a low shot.
Spurs’ joy at levelling was short lived as they dropped their guard to let in Gill to turn back a cross that Grant hit first time across the goal and into the net at the far post. Grant had Gardner worried a minute later, as despite the attentions of the defender, the Watford striker got in a shot that was always going wide. The chances started coming thick and fats for Spurs, as they piled on the pressure, but it was beginning to look like that Leicester defeat a few weeks ago, when another strong side was beaten by kids. O’Hara fed Kelly making a good run ahead of the midfielder, before crossing for Barnard’s shoes close range shot was saved. Rasiak then had a free kick blocked and from the follow-up, Davis’s shot was plucked cleanly by Beasant. Spurs now had a series of corners, when Rasiak, Kelly and Barnard all went close. Kelly made another great run, and was fed by Rasiak. Kelly seemed to be brought down in the area, but no penalty was given, as “Steo” went down under the keeper’s challenge. I think it was Birmingham’s Vaesen who did get penalised in similar circumstances this week-end. Kelly had a really good game tonight, and must fancy a chance in the first team over the busy Christmas period.
Rob Burch regained some confidence with an injury time save from a Bardle free kick, and at the other end Sean Davis also had a kick saved. Davis and the rest of the team went up a gear or two in the second half, when Watford hardly had a look-in. Hallfredsson made a great run into the box, after receiving a good ball from Davis, seeing his shot saved. O’Hara then had a shot blocked, and Andy Barcham was cynically chopped down in his stride just outside the box by Cearuill, who was lucky to escape a second yellow, while the referee concentrated upon Barcham’s injury. Barcham was having trouble moving his right arm, and was replaced by Kieran McKenna after an hour. Such was the strength of the Spurs line-up, that McKenna – usually a regular – was relegated to the bench. Also on the bench tonight, after his return from Derby on loan, was John Jackson.
McKenna headed a long cross back into the area, where Rasiak just failed to reach the ball. The Watford keeper had already been warned by the referee, who now showed him yellow for taking too long with his kicks. Spurs drew level in the 64th minute, as Hallfredsson collected a long ball, and crossed low for Barnard, who crashed the ball home from 12 yards. Four minutes later, Sean Davis got on the score-sheet after a corner was only half-cleared, firing home a low drive. The lead was in creased with 10 minutes to go, after a great solo effort by Hallfredsson, capping his pacy run into the box, with a powerful finish. Barnard got his hat-trick goal in the closing stages, courtesy of a poor ball back from Cearuill. Lee pounced and hit a low shot to the right of Beasant for his first hat-trick of this season
Spurs have two away games on 16th and 23rd January (against Norwich and Fulham), before their next home game against Southampton at the end of the month.
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