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Match Reports
Spurs Reserves v Aston Villa Reserves, 20.11.06

At Broadhall Way, Stevenage

Spurs scorers:-
Dawkins, 16
Tainio, 18, 45

Villa scorers:-
Davis, 7
Baros, 63

Referee: - Mr. B. Malone

Attendance: - Est. 250

Spurs (4-4-2):- Burch; Ifil (Capt.), Mills, Davenport (sub Archibald-Henville, 81), Ziegler; McKenna, Tainio (sub Lewis, 46), O'Hara, Daniels; Dawkins, Barcham

Subs not used: - Button; Hughton; Hutton

Booked: - Mills (Dissent)

Villa (4-4-2):- Olejnik; Agathe, Green (Capt.), Lowry, Samuel; Albrighton, Davis, Hogg (sub Bellon, 86), Stieber (sub Herd, 86); Baros, Bridges

Subs not used: - Henderson; Kabeya, Mikaelsson

Booked: - Lowry, Bridges (both for fouls)

Clive Allen’s Spurs development team faced a tough task tonight to maintain their unbeaten start to the truncated Reserve League season. For the first time under Barclays sponsorship, the North and South leagues have been changed and Aston Villa have joined the southern section. Whilst Villa have not set the section alight with their results to date, they fielded a side strong enough tonight to have given any opposition a tough game at this level. Villa included Internationals such as Milan Baros up front and the exciting Steven Davis in midfield, both of whom seem to have lost favour in Martin O’Neill’s eyes. Davis looked the more determined of the two, but both ultimately made their mark on the game, scoring Villa’s goals either side of a three goal spurt in the first half, by Spurs, inspired by the presence of Teemu Tainio, who only played that first 45 minutes. Tainio scored two headers, and presumably did enough to prove his worth to Thursday’s UEFA Cup squad in Germany.

Calum Davenport also made a return to competitive action, playing all but the last ten minutes, and marshalling the otherwise inexperienced defence, despite the inclusion of Phil Ifil and Reto Ziegler. Villa were also able to boast both full backs with first team experience Indeed, I remember right back Didier Agathe came on as substitute at Villa Park in the Premiership game between these sides, and had an impressive cameo on the right side of midfield.

The early signs were that Spurs might face a rout by the visitors, who put Spurs under great pressure from the start with speedy and effective possession and short passing football. It was no surprise when Villa took an early lead, as Albrighton crossed from the right, and Davis was sharp enough at the near post to receive, turn and whack the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Baros tested Spurs keeper Rob Burch soon after with a powerful dipping shot, held well by Burch under his top left corner. Burch was also making a return to competitive football, after suffering a leg fracture in the play-off final at Old Trafford in May.

Spurs started to string a few moves together, but they needed to pass through the middle, as the relatively small Barcham and Dawkins were having trouble holding up the play. However, they both took part in the equaliser after Kieran McKenna’s great play through the middle, sending Barcham down the right side of the area. His cross was converted well by Dawkins, past keeper Olejnik. In no time at all, Spurs were two up, and it followed a move that nearly resulted in a goal of the season contender. Teemu Tainio hit a lobbed pass out wide to Charlie Daniels. Daniels spent little time thinking about what to do, as he moved in a little, but was still fully 30 yards from goal, when he hit a thunderbolt that had the keeper and the defence beaten all ends up, only to see the ball rebound off the post, and then get put out for a corner. The fans had hardly stopped applauding that move, when Tainio popped up to head in the corner from the edge of the 6 yard box.

Villa then spurned a chance to equalise, when left winger Stieber scooped his shot well over the bar from another cross by Albrighton. The remainder of the half was equally contested, before Tainio scored on the stroke of half time. Ifil had burst forward and was fouled deep in the Villa half. Ziegler took the free kick, which had beaten the defence and looked as if it was going in anyway, but Tainio decided to give it a finishing nod into the net.

Tainio was replaced by Lewis, and after an early effort, when Davenport assisted the attack to head to Daniels, when Daniels and Dawkins had good efforts blocked, it was Spurs who had their backs to the wall. Villa started to get tougher in the tackle, earning a couple of yellow cards, and whilst Baros had drawn a couple of laughs from Spurs observers with touches and attempts that perhaps deserved Reserve League status, he had the last laugh with a 63rd minute goal, that ensured Spurs would remain under pressure for the remainder of the game. Spurs wanted a foul when Albrighton won the ball, and found himself in acres of space inside the area. He passed the ball to the left for Baros, who fired confidently to the back of the net.

Leigh Mills got booked for dissent, after Baros had fallen over Kieran McKenna. Stieber took the kick and the ball was half cleared to that man Davis, who brought a good save by Burch, low to his right. Then Albrighton’s shot hit the foot of Burch’s left post, and Spurs breathed again. In injury time, Spurs had another escape, and again it was Albrighton causing some mayhem with a ball across the area, which Davis could not quite reach, as it passed marginally wide.

It was a great win for the Spurs side, who had been given the sternest of tests. Their reward is to remain in third place, with 15 points from 7 games. Next up will be Fulham away on December 6th, and that is followed by Chelsea at home for the last official game of the year on Monday December 11th.

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