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Spurs Reserves v Chelsea Reserves, 15.01.07

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
MONDAY 15TH JANUARY, 2007
SPURS RESERVES 0 (0) CHELSEA RESERVES 1 (0)

Scorer:-
Younghusband, 84

Attendance: - Est. 1000

Referee: - Mr. P. Gibbs

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Alnwick; Ifil, Mills, Lee (Capt.), Ziegler; Barcham, McKenna, O’Hara, Yeates; Pekhart, Taarabt (sub Fraser-Allen, 61)

Subs not used: - Forecast; Martin, Archibald-Henville, Hughton

No Bookings

Chelsea (4-1-4-1):- Ma-Kalambay; Hutchinson, Worley, Cork (Capt.), Bertrand; Bridcutt; Fabio Ferreira (sub Stoch, 76), Fernandes (sub Elmer, 90), Younghusband, Sinclair; Sahar (sub Woods, 65)

Subs not used: - Russell; Cummings

Booked: - Bertrand (persistent fouling)

Clive Allen’s Development side lost for the first time this season in a competitive game, as Chelsea’s 84th minute winner by Younghusband enabled the West Londoners to leap above the home side to second place in the Reserve League.

It was a dry but cool, windy night, as the Stevenage crowd was bolstered by plenty of local support for the visitors, who have of course attracted many new fans in recent years. There were not too many familiar names on display, but both teams served up and end to end entertainment that was combative, but generally played in good spirit.

Spurs gave debuts to new boys Adel Taarabt, and goalkeeper Ben Alnwick. Alnwick was certainly kept busy, and made several good saves, and one or two edgy ones in a promising performance that should not serve any threatening notices on Paul Robinson or Radek Cerny just yet. Adel Taarabt started beside Tomas Pekhart, but due to the Chelsea formation of playing four behind a lone striker (Sahar), the Spurs midfield became fluid, with Taarabt pulling back at times to allow Mark Yeates a more forward role, or on occasions Andy Barcham. Taarabt showed skill on the ball in tight situations, but didn’t get too much chance to shine tonight and was replaced after an hour by a rising star from Spurs own ranks – Kyle Fraser-Allen, who has been impressing for the Academy recently.

Yeates had returned to the fold from his loan at Hull, and Reserves skipper Charlie Lee was back from Millwall. Lee seemed strangely out of sorts to me on occasions, and seemed unable to comprehend Clive Allen’s barked instructions during the game. For once, I felt that his partner, Leigh Mills was the more dominant of the central defenders. They were flanked by the more experienced Phil Ifil and Reto Ziegler. Ziegler is a dab hand at dead ball situations, but proved to be a little short of pace at times tonight. In the middle, Kieran McKenna and Jamie O’Hara gave 110% as usual. Mark Yeates was a little selfish in possession, and Andy Barcham and Tomas Pekhart struggled to hold the ball up front, which meant that Chelsea kept bouncing back at us with pace throughout the game.

Chelsea were fielding a young side, captained by 17 year old Jack Cork. One or two of their number such as Sahar and substitute Michael Woods have even turned out for the first team – notably as substitutes in the 6-1 Cup win over Macclesfield, whilst Younghusband is becoming a veteran of this side, having appeared against Spurs at this level over the last two seasons. Fabio Ferreira, playing on the right side of midfield, was a threat until his 76th minute replacement, often carrying the ball from his own half with great pace, carrying a potent threat at the end of his runs too. Incidentally, Woods is one of those who were “pinched” off Leeds by Frank Arnesen, who is apparently pulling a few more strings at Chelsea than Jose Mourinho likes.

Spurs might have taken a 5th minute lead from a free kick on the left, taken by Ziegler. Chelsea wanted offside, but Charlie Lee was left on his own in the box, heading wide, when he had time to think before making his attempt on goal. Perhaps he was convinced the offside flag was coming too! Two minutes later O’Hara hit a nice early shot around the right post, and then Alnwick had his first test of the night, making a standing save from Ferreira, who had advanced through the middle before hitting a low shot. Ziegler hit a free kick from the right hand side after 12 minutes, which flew just over Ma-Kalambay’s bar. Ziegler’s lack of pace meant the end of a chance, as he broke from the middle, but was caught by Hutchinson, who made a good saving tackle.

After 20 minutes, Mark Yeates ran from left to right across the outside of the box, and hit a good shot just past the post. Mid-way through the half, Alnwick could only push a corner deep to the back of the area. The ball was returned, and Mills half-cleared, giving Ferreira a chance which he hit wide. Seven minutes before added time, Ferreira again came into the box, and slid the ball to Younghusband in a little space on the left. Alnwick just managed to scramble a save here and the ball was cleared by the defence. Alnwick’s next worry was to dive for a Fernandes shot across his goal, which went wide. In added time there was a chance at each end, with Younghusband slipping the ball to Sinclair, whose shot was deflected out by a good blocking challenge by Phil Ifil. Spurs had a late free kick taken by Yeates, and met with a brave header by McKenna, going out of play as the referee blew for half-time.

After 50 minutes, Ferreira raced down the right wing, and cut inside to a position where he was faced only by Alnwick, who stood his ground well, and saved with his feet. Taarabt was taken off, and Fraser-Allen started working on the right, with Barcham moving inside to try and support Pekhart. Ifil was now given more licence to get forward, and O’Hara progressively gave Bertrand trouble, to the extent that eventually, the Chelsea defender saw the referee’s yellow card.

Spurs best chance fell to Leigh Mills who ghosted in to the back post to meet Ziegler’s free kick, only to head high, when it was easier to score. Shortly after this Pekhart broke through the defensive wall, and then fell just inside the box. The Spurs appeals for a penalty fell on the deaf ears of Mr Gibbs, who I thought allowed the game to flow, and kept control well, communicating with the players at all times. Pekhart was instrumental in another good chance, flicking on Alnwick’s free kick, for Yeates, whose shot was blocked.

Chelsea substitute Woods might have scored after 79 minutes, when he rifled a shot past Alnwick’s right post. Five minutes later though, Chelsea took the lead, when Alnwick could only parry Bridcutt’s shot, Ziegler dallied too long before his attempt to clear, which fell into Younghusband’s lap. A swift shot followed and hit the net for what proved to be the winner. Chelsea used their third substitution in added time to use up 30 seconds, but in truth it was they who came closest to scoring with a couple of efforts on Alnwick’s goal – thankfully off target.

Next Monday, Spurs are scheduled to play Arsenal, presumably at Barnet, but there may yet be a postponement, if either side wants to think about the Carling Cup semi-final. Spurs Odyssey intends to report on another heated local derby!

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