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Spurs Reserves v Reading Reserves, 13.02.07

At Broadhall Way, Stevenage

Kitson, 36
De La Cruz, 64
Gunnarsson, 69
Oster, 76

Referee: - Mr. G. Stretton

Attendance: - Est. 400

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Ifil, Mills, Lee (Capt.), Daniels; Fraser-Allen (sub Pekhart, 46), Livermore (sub Archibald-Henville, 69), O’Hara, Hallfredsson; Barcham, Taraabt

Subs not used: - Forecast; Hughton; Hutton

No Bookings

Reading (4-4-2):- Federici; Halford, Sodje, Duberry, De la Cruz (Capt.); Seol, Gunnarsson, Oster (sub Davies, 80), Convey; Kitson (sub Henry, 72), Doyle (sub Cox, 72)

Subs not used: - McCarthy; Bygrave

No bookings

Don’t judge Clive Allen’s development side by this result, as it really was men against boys at Broadhall Way, Stevenage. Having put up a bold fight in the first half, and for a good part of the second, Spurs youngsters (with 4 Premiership games between them) finally succumbed to a Reading outfit that looked close to a first team, which had no less than 250 Premiership games’ experience. Reading are clearly determined to win this section of the Reserve League, whilst most other teams seek to develop their younger players. When Dave Kitson and Kevin Doyle were substituted after 72 minutes, I remarked that it would be nice to see the “Royals” reserve players get a game! Doyle is the club’s top scorer in the Premiership, and is clearly on his way back to first team action, but he was one member of the side (that also included one time Spurs target Bobby Convey) that did not get on the score-sheet.

Spurs had won at Reading in October, against a side that more resembled a Reserve selection, and whilst I do not know the strength of Reading’s team in all their games, this is a side that so far this season have beaten Arsenal Reserves 6-0, Chelsea Reserves away by 2-1, and Watford away by 3-0. It will come as no surprise to you to find that Reading are top of the Southern section of the Reserve League, won by Spurs last year.

With Reto Ziegler having gone on loan to Sampdoria, Charlie Daniels returned to left back, whilst in front of him Emil Hallfredsson made his first appearance for over a year, having returned from loan in Sweden. Kyle Fraser-Allen was given a start on the right wing, with Jamie O’Hara being almost the veteran of the outfield players for Spurs. Andy Barcham was given the difficult task of trying to hold the line up front, against the formidable Duberry, and Sam Sodje, who used to play Conference football here at Stevenage, like his brother Efe (now at Southend) before him.

Adel Taraabt tended to play behind Barcham in a central midfield role, and whilst throughout the game he demonstrated good ball skills, he also liked to show off a little, which meant he was occasionally robbed of the ball, and on other occasions failed to deliver a telling pass. There was plenty of good to be seen from this lad though, who suffered a few crunching tackles for his trouble.

Reading showed they meant business from the start, with Gunnarsson hitting a 25 yard shot that had Cerny beaten, but hit the top of the bar. Spurs then enjoyed a period of good possession, with O’Hara and Livermore both making good passes from deep midfield positions, which gave the likes of Taraabt, Fraser-Allen and Hallfredsson chances to build the attack. It was Livermore who nearly replied effectively for Spurs early on with a shot from just outside the box, that passed outside the left hand post. After 16 minutes, O’Hara took a free kick awarded for a foul on Taraabt, which was crossed into the 6 yard box by Ifil, and so nearly converted by Barcham.

Cerny did well to race out and beat away Kitson’s powerful shot after 20 minutes, as the striker got goal-side of the defence. Seol was next to make Cerny work for his corn, making room for himself on the right channel, hitting a rising shot that passed off the top of the bar. Ten minutes later, another Seol shot was deflected for a corner. Federici had not been idle in the Reading goal, but the hardest he had to work was to keep out a couple of threatening crosses from Hallfredsson.

Reading took the lead in the 36th minute, when the ball was cleverly chipped over the defence from the right, and Kitson had an easy close finish. In added time Hallfredsson did hit a low shot that needed a save by Federici.

Clive Allen replaced Fraser-Allen with Pekhart, and Andy Barcham was allowed out onto the right wing, where he stood more chance of success as he could at least run at his opponent. Spurs had some good moves early in this half, playing effectively through the middle, with Hallfredsson being given freedom to get inside, as Daniels advanced down the left flank. It was Hallfredsson who picked up a stray ball on the half way line after 50 minutes, and advanced towards the Reading area. The Icelander had three or four passing options around him, but chose to shoot, and sadly hit it wide. Reading then had a close range chance, as Seol set up Convey, but somehow the ball was flicked over the top from no more than 6 yards. Spurs responded with more good approach play down the middle, with Taraabt and O’Hara involved. Andy Barcham was inside the box at a slight angle on the right, and might have hit a shot, but chose to pass back, hitting the ball behind Pekhart.

Pekhart hit a good effort just wide after an exchange with Hallfredsson, and then Taraabt had a good shot saved by the keeper, before Ifil’s follow-up was deflected for a corner. A good ball down the line sent Barcham away, and his cross found Pekhart, who really should have scored with this chance, with only the keeper to beat. The ball went well outside the target.

At this point you would never have dreamt of the final scoreline, but once The Royals went two up through a fine solo goal by skipper De la Cruz, there was no coming back, as the Spurs defence started to look a little ragged, leaving space at the back and in the middle for the experienced opposition. The third and fourth goals were not sensational, but followed good passing play, all the way to goal. Gunnarsson scored the third in the 69th minute, after two or three short passes, a shot saved by Cerny, but an easy finish for the Reading midfielder; then in the 76th minute, after Convey’s ball, Oster was also able to finish comfortably.

I was hoping to report upon a winning Spurs team tonight, but will now have to wait till Saturday, when the under-18s entertain Watford at Spurs Lodge.

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