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Spurs Reserves v Watford Reserves, 05.03.07

At Broadhall Way, Stevenage

Rinaldi, 38

Referee: - Mr. A. Hendley

Attendance:- Est. 500

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Forecast; Ifil, Archibald-Henville, Mills (sub Martin, 16), Daniels; McKenna, Lee (Capt.); Mtandari (sub Hutchins, 62), O’Hara, Hallfredsson; Barcham

Subs not used: - Burch; Smith; Townsend

Booked: - O’Hara, McKenna

Watford (4-4-2):- Loach; Chambers (Capt.), Doyley, Avinel, Powell (sub Parkes, 58); Williamson, Rinaldi, Bangura (sub O’Toole, 62), McNamee; Hoskins, Kabba (sub Campana, 70)

Subs not used: - Beasant; Clarke

Booked: - Bangura, Williamson

Spurs Reserves sides get younger and less experienced, whilst those of their opponents are ever stronger these days! Only Phil Ifil on the home side has any first team games under his belt, whilst about half of the Watford side, which included veteran Chris Powell at left back, have featured for the Watford first team Watford’s side also included 27 year old Brazilian Douglas Rinaldi, on loan at Vicarage Road, who scored the solitary goal in Spurs third consecutive home defeat at this level. Spurs have not won at home this year, and Watford overtook us with this win in the 10 team Southern section that Spurs will hard to defend from here on to the end of the season.

Spurs are badly missing the height and strength of Lee Barnard, who has been absent most of the campaign through injury, and with the talented Adel Taarabt making an impressive cameo at Upton Park yesterday, and probably travelling to Portugal with the first team squad this week, our reserves were short on experience, with Troy Archibald-Henville, Takura Mtandari and Tommy Forecast getting rare starts. They played with a five-man midfield, leaving Andy Barcham alone to try and hold the line, and Mtandari and Hallfredsson on the flanks. It was Jamie O’Hara’s job to try and find opportunities for his front men, but the nature of the game for so much of the time was that the midfields were packed and both teams defended high, meaning space for manoeuvre a rarity.

Watford had Kappa and Hoskins up front, but Hoskins spent some time supporting the midfield, whilst McNamee chose his wing to try and get past Ifil or Daniels. Watford were the bigger, and stronger of the two sides, and out-muscled Spurs for most of the time.

Spurs chances were few and far between, with Daniels getting ahead of Hallfredsson after 5 minutes, receiving the pass, but hitting his left-footed shot wide across the goalmouth. Spurs lost Leigh Mills at an early stage to a head injury in an accidental clash of heads, and Joe Martin took up the spot next to Archibald-Henville. Troy made plenty of timely interventions throughout the game, and had one or two headers on goal from dead ball situations, but it was Ifil who won the biggest applause for a Spurs man in the first half with a brilliant saving tackle to take the ball cleanly off McNamee, following a good three pronged Watford attack, started with a Kappa header from the touchline.

In the ten minutes before the interval, Spurs came under considerable pressure and Forecast was struggling to gain command of his area. It looked to me as if Williamson might have been offside when he received a threaded ball, but his cross was fired low beneath Forecast at his near post by Rinaldi. Spurs did make a good initial response as Hallfredsson set up Barcham who hit a powerful shot that was held by Loach. However, they still ended the half under more pressure from the visitors, with Hoskins header went just outside the target.

Forecast will have gained a lot of confidence from a good blocking save early in the second half, when Rinaldi was through, but then he was glad to see a shot from McNamee go wide of his left post. Spurs best chance of the game came after an hour, when O’Hara’s corner was headed back across the goal by Hallfredsson, and cleared off the line. In difficult windy and wet conditions, Spurs were at least getting forward more in this half, but too often their attacks fell down through poor decision-making by the man in possession. A couple of times this was Hallfredsson who could have carried the ball forward, rather than looking for a pass.

Watford nearly increased their lead after 80 minutes, when McNamee’s cross reached Rinaldi who involuntarily hit the ball – wide of the post.

Spurs only have five official Reserves games left to play. The next two are away from home. Next Monday they will play Charlton, and the following week, Chelsea. The next scheduled home game is April 2nd against Portsmouth. The under-18 side will be at home to Ipswich this Saturday.

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