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Watford Reserves v Spurs Reserves, 16.10.06

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
(at Borehamwood)
MONDAY 16TH OCTOBER, 2006
WATFORD RESERVES 2 (2) SPURS RESERVES 2 (1)

Watford scorers:-
Spring, 7
Mariappa (pen), 45

Spurs scorers:-
McKenna, 18
Barcham, 56

Referee: - Mr. D. Sheldrake

Attendance: - Est. 150

Teams:-
Watford (4-3-3):- Lee; Parkes (sub Osborne, 76), Mariappa, Mackay (Capt.), Powell; Diagouraga, Blizzard, Spring; McNamee, Priskin, Jarrett

Subs not used: - Chamberlain; Campana, Henderson, Seanla

No Bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Fulop; Hughton (sub Mtandari, 56), Ifil, Lee (Capt.), Daniels; Davis (sub Hutchins, 56), McKenna, Livermore, Lewis; Pekhart (sub Hutton, 83), Barcham

Subs not used: - Forecast; Martin

No bookings

Clive Allen’s youngest side yet achieved a highly creditable draw, to retain their unbeaten record and second place in the Premiership Reserve League after 5 games. Spurs had to come back twice, against a strong Watford team that is also performing well at this level, having won 3 of their five games, and losing just one. Tonight at Borehamwood, The Hornets fielded such experience as Chris Powell at left back, and Malky Mackay at centre-back, whilst every other member of the Watford starting line-up had seen first team action this season. Only Phil Ifil has played first team football on the Spurs side, and that was two years ago now.

Spurs fielded four players who had played for the under 18s on Saturday, and all of the outfield substitutes had also been involved for the Academy. Spurs were also having to improvise, being short of centre-backs, with Dorian Dervite away on International duty, and anyone resembling a first team squad member being preserved for the UEFA Cup game in Turkey on Thursday. Thus Phil Ifil partnered skipper Charlie Lee in the middle, and, both being on the short side, they were given a difficult job all night by main striker Tamas Priskin, and the supporting midfielders Blizzard and Diagouraga. Watford played with two wing men Jarrett and McNamee, who switched sides at will, to good effect. Chris Hughton’s son, making his full reserve debut had to play on the right, which is not his natural side. Takura Mtandari took Cian’s place after the second equaliser, and played as he has done for the under-18s – very impressively, proving near impossible to beat.

Spurs had a little more experience in the middle, with only Livermore being still quite new to this level. Tomas Pekart is getting a lot of football at present, and started up front beside Andy Barcham. Charlie Daniels was deployed as an attacking left back, whilst Stuart Lewis played a more central midfield role.

If you are looking for more evidence of experience on The Hornets’ side, they also had veteran goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain on the bench. Ex-Spur Claude Seanla was an unused Watford substitute. He must have felt frustrated, being a contemporary of Barcham, now a regular for Spurs.

As always, a variety of coaches were visiting to check out the progressing talent on display. Chris Hughton was around, keeping a special eye on his son, and new under-18s coiach Alex Inglethorpe spent the first half sat next to Troy Archibald-Henville, who looked studious throughout, as he observed proceedings. Skills coach Ricardo Moniz was also on hand. It is always great on these occasions to see Watford assistant manager Keith Burkinshaw – looking as well as ever.

Spurs came under some early pressure, with Marton Fulop demonstrating some good handling and command of his area against a couple of corners, before the visitors got the first direct threat on goal, from Stuart Lewis after an exchange of passes down the left channel. The corresponding game last season was played on a bitterly cold December night, and Spurs went behind early then, thanks to an own goal by Gardner, which keeper Rob Burch missed a la Robinson! Spurs went behind early tonight too, as McNamee’s cross from the right went over the Spurs defence and was directed home across Fulop by Matthew Spring. Last season, Spurs came back to win 5-2, but it was always going to be tougher tonight!

They nearly got a quick equaliser, as Barcham scooped over Daniels’ low cross from close range, and after 12 minutes, Daniels was the provider again, as Charlie Lee got forward and hit a good shot that was saved by his namesake in the Watford goal. Priskin looked a threat all night and did well, after receiving a good ball down the line on the right, cutting inside and giving himself a one on one chance against Fulop. Priskin hit a powerful drive from outside the box, and Fulop positioned himself and saved well. Pekhart tested Richard Lee with a decent effort after the ball came in from the right hand side.

The Spurs equaliser came courtesy of a good ball over the top by Charlie Lee, and Kieran McKenna beat the offside trap, beating goalkeeper Lee with aplomb, placing the shot across his left. As half time approached, Ifil struggled against the big men in the middle, and Spring’s effort fell to Priskin, who fired over from 10 yards. In the last minute before the break, P{risking beat all comes on a jinking run from the right, but seemed to lose control of the ball in the area, when he was challenged from behind by Ifil. Mariappa scored confidently from the spot.

The story for the early part of the second half was that Spurs just about managed to keep the big Watford attackers at bay. The ball often came into the Spurs area at a dangerous angle, but we somehow managed to clear – or the Watford players failed to hit the target. Spurs equalised in the 56th minute, when Pekart received a long ball, and looked as if he was going to go all the way himself. Certainly he seemed to have the better scoring opportunity, but he chose to pass across to Barcham, who had two or three defenders around him. Barcham did excellent work to shield the ball, and create space for a superb right footed shot into the far corner.

Clive Allen immediately made two changes, replacing Hughton with Mtandari, and Jamie Davis with Daniel Hutchins. Hutchins played on the left wing, and Daniels concentrated on his defensive duties. Spurs held out well, although it was touch and go at times. Phil Ifil got forward more though, and won applause with a good shot from 25 yards after a 1-1 with Barcham. Kieran McKenna had tried a long range shot that was not far wide of the target, and Pekart and Lewis nearly got behind the defence legally, being thwarted by the offside flag. In the closing stages, Barcham challenged for a long ball, and the second ball fell to Lewis, who hit a right foot shot to bring a final save from Richard Lee.

Yet again, a very young and inexperienced Spurs Development side has achieved a very good result. The Reserves next match will be at home (at Stevenage) to Charlton on Monday October 30th. This Saturday at 12 noon, you could watch most of tonight’s reserve team play for the Under-18s at home to Bristol City at Spurs Lodge. Spurs Odyssey will be reporting!

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