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Grays v Spurs XI, 07.08.07

              Pre-season friendly
            Recreation Ground, Grays
           Tuesday 7th August 7.45pm 

         (All Light Blue)   (All White) 
                4-4-2         4-5-1 

                 2(1)          3(1) 

       Danny Knowles      1    Tommy Forecast
       Andy Sambrook      2    Chris Riley
       Jamie Stuart(C)    3    Yuri Berchiche
       Mark Marshall      4    Tom Huddlestone
       Jack Haverson      5    Phil Ifil (C)
       Ernie Cooksey      6    Leigh Mills
       Dennis Oli         7    Wayne Routledge
       Charley Hearn      8    Kevin-Prince Boateng
       Craig McAllister   9    Lee Barnard
       Ben Watson        10    Jamie O'Hara
       Karl Murray       11    Adel Taarabt

       Ross Flitney      12    Lee Butcher
       Adam Gross        13    Luke Casey 
       Jon Ashton        14    Kieran McKenna
       Aaron O'Conner    15    Jake Livermore
       Danny Kedwell     16    Andy Barcham
       Matt Bodkin       17
       James Lawson      18    Jacques Maghoma

       Scorers - 
       Watson 22               Mills 4
       O'Conner 88             Boateng 55
                               Taarabt 69 
       Booked - 
       Hearn 20(Late)          Ifil 21(Late)
                               Riley 44(Late)
       Red Card -
     Murray 61 - Raised hand 

      Attendence - 2216 

       Referee - J. Hopkins 
       Assistants - N.West, C.Overall, S.Livingstone 
Young guns ride the storm should be the headline. Clive Allen's young Spurs side weathered not only the rainstorm in the second half but also a strong physical Conference (Ed: Now called the Blue Square Premier League)side managed by former Spur Justin Edinburgh.

It started out as a pleasant warm evening which finished in a rain storm with lightning overhead. A good crowd gathered to see the last pre-season fixture for what is basically Allen's reserve side. Spurs lined up with Ifil and Mills at the back with Riley on the right and Berchiche on the left. Huddlestone and Boateng sat in centre midfield with O'Hara just in front. On the right of them was Routledge with Taarabt on the left in support of Barnard up front.

Spurs defended the north end for the first half and were soon put under pressure by the home side with Hearn testing Forecast in the opening minute. O'Hara responded with an attempt from his own half which caught Knowles off his line but went wide of the post. Huddlestone played a long ball to Routledge in the corner which was cleared for a corner that O'Hara took. His kick found Mills at the far post who headed it down through the line of defenders.

Grays adopted the same tactics that Rushden had in the previous game by closing down quickly, tackling hard and knocking players off the ball which restricted the chances to a few shots from O'Hara and Boateng. The light blues were also showing some skills of their own at the other end with Murray causing Riley and Ifil problems down the left and good probing balls from Hearn. Hearn was booked for a late tackle on Taarabt which was swiftly followed by a yellow card for Ifil trying to stop another Murray run.

Hearn took the free kick and curled it low around the four man wall catching out Forecast who could not hold it. Watson stabbed the loose ball home. Spurs responded well and their passing game began to give them the edge for the last third of the half. Huddlestone collected a loose ball and took it round the keeper but took too long to make up his mind in front of an empty net allowing his shot to be blocked by Haverson. O'Hara put another free kick wide before Taarabt began to make an impression picking up the ball deep and dribbling to the edge of the area, but Knowles held his effort. Riley's name then went into the referees' book as he tried to stop another run by Murray.

Clive replaced Routledge with Barcham at half time as he was being out muscled by Stuart. At the same time Justin replaced Stuart with Ashton. With the more physical Barcham attacking down the right we increased pressure on the home defence and after Murray had an effort go over the bar Taarabt forced another save from Knowles. Barcham won the ball and took it to the line before squaring it to Boateng, who had time to control it, before shooting low past the keeper.

After an hour Boateng was replaced by Maghoma, who took up the wide right position allowing Barcham to join Barnard in a 4-4-2. Huddlestone then caught Murray from behind and in the melee that followed Murray was shown a red card possibly for raising his hand. I was surprised that Tom did not get booked for the initial tackle.

Edinburgh kept his two strikers on, but the extra man in the middle began to tell. Huddlestone had his shot blocked and the ball fell to Taarabt who was unmarked 20yds out. Adel controlled the ball before smashing his shot past the keeper. Edinburgh replaced both strikers with fresh legs with a quarter of an hour to go and they combined to pull a goal back at the end. Kedwell held off Berchiche on the right to centre for O'Conner to beat Forecast at the near post.

This was the second Conference side (Ed: Now called the Blue Square Premier League)Spurs have played and both provided a stern robust challenge as well as a bit of skill. Murray with his dribbling, and Hearn with his dead ball kicking is the sort of thing they will have to face in the reserve league. Not all the teams they will face will be as physical, so it was good to see them stand up to it. Our wide men did not do as well as Routledge was too easily knocked off the ball and Taarabt took a while to get in the game. Of the two new boys Berchiche stood up well in defence and got forward in the latter stages. Boateng has not had much time to settle in and it showed. He was generally off the pace and his timing was bad. Over the pre-season the opposition has got stronger but the team has coped well and I have a feeling that they will do well in the coming season.


(c) Ray Lo

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