WEDNESDAY 1ST AUGUST, 2007
LEYTON ORIENT 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (1)
Keane, 18, 56 (pen)
Referee: - Mr. D. McDermid
Attendance: - 9,126
Leyton Orient (4-4-2):- Nelson; Thelwell (Purches, 46), Mkandawire, Saah, Murray (Palmer, 67); Melligan (Ibehre, 62), Chambers, Thornton, Demetriou (Terry, 46); Boyd (Echanomi, 79), Gray (Cordon, 62)
Sub not used: - Morris.
Spurs (4-3-1-2):- Robinson (sub Cerny, 46); Ifil, Dawson (sub Rocha, 72), Kaboul, Stalteri; Jenas (sub O’Hara, 72), Huddlestone, Malbranque (sub Routledge, 46); Keane (Capt) (sub Taarabt, 61); Bent, Berbatov (sub Defoe, 46)
(Captain’s armband passed from Keane, to Jenas, to Defoe)
Subs not used: - Mills; Maghoma
Just about all those present (and there were over 9,000 of us) at the re-furbished Matchroom stadium must have enjoyed themselves tonight. The many Spurs fans (situated around the stadium and not just in the away allocation) saw their team score 4 goals, ultimately win at a canter, including a stunning goal by Jermain Defoe, before being entertained by Adel Taarabt for the last half hour as the 18 year old played his tricks, and had a good effort on goal too! Those fans also saw plenty of class from Huddlestone, who sprayed plenty of accurate long passes as well as some decent shorter through balls too. All four strikers were on show too, with only Berbatov having a relatively quiet time, possibly withdrawn at half time with a knock sustained just before the break.
The Orient fans will have been pleased too – to have seen such an array of Spurs stars, but especially to have seen their boys take the lead, and towards the end of the game put the Spurs goal under a little pressure, concluding with a fine added time goal by striker Efe Echanomi. Orient Chairman Barry Hearn will of course have been pleased with the gate, and possibly the only unhappy spectators were the three unused substitutes!
Orient have made great changes to their squad in the close season, losing their long serving player Matt Lockwood to Nottingham Forest amongst a number of departures. Recent additions to the squad include former Spur Alton Thelwell, who played at right back tonight, and John Terry’s brother Paul, signed from Yeovil, making a second half appearance here.
It must be 6 years since my last visit to this stadium, which has blocks of flats in each corner of the ground, where the balconies were full of people getting a special view of the game. It put me in mind of that Carling advert!
It looked as if Spurs might over-run the home side for the first quarter of an hour, as the “O”s hardly got a touch, as Spurs approached their penalty area at will, but failed to find a killer touch. To be honest I thought that a few of the players were a bit flat-footed when receiving the ball, and needed to be on their toes a little more. Maybe they were suffering some sort of hang-over from their flight back from Africa. Incidentally, during the warm-up, Jermain Defoe was having a friendly spar with Darren Bent, but I couldn’t help wondering if Defoe fancied knocking out his competitor for one of the strikers’ places
It was Bent who had the first chance after 5 minutes, collecting Jenas’s through ball, but driving his shot over the bar. Ten minutes later, Stalteri advanced with Steed Malbranque and Berbatov was involved in the build-up before Steed cut the ball back for Stalteri, whose shot was well saved by Nelson from close range for a corner.
Sods law came into play after Spurs had dominated the game so much. It was a Berbatov ball from inside his half that went to an opponent leading to a swift attack where Demetriou’s cross was back-headed by Boyd over Robinson who had been caught unawares, and may have been too far off his line. Spurs levelled directly from the kick off as Malbranque headed down the left into the box, and crossed. The ball bounced around the box a bit before Robbie Keane delivered the coup de grace, and restored the status quo.
Jenas got “words” from the referee who generally seemed to favour the home side, except for the second half penalty award. For example, he harshly gave a free kick against Huddlestone just outside the right edge of the area. The kick was taken quickly and Thornton nearly caught Robinson out with his shot, but it passed across the area. Just before the break, Hudd had a low shot pass just outside the post, and Darren Bent had the ball in the net, but had not seen the offside flag.
It was very difficult to keep track of the train of second half changes, especially with a weak PA system in our stand, but Cerny, Routledge and Defoe were introduced at the start of the second half. Spurs won a penalty after 53 minutes, when Kaboul advanced and fed the ball to Bent. Bent’s shot was somehow saved and Kaboul chased it to the bye-line where he was allegedly fouled by Murray. Robbie Keane converted the penalty with aplomb and a crafty hesitation.
Now Spurs started to show-boat a bit, and both Keane and Huddlestone had a part in the move that led to Defoe scoring with typical speed and power, leaving a defender in his wake and hitting a superb shot from just inside the area. The arrival of Taarabt led to the crowd becoming orgasmic at times, hooting with delight at his skill. However, it was a ball over the top by Jenas that gave Bent his goal, cleverly clipping it past the keeper from 15 yards.
The “O”s got some reward at the end of the game, as first Cerny had to tip over Ifil’s back-header, then came Echanomi’s excellent goal as he fired home with a first time right foot shot from a cross from the right. No-one was going to begrudge the hosts a second goal, although Spurs will surely want to toughen up for Saturday’s last pre-season game against Torino.
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