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Orlando Pirates v Spurs, 28.07.07
Vodacom Challenge Trophy Final

(At Loftus Versveldt, Pretoria)

Bent, 11, 22
Berbatov, 18

Referee: - Not known

Attendance: - Est. 35,000

Orlando Pirates (4-4-2) Chansa; Lekgwathi, Makita, Seema (Capt.) (sub Walaza, 82), Mdledle; Makhanya, Kamwendo, Gumbi, Chenene (sub Merahe, 52); Mokoena (sub T. Merahe, 73), Matema (sub Bucuane, 61). (sub Teferra, 46 - replaced unknown player)

Subs not used: - Meyiwa(GK); Chabalala, Mkhwanazi, Mazana, Cashibe, Ramudzuli, Segolela, Mashaba,

No bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha, Stalteri; Malbranque (sub Maghoma, 82), Zokora (sub Routledge, 46), Huddlestone (sub Keane, 56), Taarabt (sub Jenas, 46); Bent (sub Defoe, 46), Berbatov (sub Tainio, 71)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Kaboul, Daniels; O’Hara

No bookings.

Spurs celebrate another Friendly Trophy success. Let's hope they lift a real one next season!

This report is compiled as a result of viewing Setanta’s coverage, which was at least partly improved by the presence of former ITV commentator John Champion. This time at least Setanta did offer us a team sheet for the Pirates, but sadly it did not actually resemble those on the field, who in fact were the same starting eleven as the Pirates have used in all three games this week. Pirates won the right to play Spurs for the second time, and in the final of this friendly tournament by beating Kaizer Chiefs in “The Derby”. (That’s what they call the game out there in South Africa.)

Spurs got off to a flying start, scoring all three goals in the first quarter of the game, with two more from Darren Bent, and having enjoyed processional play for that first 22 minutes, Spurs proceeded to win at a canter. Perhaps the Pirates were more tired, as their last game was only two nights ago, but Spurs should have been the team more affected by the game being played at altitude and in warm conditions at the start of the game.

The pace of the game in the early stages did look more measured, but soon lifted off when the home side had a chance after 8 minutes, courtesy of a poor infield pass from left back Paul Stalteri. Lekgwathi had the shot, after exchanging a pass with Mokoena, but he did not actually bother Paul Robinson, today wearing the Captain’s armband. The game was actually played at the ground of Sundowns, who Spurs faced in the Peace Cup two years ago.

Spurs were kicked into action, and Malbranque passed to Bent on the right side of the box. Darren’s shot was beaten away by Chansa for a corner, from which Spurs took the lead. The ball rebounded around the box, with Michael Dawson involved, before falling to Bent who hit a tremendous rising right foot volley into the underside of the bar, and the back of the net. Bent has certainly looked very sharp throughout the pre-season period, and on current form is going to take a lot of keeping out of the starting line-up, in my view.

After 13 minutes, Chimbonda had the first of two decent chances, when he headed over from a corner and should have done better. His next attempt was a shot from 22 yards after a good move, which Chimbonda finished from a central position. In the 18th minute, Bent teed up Berbatov for the second goal. Bent might have got one fortunate touch off his own back, but he kept Makita off the ball with good body strength, took the ball to the bye-line and cut it back for a close range finish by Dimitar. Bent nearly scored within a minute, after picking up Huddlestone’s free kick, hammering his shot against the woodwork from the edge of the box.

The rout was complete in the 22nd minute thanks to an excellent move from the left. Taarabt made a good run into the box, and signalled to Berbatov where he wanted the ball, which was duly delivered so that the 18 year old could pass back to Bent who side-footed a defender before sweeping the low shot past the keeper. Bent wasn’t finished yet either as he collected another long pass from Malbranque, but his cross/shot passed in front of goal.

It had looked like Spurs might run up a rugby score at the ground where England’s Rugby union team were recently thrashed by South Africa, but Pirates came more and more into the game, and tested the defence plenty of times in the remainder of the game. Their final shot was rarely on target, but Rocha was notable for a number of interceptions and blocks, whilst just occasionally Dawson was guilty of poor clearances. Generally though the defence looked competent, although of course it will face sterner tests in the months to come.

Chenene had a shot outside the post before the break, after a pass from Mokoena, and it was Chenene again after the break, whose shot was picked up by Robbo, after one of Dawson’s errors. Robinson was more severely tested after 57 minutes by a powerful shot from all of 25 yards, which the keeper pushed out with a dive to the left.

The commanding lead, and of course the fact that it was after all a friendly game, enabled Martin Jol to try out various striking combinations, with Defoe replacing Bent at half-time, then Robbie Keane coming on for Huddlestone and playing behind the front two, then playing with Defoe as Berbatov was replaced by Tainio. Berbatov should have had a 67th minute penalty really, as he was fouled just inside the area, but the referee awarded a free kick, taken by Berbatov. Dawson had taken a position at the end of the wall, and ducked to allow the shot to pass, when it was held by the keeper. The only efforts of note after that were a near own goal by Makita from Malbranque’s cross, and in added time a decent long range shot by Robbie Keane, which Chansa held.

Thus Spurs lifted the Vodacom Challenge Trophy to become the first team to take it away from South Africa. I look forward to next Wednesday’s game at Brisbane Road against Leyton Orient, who will host our reserve games this season.

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