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Spurs Reserves v Arsenal Reserves, 02.10.07

At Brisbane Road

Referee: - Mr. J. Linington

Attendance: - Est. 450

Spurs (4-4-2):- Forecast; Riley, Archibald-Henville, Mills (Capt.), Hughton; Barcham, Livermore, Maghoma, Hutton (sub Obika, 58); Dawkins (sub Hutchins, 90), Pekhart

Subs not used: - Dalton; Berchiche, C. Butcher

Booked: - Hughton

Arsenal (4-4-2):- Mannone (sub Szcesny, 46); Ogogo, Rodgers, G. Hoyte (Capt.), Steer; Barazite, Dunne, Merida Perez, Thomas; Watt, Van Den Berg (sub Ayling, 61)

Subs not used: - Tom Cruise (I kid you not!), Eastmond

No bookings

As in any match between these two teams, at whatever level, this was another keenly contested event, but no way could be found to break the stalemate, although it must go down as one of those “entertaining no-score draws”. As their senior teams are both involved in Europe this week, both participants relied very much on their younger players, many of whom probably played at the week-end for their respective Academy sides. Of the starting line-ups, in Spurs case, only left winger David Hutton had played 90 minutes on Saturday, so that may be a reason why tonight it was the Arsenal side that seemed to tire most, giving Spurs a definite edge towards the end of the game in which they could easily have grabbed all three points, and deserved them. Thomas Pekhart, who had loads of chances, especially in the first half, showed a flash of quality after 90 minutes, with an overhead kick that deserved to be the winner.

Pekhart was partnered by Simon Dawkins, with Barcham and Hutton playing on the flanks and Livermore and Maghoma in the midfield. Jacques Maghoma had the benefit of several pre-season outings with the senior squad, but it was Livermore who impressed the most of the two tonight. In fairness though, neither of them were making too much headway in the first half, where it was difficult for Spurs to play the ball through the middle, as Arsenal’s Watt consistently fell back (a la Robbie Keane) to support his midfield, who gave plenty of protection to their defence, where as the game progressed, errors became more than is usually common in an Arsenal side.

Chris Riley was the Spurs right back, and Archibald-Henville and skipper Leigh Mills had Hughton Junior on their left. Arsenal’s Fran Merida Perez looked like a Junior Fabregas, pulling most of the strings for the away side, for whom Dunne and Barazite were also giving Spurs plenty to think about.

Pekhart was putting himself about from the start and won the ball off a defender after two minutes, getting on the end of the move too, when Hutton crossed but Thomas fired the first of several excellent opportunities over the bar. Five minutes later Andy Barcham made a good run down the right channel, but he too fired over the target. Arsenal had their first real chance after 11 minutes, when Watt squeezed past Livermore giving himself a one on one chance with Tommy Forecast in the Spurs goal. Forecast did well to get his hands around Watt’s feet and deprive him of the ball fairly. In no time at all, Forecast was in action again, coming out to beat the ball away from the feet of Watt, put through this time by Barazite.

Andy Barcham worked hard to win a corner on the right side, from which Dawkins crossed low from the back post, where Pekhart scooped over from a good scoring position. Pekhart’s next effort was a header down and on target from Riley’s cross, which Mannone saved low to his left. Livermore then put Pekhart through and he seemed to have his feet taken from him, with no response from the referee to the penalty appeals from players and crowd. After 19 minutes, Pekhart got the benefit of the Arsenal’s defence failure to deal with Forecast’s clearance. This time Thomas forced a corner from his saved effort on goal.

Now Arsenal got one or two chances, and should have scored when Van den Berg hit the bar with his header from Dunne’s cross. Barcham gave Pekhart another chance with a chip from inside the box but Thomas headed over. Dawkins then brought a good save from Mannone, before Forecast was having to beat out Van Den Berg’s shot at the other end. It seemed that goals must come in the game, but Forecast saved the only remaining effort of note in the first half, when Watt tried from 25 yards. There was time for the referee to “have words” with Dawkins and Dunne over a tenacious battle for a midfield ball.

Arsenal deployed their substitute keeper (Szcesny) at half time, and he too seemed to have problems towards the end of the game. There might have been a “Mission Impossible” for unused sub Tom Cruise to deal with. (Sorry – I had to get that in!)

The temp of the game fell for the third quarter, with Arsenal resorting to trying shots from distance, due to consistent defending by the Spurs back four, ably supported by Livermore and Maghoma. It looked like Hutton had got goal-side of the defence after 521 minutes, but the ball was snatched from his feet and passed behind the waiting Pekhart. Merida Perez hit a powerful 25 yard drive that whacked the hoardings less than a yard outside Forecast’s right post.

Hughton got the only booking of the night, before Hutton was replaced by Obika. At this point, Barcham switched to the left flank, with Dawkins working on the right, and Obika coming from deep to support Pekhart. Obika impressed too, with growing confidence, some clever flicks and creative passes.

After 72 minutes, Livermore picked up a loose clearance by the gooners, and passed to Barcham who demonstrated good ball control with two defenders at his heels. The ball reached Hughton, whose powerful cross was glanced across the goal and wide by Dawkins. Dawkins then won a battle to get a shot on target after receiving a good diagonal ball from Livermore

An Arsenal free kick was flicked just wide of the post, with Forecast diving to his left, before Dawkins hit a left foot shot just wide, after good work by Pekhart and Obika. Barcham had a header saved following a cross from Dawkins, and Obika followed up at full stretch, but was also denied. Barcham had his head in his hands after fluffing a chance when in space receiving Riley’s deep cross. Spurs looked the only likely winners now, and that elusive goal might have come from Pekhart’s quick overhead kick, which resulted from a half clearance of Obika’s shot.

The absence of both Taarabt and Boateng from the squad tonight suggests that they may have some involvement in this Thursday’s UEFA Cup game in Cyprus, where Spurs have the luxury of a five-goal lead. The Reserves play West Ham away next Tuesday. This match is scheduled to take place at Bishops Stortford. The under 18 side will play Reading on Saturday at Spurs Lodge.

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