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Birmingham Reserves v Spurs Reserves, 18.03.08

Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List
[e-mail Ray Lo]

      Premier Reserve League South
     Solihull Moors FC, Damson Park 
      Tuesday 18th March 2008, 7pm         
   (Blue/White)          (All Yellow)
      4-4-2                 4-4-2
      3(2)                   3(2)
        Colin Doyle  1 David Button
       Jared Wilson  2 Chris Gunter
     Rafael Schmitz  3 Cian Hughton
      Martin Taylor  4 Yaser Kasim
  Franck Queudrue(C) 5 Troy
     Ashley Sammons  6 Joe Martin
   Daniel De Ridder  7 Kyle Fraser-Allen
     Garry O'Conner  8 Takura Mtandari
        Jake Jervis  9 Tomas Pekhart
       Jordan Mutch 10 Adel Taarabt
      Semih Aydilek 11 David Hutton
        David Joyce 12 Oscar Jansson
        Dean Lyness 13 Alec Olsen
      Jamie Sheldon 14 Daniel Hutchins
          (9)77Mins.   (4)77Mins.
      James O'Brien 15 Ryan Mason
       Luke Hubbins 16 Jonathan Obika

          T.Westley    C.Allen
          Jervis 8     Hutton 32
   O'Conner 11, 61     Pekhart 38
                       Taarabt 51  

Mutch 33(Foul)
O'Conner 55(Not 10Yds.)
O'Brien 79(Foul)

Referee:- A.Rayner
Assistants:- T.Hollidge, C.Miller, S.Rolfe

Attendance:- 292

This could be called the Adel Taarabt show as the young Frenchman had such an influence on the game, dragging the young Spurs team back into a game that was running away from them.

Spurs lined up with Martin alongside Archibald-Henville at the heart of the defence with Gunter at right back and Hughton on the left. A late change for Rose saw Mtandari start in the centre of midfield next to Kasim with Fraser-Allen on the right wing and Hutton on the left. Taarabt played behind Pekhart in a free role. The Birmingham side contained Taylor who had finished his three match ban for the foul on the gooners' Eduardo, which resulted in the Arsenal reserve player breaking his leg. His inclusion prompted a media circus to see if he was going to hurt one of ours. The Blues fielded a number of players with first team experience which gave them an edge early in the game.

Spurs defended the left end in the first half and soon came under pressure as the speed and strength of the home side left them chasing shadows. De Ridder showed his speed in getting down the right and hitting a drive that Button pushed out for a corner which De Ridder took and found Taylor on the far post. His header was scrambled in by Jervis.

Taarabt hit a speculative effort well over before Birmingham won a free kick wide on the left. De Ridder curled the ball in and O'Conner was quickest to react and got into the middle to direct it past Button with no defender near him. Hutton managed to draw a save from Doyle before both the home full backs forced good saves from Button. Our young wingers were getting little change from the Birmingham defenders who gave them no time to settle on the ball by quickly tackling hard and Pekhart was being well marshalled.

It was Taarabt that unsettled the home side by using his skill to avoid tackles and running at the defence sometimes beating three players. This caused space to appear for other players as when from a corner Taarabt picked the ball up deep and dribbled forward before playing Mtandari in for an attempt that was blocked by the keeper. He was passing the ball to his team-mates who in turn gave him the ball as much as possible.

Taarabt had another shot over the bar before he released Fraser-Allen down the right. The centre fell to Hutton at the far post and was dispatched into the far corner. Mutch was booked by the young female ref for a late tackle from behind on Taarabt as the Blues' midfield tried to contain him. Another Taarabt run took him into the box with only Doyle to beat, but the keeper saved at his feet. This was only a temporary reprieve as Adel repeated his mazy run only this time he lifted the ball over the keeper onto the head of the inrushing Pekhart.

Taarabt was pulling the strings as Spurs were now on top but Birmingham forced Button into saves from Jervis and Mutch as the half ended.

Both Hutton and Fraser-Allen were finding space wide, but De Ridder was still a threat on the left. However, the Spurs defence was getting on top and O'Conner got a yellow card from Miss Rayner when he did not retreat 10 yards at a free kick. Taarabt crowned his performance with another driving run into the right channel which he finished with a shot that beat the keeper to his right to put Spurs in front.

Westley made his second change to try and get back into the game. It was De Ridder again that came to their rescue as Gunter had lost the ball on the edge of the Birmingham area. De Ridder attacked the available space, going to the line and crossing to the back post. O'Conner headed goalwards over Jervis who was in front of Button and the Spurs defence got into a mess with the ball ricocheting from keeper to defender before going over the line. O'Conner claimed it and I don't think that any Spurs player will argue.

The goal sparked the home side and De Ridder had a free kick saved and another effort wide with O'Brien drawing a save as well. Allen made two changes when he replaced Kasim with Hutchins and Hutton with Obika, both like for like changes. O'Brien was booked for a late challenge on Taarabt before Button saved another free kick from De Ridder. O'Conner got down the right and turned inside Mtandari but decided to fall in the box in an effort to win a penalty but the ref was not fooled. With five minutes left O'Conner limped off and as Westley had already made his three changes Birmingham played out the rest of the game with ten men. Spurs did not try to take advantage settling for the draw.

It was a topsy-turvy game with each side on top for periods of the game with Spurs being second best in the opening part. They settled thanks to Taarabt knocking the opposition out of their stride with his virtuoso performance. I think he gave his team-mates the confidence to stand up and get involved as they could easily have been sunk without trace after the opening burst. Birmingham could not handle him and even when doubled marked could not stop him. He is a luxury as he hardly ever tackles or chases back, but he may be ready for another spell in the first team.

Next wednesday the Reserves will be playing Derby County at Brisbane Road and then Fulham on the following Monday at the same venue.


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