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Spurs Reserves v Portsmouth Reserves, 23.10.07

(at Brisbane Road, Leyton Orient)

Spurs scorers:-
Archibald-Henville, 56
Maghoma, 67
Livermore, 90

Portsmouth scorer:-
Mvuemba, 11

Referee: - Mr. S. Beck

Attendance: - Est. 200

Spurs (4-4-2):- Button; Riley, Archibald-Henville (Capt.), Berchiche (sub Mtandari, 17), Hughton; Routledge, Livermore, Maghoma (sub Hutchins, 71), Obika (sub Rose, 46); Dawkins, Pekhart

Subs not used: - Butcher (GK); Hutton

No bookings

Portsmouth (4-4-2):- Begovic; Lauren, Oastler, Duffy, Traore; Songo’o, Mvuemba, Pack (sub Kilby, 85), Taylor (Capt.), Nugent, Ndebe-Nlome

Subs not used: - Jordan (GK), Govas, Odoji, Cowan-Hall

No bookings

Clive Allen’s young charges achieved a fine come-back and a convincing win, thanks to a great second-half display against a Portsmouth Reserve side that included no less than 5 Premier League players which had threatened to over-run the home side in the first half. Portsmouth included Lauren and Djimi Traore (formerly of Charlton and Liverpool) at right and left back respectively, Mvuemba and skipper Matty Taylor in the midfield, and misfit striker David Nugent in attack. If Harry Redknapp was watching, he will have been given little encouragement to include Nugent in his first team, as the former Preston North End and England International struggled to impress against the youthful Spurs defence.

The Spurs defence included rookies David Button (in goal) and Yuri Berchiche at centre back, both of whom played 90 minutes for the Academy side on Saturday at Coventry. Berchiche suffered an early injury to his side and had to be replaced by Takura Mtandari after only 17 minutes, by which time Spurs were already one goal down. Troy Archibald-Henville was given the honour of captaining the side which did include Wayne Routledge – desperate to make an impression upon his manager. Routledge did that in style in the second half in particular.

In the early stages, Spurs were battling away to keep the Portsmouth attack at bay, and Taylor hit a strong free kick from some 30 yards just two feet over the bar after only three minutes. It wasn’t long before Spurs succumbed to the relentless early pressure, as Mvuemba picked up a stray ball 35 yards out, made a short run to the edge of the box, where he managed to squeeze a well-placed shot between the legs of three desperate defenders, which went into the net off the inside of Button’s right-hand post.

Button is an England young International keeper, and I believe this was his debut for the Reserves, due to Forecast’s involvement in the first team squad this week. David has a hell of a kick, sometimes over-shooting his strikers, and had a little good fortune as one shot that he failed to hold and one parried save fell to friendly feet.

Pompey had chances to extend their lead. Firstly after 21 minutes, Pack was in plenty of space meeting a low cross from the right, but he spurned the chance, firing outside the left hand post. Other chances would follow, but Spurs tried their hardest to make their mark, managing to beat the offside flag twice in a short space of time. First the active Simon Dawkins forced a corner when carrying the ball to the bye-line inside the box, then Routledge crossed from the right and Pekhart should have done better with the chance although it did reach him at an awkward height.

Button and Mtandari had a mis-understanding at the other end but Nugent graciously put his chance wide. Ndebe-Nlome then got ahead of Archibald-Henville in a race for the ball and tried a shot which Button parried, and saw cleared by safe feet. Five minutes before the break, Button failed to hold another free kick by Taylor. This one was cleared for a corner, from which Button was glad to save at close range with the ball hitting him in the midriff. As half-time approached Dawkins made a good short run through the central area to the edge of the box, slipping the ball to Livermore, whose shot was held by Asmir Begovic, a Canadian 20 year old keeper who has been on loan in places as exotic as Belgium, Bournemouth and Macclesfield! Begovic was also kept busy as the game progressed and gave a good account of himself.

Spurs went in at the interval having done well to keep the lead down to one goal. This was largely thanks to enthusiastic running, chasing, and harrying of the attacking side, making life as difficult as possible. Cian Hughton stayed on his feet well to prevent passers, and Archibald-Henville got in a few decent tackles.

Clive’s pep talk at half-time worked wonders, and by replacing Obika with Danny Rose (another debutant at this level) he added impetus to the attack which was enabled by way of speed, direct running, and some accurate quick passing moves. Traore gave us an early scare though with a header across goal from a corner, before Dawkins had the first of several good efforts wide of goal. One of these came from an early Routledge cross and then from a corner on the left, Archibald-Henville rose to meet the ball, directing it goalward without knowing too much about it and beating Begovic in the process, making the score 1-1.

With 23 minutes left Livermore spread the play to Routledge on the right, whose low cross was easily and happily converted from close range by the advancing Jacques Maghoma. Maghoma did not last much longer as he clutched his hamstring. Routledge had a terrific effort from a full 25 yards that somehow bounced back out off the woodwork, with the keeper comprehensively beaten. It was Routledge who fed Livermore, whose strong rising shot was well saved by Begovic after 73 minutes.

Portsmouth forged two more chances, the first of which fell to Songo’o, on his own in the box, but shooting just wide. Nugent had a later effort, after winning a battle with Mtandari, but hitting the ball across the goalmouth from an angle on the left. Begovic made a great double save from Livermore then Dawkins, but Spurs extended their lead in added time when Livermore got to Hutchins’ ball before the keeper and dinked it over him for a deserved goal and an excellent victory.

The Reserves next match is away to Aston Villa on Fireworks night. The Academy team will host Milton Keynes this Saturday at Spurs Lodge. A few of those on display tonight will feature in that game too.

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