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Spurs Reserves v Reading Reserves, 26.11.07

(at Brisbane Road, Leyton)

Lita, 30

Attendance: - 250

Referee: - Mr. R. Whitton

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Alnwick; Hughton, Archibald-Henville (Capt.) (sub Riley, 33), Mills, Martin; Routledge, Boateng, Huddlestone, Rose; Taarabt (sub Olsen, 79); Dawkins

Subs not used: - Forecast; Hutton; Obika

Booked: - Huddlestone, Boateng, Taarabt

Reading (4-4-2):- Federici; Rosenior, Brown, Bikey, De La Cruz (Capt.); Oster, Cisse, Fae, Robson-Kanu; Long, Lita

Subs not used: - Hamer; Sigurdsson, Kelly, Webb, Bozanic

Booked: - Bikey, Cisse

Inexperience in vital areas proved costly for Spurs Reserves tonight at Brisbane Road, as once again Reading fielded a particularly strong side with at least 7 Premier League players which won as a result of Lita’s 30th minute goal, scored at the end of one sharp move featuring quick and accurate passes. Spurs did have the expertise of Huddlestone and Boateng in the middle and the flair of Taarabt, but youth was very much predominant in Clive Allen’s side, and apart from the solitary goal, defensively they held out very well.

Huddlestone was spraying decent passes up the field, but unfortunately, Dawkins and Rose were unable to make best use of their opportunities, despite occasional glimpses of pace and skill. Taarabt frustrated more than he delivered tonight, not least when offered the chance to lob the ball into an un-protected net late in the first half, when Federici was stranded outside his area for the second time in quick succession. Taarabt always wants to beat that one extra man instead of making a quick pass, or taking that shooting chance. I am surprised the Clive Allen did not berate him a little more. Allen is not slow to berate the officials, which is usually part of the entertainment at a Spurs Reserve game. In the end, Clive had to take Taarabt off, after he got booked for dissent by a slightly officious referee, who may have been under close assessment tonight.

Spurs tried 4-4-2 for those latter stages, with Olsen playing beside Dawkins, after Taarabt had been playing “in the hole”, but it was all to no avail, with Huddlestone giving Federici the hardest save of the night from a free kick. Wayne Routledge hardly figured in this game, but in my view all the young back four (plus Chris Riley who replaced the injured Archibald-Henville) could hold their heads high, with some determined defending against Long and Lita, and the persistent probes of John Oster and left winger Robson-Kanu.

Both Chris Hughton and Alvin Martin will have been proud observers of their boys tonight.

Steve Coppell was present, and will not have been disappointed with any of his hopefuls.

The game rarely excited, with Spurs play breaking down all too often, leaving those young defenders with a backs to the wall task for much of the time. Yet neither goalkeeper was tested a great deal. Federici was tested first though, by Taarabt cutting in from the left, hitting a shot on target after 4 minutes. By this time however, Taarabt had already surrendered possession once or twice, and really needs to play with the discipline we have seen from him in the first team. He’s a flair player, but really good flair players keep possession with a greater degree of success, or make their passes to a similar extent.

The Reading goal arrived on the half hour, when Long laid the ball back for Fae, who quickly moved the ball to the left. Robson-Kanu crossed low to the near post, and Lita beat Alnwick with a low and hard shot just inside the post. Lita had a great chance from the re-start, as Spurs surrendered possession, Reading broke clear, and Lita fired a shot across Alnwick but wide. It was during this spell that Troy Archibald-Henville sustained his injury, and when Riley replaced him, he took over at right back; Hughton switched to the left, and Joe Martin moved inside to partner Mills.

The hard-tackling Boateng and Huddlestone combined to give Tom a shot that was held by Federici. After the break, both Spurs central midfielders saw yellow cards, that of course are counted in the Premier League tally too.

Reading continued to threaten more effectively, and on the hour, Long crossed deep from the left, before Oster crashed his shot against the hoarding outside the post. Fae fed Long a ball from the middle, and Long passed back to Robson-Kanu, who fired wide. Spurs best effort came with that Huddlestone free kick after 68 minutes, hit hard and just under the bar, parried by Federici then put out of play by the advancing Spurs forwards. Soon after that Huddlestone hit a ball from deep, and Rose beat the offside flag, and the over-committed keeper, but sadly put his shot outside the target.

Despite Spurs change of system, Reading continued to threaten, and Alnwick held Oster’s free kick.

Reading are second only to Aston Villa, who also tend to field a strong side, whilst the likes of Spurs field genuine development sides to give their youngsters the chance to experience senior football. Leigh Mills is one of those gaining great benefit from such opportunities.

The Reserves next game is at Craven Cottage next Tuesday 4th December.

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