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Spurs Reserves v West Ham Reserves, 25.02.08

(at Brisbane Road)

Spurs scorer:-
Rose, 34

West Ham scorers:-
Sears, 45, 74
Ashton, 69

Referee: - Mr. J. Hopkins

Attendance: - Est. 350

Spurs (4-4-2):- Button; Hughton, Archibald-Henville (Capt.), Dervite (sub Mason, 76), Martin; Fraser-Allen (sub Parrett, 61), Livermore, Rose, Hutton (sub Mtandari, 61); Dawkins, Obika

Subs not used: - Jansson; Hutchins

Booked: - Archibald-Henville, Martin,

West Ham (4-4-2):- Walker; Pantsil, Spector, Tomkins (sub Spence, 71), Miller (sub Fitzgerald, 79); Sears, Collison (Capt.), Stokes, Reid; Ashton, Zomora (sub Hines, 46)

Subs not used: - Miklosko; Stanislas

Booked: - Spector

If you go to watch Spurs Reserves these days, you do not go in anticipation of a decent result. Tonight was a typical current example, as Clive Allen’s side fell to a fifth consecutive defeat, and remains at the wrong end of the ten-team table. However, you do need to bear in mind that Spurs Reserves these days rarely include anyone within a sniff of the first team. The average age of the squad tonight was really low, including a genuine schoolboy in the shape of substitute Dean Parrett, making his very first competitive appearance at this level. Parrett came on as substitute for his fellow Academy side player Kyle Fraser-Allen after 61 minutes, and with his combative ball-winning style became one of the genuine attractions of the night.

All of the above of course is a preamble to the fact that Spurs were beaten 3-1 by a West Ham side that started with five players who have played first team football, including defenders Pantsil and Spector, and a multi-million pound strike force in Dean Ashton and Bobby Zomora. Bobby Zomora was replaced at half-time by Zavon Hines, who was one of the fleet-footed West ham youngsters who caught the eye more than their more established stars. Man of the match was Freddie Sears, who scored two and set up Ashton’s goal so that even the dyed blond haired striker couldn’t miss, hard as he had tried for much of the rest of the game. West Ham even had Ludek Miklosko on the bench, replacing Adam Street at late notice. Presumably the Hammers goalkeeping coach is still registered, or Spurs were feeling generous of spirit, one day after winning their 17th major trophy yesterday.

Perhaps the Reserves had also been at the after match party yesterday. After a bright start, during which Simon Dawkins starred with some great back to the goal hold up play, as well as a useful turn of speed and several decent shots, Spurs succumbed to their more experienced opponents, well supported by near neighbours to Leyton Orient’s ground, West Ham.

Spurs played David Button in goal, with Cian Hughton at right back, and Joe Martin on the opposite side. Troy Archibald-Henville skippered the side from centre-back partnered by Dorian Dervite, who is still fighting his own personal battle to get back to full match fitness. 17 year old Danny Rose was in central midfield beside Jake Livermore, and Fraser-Allen and David Hutton were on the flanks. Jonathan Obika partnered Dawkins.

Spurs had the first chance of the game after two minutes, when Fraser-Allen crossed from the right, and Rose headed over from the back post. Dervite won an early contest against Ashton, showing good strength, taking the ball away from the striker too. Dawkins was forging opportunities for himself and hit a good shot just outside the post after 8 minutes. Five minutes later he was almost in a shooting position, but chose to pass to Dervite who had advanced forward. Dervite went down under Miller’s challenge, but no penalty was awarded, as Miller came out with the ball.

It had taken them a while to penetrate the Spurs defence, but eventually the Hammers did have a good chance from which Ashton should have headed home Pantsil’s cross. Danny Rose was involved in a scuffle with Stokes, but the referee chose to “have words” only. There followed a period where West ham did get more and more possession and spent time in the Spurs half, without creating enough direct chances. Spurs took a 34th minute lead through Danny Rose’s free kick, taken near the right touch line, which beat everybody in the box to go directly into the net!

Dawkins won another battle about 35 yards out and exchanged passes with Hutton, before having his shot blocked. The referee was generous with the added time, and West ham scored an equaliser when Ashton got to the bye line, cut the ball back where Reid mis-cued a shot. The ball fell fortuitously to Sears who made no mistake with a low shot beneath Button’s right hand.

Zomora was replaced by Hines at half-time, and Hines moved to the right flank, with Sears coming in to partner Ashton. Spurs started to struggle to contain the West Ham attacks, which were made with pace and good incisive passing through the middle. Ashton was the eventual recipient of one ball that ran across the area from the right, and although he hit a shot on target this one was easy for Button. Button did well after 63 minutes to deprive Sears of a clever flicked goal, reaching high to grab the shot from going over his head.

West Ham took the lead in the 69th minute when Sears collected a good ball inside the right channel, took the ball to the bye line and made it easy for Ashton to fire home from close range. It was one way traffic at this stage, and Button had to save from Stokes. The visitors’ lead was increased when Ashton rose to meet a long ball, and flicked it quickly and accurately to the advancing Sears who was already behind the Spurs defence, and with only button to beat made no mistake, this time firing low to the left of the young keeper.

Only now did Spurs start to defend stoutly, as Troy Archibald-Henville led by example with some good winning tackles. It was all too late though, and much as they tried, Spurs could not reduce the deficit. The Reserves face another tough task next Monday night here at Brisbane Road, when they entertain high-flying Aston Villa. On Saturday, at Spurs Lodge, many of tonight’s side will no doubt be involved in the return fixture against second-placed Leicester City. Spurs beat Leicester 5-3 earlier in the season, and are currently just two points behind the Foxes. Ray Lo will be watching the youngsters, while I travel to Birmingham.

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