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South China v Spurs, 27.07.13

(Third Place Play-off)

Tse (o.g.), 12
Dempsey, 34
Defoe, 45, 54, 80
Townsend, 86

Referee:- Mr. N. Swarbrick

Attendance:- Not known

South China (4-5-1):- Zhang; Sealy, Tse, Joel (sub Liu, 46), Kwok (Capt.) (sub Chan, 81); Martins, Ticao, Luk (sub Lee Hong Lim, 62), Naves (sub Joao Emire, 81), Lo (sub Pavlovic, 46); Barry (sub Lee Wai Lim, 72)
(armband to Tse)
Subs not used:- Details not known

No bookings

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker (sub Naughton, 46), Dawson (Capt.), Caulker, Rose (sub Fryers, 69); Parker (sub Livermore, 69), Dembele (sub Carroll, 69); Lennon (sub Townsend, 69), Dempsey (sub Carroll, 46), Sigurdsson; Defoe

Subs not used:- Friedel, Gomes; Assou-Ekotto

No bookings

Spurs smash South China

With the monsoon conditions continuing in Hong Kong since Wednesday’s games, there had been fears of today’s matches being postponed, but partly thanks to the work of Spurs’ groundsman Darren Baldwin, and the drier conditions (at least at the start of the game), the match was able to go ahead as planned. The central areas of the pitch had a good covering of sand, and the ground was still a bit sticky, but far more suitable to playing than on Wednesday.

Spurs looked far more lively, and won this game at a canter, with Jermain Defoe making hay with a hat-trick. South China are Hong Kong’s leading club, but they should perhaps be equated with a lower tier team in England. That said, the same team held Manchester City to a 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Once again, a number of Spurs high-profile players were absent, including Gareth Bale, which will have disappointed the many local and very enthusiastic fans, getting a rare chance to see their idols in the flesh. Adebayor did not make the bench today, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto was the only un-used outfield substitute, which surely does not augur well regarding his future Spurs career.

Mousa Dembele did make a welcome start, next to Scott Parker, and Spurs started in the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dempsey behind Defoe, but often switching positions with Gylfi Sigurdsson, who started on the left. Aaron Lennon looked more active than on Wednesday, but it was the Spurs full-backs who made great advances in the early stages of this game. Lennon won a corner after 2 minutes, following which the home team was put under a bit of pressure, ending in a cross/shot by Sigurdsson not reaching his target.

Danny Rose put in a good low cross into the danger zone, but just in front of Defoe. Spurs scored in the 12th minute, after Dembele and Dempsey led a charge down the left channel. Dempsey back-heeled and the ball was pushed out to Rose, whose low cross was deflected into his own net by Sean Tse, a player born in Salford, and who had youth experience with both Manchester clubs, latterly with City.

Dembele and Sigurdsson combined and Siggy passed back to Defoe, with Joel managing to get in the way of his shot. Lennon made a great spurt forward to reach the bye-line on the right side of the area, but there was not enough accuracy to his attempted cut back to a central position. Kyle Walker went down in the South China area, but the English Premier League referee said that Walker had fouled first. Walker was getting into advanced positions with impunity though, and another great pass reached Dempsey, whose shot was blocked, falling to Sigurdsson, whose effort resulted in a corner. The South China defence were certainly getting an excellent work-out. Their only outlet really was the Brazilian born Dhiego Martins, who had several decent efforts on goal, but only really tested Hugo Lloris with minutes to go.

Dempsey was put in the clear by a good lofted pass by Scott Parker, and should have done better with his attempted chip over the goalie, which passed high over the goal. The South China goalkeeper did well to prevent Defoe scoring at the near post after another good low cross by Danny Rose. Defoe had another effort with a weakfish header the back post following a free kick from the left touchline. The ball rebounded off the post.

After a good chase by Walker to reach the ball, Dempsey tried a low shot from a good 25 yards, but this passed wide. Dempsey did make it 2-0 with a good firm finish, after excellent work by Defoe to carry the ball from the edge of the box and cut it back to Dempsey’s feet. At the other end, Martins had already given Lloris something to think about, but this time at least hit a shot on target after good skill to carry the ball from the left side. It was however a comfortable save for the Spurs keeper.

Sigurdsson sent Walker forward, and Kyle again got to the bye-line, hitting a powerful cross towards the back of the area. Defoe was unable to head this with any power, but he did get a much-deserved goal on the brink of half-time, after a Walker free kick was half-blocked by the wall, running to poacher Defoe, who finished with ease, and did not get an offside flag!

Walker was replaced at half-time by Naughton, and Tom Carroll replaced Dempsey, playing a pivotal advanced midfield role, and hitting several telling passes. Spurs had started this half slowly though, but they went four up in the 54th minute, when goalkeeper Zhang gifting the ball to Defoe’s feet, after a Danny Rose ball. Defoe happily converted his present for his second goal of the game. Another great low cross by Rose into the 6 yard box for Defoe was blocked by substitute Pavlovic and Zhang. Carroll sent Defoe clear on the left of the area, and uncharacteristically, Jermain tried to pass back for Sigurdsson, but the South China defence managed to clear.

Martins had another chance from the right of the area, after a good ball by Ticao, but his shot went wide across Lloris’s goal.

Spurs made their final four substitutions (6 were allowed) with 20 minutes to go. Dembele was replaced by Tom Huddlestone. Andros Townsend took over from Lennon, whilst Jake Livermore and Zeki Fryers also had a run-out in favour of Parker and Rose. Zhang made a good save with his left leg when Defoe was given a chance by Sigurdsson, but he got his hat-trick in the 8oth minute. Huddlestone gave a short pass to Sigurdsson, who was in the middle and sent Defoe clear on the left side. Defoe hit a left foot shot low to the right of the keeper. The scoring wasn’t over either, because Townsend got in on the act with style, hitting a powerful low left footed shot direct from a free kick taken on the right edge of the box.

Hugo Lloris was sharp to the end, as he had to make a great diving save to his right, pushing an excellent effort by Martins wide with his left hand. Martins had another chance before the end of the game when he ran clear of Huddlestone, who was puffing despite his late entrance. Lloris came out, and Martins pushed his shot wide.

Spurs’ first team have a week now to prepare for stiffer opposition in the shape of Monaco in the Stade Louis II next Saturday evening. A Spurs XI plays at Milton Keynes on Wednesday night.

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