Stevenage Borough (Away)

Tuesday 25th July 2006




Stevenage Borough   0   Tottenham Hotspur    3     
(Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Tuesday 25th July 2006
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   8,000 (est.)
Referee :  - (-)
Weather :  -  Warm
Teams : - 
Stevenage Borough :


Oliver (Goodliffe 85)

Bulman (Henry 51)
Miller (Lewis 85)
Boyd (Hatton 69)
Dobson (Mackie 68)

Stamp (Nurse 62)

Unused subs: 
M Wright
C Wright

Tottenham Hotspur :


King (O'Hara 86)

Ghaly (Routledge 47)
Keane (Ifil 76)

Berbatov (Barnard 83)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Stevenage Borough    

     Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Stevenage Borough


Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 32
Berbatov (p) 80
Defoe (p) 87

Cards : -  
Stevenage Borough



Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
Perhaps it is the distance from the end of last season that made me look forward to this game despite the searing heat of the morning and afternoon.  It didn't take long though to remember what watching Spurs was about and I don't mean the stuff going on amidst the Sheffield United looking shirted Stevenage players.  The supporter next to me, who could not manage to sit upright in his seat for 90 minutes, meaning I had a restricted view, without the relevant discount on my ticket and then in the early stages when Dimitar Berbatov missed a chance he had done well to create for himself, the bloke behind me christened him "the new Sergei Rebrov" and his mate agreeing, adding that the Bulgarian was "the biggest waste of money since Positga."  Yeah, some things never change.

The thing was Berbatov impressed me (maybe I am too easily swayed), as he made good runs into the right places to get him into goalscoring positions.  Yes, it was Stevenage and he should have stuck a higher percentage of the opportunities that presented themselves to him, but then it was Stevenage and it was a pre-season friendly.  His ability to take the ball and coolly let the opponent to commit himself, before calmly taking his shot.  Anyone who has seen the video of his goals on YouTube will testify that he is nothing if not a cool finisher.

Had the "supporters" given a bit more attention to what Berbatov was doing off the ball as well as on it, rather than how the game might be affected by the smoke enveloping the Broadhall Way goal from the burger van, they might have had a different opinion.  Patience is a virtue and a virtue that many Spurs fans seem to have left behind with our days of frustration.

The game ended 3-0, but, without any exaggeration, the final score could easily have been 20-0.  Only Danny Potter's outstanding performance in goal kept Tottenham at bay on numerous occasions.  His early stops from shots by Defoe twice, Ghaly and tipping Dawson's header over from a corner, all within the first ten minutes, showed he was in for a busy night.  Dimitar glanced a header wide and Defoe curiously went for Berbatov's low cross with his left foot in an attempt to flick it past Potter, but got it all wrong. 

It was delightful to see Tottenham's first time passing and movement, while the understanding between the front three - Defoe, Berbatov and Keane - looked quite well established already.  One such move in the 19th minute saw Benoit Assou-Ekotto lay the ball in to Robbie and he played a one-two with Berbatov, before laying it back for the Bulgarian to have a shot that Potter closed down quickly to smother.

It was 20 minutes before Stevenage came close to threatening the Tottenham goal.  A cross in fro the tricky George Boyd was headed wide by Tony Thorpe, when he really should have hit the target.  The attacks from the home side were few and far between, as Spurs mopped up anything that came through with Dawson and King outstanding.  With the two full backs Assou-Ekotto and Tainio free to raid forward, the midfield was ably supported and took the opposition's wide midfielders back to cover them.  The French acquisition looked good n the ball and keen to get forward, but also showed that his defensive ability will be appreciated with some well-timed tackles and good anticipation.  Tainio did well, without too much to do and moved into midfield after the break.

Ledley showed poise in bringing the ball adeptly out of the back and feeding Edgar Davids to hit a powerful shot that was pushed wide by Potter, before Keane made the keeper move his feet fast to push out a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Stevenage were being run ragged and when a throw-in to the edge of the area bounced up high, one defender tried to clear, but only succeeded in kicking Miller in the chest !!  On the half hour, Spurs should really have taken the lead and many fans thought they had.  Keano played a neat ball through the defence for Jermain to run on and flick at goal.  Potter managed to palm it sideways, where Hossam Ghaly ran in to shoot into an empty goal, but Defoe's horrified look and the placement of the ball in the area for a restart made many fans think the goal had been disallowed for offside.  In fact, the Moroccan had missed from a couple of yards out, with no Stevenage player between him and the goal.

Not that the miss was crucial.  Two minutes later, some possession football got the ball to Davids, who passed to Assou-Ekotto on the left wing.  He cut outside and pulled a low ball back to Defoe, who turned on a sixpence and smashed his rising shot past the despairing hand of Potter to make it 1-0 to Spurs.  It was a piece of finishing we all associate with Jermain and hopefully we will see for a long time to come. 

Berbatov was having a personal duel with Danny Potter.  The keeper's legs, feet and hand denied the new striker's efforts to get on the score-sheet and when he kept the last effort out, Dimitar produced a fine lifted shot over the prone goalie, but it drifted just wide of the far post.  Another save from Davids completed a hectic half for the Borough keeper, but at 1-0, the game was still there to be played for.

With Wayne Routledge coming on at right back, Tainio was pushed forward and Tottenham looked even more solid.  Berbatov showed good skill tight on the touchline to pull a cross back to Defoe, but his effort was just wide and then Jermain set up Routledge, but the keeper closed him down quickly.  Potter then stopped Defoe from adding to his tally, Keane shot wide after neat play by Berbatov put him in a shooting position and then Tom Huddlestone lined up a mighty drive from long range, but it went well wide.  One of the Borough defenders managed to partially block Defoe's effort and it flew just far enough away from goal, before the second goal came.

With ten minutes remaining, Berbatov tried to manouevre a shooting opportunity, but two Borough conspired to bring him down and a penalty resulted.  Dimitar got up to take it himself and he showed great control in stroking the ball up past the keeper's dive to score.  Three minutes from the end, Defoe looked odds on to score again, when he was tripped by an ill-timed tackle and Jermain got off the floor to grab the ball and knock in in past Potter for 3-0.  All that remained was a cross from Routledge going full pelt, which was just too far behind Barnard to get a decent contact with his head.

A good pre-season run-out for Spurs who looked in total control, while Stevenage were given a bit of a football lesson.  One which some among the Tottenham supporters could do with learning from.






As it was my first look at the players this season, here is my rating on them.

Cerny - Hard to tell really, as he had stuff all to do.  Looked good on the back-passes though
Tainio - unusual to see him at right back, but he did a good job, with a good use of the space available to him in the wing position.  Moved to midfield later and then inside later on still, with the combative side of him showing through.
Dawson - Class.  A real mountain goat performance.
King - Likewise.  Took the chance to move forward with the ball when he could, but just a swift shift of weight sent the Stevenage players the wrong way.
Assou-Ekotto - quick footed and of foot, he looked a real challenger for Lee's position.  Used the space and the ball well and showed good skill.  Has the added benefit of being a left-footer too.
Huddlestone - A rock.  Little gets past Tom and although he might not be blessed with lightning pace, he reads the game so well that he doesn't need it.  Might have found his position protecting the back four.
Ghaly - Strong on the ball and able to pick out a good pass, he was keen to get on the scoresheet tonight.  His shooting was OK, but his ability to run with the ball and set others up was shown to it's best advantage last night.
Davids - Tigerish (as usual) and another one who fancied a pot-shot whenever it presented itself.  Linked well on the left with Assou-Ekotto and had a good 90 minutes.
Keane - Strange protective cast on his wrist, but this didn't stop him pulling the strings.  Caught a couple of times on the ball, but sharpness will come.  Linked well with the other front two and always wanted to receive the ball.
Berbatov - Another one who I liked.  Good spatial awareness of where his marker was and where he wasn't.  Played good exchange passes with Keane and Defoe and looked to put others in without taking all the shots himself.  Should have scored in the first half, but the keeper stood between him and a goal.
Defoe - Sharp and goal-hungry.  Tested the keeper several times before he scored and confident enough to take the penalty late on.  Looks a good partnership between him and Berbatov, with Keane dropping off the two of them.
O'Hara - Looked comfortable in the line up when he came on.  Good eye for a pass and not afraid to run at people.  One who might be put out on loan to get some more experience this season, but one who the club will look to bring through.
Barnard - Showed why he did well last season.  Got under a couple of Borough players after coming on and nearly got his head to a fast Routledge cross.  Good back up for the front three.
Ifil - Little time to show much, but looked comfortable in getting forward, as usual, with a good range of passing (short and long).  Might get the right back understudy role this season
Routledge - Pacy, nimble, skillful and eager.  Didn't look like a player ready to move on, but was a useful right back and then attacking midfielder after further substitutions.  Opened up the Boro defence and played some good balls to create chances.

I look forward to seeing them in action again soon.

James Stephens



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