LEYTON ORIENT v SPURS XI
|A weird and wonderful experience was
awaiting those who trekked over to East London for this friendly against
Leyton Orient by a Spurs XI.
The entertainment started as soon as I entered through the turnstiles. Either they are making the tickets out of some super-strong material or the East End is not as full of tough people as when I was brought up there, as the girl behind the mesh wiring had great difficulty tearing the stub off my ticket and two people got through on the other turnstile while she was struggling with the piece of thin card !!
Having been told that programmes were on sale just inside the turnstiles, I went over to the old fella with them and asked how much. "£3," he said, "but I haven't got any change." Great. Half an hour before kick off and all his change had been used up. Whether this is a ruse to make you buy something from their food kiosk to get change and further fund the ailing League One club I don't know. Anyway, I went over to buy the cheapest thing they had, but the two girls behind the counter did not have change either and had to start delving around in their purses to find enough coins to give me back. I know times are hard, but this was a bit ridiculous.
After buying something from the shop and a couple of programmes and one for a mate, I felt like I was paying the wages of one of their players for the season.
A sign of the lack of ticket sales was highlighted when I got to the top of the stairs and was told you could sit where you liked. Always a recipe for disaster (in terms of who you were sat next too or in front of). We were lucky enough to have sensible people each side, but behind were an Orient supporting father (who swore like how's your father) and a young son about six, who kept shouting "Yid Army" and "Come On You Spurs" at the top of his voice throughout the first half, until they moved away at the break.
You are always warned that these games will contain a mix of younger players and some fringe first teamers and this certainly lived up to that billing. But for only £15 you couldn't really argue ... although from some of the comments I heard some people would have liked to.
Once inside, the players were already out warming up, although it was a warm evening. Without the aid of the programme I probably knew only about three Orient players (as Charlie Daniels, the former Spurs defender, was missing through injury). Looking at the Spurs players warming up, there appeared to be the exact make up of the team that was described above. Almost all of the Under-18 side and Danny Rose and Adel Taarabt. Dad behind us didn't recognise any of the Spurs players and told son that Ben Alnwick was in goal. Mainly because the programme told him he was in the squad and there was a blonde goalkeeper warming up (Oscar Jansson). Some of the fans who did not know the players resorted to calling them "Number 9" when they shouted at them.
Some fans around me were not happy, as perhaps they were expecting some of the World Cup players returning to training to be given a run out. But with a prestige friendly against Villareal at home tomorrow night, it was a little unlikely.
Anyway, the game kicked off in the evening sunlight, with the odd sight at Brisbane Road of people watching the game from the balconies of their flats in the corners of the ground, while three people were hanging out of a window at great height behind the goal to our left. Andros Townsend later got a ball to hit one of the windows and we wondered if there would be a spot prize for anyone who got a ball through one of them !!
Orient started with a strong side out and got into the groove quickest. David Button showed good handling when he came for a cross by Scott McGleish, but Spurs hit back with former Orient loanee Townsend shunning a pass out left to Rose to take a shot at goal that had the pace taken off it by a deflection and then Adel Taarabt, captain for the day, hit a snap shot from a free-kick just wide of the goal.
The referee was soon to make the first of a number of bizarre decisions. A corner on the right wing was taken by Orient and a flick on at the near post saw Button impeded by having his shirt pulled, then two Orient players went for the ball in the six yard box, but got in each others way, leaving the ball to drop for McGleish, whose shot looked like it had been headed up onto the bar and out by Adam Smith. Mick Russell (remember that name) had other ideas and pointed to the spot, indicating that Smith had used a hand to stop the ball on the line. Button tried to persuade the man in black that he had been fouled before that, but to no avail. Smith did not even get a talking to by the ref and Ben Chorley stepped up to beat Button from the spot and give Orient a 1-0 lead with 16 minutes on the clock.
Spurs tried to get back into the match, with Danny Rose, who was playing left back, putting in a fine low ball across the six yard box, but nobody had read it and it flashed harmlessly across goal. But within a minute Spurs were two down to a good goal from Orient. The ball was switched to the right back in lots of space and he played a low ball into Matthew Spring, who played in McGleish, who dinked the ball over Button as he came to the edge of the box to dive at his feet.
Tottenham had been rocked by the penalty and lost their shape and focus. They gave the ball away cheaply and were not picking up their opponents, leaving the tall Alex Revell to match up with Rose, who he out-jumped easily, beating Button with his header in the 27th minute, but he did not beat the post, with the ball bouncing off it to be hacked away. A minute later, the move was repeated with Cox supplying again, but this time Revell put his header too high and the goal was not threatened this time. The O's attacks kept coming in this phase of the game and when Spring played a free kick in to the near post, Revell got a thin header on it and McGleish slid to meet the ball in the six yard box, but could not keep his effort down, spooning it over the bar from close range. So, half an hour gone and Spurs could have been 0-4 down. And it might have been five on 32 minutes when Forbes rose to meet a Cox free kick and he thudded a header against the post once more.
Taarabt felt that he was fouled a couple of times and hit the floor and stayed there. He was not happy and berated the referee when Orient were handed a cheap free kick. When a foul on Fredericks was not given and a throw-in to Orient awarded, the Frenchman smashed the ball into the advertising hoardings. The official called Fredericks to him and gave him a ticking off (for getting fouled ?), then as Taarabt would not come to him, he made his way to the centre circle to speak to the Spurs captain. It became hilarious as Taarabt must have been gobbing off to him in French and the ref pointed to the armband (indicating that it didn't matter if he was captain) and then swept his hands in front of him (indicating he would take no more). Adel continued to chunter on and gesticulate in a typically Gallic way, while seeking a chance to take on the whole of the Orient defence again when he got possession.
In the last five minutes of the half, Spurs pressed forward and Ryan Mason twice hit shots, one by a long way over the top and the second just not high enough to get it over Jamie Jones in the home goal. Just before the half-time whistle, Townsend went close with a curling effort from the edge of the box that went just wide of Jones' left hand post.
Four Spurs subs came on after the interval, with Jansson replacing Button between the sticks, Durojaiye coming on for Rose, Jose-Paul Mpoku for Townsend and England Under-19 midfielder Dean Parrett replacing Taarabt, who probably got a good talking to by Sherwood at the break.
The Spurs team must have all been given instruction about what was required of them in the second half, with a quick start ending with Mpoku pulling the ball back from the left wing to Jonathan Obika to fire a low shot that Jones managed to keep out with his foot. Orient once more hit the woodwork, with Elliot Omozusi crossing to see Revell hit the post from about 10 yards out. It was a costly miss, as in the 52nd minute, Obika took the ball into the box from the right and beating his man very tight to the dead ball line, pulled the ball back to Ryan Mason coming in at the near post to hit the net and make it 2-1.
Spurs brought on the tall Harry Kane for the slightly off the pace Ryan Fredericks and his presence posed Orient's defence with a different problem, as most of the Tottenham side were fairly short. Obika enjoyed more space and when he hit a 20 yard shot fizzing just above the grass, Jones was relieved to see the ball hitting the boards behind the goal as it narrowly went wide.
Orient sub Ryan Jarvis engineered a yard in the box and he hit a shot that looked to be going into the bottom corner, but Calum Butcher got his leg in the way to deflect the ball wide and then Dean Cox tried his luck from outside the box, but his shot ended up curling just outside the goal. At the other end, Dean Parrett played the ball behind the defence for Harry Kane, but ex-Spur and substitute keeper Lee Butcher. raced out to take the ball just inside his area before the Tottenham forward could get there and with twenty minutes left on the clock, Kane tried to curl a shot inside the post form the right side of the box, but put it just too wide.
The game was getting to the stage where players had realised that the ref was not in any sort of control and there were some cynical trips by both sides when opponents got away from them, some "robust" challenges which would normally bring a free-kick if not a yellow card, handballs in any part of the pitch and pushing which was so obvious, it was hard to understand how the officials missed it.
When it got back to the football, Obika tried to bend a shot in but it didn't bend enough, but in the 77th minute, Nathan Byrne, who had a very good game at the back, found space on the right wing and his cross was bent in towards the penalty spot, with Obika going for the header, but he either got a very thin contact on it or missed it altogether, the ball ending up in the net whatever happened. It looked to me as if he had missed it, but being a striker, he will probably claim the goal anyway. At 2-2, Spurs were getting on top, but Orient still wanted to end with a victory and Jarvis got a volley to Jimmy Smith's cross, but it didn't have a good enough connection to beat Jansson's sprawling stop low at his right hand post. With five minutes to go, the woodwork once again came to Tottenham's side, when Jansson got a hand onto Stephen Dawson's cross and it grazed the face of the bar before going out for a corner.
As the game came to what should have been a peaceful end, Dawkins was aggressively knocked over when the ball had gone by Brown and this prompted a rash of players diving into tackles, with Adam Smith catching an Orient player late for about the fourth time in the second half and taking a knock in the process. With a minute left in the game, it seemed a strange time to ask for the Spurs defender to be substituted rather than be sent off, as surely that should have happened when he hand-balled it 15 minutes into the match. The hilarious end to the game came as a result of the referee exercising a lack of control over what had been going on and leaving players to think they could get away with what they wanted.
In the end, the whistle blew on a 2-2 draw, which was a useful work out for the Under-18s who got some experience playing against a League One team, with Orient getting a test with the start to their season just ten days away. For the fans, it was a chance to see some of the players who might be pushing for a place in the senior squad, but seniors and Obika and Mason apart, the only players who showed some desire was Smith and Parrett, while Calum Butcher and Byrne at the back looked solid enough to be ones who might make it should they get a bit more senior experience in the lower leagues.
marco van hip
Jones (12 L.
Unused Subs :
Unused Subs :
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