Grays Athletic   2   Tottenham Hotspur XI    3      (Half-time score : 1-1)

Friendly
Venue : -  -
Wednesday 7th August 2007
Kick Off :  7.45 p.m.
Crowd :   2,216
Referee :  - (-)
Weather :  -  Mild evening, but showery rain later
Teams : - 
Grays Athletic :

Knowles

Sambrook
Cooksey (Gross 64)
Marshall (Lawson)
Haverson

Stuart (c) (Ashton 46)
McAllister (O'Connor 75)
Murray
Hearn (Day 71)

Oli
Watson (Kedwell 75)

Unused subs
Flitney
Lawson

Tottenham Hotspur :

Forecast

Riley
Ifil (c)
Mills
Berchiche

Huddlestone
O'Hara
Taarabt
Boateng (Maghoma 58)

Barnard
Routledge (Barcham 46)

Unused subs
Butcher
Casey
McKenna
Livermore

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Grays Athletic

 

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Grays Athletic

Watson 23
Kedwell 87

Tottenham Hotspur

Mills 6
Boateng 53
Taarabt 67

Cards : -  
Grays Athletic

      
Hearn (persistent fouling)


   
 
Murray (violent conduct) 57

Tottenham Hotspur 

    
Ifil (foul) 22
Riley (foul)    

     

Match Report : -  
A somewhat over-vigorous Grays aside was swept aside by the Tottenham XI's skilful display although a late goal for the home side, who were reduced to ten men by then, caused a fluttering of hearts.

Luckily Spurs were far enough ahead by then not to worry too much, but they should have been out of sight, as they strolled through the Grays defence after Murray had been sent off for walking on Tom Huddlestone.

It was a bit of a surreal evening all round.  Walking to the ground, we suddenly found ourselves between Martin Jol, Chris Hughton and Ricardo Moniz.  The Spurs coaches had appeared out of nowhere and were making their way to the ground, beset by well wishers.  Later in the game, when Kevin-Prince Boateng had been taken off, he was walked around the pitch in with the supporters, taking the cheers his performance deserved.  A young man, with a big presence, his strength in midfield left the non-league side in his wake and his goal was taken very well.

It all started so well, with Leigh Mills rising highest to head home Jamie O'Hara's corner past Knowles in the Grays goal, with this coming after Jamie had tried to chip the keeper from 40+ yards out, but his effort drifted just wide.  Spurs wasted three clear chances on the night following Knowles being rounded.  First Lee Barnard took a loose pass and went past the goalie, but could not hit the target.  Tommy Hud did the same on the left, but took a little too much time getting his shot on goal, by which time it was defended by Haverson on the line.  Barnard almost got the better of the home defence, when he took Taarabt's inch perfect pass through the defence, but he was forced a bit too wide.

In all, Spurs dominated apart from very short spells.  Grays got back into the game with a fluke goal.  Some heavy fouls were committed by the Grays players, who did not have the capability to out-play Tottenham, so resorted to some heavy handed tackles which prompted a furious reaction, especially one on Taarabt, which was both high and late.  The number 16 on the Grays side got booked for that and frankly was fortunate to stay on the pitch for a s long as he did.  While he was on, Tottenham profited from his presence.  However, with the referee being ineffectual in stopping the fouling, some Spurs players took it upon themselves to redress the balance and both Ifil and Riley were rightly booked for shopping down Grays players.

From Ifil#s foul, the Grays free kick was scooped into the area as the taker slipped.  The flight into the area was nothing like intended and the ball flicked off two Tottenham heads, causing Forecast to see it late and he could only knock the ball down in front of goal and Ben Watson reacted first to prod the ball into the net with 24 minutes gone.

By this time, Boateng had smacked tow efforts at goal, one narrowly going wide and the other hitting Knowles, while O'Hara had stung the keeper's palms with a 25 yard rocket shot.  Both sides exchanged free-kicks which flashed past the post on the outside, while O'Hara and Taarabt both wriggled into the area before dragging their efforts wide of the goal. 

With Routledge withdrawn at half-time, Barcham came on as his replacement and played a bit further forward than then little winger.  While Karl Murray got free inside the area on the right and hit an early shot that went over the top, Tottenham built attacks and Taarabt was enjoying himself with his skills being too much for the Blues defence.  One shot flew at Knowles, while another drifted across the goal  and wide of the far post.

With 54 minutes played, Spurs crafted a very good goal.  Lee Barnard took a ball out of defence on the halfway line.  Controlling the ball, he turned his marker neatly and played a ball down the right for Andy Barcham to chase.  Timing and bending his run along the back line to perfection, he got to the ball first, but his first touch looked heavy with Cooksey looking favourite to be there first.  However, Barcham's determination won him the tackle and free in the area on the right hand side, he chose not to shoot, but to pull the ball back for Boateng to run on and put the ball past the goalie, even though he didn't make the cleanest of contacts. 

The Grays goal had seen their captain Stuart front up to Boateng for no apparent reason and it is a shame that when Tottenham send a strong team to play a non-league team in a friendly, that such aggression and unnecessary aggravation is what they get as a thank you.  I wonder if such requests might be looked at a less favourable light in future.  Especially when players lose it completely.  Huddlestone and Murray were running side by side, as the Spurs man brought the ball out of defence.  He had already had to take evasive action a number of times as tackles came flying in form the home players.  On this occasion, Murray pulled him down, with Tom giving as good as he got, but having conceded the free-kick the Grays midfielder got up and ran over Huddlestone in a fit of pique.  Seeing as how this was only a metre away from the referee, I fail to see what he thought he would gain from it or how he would get away with it.  A straight red was added to the yellow he received earlier for his failure to play the game as it should be played.

Reduced to ten men, Spurs played possession football, with the home players having trouble getting near the ball.  With so much possession ,Tottenham should have extended the score-line much further, but they had to settle for Adel Taarabt's fine goal on 63 minutes.  Huddlestone was being urged to shoot on every occasion by the Tottenham supporters and when he did, the ball was blocked and bounced out to Taarabt, who let fly with a right foot shot that arrowed into the top corner with the keeper barely having time to move.  His play was more generous tonight, with some good passes and good build up play, while he also contained himself in the face of a lot of provocation.

Andy Barcham dragged a shot across goal when shooting from a narrow angle, while and Knowles did well to keep out Taarabt's low drive that picked up pace off the now wet turf.  His strike partner Barnard was then forced wide when round the goalie, but the last word went to Grays, with Kedwell hitting a firm volley past Forecast, who had been virtually unemployed in the second half, from the edge of the penalty area. 

It was a comfortable game for Spurs despite the final score-line and for Boateng, he got a taste of the physical side of the game in England, while Taarabt and new young left back Yuri Berchiche showed how much potential there is in the team.

It was a shame that Justin Edinburgh sent his team out to play like they did and by doing so, have lost one of their players for a couple of games through suspension.  On the evidence of tonight's game, they might struggle in the Conference, unless standards have dropped drastically, while this team of Tottenham's could probably take on a couple of early rounds of the League Cup with confidence.

MARCO van HIP

 

 

 
 

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