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
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
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