With the two sides fielded - one in each half - Spurs gave the maximum
number of players a chance to shake the stiffness out of their legs and
get back to playing, as they eased to a 3-0 win over Exeter City, that
could have been by a greater margin had it not been for the Grecians'
The tight little ground was
bathed in early evening sunlight, with a sell-out crowd inside to greet
the two teams as they came out ... and oh, yeah, there were a few cheers
for Exeter too. The Spurs players filled up both benches before
the game began and the first half team warmed up, while the second half
team occupied the dug-outs. There was almost as much trouble
finding a seat in the ground, as there was no allocated seating in the
Stagecoach stand and you had to find a pew where you could, but that was
simpler than trying to find a match programme, which we were informed
had sold out an hour before kick off.
With this being the first game of the
return to action, it was not one which would contain a great deal of
information about how the season might go and while the 22 Spurs players
put in a fair bit of effort, some might not have done their chances a
lot of help, while others shone.
While Exeter did pass the ball pretty
well, they lacked a real cutting edge in the final third and left the
Tottenham defence with only a few moments of threatening action, mainly
at the start and end of the game.
An early corner failed to cause Spurs
much trouble and when David Bentley slung in a first time cross from the
right wing, Jermain Defoe rose to head the ball towards goal.
Jones got to the ball comfortably, but managed to fumble the ball and
had to grab it at the second go. Exeter moved forward and Adam
Stansfield hit a long range effort that got deflected wide and from the
corner, the same player was first to a near post delivery, but could not
keep his header down and it sailed a foot or more over.
Tottenham then started to knock the ball
around with confidence. A slim-line Tom Huddlestone was spraying
passes to all parts of the pitch. Good pressure by captain
Robbie Keane caused Taylor to cede possession and he laid it on for Hud,
who struck a shot that ballooned off the leg of a defender and was put
out for a corner. He came closer from a cleared corner, that
fizzed narrowly over the bar from 30 yards out.
It was in the 32nd minute when Tottenham
went ahead. Bentley and Hutton worked a good position on the right
wing and the Scotman's cross was missed at the near post by Defoe, but
Keane struck a good shot on target. Jones did very well to beat
the ball away, but it only went out to the edge of the area, where Jamie
O'Hara smashed it low back past him to make it 1-0.
The remainder of the half saw Jones
putting in an almost one-man show to keep Spurs at bay. A keeper
prevented a Defoe snapshot getting past him and then the Grecian's
goalie was on hand to divert Keane's low volley from Huddlestone's
pin-point pass just the right side of the post as far as the home crowd
were concerned. The half was ended with City only having ten men
on the pitch following Stansfield having to go off for treatment after
clashing heads with the solid Dorian Dervite, with the medical men
deciding not to risk him for the remaining last few minutes before the
The half time entertainment featured
Exeter City's Director of Football Steve Perryman busily rushing around
the pitch in a number of efforts to raise funds for his club, including
having photos done in the centre circle with some fans with a Yorkshire
The rest of the Spurs players who were
changed got a run out in the second half, with only Woodgate, King and
Jenas not being involved on the field. The second half became a
little less feisty, with Alan Hutton off the field, as he had been
caught late by a tackle and then proceeded to go into each subsequent
tackle with glee. Chimbonda had been playing on the left with
Danny Rose nominally in front of him, but the Frenchman often ended up
in a more advanced position than the young winger and this lead to Rose
The second period saw Gunter and
Assou-Ekotto as the full backs, with Dawson and Jake Livermore in the
middle of the back four. It is not hard to see how Livermore was
sent off twice at the end of last season, as he is a whole hearted
player, who, if he mis-timed a challenge, will invariably look bad and
reap the referee's wrath.
With Bent and Pavlyuchenko up front and
Modric behind them, the chances were more plentiful in the second half,
with another Spurs player, Troy Archibald-Henville featuring for the
home team. It was a Spurs centre half who came closest to adding
to he score, when a ball dropped for Michael Dawson following a corner
and he hit it low, only to see it flick off a defender's leg and back
off the goal-post. Later, Roman Pavlyuchenko suffered the same
fate, when he made a yard for himself to hit a shot beyond the keeper's
reach, but not the woodwork's.
The Russian also tried to curl a low shot
past Jones, but the keeper got down to it and deflected it wide, with a
similar, but higher save a short while later to stop Modric's effort
going in under the crossbar. We were behind Kevin Prince Boateng
when he fired a shot that would have gone inside the post, but Jones
tipped it around the post to keep it at 1-0. Lennon robbed Duffy
of the ball and slipped in Darren Bent, who was thwarted by Jones
rushing out to block him, before Richard Logan finally broke forward to
dip a 25 yarder just over Button's crossbar.
Following Roman's shot against the post,
Luka Modric picked up the ball on the left and moved into the box via a
nutmeg on a defender, before he pulled the ball back low for Aaron
Lennon to shoot home into the left hand side of the goal, as Jones came
across the goal to meet him. 69 minutes gone and Spurs were then
Modric should have got more on his shot
when Lennon set him up in front of goal, but within five minutes, it was
3-0 and it was Darren Bent who got it. He had spurned a chance
when played in by Modric, hitting the side netting as closed down by
Jones, but when Pavlyuchenko struck a fierce drive, the keeper could not
hold onto it and Bent snaffled the ball into the net from close range to
wrap up the scoring. There was almost a consolation for Exeter at
the end when Corr rose to glance Duffy's left wing cross narrowly wide,
but it ended with a clean sheet and a comfortable win to get the players
back into the groove.
On the way out, I over-heard a most
bizarre mobile phone conversation. The bloke behind me said,
"Yeah, it was 3-0. But that Kevin-Prince Boateng. I would
have him in the Charlton team. Some of his passing was peachy and
he had a shot that was ten yards wide !"
The German midfielder was effective and
looked as though he was interested in playing his part, moving and
passing well, as most players put in a good shift, with the exception of
Chimbonda really. Where he will fit into the plans for the new
season is a little hard to see, as he was sloppy in possession, moved
out of position and allowed players to get in behind him. With all
the defenders we have at our disposal (and maybe more to come), he may
be plying his trade at another ground come the start of the campaign.
One match down and on to Bournemouth for
Friday's friendly, but who would be taking the field this time ?
marco van hip