This was much more like
an old-fashioned reserve team match, but the thanks for that must go
solely to Watford.
Most teams in the Premier Reserve League put
out teams that are not much more than Under-21 sides. With the recent
visit of Reading, the eleven who represented the Biscuitmen was not far
off the eleven who turned out against Manchester United the following
weekend. Watford also must not be experienced in the ways of the
Premiership as their side was close to a side they might field in the
league. About eight players had Premier League experience as opposed to
Tottenham’s one – Phil Ifil.
But the biggest thanks
must go to Watford for the long-lost incomprehensible Scottish reserve
team manager. The aching for those glottal emanations has long been
felt since Colin Calderwood left for Forest. The lack of Scottish
coaches at reserve team level has been notable amongst other clubs and
with Malky shouting instructions to the yellow shirted players, I had a
warm feeling when I saw the blank uncomprehending looks on their faces.
The game itself was
also reserve standard. Played in driving rain, with a committed
attitude from the visiting players, there was an edge to the match which
sometimes is missing at this level. This resulted in the referee having
to show five yellow cards and stop/start the game with a series of
free-kicks. The passion also nearly spilled over onto the touchline as
Clive Allen had his usual rant, this time at one of the Hornets
The argument arose when a Watford player
was injured and Spurs threw the ball back to a visiting player, but he
was then put under pressure. The sub obviously said something to
Clive, who pointed out, in no uncertain terms, that, in an earlier
incident, that Watford had taken a throw when a Spurs player was injured
and knocked the ball back ... to their own goalkeeper, who then played
on. For such a family club, it was a prime piece of unsporting
play of which they should be ashamed.
In fact, Al Bangura proved to be a
revelation with his whingeing throughout the match. Even to the
extent of wanting a free-kick when Mills fairly won a header against
Brazilian midfielder Rinaldi, but clashed heads after the ball was on
it's way forward. Clive pointed out to the fourth official that
Bangura was wrong in his assertion. The player was later booked
for a succession of fouls and he was joined by Williamson, while Jamie
O'Hara and Kieran McKenna (who got away with a very rash challenge early
on) also picked up yellow cards.
Mills' collision brought up an immediate
lump on his head the size of a medium egg, which meant he had to leave
the field and on came Joe Martin. By this time, Tottenham had
created a good chance with McKenna switching play to Hallfredsson, whose
first time pass put Daniels in inside the full back and he flashed a
cross-shot wide of the target as he burst into the area.
Douglas Rinaldi (or Ronnie to his friends
... there's one for the teenagers) was impressive in his thermal gloves.
A tall player, he showed a good touch and was probably the best Watford
man on show, which makes it all the stranger that the watching Aidy
Boothroyd and Keith Burkinshaw haven't seen fit to put in him their
ailing side. On loan until June with the possibility of buying him
outright, it would make sense for the Hornets to have some creativity in
their team in the Championship.
While Watford adopted a high pressure
closing game, with some tough challenges, Mackay did chastise James
Chambers for a needless stud-up challenge on O'Hara. Spurs were
struggling to break through the solid midfield of Watford and the lone
striker Andy Barcham was paired against two hulking centre-halves,
leaving him little time or opportunity to get in on goal. Mtandari
was quiet wide on the right, while Hallfredsson on the other wing, seems
unlikely to be staying on at Tottenham beyond this season. He has
strength and ability, but tonight he failed to show much of either and
he looks a shadow of the player who starred in the stiffs before going
off to Malmo on loan.
The nearest Tottenham got to a goal was
when Charlie Lee's cross was headed goalwards by Rinaldi, bringing Loach
into action with a low catch. Within a short time, Watford had
gone ahead, with Williamson doing well to get to the dead-ball line and
pull the ball back to the near post, where the Brazilian dug out a shot
that beat Forecast at his near post. But Tottenham hit back
straight from the kick-off, with Hallfredsson setting up Barcham with a
similar effort to the goal, but the shot was caught by the keeper.
Across into the Spurs area caused panic
and Forecast lost the flight of the ball and was lucky that it dropped
to one of the Spurs defenders around him to clear away. The ball
came straight back though and McNamee put in a cross for Hoskins to head
downwards, but Forecast dived full length to push it around the post.
Signed from Rotherham United, Hoskins looked a different class to
reserve team football and it was not a good one. It appears that
he thinks he is above this, as he put in little effort and was the focus
of a lot of shouting from the coaching duo of Mackay and Alec
Chamberlain. In contrast, his Millers team-mate Williamson put
himself about and Kabba up front, while not looking likely to threaten
the goal in any way, did a lot of work hassling the defenders on
the ball and chasing lost causes.
What former West Ham striker turned agent
Paul Goddard and Charlton reserve team coach Mark Kinsella made of it
all, we will not know. I guess that Pat Holland, who was also
watching would have been a little disappointed that many of his charges
at U18 level had not shown their true potential on the night. But
while Boothroyd might have been looking as to who he might step up to
the first team, for the watching Spurs personnel, missing Martin Jol and
Chris Hughton for once, it is more like who will be released and who are
the ones to watch come through. Personally, I have been
disappointed with Phil Ifil for a while now and he is a player who seems
to have gone backwards in his development after looking such a talent
when he broke through. He appears to have a touch of the Robbie
Keane's "someone else's fault" attitude. I hope he can turn it
around, but he looks like he lacks urgency and drive and his throw-ins
are no better than some of our first team's.
Rinaldi was causing problems into the
second half and when released to run into the Tottenham box, he brought
Forecast out quickly off his line to block his shot with his legs.
Spurs almost got level on the hour, when Hallfredsson headed a corner at
goal and Bangura hacked it away from the post and then Charlie Lee put
the ball back towards goal and the same player was there to clear once
more. It would have been a bit of an injustice if Spurs had
equalised, as Watford just about deserved the win. A Watford kick
out held up in the wind and gave Jamie O'Hara the best chance to get
back in the game, when he volleyed it straight back from inside the
centre circle, but the ball went wide with Loach scampering across his
goal. Two late headers from Barcham and Archibald-Henville slipped
past the post and the match ended in torrential rain.
For me, the leggy central defender took
the man of the match stakes, with a good defensive performance and some
good distribution, when everyone around him was giving the ball away.
To say he was head and shoulders above everyone else might be overdoing
it, but his height coupled with some good vision certainly made him
stand out above the crowd.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : TROY ARCHIBALD-HENVILLE
MARCO VAN HIP