portsmouth sunk


Tottenham Hotspur Reserves  1   Portsmouth Reserves  0   (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier Reserve League South
Venue : -  Broadhall Way
Monday 30th April 2007
Kick Off :  7.00 p.m.
Crowd :   502
Referee :  Ms. A. Rayner (-)
Weather :  -  Warm evening, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


C. Lee (c)
Ifil (Hughton 52)

McKenna (Livermore 64)

Barcham (Pekhart 90)

Unused subs: 

Portsmouth :


Pearce (c)


Walker (Castle 52)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
 Tottenham Hotspur

Barnard 29




Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur 

McKenna (foul) 15
Mills (foul) 45



Fordyce (not retreating 10 yards) 60


Match Report : -  

The end of a shortened season's programme for the Reserves ended with a home win by a single goal against a very young Portsmouth side.  With Reading and Watford taking the Reserve league seriously and playing it like an old time second XI, fielding players who are on the fringe of the side or coming back from injury, they were too strong for the younger sides fielded by most clubs in this league.  So Tottenham finished fifth behind the aforementioned two sides and Chelsea, with goal difference putting Aston Villa above Tottenham with both on 30 points.

With some interested parties watching, including representatives from Grimsby Town and Blackburn Rovers, Paul Goddard (agent), Steve McCall (Ipswich Town), Mick Harford (Colchester United), Kevin Blackwell (Luton Town), Martin Ling and Dean Smith (Leyton Orient), possible loan signings were in the shop window for next season.  Among the Spurs staff and ex-Spurs managers in attendance were Ricardo Ortiz, Peter Shreeves, Pat Holland and Alex Inglethorpe.

With Ms Rayner taking the field as the referee, many thought it would be a calamity with her in charge of the whistle, but she put in a good common-sense show of refereeing and despite Clive Allen having a moan about her not stopping the game for an injury, he was on his best behaviour.  The players were not holding back though and they responded to the ref in a positive manner.

The game started with Portsmouth looking good on the ball for the first five minutes.  Wide left midfielder Matt Richie looked as though he could be a handful, but without troubling Ben Alnwick in goal, they faded and were penned back by Spurs, who went on to dominate the remainder of the game.  The scoring should have been opened by Spurs in the ninth minute, when a 30 yard free-kick was taken by Jamie O'Hara found Lee Barnard unmarked in the six yard box, but he volleyed his effort over the crossbar.  Having just got fit for the end of the season, Barnard looked sharp and aggressive, getting onto the end of a low Troy Archibald-Henville cross from the right wing, but his toe-poke went just wide.

Battling midfielder Kieran McKenna caught defender McCoy with a late tackle and got a yellow card just fifteen minutes in and that might have held back another player, but the Irishman still got stuck in, but with some better timed challanges.  A minute later, O'Hara played a fast pass into Andy Barcham on the edge of the Pompey penalty area.  The striker took a touch to set himself and drilled a low shot past the goalie, but saw it bounce back off the post.  Barnard was quick to seize on the follow-up and he got his effort on target, but Ward got back to head it over on the line.  As Tottenham continued to attack, Barnard had another great opportunity a minute later, when Taarabt played a low ball into the area and Lee stroked it past the post with his left foot, with the whole goal to aim at.

Barcham looked nervous and he seemed to be trying too hard, so when O'Hara played him through, with a run past the back line, he couldn't get the ball onto his right foot, so laid the ball back for Barnard to shoot just wide.  It didn't matter too much, as in the 29th minute Spurs took the lead.

Captain Charlie Lee brought the ball out of defence on the left and played in Barcham in the left hand channel of the penalty area.  Looking up, he played a low ball across the box and Barnard ran in to lift the ball into the top corner of the goal from close range.

Portsmouth tried to hit back, with Jon Docker striking a 30 yard shot that caused Alnwick to save as the ball bounced difficultly just in front of him.  The game then got bogged down in a scrappy midfield battle, with neither side holding the bal that well.  Just before the break, Mills got a booking for a foul and McKenna strode forward to strike a 25-yarder that Portsmouth keeper Begovic dived full length to keep out.

The teams turned around at 1-0 to Spurs, but the second half failed to live up to the excitement of the first.  O'Hara tested Begovic with two low shots that brought two low saves, while Docker brought a save from Alnwick when he hit a 20 yard shot straight at the new Tottenham goalie.  Scott Harris came closest for the visitors with a drive that dipped just over the bar with four minutes left.  A minute later, the season could have ended well for Barcham, as O'Hara's cross to the far post caught him unawares and the ball came off his knee and dropped gently into the keeper's arms.

A nice way to end with a win against the bottom side, but there were other plusses.  it was the first time I had seen Ben Alnwick in action and his handling of crosses was very good and although he didn't have much to do, his concentration was good.  Ifil got a knock and went off, but showed some good defensive work as well as trying to get forward.  Troy Archibald-Henville was playing at right back and looked very good, even though he is happier in the middle, while Leigh Mills had a storming game alongside Charlie Lee, who had a couple of falls on his back near the end.  Both looked comfortable bringing the ball out of the back. 

Having Jamie O'Hara and Kieran McKenna in midfield is a good blend, with the industry and defensive focused McKenna complements the free-running and pin-point passing of O'Hara.  David Hutton showed some good touched wide on the right, but looked a little lightweight at times, being muscled out of it by the bigger boys in the Portsmouth defence.  Adel Taarabt is an interesting conundrum.  Skilful on the ball and willing to move to receive it off the ball, he looks like Eric Cantona.  When he loses the ball, he lets out s shout of anguish.  Usually because he tries t convince the ref he was fouled, but often through the sheer affront that someone has taken the bal off him.  He runs well with the ball, but sometimes into blind alleys and he can juggle the ball while shaking off opponents and then give up when he loses possession.  He is still young, so hopefully, he will realise what is required of him if he wants to play in the first team soon and regularly.

Andy Barcham is a strong runner, but his lack of inches might count against him in the long run.  He also needs to develop his ability to get into the positions he needs to score from, as he seems to lack the nous to "take a gamble" on where the ball will end up.  Hopefully, working with Clive Allen, he will pick up some useful tips to put into practice.  In comparison, Barnard just needed a few more games to sharpen his goalscoring before the season ended.  I guess a few of the watching bosses were viewing him as a possible loan player next term, as he will score goals.  Two in the three games he has started since his return prove that.  And he could easily have hit a hat-trick tonight on any other day.

So, perhaps you might say that it is disappointing to finish fifth after winning the division last season, but new seasons bring new players and the overall age of the group has dropped significantly without players like Bunjevcevic to guide them.  Injuries have hit the side too, with Barnard's goals being a big miss for the bulk of the campaign and Chris Riley's injury keeping him out of the back four all season.

Clive Allen is doing a fine job though, preparing this group of players for the real thing.  The fact that Martin Jol has felt comfortable in bringing Charlie Lee, Taarabt, O'Hara and Alnwic into first team squads this season.

Expect to see more progress through the ranks in the years to come.

Marco van Hip



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