caught cold

Spurs  0   Fulham  1           (Half time: 0-0)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 9th December 2002
Venue :  Broadhall Way
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather : Clear, cold
Crowd : -  approx. 300
Referee : - 
F. Graham
Spurs  -  None
Fulham - S. Doherty 47
Spurs  -  Blondel (foul) 59, Hughes (foul) 82
Fulham  -  Green (diving) 13, Rehman (dissent) 76
Spurs : Hirschfeld; Marney, Henry, G. Doherty (O'Donoghue 30), Thatcher; Clemence, Blondel (Hughes 60), Ricketts, Taricco; Ferdinand, Rebrov 
Unused subs: Burch, Sutton, Galbraith

Fulham :  Herrera; Rehman, Watkins, Hudson ( 68), Green ( 46); Collins  ( 60), Buari, Shevel, S. Doherty; Nobel, Cornwell 
Unused subs: Flitney, Stratford

Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with navy blue turnovers
Fulham  -  Black shirts with white trim, white shorts, white socks with black turnovers
On chilly winter nights like these, you hope for something in the match to warm you up.  For Tottenham fans who turned out for this reserve encounter, they left chilled to the bone, both by the weather and the performance of the team.  There was little to get excited about, as Fulham nicked in for the only goal of an uneventful match.

Even if there is not a win, you would hope for some decent play, but the team played as disjointedly as I have seen them this season.  Ferdinand is so out of touch, it is painful to watch.  Rebrov tries hard, but achieved little.  Even the youngsters seemed disorientated by the inclusion of too many first team fringe players, leading to a poor team performance and nothing really learned for the watching management team of Hoddle, Hughton and Gorman.

Perversely, the only one who might have caught their eye is the very one who had been moaning in the media about not getting a first team match.  Ben Thatcher.  He showed admirable dedication in difficult circumstances.

Sergei was out to impress, but I am not sure who.  I didn't see too many Russian looking scouts and Hoddle sat at the back of the stand and made notes, but surely he knows what the Ukrainian is about by now.  In the third minute, he got the ball on the edge of the D, but was tackled.  From the corner, he rose to head the ball over the bar and then on ten minutes, another header forced Herrera to a full length diving stop at the foot of his post.

In their first attack, Fulham claimed a penalty for perhaps the most obvious dive of the season.  Even the ref spotted it and booked defender Green straight away.  They almost scored when Clemence played a square ball straight to Shevel, who with a clear sight on goal pulled his shot wide.

On the half hour, Spurs had to make a change with Doherty being replaced by Paul O'Donoghue and leaving for the dressing room with an ice pack strapped to his knee.  

Ferdinand almost lobbed Spurs into the lead, when he picked up a flick on from Rebrov, but it was just the weak effort of Stern John in the Birmingham match and never looked like clearing Herrera's head (or his chest come to that).  The best chance of the half came Tottenham's way following good work on the left wing, when Ricketts' run produced a low ball into the box.  Les stepped over it and Rebrov, running in, hit it first time, just missing the third star to the right as the ball disappeared into the Cosmos.

Shots were exchanged at both ends, with Hirschfeld called upon to save a low drive from Nobel and Rebrov driving another opportunity powerfully, but a foot or so over.

Half time gave both sides the chance to enter the warm changing rooms, while we had to stamp about to get some circulation going.  Some of the players still hadn't warmed up to the second half, when Fulham took the lead.  The ball was played about at the back by Tottenham and Marney fluffed a back pass and Sean Doherty grabbed the chance to drive a low shot past Hirschfeld for 1-0.  It was a better aimed effort than a later shot by the same player that smashed a hole in one of the seats behind the goal !!

Rehman had the chance to double the lead from a free header at a corner, but put it wide and Taricco broke almost immediately to try a chip on the keeper.  It was never going to beat the lanky custodian.  The Spurs goal was under attack a few times, but Lars came off his line quickly to dive at the feet of the Fulham forwards and prevent another opening.

Frustration was getting the better of Blondel, for whom little was going right.  He received a booking for one foul too many and was brought off a minute later by Calderwood.  Jonathan was not impressed and threw down the sweat shirt he was handed, then stropped about a bit in the dug-out.  When Colin told him to go and warm-down, he casually strolled down the touchline to sign a few autographs (the way this is going, they might b worth something) and then do a  few gentle stretches.  you can understand how he feels, but he must take these decisions professionally and accept the manager's right to bring him off.  Like Teddy the previous day, he wasn't having the best game and a new set of legs might have made a difference.  As it was Hughes made a few passes that upped the tempo, but he was also booked later on for a rash foul.

Shortly after the substitution, Marney slung forward a long ball and Les beat the goalkeeper outside his box to the high ball, but his header went past the goalie and also past the wrong side of the upright.  It summed up his night.  He later was unmarked at a corner and headed it so far down into the ground, he made it an easy save for the keeper.   Clemence had a shot straight at the keeper from inside the box when nicely put in by Ricketts, Rebrov had a shot blocked for a corner by a defender and when Sergei was put through by Taricco's delicate dink, he could not find the target, landing his lob on top of the net.

Into the last ten minutes, Spurs committed everything forward and nearly got caught on the break a couple of times.  They did have two last chances.  Les headed a far post effort straight at the defender in front of him and Taricco drove a shot in for the edge of the box, which the keeper had to push over.  Into injury time, a last gasp free-kick was hoisted into the area and Thatcher got a knock on, which fell to Ferdie, who could only produce a soft header into the keeper's hands.

Fulham were well worth their win, as their young side probably had the edge in terms of cohesion through playing together regularly.  John Collins pulled the strings in the midfield and coaxed his fledglings to perform solidly. 

Thatcher showed the best side of his game tonight.  He was getting forward and was determined not to let anyone get past him.  The yelp that Buari gave after being hit by one of Ben's tackles was hilarious.  The ball was put out for him to get attention, but there was nothing wrong with him.  It was just the shock of Thatcher coming in to tackle him !!  On this form, Thatch would be a real asset on Sunday against Arsenal.  Coincidentally, they are the reserves next opponents at Stevenage the following day and anyone who has a calculator will be welcome to come along and keep score if the reserves produce another show like this.


Marco van Hip

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