spot the difference


Spurs  1   Ipswich Town  1                       (Half time: 1-1)
FA Premier Reserve League South
Monday 31st March 2003
Venue :  Broadhall Way
Kick off : 19.00 p.m.
Weather : Clear, mild
Crowd : -  approx. 500
Referee : -  S. Rubery
Spurs  -  Ricketts (pen.) 43
Ipswich Town - Boardley 17
Spurs  -  Toda (foul) 40, Marney (foul) 53
Ipswich Town  -   Mitchell (foul) 42, Hogg (dissent) 42 
Spurs : Burch; Perry, Gardner (Foster 67), Thelwell; Marney, Ricketts, Toda, Galbraith (Black 86), B. Bowditch; Slabber (Malcolm 79), Yeates. 
Unused subs: Eyre, Barnett.

Ipswich Town :  Pullen; Mitchell, Hogg, Collins, Chaffey; Bloomfield, Westlake, D. Bowditch, Abidallah (Flack 60); Boardley, Armstrong
Unused subs:  Peat, Atay, Nash 

Spurs  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with navy blue turnover
Ipswich Town  -  Blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks

A first home game in Springtime and a light evening greeted the gathered assembly to watch Spurs take on the young Ipswich Town side.  The usual suspects appeared in the Director's Box - Glenn Hoddle, John Gorman, Patsy Holland, Jimmy Neighbour, as well as some other ex-pros - Ipswich management team of Joe Royle and Tony Mowbray, someone who looked uncannily like Mitchell Thomas and Mick Harford.

The Spurs side was fairly young too, with Holland and Neighbour there to see how come of their charges were doing in the second string.  Only Perry and Gardner had seem regular first team action, while Slabber and Toda had known time at a higher level.  With international calls and injuries, there were few other players to put out.

Ipswich took the early initiative and Abidallah seemed keen to try and score from as far out as possible with two shots inside the first seven minutes - one wide and the other deflected to the same place.  It took Tottenham 14 minutes to threaten in the first serious attack they made.  Slabber was getting some joy against Collins, who appeared to be the weak link; labouring like a donkey in the heart of the Horses defence.  His physical style produced a string of free-kicks as he was regularly out-foxed by the quick footed Spurs forward.

This one was 25 yards out and began with Marney, Bowditch and Galbraith standing over the ball.  Galbraith touched it to Marney, who shaped as if to set it up for the on-running Bowditch.  Instead, he dragged the ball under his foot, spun away and hit a shot that had the keeper struggling to reach it.  Luckily for him, it went just past the post.

Within three minutes, the visitors had taken the lead.  Breaking out of defence, they opened up Spurs through the middle and Alun Armstrong set Stuart Boardley free on the left side of the box.  As Burch came out and went to ground, the Ipswich forward lifted the ball neatly over him and opened the scoring.

Ben Bowditch was pitted against his younger brother Dean in midfield.  They had already met once this season in the Under-19s, but Ben was determined to have the better of this battle.  His 23rd minute cross was headed off the line at the far post and his industry and tackling outshone his brothers performance, although he showed some neat footwork and good running off the ball.  Indeed, Ben almost brought Tottenham back into the match.  After Ricketts had driven in a shot that Pullen had held well, a neat move began and ended with Ben.  He played the ball across the pitch, out right to Marney, who hit an early cross to the far post.  Slabber rose above his marker and nodded down for Bowditch to race in at the near post and only be denied by the keeper's body.  Coming six minutes before half-time, it seemed as though it might have been Spurs' last chance before the break, especially as Toda drew a booking from the inconsistent referee.

However, a neat piece of work released Slabber down the left and as he outpaced his marker, this time the rash Mitchell, he got into the box, only to find his legs taken from underneath him.  The ref took exception to this foul and to the verbals he received from Hogg, booking them both, before Ricketts stepped up to confidently convert the spot-kick.

Coming two minutes before the break, it gave Spurs a boost and coming out for the second half, they pushed Ricketts into a more advanced role to take the game to Ipswich.  In fact, this move nearly paid immediate dividends, with Rohan spinning away from his marker and putting in Toda for a chance, which was saved low down by the keeper.

Deam Bowditch showed that he could be a dangerous customer, when he went on a run into the Spurs box, but Chris Perry made a clean tackle on him.  Perry did well all night, although he had little difficulty other than when Spurs decided to play the ball out from defence and all the defenders were often put into tight spots with opposition players close to them.  Alongside him, Thelwell started off shakily, but got stronger and more confident as the game went on.

With Abidallah doing his best Kieron Dyer impersonation, he produced a good chance for Armstrong, as he chipped a ball through into the box that just stood up too much, leaving the experienced striker to have to tee himself up for a volley that went just wide.  The open game swung from end to end and Ricketts and Yeates produced a clever piece of inter-passing down the left, but the keeper intercepted the low cross.  Marney got into the ref's notebook for a foul, that saw the ref take the longest time to produce a yellow card after initially walking away from the incident.  He seemed at odds with the game, which although physical never got out of hand.  His most notable moment was when he gave a dropped ball and bounced it so that it reached up to about waist high, with two players going for it full pelt !!

Toda and Marney were linking well on the right, with the Japanese international having a good game. He seems a bit more at home in the side now and his passing was good, with some determined chasing back to try and get the ball back.

Coming up to the hour, Galbraith put in a cross that was deflected up into the air and Slabber got on the end of it, producing a diving save from the goalie.  there were another couple of headed chances he had which failed to find the mark, the worst was when he was allowed a free header and he put it over the top.  Bowditch (the Tottenham one) went close with a volley over his own shoulder when Slabber headed on a Marney cross.

Anthony Gardner had played well and looked comfortable, despite just coming back from his hamstring injury, but was replaced on 67 minutes as a precaution.

The game went through a spell of both sides passing to the other, but Spurs snapped out of it, when Yeates, who worked hard all night without much reward, got beyond Hogg, who tugged his shirt in the box, but the Irishman refused to go down, pulling the ball back to Slabber, who laid it back to Ricketts.  The midfielder was denied by the keeper, who grabbed his precise shot at full length.  Galbraith was having a storming game down the left wing and produced a 75th minute cross that was just begging to be put into an empty net, but there was no Spurs man there to oblige.

Tottenham were almost a victim of their own desire to play the ball out.  Being caught passing the ball too short, substitute Read broke into the box and Burch kept the ball out with his foot.  Spurs made a substitution of their own, when Galbraith, already carrying an ankle injury, got knocked off the ball, rolled off the pitch, straight onto the subs bench, where he stayed ... to be replaced on the pitch by Jonathan Black.  Burch was to save Tottenham again in the 88th minute, when he grabbed a shot that looked like it had deceived him from Dean Bowditch, then he held another powerful drive from Boardley as the Blues finished strongly.  Way into injury time, Read broke into the area and Foster brought him down, the referee pointing to the spot.

Tottenham have conceded late goals too often in these reserve games, so when Boardley strode up to hit the penalty kick, we all expected the worst.  Not that the stand roof had expected being hit, as the Ipswich winger thumped the ball well over the bar in what was virtually the last action of the match.

So Spurs gained a point, with a decent enough performance.  Ipswich mostly came to play football, so the game was fairly even and open, leaving the result in doubt until the end, but a draw was the fair result at the end.  Even though there was the chance for Town to take three points at the death, you would have been hard pressed to spot much difference between the sides.


Marco van Hip

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