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Spurs Game 1 2012

White Hart Lane welcomed the first EPL Football Aid game of the season and the players arrived early, keen to soak up the ambience and enjoy every minute of this once in a lifetime experience. Fans of the club were in high spirits at the time; their club was challenging all the way for a Champions League spot and they had reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. There was no better time to be representing the Spurs. There were also rumours going around that manager Harry Redknapp was in line for the England job. Could the players put on a performance mighty enough to impress the potential future England coach? This was their chance to represent a club with a huge history and much silverware. Wearing the club's colours proudly the players marched onto the pitch, boots polished, chests out and adrenaline flowing...the stage was set!!!

Date: Saturday 21st April 2012
Venue: White Hart Lane
Tottenham Hotspur Home vs Tottenham Hotspur Away
Kick Off: 12:00pm
Game 1
Match Officials: Keith Glover, Peter Gibbins and Peter Munt

Legend: Stevie Johnston

We were delighted to have former Spurs, Northampton town & Plymouth Argyll player and Spurs Legend team regular Stevie Johnston to provide some invaluable experience and know how to the Home team. 

As the clock reached mid-day, the referee blew his whistle and the game started at a frantic pace, with both sets of eager players trying to gain a foothold in the game. Kevin Reid for the Away team showed some lovely skill to get away from the full back down the wide left and won the first corner of the game. However, the resulting corner was dealt with comfortably by the Home defence.

At the other end of the pitch, goalkeeper, Ben Saunders, entertained the crowd to some sublime skill, although his team-mates may have been a little less impressed, especially had it gone wrong. Fair play to, Saunders, he did show some great composure to first dummy the onrushing Striker and then turn majestically before laying the ball off to the defender.

The Home keeper was then left sweating as he arranged his wall and organised his defence to protect his goal from an indirect free-kick after the Home team were penalised for a back pass. Up stepped Football Aid regular, Dave Taylor, who fancied his chances from this range. With his eyes fixed on the ball he took a couple of short steps then latched onto the lay-off before releasing a curving shot which was only denied by the top left corner of the upright.

It was the Home team's turn to threaten next, following a delightful move down the right side after some nice instant passing from Matthew Sexton and John Day, the latter sending in an exquisite cross to the back post straight into the path of Barry Greaves, who controlled the ball on his chest before hitting a powerful low shot which was finely saved.

After 18 mins on the clock, the score-line should have been 1-0 to the Away side. A lung-bursting run from Taylor down the right side was merited equally by a fine low cross into the path of Andrew Price but the striker just couldn't make a connection and the glorious chance went begging.

The Away team threatened again with Taylor once more the provider, this time sending Matthew Berncastel through after some sloppy passing from the Home team gave possession away. However, Berncastel's low shot was smartly saved by Phil Collings, who showed great agility to come quickly off his line and narrow the angle.

The save proved to be all the more vital as only a few minutes later, the Home team finally broke the deadlock with a lovely team goal rounded off by Barry Greaves. The goal came in the 16th min following a delicate triangle of passing down the right which created space for Mark Sweetlove, who then sent an exquisite low cross into Barry Greaves, who complimented the gift with a fine side footed left foot shot which went high into the roof of the net. (1-0)

The Away side went on the ascendency in search of an equaliser and came close on the 20th min when Glenn Reeve forced the keeper into a fine low save after finding ample space on the edge of the box. The shot was spilled by the keeper but he was quick to gather it at the second attempt.

Challenges were coming in thick and fast at this point and our regular, Spurs supporting physio Sabena Williams was being kept busy, although there may be a case that one or two might just have been play acting in order to gain her attention!

Defences remained on top for a majority of the play following the opening goal, with some solid displays from the Away Glenn Reeve and Home Mark Norman. However the Home defence were unable to prevent the equalising goal as it came from a Taylor corner in the 31st min. Howard Jessop showed some great awareness in the box to find space and rose well to meet the cross, sending the ball into the top right corner of the net with his head. (1-1) 

The Away side had the momentum now and came close to leading after Taylor sent Berncastel through on goal, beating the offside trap. However, Berncastel's attempted chip was thwarted by the impressive keeper, who clawed the ball away for a corner.

Skills were on display next with Glenn Reeve for the Away team personifying coolness with a cheeky back heel to his team-mate through his opponent's legs, relieving the pressure for his side. The crowd showed their appreciation of this inventiveness, rising to their feet and reverently applauding.

The Home side then had a penalty shout, when Jessop appeared to block John Day as he knocked the ball past him. However, the referee waved away the protests, judging that the forward had lost control of the ball.

The Home side were left cursing the decision as the Away side gained the lead as the first half came to a close. The goal was scored by Andrew Price, who showed fantastic technique to chip the ball from 20 yards out. The precision of the chip was all the more impressive as the keeper was only inches off his line. (1-2)

The goal brought an end to an exciting first half of action, with both teams creating chances galore and the game was very much anyone's for the taking.

Half-Time: Tottenham Home 1-2 Tottenham Away

The Home side started the second half brightly, putting the Away defence under severe pressure, seizing possession and working a nice move on the edge of the area which allowed substitute Clive Chalmers to get a shot on goal. However the shot went just wide of the right hand post, much to Saunders relief.

It was apparent that the Home side were gaining in confidence, and it wasn't long after that they were on the attack again. Moving the ball at pace from their half of the pitch to the other, Mark Sweetlove and John Day forced a corner following some neat skill by both. Samuel Wilkinson played the corner short to Peter Biddiscombe, who sent in a wicked ball into the centre. The Away defence did well to clear the cross but were unable to prevent the ball from landing in the path off Mark Beare, who controlled the ball on his chest well before unleashing a volley which just shaded the crossbar.

There seemed to be no end to the attack from the Home side as they desperately sought an equaliser. This time a fine cross from Chalmers was met by the flying Sweetlove but he was unable to get his header on target.

The Away team struggled to cope with the Home side's endeavour and gave possession away cheaply again only a few minutes later which almost resulted in goal. Mark Beare weaved his way past several challenges before sending in a low cross as he lost his footing which was adeptly cleared by Dean Twyman.

The pressure was unrelenting from the Home side and Saunders was called into action in the 52nd min, in what was the best chance of the second half up to this point. John Day found Sweetlove in plenty of space just outside the box, and he received the pass before releasing a powerful low right footed shoot which was equally met by a splendid save by the impressive keeper. 

Finally the Away team created a chance at the other end after some fine work by Price and Bassett to pressurise the defender, seizing possession and putting Price through on goal. However, Collings was quick to get down low and prevent the goal.

Up at the other end, it took a well-timed sliding challenge from Twyman to prevent Greaves being through on goal, following a fast counter attack from the Home team. It was Rickeard's turn to show some fine defensive skills next, getting in front of his man to head the ball clear from danger, following a dangerous cross by Reid.

The Away team had their best chance on 57th min, after Berncastel found space on the edge of the 18 yard box and sent in a ferocious right foot shot at goal which was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by the experienced Collings. 

Some haphazard play then almost allowed the Away team to increase their lead. However Ben Smith was there to prevent Andrew Price's shot from reaching the goal with a wonderful sliding block. The block further assisted the Home team, as it allowed them to go on the counter-attack. However, the Away keeper was alert to the attack and calmly claimed Mark Beare's cross.

Both teams were beginning to carve out chances at this point. At the Home end, Taylor saw a shot blocked by Beare after being spotted on the edge of the box by Berncastel and then at the other end the keeper had to rush off his line to clear a clever through ball by Beare before Samuel Wilkinson reached it.

The best chance of the 2nd half fell to the Away team's Matthew Berncastel on the 77th min, following some great work down the right by Dean Twyman, who provided space with the over-lap before sending in a dangerous low cross to the back post which was met by the onrushing Berncastel. However, once again the Away side were left in disbelief as Collings pulled of another instinctive save and held onto the ball.

The Away team were beginning to see more off the ball now in the final third. However, some fine defensive work from Ben Smith, including some tough but fair challenges from Richard Lazell kept the Away team subdued. 

With time running out the Home team went on the ascendency in search of the equaliser. They came very close in the 80th min when Clive Chalmers received the ball on the edge of the box from Mark Sweetlove, but his hard low shot was palmed Away by the keeper.

The high line adopted by the Home team as they went in search of an equaliser meant they were a lot more open at the back and susceptible to the through ball. This was highlighted when Taylor was able to easily pick out Nicos Nicolaou with a chip over the defence in the 83rd min. However, despite releasing a wonderful shot it went just wide, shading the left post.

The Away team were almost left to regret the miss a minute later when John Day went through on goal following a lovely pass from Ben Smith. However, the two times Goal of the Season contender's shot was rushed and the ball went safely wide. It was perhaps a sign of fatigue, unsurprising, given the fast pace of the game.

It was then the Away side's turn to threaten following some neat passing down the right. Dean Twyman cut the ball back to Andrew Price on the edge of the box, who had busted a lung trying to support the attack. Unfortunately for the Away side the shot went a few inches too high, despite seeming destined for the net.

The Away side did eventually get the ball in the net soon after in the 87th min. The goal came following a corner after Twyman saw his cross blocked well by Terry Rickeard on the right side. However, the Home team were unable to clear their lines from the resulting corner, taken by Taylor. The high cross was met firmly by the leaping Matthew Berncastel, who directed the header into the top left corner giving the Away side a two goal cushion as the game reached its final few minutes.    (1-3) 

The Home side needed a goal fast if they were to have any chance of grabbing a draw and they nearly did after some inventive play by John Day. He received the ball on the edge of the box before attempting an audacious chip which was just tipped over by the fingertips of Saunders.

The chance proved to be the last major opportunity for the Home side to get back into the game with the Away side defending well as the last few minutes of the game faded away. It was arguably a game where the score line wasn't totally reflective of the match. Although, the Away side deserved their victory, the Home team were equally as impressive but just couldn't take their chances quite as effectively. Overall, the game was a delight to watch and will surely have made an indelible impression on spectators and players alike.

Full Time: Tottenham Home 1-3 Tottenham Away

Man of the Match Home: Barry Greaves
Man of the Match Away: Dave Taylor
Moment of the Match: Phil Collings

Home Team: Collings, Sexton, Johnston, Lazell, Norman, Smith, Day (C), Hattersley, Sweetlove, Wilkinson, Greaves, Beare, Rickeard, Biddiscombe, Chalmers
Home Mascot: Reis Norman

Away Team: Saunders, Critchell, Harrison, Jessop, Reeve, Basset, Varney, Berncastel, Taylor, Price (C), Nicolaou, Reid, Twyman, Holmes
Away Mascot: Ethan Price