August 11, 2010
Smith (19) Butcher (19) Blackwood (18) Carroll (18)
Dombaxe (16) Parrett (18) Livermore (20) Townsend (19)
Byrne (18) for Carroll, 58.
Kane (17) for Dombaxe, 58.
Durojaiye (17) for Blackwood, 68.
Nicholson (18) for Parrett, 68.
Oyenuga (17) for Obika, 68.
Official site report – Hampton court out by Kane
Pictures from Hampton site.
Spurs started with good intentions – plenty of possession, players tending to take one or two touches before passing and moving, and each player getting involved. Initially, the majority of the play came down our right through Smith and Dombaxe who were linking quite well. Hampton almost nicked an early goal when Calum Butcher and Anton Blackwood got their offside trap all wrong, but Butcher got back in the nick of time to make a terrific saving tackle. At the other end, Dean Parrett showed superb strength to hold the ball up on the edge of he box, before turning and curling a well hit shot narrowly wide. Moments later, Hampton got the opening goal, when a cross was played to the back post (it looked over-hit to me), where Smith’s man had drifted away from him. He hooked back to James Simmonds, the former Chelsea midfield player, who prodded home from a matter of yards.
Spurs weren’t hurried by the early strike, and continued to play their patient build-up play. Hampton defended deep, and constantly got men behind the ball, mainly playing with just one man (Tarpy I believe) up front. We were carrying the ball forward with pace down the flanks, and Andros Townsend went on a sparkling run, beating two men easily, before putting in a very dangerous cross which the keeper parried. On the other flank, Smith linked with Dombaxe, but wasted his crossing opportunity.
Townsend then went on another run and picked out Ryan Mason, who had until then been very quiet, but he placed his shot just wide. Spurs were dominating possessi0n, but still looked quite shaky at centre back, where Blackwood wasn’t stamping his authority on the lone striker.
Obika intercepted a poor pass and shifted the ball to Dombaxe. He had a defender between him and the goal, and decided to take the shot early – the keeper clearly touched this wide, but a goal kick was given. Shortly after this, it was nice to see Livermore, one of the more senior players in this squad, giving Dombaxe some encouragement during a break in play. Spurs’ final chance of the half came when Parrett linked well with Obika, who held the ball up strongly. Obika fed the ball back to Parrett, who let rip, smashing narrowly wide.
Just before half time, Livermore picked the ball up deep in his own half, and looked to play out. However, he rolled the ball straight to a Hampton player and, in order to make up for his error, he absolutely clattered his opponent, who required treatment. At the other end, Dombaxe made something out of nothing, chasing down a loose ball. He pushed the full back wide but, as the full back went to clear, the referee blew up for a foul for a shirt pull. If anything, the foul should have gone the other way, as the defender was tugging at Dombaxe’s shorts. Dombaxe wasn’t happy and, after protesting, he began muttering to himself – the referee, who was generally excellent, and communicated well throughout, gave him a stern look and told him to “stop swearing”!
No changes for Spurs at the break, who started as they left off, knocking the ball around well. The first real chance of the half came when Smith’s devilishly whipped-in cross found Dombaxe about ten yards out. Unfortunately he couldn’t turn in time to meet the ball, and it came off his shoulder and went harmlessly wide.
Townsend once more cut in, stepped inside his man, and blazed wildly wide and over with his right foot, before Hampton went close twice. Firstly, Tarpy had a shot from a difficult angle easily saved by Alnwick. Blackwood then got caught out with a ball over the top, the winger lifted his cross over Alnwick, and the player in the box was inches away from a simple finish.
Spurs made a couple of changes, with Nathan Byrne replacing Carroll at left back, and Kane replacing young Dombaxe on the right. Ryan Mason was becoming an increasing influence, getting the ball to feet, moving into tricky areas, and making things happen. He forced the keeper into a fantastic save on the hour – he curled beautifully towards the bottom corner from the edge of the box with his instep, but the keeper at full stretch managed to get it around the post.
One of the moments of the match for me came a couple of minutes later – Dean Parrett played a perfectly weighted pass inside the full back with the outside of his right foot, which Mason ran on to. Hampton got bodies back, and blocked Mason’s cross for a corner, but it was a superb ball from Parrett.
Spurs made three changes, bringing on Kudus Oyenuga, Olumide Durojaiye (the announcer had an absolute nightmare with his name – he even went for the “spelling it out” option when reading the teams out pre-match!) and Jake Nicholson for Blackwood, Parrett and Obika.
Spurs’ route back into the game came from a defensive error. Mason picked out Oyenuga – the defenders stepped up and got it all wrong. Oyenuga seemed to have all the time in the world to finish, but managed to hit the post – fortunately for him, Harry Kane had intelligently followed in. He grabbed the ball and raced back to the half-way line – Spurs wanted to win this.
Ben Alnwick couldn’t let the game drift by without making a comedy error. A long ball was played forward, and as the crowd “oooooohhhhhh”ed, he seemed to gather it at the first attempt, but then let it slip out of his hands, as a striker nearly pounced. He enjoyed his moment with the fans but, for me, it was just another reminder of what a poor keeper he is.
This followed a mistake by the Hampton goalkeeper, who came out to meet a long ball, but totally missed it. With the ball dribbling towards the goal, he was rescued by a covering defender.
Spurs really upped the pressure in the last ten, and I felt sure that the winner would come. Townsend caused problems, Butcher had two free headers from corners (one in particular from a Kane corner was a brilliant chance), and Mason put a sweet strike very narrowly over in the last minute.
All in all a good performance, albeit a slightly disappointing result.
Alnwick – was barely tested, which was probably just as well.
Smith – as ever, a willing runner with a superb work rate. He reminds me of Hutton in many ways – he carries the ball forward at pace brilliantly, but seems to lack ideas at the end. Like Hutton, he definitely needs to concentrate on his defending, as he does get caught out of position.
Butcher – dominant in the air, but his passing was hit and miss, and he took a few more chances than I felt comfortable with.
Blackwood – I was surprised that we extended his contract, and I saw nothing to change that view.
Carroll – a quiet game, and one in which he was largely untested at left-back. He is naturally a central midfield player, but doesn’t really have the physique to play there at the moment, so left-back isn’t the worst idea. It wasn’t his game, but he is a decent footballer.
Dombaxe – although he missed a few chances, he showed quick feet and saw quite a bit of the ball. Tended to play the ball towards the striker and then drift in-field to receive it back – no doubt because he prefers to play in the middle.
Parrett – our best player for me. Calm in possession, good positioning when not, and he is always tenacious in the tackle.
Livermore – whilst his physical presence was useful (we gave up a lot in height/bulk), his range of passing is so limited, and he often needs two touches when others would need one.
Townsend – a really patchy game. Whilst he looked dangerous, he frequently tried too much, and left his team mates frustrated. I think I’ve commented before on his constant yelling for the ball – it drives me mad. Most players want the ball, but he wants it all the time. “Tommy, Tommy, play me in” etc etc.
Mason – had a very quiet first half, but came into his own in the second, linking play, moving into some tricky areas, and having some good efforts on goal.
Obika – very quiet game, mainly because Hampton defended so deep.
Byrne – as ever, enthusiastic and assured. I’m surprised he hasn’t had more chances at right-back or even right-midfield, as he always looks competent to me. Unfortunately for Nathan, he has been used as a make-shift centre back to make up for a slight shortage at this level.
Kane – did well for the goal, had a few neat touches, and whipped in a fine corner. Added a bit of strength and presence, but I’d have liked to have seen him play in his more natural position, up front.
Durojaiye – one slight scare, but generally an improvement on Blackwood.
Nicholson – assured player with good defensive positioning, an excellent range of passing, and a good temperament. He is a real bean-pole, and just needs to bulk up a little. I’d like him to go out on loan this season.
Oyenuga – looked hungry and worked the channels well.