16/07/12 Kingstonian 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur XI, Kingsmeadow Stadium
The first real opening for Spurs came when John Bostock got free on the right, but on his weaker side he struggled to get the ball out of his feet, and it was eventually cleared. Ryan Mason, wearing the captain’s armband, played in Pritchard on the left – he cut in and forced a save. From the resulting corner, it came out to Pritchard again, this time at an angle, and his driven effort was blocked.
Spurs started to string a few passes together and one move involving Gomelt, Bentaleb and Ceballos show-cased the superior quality of our players, but we struggled to make headway against a relatively compact and organised team.
On the half hour mark, Mason again fed Pritchard, who had got between the lines; he drove at the defence and, as they backed off, he took aim but his right-footed effort was always set too wide. At the other end, Kingstonian had a goal disallowed for offside – a break down their right saw a cross come in, and a header back across Miles left him rooted to the spot.
Miles then made an excellent point-blank save with his legs as a cross wasn’t cleared properly, and the forward forced the ball goal-wards from inside the six-yard box.
Bostock found some space on the left, cut in and hit an effort with his right foot – it was going wide of the far post, but a block tackle sent it into the air. Ceballos got to the flight of the ball, but kicked the air as it dropped. Byrne then played in Mason with an intelligent low cross, but as Mason tried to take it in his stride, his touch was unusually heavy.
There was an injury stoppage during which Ferdinand was giving lengthy instructions to Pritchard – who Sherwood had previously told to keep moving – “pass and movel”. The Kingstonian player left the pitch, and shortly afterwards their full-back made an excellent saving challenge as Ceballos broke through and nearly found a killer pass.
Archer replaced Miles in goal for the start of the second half, and Kingstonian made a number of changes – such is the way in friendly matches. Almost immediately, John Bostock got in down the left and tried to find Pritchard, but the cross took a deflection and was behind him.
It was 1-0 just after 50 minutes though – Bentaleb (NB: the official site says Gomelt, but I am fairly sure it was Bentaleb) played a firm first time pass up the line to Mason. Mason had his back to two defenders, and could have done little with the pass had he tried to control it. Instead, he intelligently spun on the halfway line and darted in behind, leaving both defending players up-field. With plenty of support in the middle, he continued his run before picking his spot at the near post and finishing low. An excellent piece of individual play.
Pritchard was caught offside from a Bostock pass, and then drew a foul with a clever touch after he was found by Bentaleb.
Spurs started to dominate possession and played much more fluently, causing problems on a more regular basis. As substitutions were made, the game was broken up a little, but the incoming players all got involved quickly. Barthram came on to play at right back, with Byrne pushing up, but the two of them switched positions regularly which worked to our advantage. Barthram got on the end of a Mason pass, cut in on his left foot, but his shot lacked power and was easily saved down low.
At the other end, Grant Hall – out of contract at Brighton and presumably on trial – lost an aerial challenge for just about the first time, but substitute Ekong made up for it with an important block. Spurs then made it 2-0.
A counter-attacking move saw Munns play in the marauding Stewart. He seemed to be taken down in the box, but the loose ball ran to Barthram who slid home from fairly close range.
Spurs went down to 10-men when, having used all of the available substitutes, Mason limped off with cramp. Nathan Byrne took the armband on in his absence, as he and Barthram continued to cause problems down the right-hand side with their link-up and switching.
Bostock had time for one last wayward shot – pulling his shirt over his head and pointing to the heavens after it flew over – and Kingstonian went close with an over hit cross, which nearly caught Archer out.
With Spurs down to 9-men after Byrne limped off as well, the home side did get on the score sheet. Archer charged out to attempt to meet a through ball, but the striker dinked the ball over him (and wide of goal). Archer, though, was adjudged to have committed a foul. The penalty was scored low with Archer given little chance to make amends. Kingstonian nearly equalised when the ball fell nicely in the box for their number 14, but he flashed his effort well over. 2-1 was about right.
All in all, a decent work-out for a rusty looking Development Squad. Our players took their time to find their feet – which is to be expected – but were playing some fluent passing by the end of the match, frequently catching out their opponents with runs from deep in the second half.
For me, the outstanding players on the night were Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb, and Grant Hall, with Stewart and Veljkovic also having some excellent moments.
Nathan Byrne – caught up-field a few times (and told as much by Sherwood!) due to his eagerness to get forward, but his industrious runs were impressive.
Grant Hall – generally composed in all areas of his game, and used the ball well.
Milos Veljkovic – as impressive as he normally is – good reader of the game, decent technique, picks the right pass.
Kevin Stewart – poor Kevin always seems to end up at left back (not his ideal position) but he always gives a good account of himself. Great energy.
Nabil Bentaleb – seems to always have time to put his foot on the ball in the middle of the pitch. Excellent technique, decision-making and passing range.
Tomislav Gomelt – looked a good partner for Bentaleb, dove-tailing nicely.
Alex Pritchard – had some lively moments but was on the periphery for a lot of the game. He does have great feet, though, and can cause problems with a bit of movement or trickery out of nothing.
Ryan Mason – along with Bentaleb, he ran the show. Got on the ball and created, linking play and finding pockets of space. Took his goal brilliantly. I hope to see him involved in the Europa League.
Cristian Ceballos – good feet and some good passing, but drifted out of the game a little too often.
John Bostock – played a slightly unfamiliar role up front (although he did drop deep) and was both frustrated and frustrating. Took on shots from distance with other options available, and couldn’t get the ball out of his feet for the best opening he had.Subs
Jordan Archer – was barely tested until the penalty incident, where he had a difficult decision to make.
Jack Munns – immediately got on the ball and helped to link play.
Jack Barthram – a great attacking outlet for the final half an hour, and got a goal when he followed in to slide the ball home.
William Ekong – looked commanding and worked well with Hall.For a look at how Sherwood and the rest of the coaching team handled the match, check out this article from The Cockerel Crows.