Hopes and Expectations
Tottenham Hotspur friendly
15th July 2009

Other Friendlies by Kirstie Bowden

Academy Pre-season

Tottenham class too much for Grecians

Western Morning News 
Thursday, July 16, 2009, 10:00

Thursday, July 16, 2009, 10:00

BEATEN but by no means disgraced. Exeter City's glamorous pre-season friendly with Barclays Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur ended in a 3-0 defeat at St James' Park last night. Jamie O'Hara's first-half goal gave the Londoners a half-time lead and as both teams rang the changes after the break, England internationals Aaron Lennon and Darren Bent added to the tally to give Harry Redknapp's side a deserved win. It was a good workout for the Grecians though, who displayed some neat passing against their illustrious guests. However, Tottenham's superior class in the final third was the difference with Exeter rarely threatening the Premier League side's goal.

The Grecians lined up with only one player making their St James' Park bow. Scott Golbourne started at left-back in a 4-3-3 formation with manager Paul Tisdale resisting the temptation to look at trialists against Premier League opposition from the start. Tottenham's line-up contained a number of high-profile names. Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe led the line, Carlo Cudicini started between the sticks, while the likes of Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluca, David Bentley and Tom Huddlestone also started. Despite winning an early corner, it was Tottenham that created the game's first chance. Bentley swung a fine cross in from the right wing and Defoe met it with a form header, but despite spilling the ball, City's Paul Jones was able to save. Exeter countered with Adam Stansfield trying his luck from distance, his shot deflected wide for a corner. The Grecians took it short and the final ball again found Stansfield, who was off target with a firm header at the near post. Both teams were playing some neat, possession football, but neither were able to find that killer final ball to fashion an opening. A mistake by Matt Taylor allowed Keane to set up Huddlestone, but his shot looped high into the air and was headed behind his own goal by Golbourne. Huddlestone, urged by the strong contingent of Spurs fans in a sell-out St James' Park crowd to shoot whenever he received the ball, did so when a Tottenham corner was cleared as far as him 30 yards out. His first touch was assured, but his blockbuster flew just over Jones' crossbar. Eventually, the deadlock was broken in the 34th minute. Bentley found his way to the by-line and pulled the ball back to Defoe, whose shot was brilliantly saved by Jones. However, O'Hara was quick to the loose ball and drilled a low shot inside the goalkeeper's upright as he was still getting to his feet.

Defoe then turned sharply and saw a shot blocked as the top-flight outfit began to take control. The Grecians, though, were by no means playing poorly, but they were finding themselves pinned inside their own half and when they did have the ball, they kept it well without ever really threatening the visitors' goal. Jones then made a brilliant save to deny Keane, who had peeled away from Danny Seaborne to get onto Huddlestone's excellent ball into the box. The Republic of Ireland international flicked a volley goalwards, but Jones was equal to it and managed to divert the ball around the upright. The Grecians were temporarily reduced to ten men when Stansfield and Dorian Dervite clashed heads leaving the Exeter striker with a nasty gash. Despite the numerical advantage for a couple of minutes, Tottenham could not add to their tally and went in 1-0 up at the break. When the second half kicked-off, it was a completely different Tottenham XI who took to the field. On came the likes of Lennon, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Bent, Wilson Palacios, Luka Modric and Michael Dawson as Redknapp made full use of his talented squad. The Grecians introduced a few players at the break, notably Marcus Stewart, who was making his first appearance of pre-season. Richard Duffy was tried at left-back, while Joe Burnell came on for Steve Tully at right-back. 

Spurs again started the better of the two sides and Dawson saw his shot take a deflection and cannon back off the upright. Almost immediately, Tottenham's Troy Archibald-Henville came on for Exeter. Although nothing has been officially confirmed by the club, it was perhaps the strongest hint yet that a deal had been agreed which will see him return to St James' Park. Jones was quickly down to his right to keep out a low shot by Pavlyuchenko as Spurs continued to threaten. Exeter were struggling to create anything of note with their attacks breaking down all too often in the final third. Modric almost made it 2-0 with a brilliant curled shot from the corner of the penalty box, but Jones was again equal to it making a fine one-handed stop to push the ball over the crossbar. It was proving to be a busy evening for the Exeter goalkeeper, who then made his best save yet with another one-handed stop to keep out Kevin Prince-Boateng's long-range effort. Exeter though were then victims of their own downfall as they tried to overplay at times. A mistake by Duffy led to Lennon creating a chance for Bent with a brilliant through ball, but again Jones came to Exeter's rescue. Duffy made amends moments later when he threw himself in the way of Lennon's shot, while Richard Logan almost brought Exeter level with a blistering shot from 30 yards that just cleared the crossbar. A second goal was almost inevitable and it arrived on 70 minutes. Pavlyuchenko had seen a shot come back off the upright and as Spurs worked the ball wide to Modric, he showed great skill to nutmeg a defender and square the ball to Lennon, who fired it home. The direct running of Lennon was causing Exeter problems and it was from his penetrating run that Modric was presented with a chance. His finish was poor though and straight at Jones. Bent fired wide of Jones' near post after being set up by Modric, but the third goal came when Jones could not hold Pavlyuchenko's stinging drive. Bent was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net. Exeter rallied at the end and new signing Barry Corr came close to a consolation, but his header from Duffy's superb cross drifted inches wide of the far post.

Exeter City (4-3-3):
P Jones; S Tully (J Burnell h-t), M Taylor (T Archibald-Henville 49), D Seaborne, S Golbourne (R Duffy h-t); L Sercombe (C Allen 66), A Russell (R Edwards h-t), R Harley (J Dunne 66); M Panther (S Bennett 66), A Stansfield (M Stewart h-t, E Frear 86), C McAllister (R Logan h-t, (B Corr 86).

Tottenham Hotspur
(First Half, 4-4-2): C Cudicini; A Hutton, D Dervite, V Corluca, P Chimbonda; D Bentley, T Huddlestone, J O'Hara, D Rose; R Keane, J Defoe.

Tottenham Hotspur
(Second Half, 4-4-2): D Button; C Gunter, M Dawson, J Livermore, B Assou-Ekotto; A Lennon, K Prince Boateng, W Palacios, L Modric; R Pavyluchenko, D Bent.

Goals: O'Hara 34, Lennon 70, Bent 84

On the Road with Kirstie Bowden 

Our pre-season away campaign saw visits to Weston-Super-Mare, St Blazey, Salisbury City, Weymouth, Forest Green Rovers, Three Bridges, and involvement in the ERREA Cup. I will look back on the games at Weston, Salisbury and Forest Green. The next programme will consider the ERREA Cup. Pre-season kicked off at Weston- super-Mare where we were charged a scandalous £10 to get in. As City fans started to filter in we helped each other with the customary "who is that?' game trying (and failing in my case) to correctly identify new signings and trialists. No sooner had the match kicked-off had Weston scored. Having only just sat down I cheered, thinking that we were playing in white, and asked "who scored?" "Weston" was the surprising response! Soon enough we were back on level terms with trialist Chris 'Alexi' (actually Allen) scoring a penalty. "Given last seasons difficulty' with penalties, cries of 'SIGN HIM UP' emanated from the away areas. Evidently the tannoy announcer was struggling with correctly naming our scorers and this continued when 'Craig McAllister' (actually Neil Saunders) fired us into the lead. Thankfully for him we scored no further goals, but unfortunately Weston did. The final score was 2-2. Salisbury. The local media would have you believe that City were unruly' and lacked discipline. I wholeheartedly disagree with this.

Salisbury deployed the Conference classic physical hoof ball tactic and roughed up our team from start to finish. The referee had little control, and when he did decide to intervene it would be at our expense, pulling our players up for the most innocuous of challenges. Contrast this to James Bittner, a now former favourite Grecians' player of mine, who after collecting a cross very blatantly and needlessly kicked Bertie Cozic. Bertie appealed yet nothing was given and Bittner wasn't even spoken to. Hearing our shouts of disapproval he turned around and laughed. We were treated with little respect on and off the pitch. The tannoy announcer referred to a slightly rotund child goalkeeper partaking in a half-time penalty shoot-out whose name he didn't know as, "by the looks of him an Exeter keeper". Second half substitutions were given in full for Salisbury, yet our quadruple substitution was referred to as "for Exeter 4 on and 4 off". As the final score (3-1) would suggest Salisbury were the better team on the nightRobbie Matthews was particularly impressive, scoring all their goals. His second, a strike that was very clearly brought down by his hand, was my favourite. Even the Salisbury fans looked surprised when it was given!

Forest Green was a much more welcoming affair. Once we'd got there. Holiday traffic on the M5 meant that it took us 3 hours just to get from Exeter to the Avonmouth bridge! The tannoy man referred to us all as "our friends the Grecians", congratulated us on our promotions, wished us luck against Leeds and told us (as Tiz walked past the away end, receiving a rapturous round of applause) that "you have a great manager in Paul Tisdale. Look after him". The snack hut did a roaring trade, no doubt because the traffic had prevented the travelling Grecians from partaking in lunch. The chips and curry sauce were outstanding easily the best chips at a football ground ever! The first half was memorable for three reasons. Firstly, the Forest Green goalkeepers rather fetching pink shirt. Secondly, the sad departure of Forest Greens Mike Fowler who fell awkwardly on his ankle, unchallenged, suffering 3 fractures, a dislocation and severe ligament damage. I, like no doubt all Grecians, wish him well with his recovery. Thirdly, the outstanding effort being put in by City trialist Dean Morgan, a striker, who came agonisingly close to scoring on no less than 5 separate occasions! The second half carried on much like the first with Jonesy pulling off a string of fine saves. The lino at our end was struggling to get offside decisions right, shaking his head violently each time we challenged him. A seemingly simple series of substitutions, the substitution of Golbourne, followed minutes later by his reintroduction to replace subbed Bertie, played havoc with the ref in the last 10 minutes. The ref became confused (wouldn't be the first time......) and instead of verbally verifying the substitution he made Bertie traipse back onto the pitch to allow him to then watch him walk back off again!

The game ended a 0-0 draw, and with that our pre-season campaign was complete.



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