Goalkeeper Gareth Howells staked his claim for a share of the plaudits with a string of stunning saves, while the defensive unit in front of him also stood firm against a comparatively young Lea Valley FC, as the ex-White Hart Lane favourites ran out 3-0 winners at the Douglas Eyre Sports Centre in Walthamstow on Sunday.
The first half was very much a case for the defence. With Valley camped in Spurs territory, the Legends found themselves pinned back and were restricted to playing on the counter-attack.
Our first chance arrived in the fifth minute as a long ball into their opponents’ half was chased down by the hard-working Andy Sinton, but he fired over the bar under pressure from a rapidly retreating Valley defender.
Nine minutes later, a clever Sinton pass found Anderton in a forward position, but he was closed down by two defenders before he could pull the trigger.
Two Valley players fired wide of the post in separate attacks at the other end, while a sweeping Sinton cross found Mark Falco in space mid-way through the half, but the veteran striker skied his effort over the top.
Two minutes later Sinton raced down the right, but he blazed wide of the near post under pressure from his marker.
Valley were left wondering how they didn’t take the lead on 27 minutes when, after an initial shot had cannoned back off the post, the ball was set up for a 15-yard drive through a crowded penalty area. Somehow, Legends custodian Gareth Howells got down low to his right to steer the ball round the post.
The home side were applying most of the pressure, but it was Spurs who took the lead on the half-hour mark, as they made the most of a dead ball situation. After Sinton was brought down just outside the penalty area, Anderton’s quickly-taken right-footed free kick sailed into the net.
The hosts were awarded a free kick in a similarly dangerous position at the other end, but a six-man defensive wall contained the fierce shot.
Howells was again the subject of the crowd’s awe as the second half got underway, as the stopper made two stunning reaction saves in the space of 30 seconds with the home side piling on the pressure.
The Spurs goal was living a charmed life as Valley launched another attack on 57 minutes. After Howells made another fine block at point blank range, Stuart Nethercott cleared the ball off the line to deny the home side an equaliser.
Sinton went close for Spurs at the other end, before the Lilywhites doubled the advantage when substitute Micky Southam latched onto Clive Wilson’s pass and rounded the goalkeeper before slotting home.
Howells was again called into action mid-way through the second half, first when he palmed away a long-range effort for a corner, then again three minutes later as he diverted a low shot just beyond the back post with his outstretched right glove.
Spurs made it 3-0 with 10 minutes to play, as substitute Warren Gravette unselfishly headed the ball into the path of Anderton, who made it look easy as he found the centre of the net.
The home side refused to give in, and they might have netted a consolation seven minutes from time had it not been for Justin Edinburgh, who intervened with a marvellous covering tackle just as the Valley striker was about to shoot.
Howells made one final save at his near post in the dying seconds to ensure his clean sheet remained intact.
Spurs Legends: Gareth Howells, Paul Miller, Tony Galvin, John Lacy, Stuart Nethercott, Justin Edinburgh, Clive Wilson, Mark Stimson, Andy Sinton, Darren Anderton, Mark Falco. Subs: Warren Gravette, Micky Southam, Micky Jarrett, Andy Edmonds. Manager: Garry Brooke.
With thanks to Billy Shaw...