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FA YOUTH CUP SEMI-FINAL 1st leg Everton 2-1 Spurs

Posted on 27 March 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

John Sutton netted a vital goal for our Academy under-18 side after they fell two goals down to Everton in the semi-final first leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final at Goodison Park.

The tie is now delicately poised going into the second leg to be played at White Hart Lane next Wednesday with a place in the final against Aston Villa or Barnsley the prize for the winners.

The boys fell behind following a re-shuffle after Jamie Slabber was forced to withdraw through injury. Two goals in roughly three minutes just before the break set the team a tough second half examination that they responded well to.

Sutton's halving of the deficit came on 65 minutes and they did enough after that to suggest that the blues will not have the easiest of tasks in holding onto their lead at the Lane.

The first half began in a cagey manner, probably due to the fact that the tie is over two legs that it lacked the helter-skelter of a cup clash.

The teams spent the opening minutes sussing each other out and it was evident that Everton were comfortable on the ball and prepared to wait to unleash the obvious pace of forward threats Wayne Rooney and Michael Symes.

It was Spurs who came closest to opening the scoring on seven minutes when Nicky Wettner sped down the left and crossed into the area where Sutton was on hand to nod the ball back in the direction of Dean Marney. Marney, however, shot high and handsome.

Wettner also had a half-chance that he dragged past the post after a Sutton flick-on.

The danger signals started flashing around the 15 minute mark when Rooney sneaked through a challenge with Paul O'Donoghue eight yards out and Rob Burch had to be quick and brave to save at the striker's feet. Symes then found an opening but was well shackled by Marcel McKie.

But perhaps Spurs should really have gone ahead on 21 minutes when Sutton won an aerial challenge with home keeper Andrew Pettinger and, amid the confusion, Wettner, Sutton and Marney all failed to net.

The final period of the first half was not a productive one for the boys. Striker Slabber, so influential in previous rounds, went down injured and returned a few minutes later after treatment. All was clearly not well and he was virtually playing on one leg.

Pat Holland replaced Slabber after 33 minutes with Ben Bowditch and Lee Barnard switched to his favoured striking position from the right flank. Bowditch slotted into the centre and Marney moved to the right.

Minutes later Everton took the lead. Burch appeared to lose out in a goalmouth tangle and David Carney sneaked in on the back post to squeeze the ball home from an angle.

Worse was to follow on 40 minutes, Rooney hot-footed it down the right and dispatched a low cross which Symes was on hand to tap in, giving Burch no chance.

The boys began the second half pressing forward, but were nearly caught out by an audacious long shot that had Burch frantically back-peddling.

From a corner on 63 minutes a bullet header from Symes was superbly tipped over by Burch and, from the resulting kick from the other side, Carney volleyed a fraction wide.

But on 65 minutes the boys grabbed what could prove to be a vital lifeline. Sutton picked up the ball 25 yards out with his back to goal and there did not look a lot on. The striker turned on the bouncing ball and cooly hit his shot goalwards with such accuracy that Pettinger in the Everton goal was left floundering and the ball crept inside his right hand post.

The goal visibly lifted Spurs spirits and appeared to plant seeds of doubt in Everton minds. What looked a good first leg lead was now halved and in danger of evaporating. Barnard nearly did just that in the closing minutes, just losing control of the ball after darting through the Everton rearguard.

Three stands were opened at Goodison Park for the game and there was a bumper crowd in each of them. The boys would no doubt welcome a similar turn-out for what is sure to be a cracking return next week.

Game on!

Team: Rob Burch, Stephen Kelly, Marcel McKie, Mark Hughes, Ronnie Henry (C), Paul O'Donoghue, Lee Barnard, Dean Marney, John Sutton, Jamie Slabber (Ben Bowditch 33), Nicky Wettner. Subs: Paul Rutherford (GK), James Lee, Mario Noto, Lee Barnett.

Everton: Andrew Pettinger, Brian Moogan, Martin Crowder, Steven Schumacher (C), Craif Garside, Alan Moogan, Scott Brown, Steven Beck, Michael Symes, Wayne Rooney, David Carney. Subs: Franklyn Colbeck, Alex Cole (GK), Joseph Jones, Anthony Gerrard, Jack Flood.