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Final flourish

Posted on 4 May 2009  - 12:00

Simon Dawkins hit the only goal as our reserves ended an impressive run-in with a win in their final league game at Portsmouth on Monday.

Final flourish

Simon Dawkins hit the only goal as our reserves ended an impressive run-in with a win in their final league game at Portsmouth on Monday.

The striker drilled home from close range in the 19th minute as we deservedly beat Pompey 1-0 at Havant & Waterlooville's Westleigh Stadium.

Runners-up spot had already been secured in Barclays Premier Reserve League South as Clive Allen's squad completed the season with seven wins in their last eight matches.

That run pushed the title race all the way to the penultimate game of the season last week when we lost at Chelsea and one-time runaway leaders Aston Villa beat West Brom. To underline the ground we've made up, it's worth noting that Villa would have clinched the title if they'd beaten us back on March 30.

Development Coach Clive set out a plan back in February to win as many games out of the final 10 as possible - the team won eight.

The attitude in all of those 10 games has been to go and attack and that was the case again in the season's finale on a chilly Bank Holiday afternoon on the south coast.

We lined-up 4-3-3 with Gilberto and Ricardo Rocha providing the experience in central defence and a central midfield three of Jake Livermore, Jacques Maghoma and Yaser Kasim all encourage to get forward and support central striker Dawkins. Wide men Kyle Fraser-Allen and David Hutton hugged the touchlines throughout.

Dawkins sent Fraser-Allen away for the first chance in the fifth minute. Fraser-Allen curved his run well to beat the flag, skipped past Pompey keeper Asmir Begovic and aimed at the near post from a tight angle only to see Lennard Sowah slide back to clear off the line.

Efforts flew in from distance as the two sides continued sparring in the early exchanges before we took the lead in the 19th minute.

Maghoma picked out Kasim just inside the box and Kasim, marked tightly, did well to work a yard of space before shooting. His effort was blocked and rebounded in front of Dawkins, who rammed his shot into the corner just before Marlon Pack, diving in, got to him.

We steadily started to take control as Maghoma and Livermore fired straight at Begovic.

The next chances fell at the other end, however, as first Gilberto and then Takura Mtandari threw themselves in to make fine blocks from Florent Cuvelier and Gael Mlundulu respectively.

Kasim, heavily involved, then picked out Fraser-Allen with a clever reverse pass but Begovic was up to it again, turning a fierce strike wide at his near post.

We had a chance to double the lead right at the start of the second half. Cian Hughton measured a pass to Maghoma who didn't have to break stride from the right side of the box and drilled across Begovic but just wide.

Begovic produced the save of the day to turn around Maghoma's shot on the spin on the hour and Livermore fired just over as we continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession.

First year Academy midfielder Josh Ekim replaced Kasim after 73 minutes for his reserve debut.

Nlundulu curled an effort just wide but Pompey's efforts on goal were rare and Ben Alnwick's main work to field a few crosses.

After another spell of crisp passing, Hutton sent Mtandari away on the overlap down the left and his cross clipped the top of the crossbar. Hughton then drilled just wide, 80 minutes on the clock.

Mtandari's industry set up another chance from the left as Livermore's shot was deflected just wide and from the corner, Mtandari looked to score himself only for his goalbound effort to loop over via Luka Wilkinson's knee.

The left-back was seeing plenty of the ball and just a minute later found himself in the same spot, 14 yards out, and this time a curler was well taken by Begovic and that was the final action of note.

Pompey: Begovic, Mantyla, Sowah (Martin, 64), Pack, Woodford, Wilkinson, Nlundulu, Cuvelier, Gazet du Chatelier (Alors, 46), Kilby, Traore (Smith, 46). Subs: Stewart (GK), Goddard.

Spurs: Alnwick, Hughton, Gilberto, Livermore, Rocha, Mtandari, Fraser-Allen, Maghoma, Dawkins, Kasim (Ekim, 73), Hutton. Subs: L Butcher (GK), Smith, Nicholson, Cox.