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Final score: Spurs 1-2 Derby

Posted on 12 February 2003  - 12:00

FA Premier Reserve League South

An injury time strike denied the reserves a point against a rugged Derby at Stevenage on Wednesday evening - the least they deserved as reward for an absorbing night's football.

A youthful side, packed with ball players, encountered an experienced and physically strong Derby team containing the likes of Horacio Carbonari, Otto Bragstad and Branko Strupar.

The boys applied themselves superbly and were unfortunate to fall behind inside the first six minutes. But they remained calm, played their football and forced themselves onto level terms when Sutton harried his marker into scoring an own goal following David Galbraith's cross.

Summer signing Jonathan Blondel made his reserve team debut, while his countryman Strupar led the Derby attack.

With the exception of the young Belgian, goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld and midfielders Diego Bortolozzo, Rohan Ricketts and George Snee, the starting line-up was made up of last season's Academy under-19 players.

Tottenham fell behind when a ball from the left was not dealt with and Strupar was on hand at the far post to nod past Hirschfeld.

Derby certainly enjoyed a huge physical advantage with the likes of Strupar and Marvin Robinson proving a powerful spearhead for O'Donoghue and Henry to counter.

The visitors may have benefited from their physical attributes, but is was Spurs who played some delightful one-touch football in the first half an hour, with Blondel looking lively and inventive in midfield.

One incisive run from the diminutive midfielder led to Barnard being freed down the right. The striker took the ball to the byline, looked up and delivered an almost pinpoint cross that just evaded the on-rushing Blondel.

On 27 minutes Spurs were level, a low Galbraith cross from the left was met, under pressure, at the near post by Sutton who appeared to flick the ball past Lee Grant in the Derby goal, but it turned out to be an own goal.

During this lively period of the game, Snee and Henry suffered injuries and were replaced by Dean Marney and Mark Hughes.

The reshuffle led to Calderwood perhaps wisely electing to flood the midfield with Sutton operating as a lone striker supported by Blondel, Ricketts and Barnard advancing from midfield.

For the remainder of the half it was pretty much end to end stuff, but with Spurs looking the more fluent, but lacking an accurate final ball on occasions.

Hirschfeld was called into action five minutes before the break when a downward header from Robinson forced a top corner fingertip save from the Canadian, while Ricketts tested Grant with a powerful shot in first half injury time.

The second half began much as the first ended and the game was developing into a superb contest. Stephen Kelly attempted an audacious overhead kick following a cross from the right, while Derby's Molloy was denied by a brave Hirschfield block.

Barnard was next to trouble a keeper when, after neat interchange with Ricketts, he unleashed a shot from around 22 yards that flashed just over with the help of Grant's fingertips.

A minute later Barnard superbly set Marney free down the right and his searching cross was intercepted just before reaching Ricketts at the far post.

In-form Academy striker Jamie Slabber replaced the injured Sutton for the final 17 minutes as Spurs strived for the winner that their superior football deserved.

But it was not to be, Gary Twigg burst into the right hand side of the area and steered the ball high past the approaching Hirschfeld.

Spurs: Hirschfeld, Henry (Hughes 30), S Kelly, O'Donoghue, Snee (Marney 26), Galbraith, Ricketts, Bortolozzo, Blondel, Barnard, Sutton (Slabber 73). Subs: Dobson, Jalal.

Derby County: Grant, Hunt (Palmer 61), Bragstad (McArdle 71), Carbonari, Mawene, Jackson, Molloy, Evatt, Twigg, Strupar (Tudgay 80), Robinson. Subs: Weckstrom, Richardson.