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Posted on 16 April 2007  - 12:00

Our Reserve side enjoyed the greater share of possession against Sampdoria in Genoa, but chances were few and far between and goals proved elusive for both sides.

Our Reserve side enjoyed the greater share of possession against Sampdoria in Genoa, but chances were few and far between and goals proved elusive for both sides.

It was a pretty warm evening at the Stadio comunale 'La Scorbia', roughly a few kilometres along from Sampdoria's main stadium. Temperature gages along the way were indicating a heat of 26 degrees, with the lads hoping it would cool down a bit ahead of the 6pm kick-off local time.

The facility, surrounded by an athletic track with mountains for a backdrop, attracted a few people along for this Anglo-Italian friendly contest, although it should be noted that the surface was very dry and not particularly true.

The only chance in the opening few minutes fell on the head of Tomas Pekhart, who couldn't direct his effort downwards and the keeper Di Gennara was left to watch the ball sail over his crossbar.

The most regular sound early on was that of the referee's whistle, with the regular robust challenges familiar at Stevenage on a Monday evening quickly penalised. Clive Allen did stress beforehand that most contact would lead to a break in play. The game did become a bit fragmented because of this and neither side really established a foothold in the first 20 minutes.

Lee Barnard always looked the most likely to unlock the gate with his poise and ability to make the ball stick in forward areas, while the pace of Andy Barcham down the left flank was proving a test for the full-back Enow.

The first shot on goal came on 30 minutes, but Cucciniello's effort did not cause Ben Alnwick a moment's concern as it drifted yards wide of his right hand upright. The slick passing and more technical football was being played by the team in white - only without an end product in the first half an hour.

Tigerish midfielder Kieran McKenna was forced from the action at half-time after sustaining a groin injury - Jake Livermore was summoned from the bench, while Sampdoria made seven changes at the break.

Alnwick was called on to make his first save on 51 minutes, his rush from goal resulted in Azor being chopped down and the keeper proceeded to make a relatively routine stop from Pondaco's free-kick from just outside the area. Di Genaro then made a slightly less composed save at the other end from a speculative Jamie O'Hara drive.

Chances remained at an extreme premium as the second period progressed, both sides struggled to impose their style on unfamiliar opposition. Clive made further changes with the introduction of Joe Martin and Danny Hutchins - Martin taking over at left-back from Cian Hughton and Hutchins the left flank with David Hutton making way.

Barnard tried his luck from distance and Di Genaro was again unconvincing in his shot stopping. However, the deadlock very rarely looked like being broken despite the territorial superiority of the boys.

A Barnard cross came very close to providing the first really clear opening as Hutchins applied a header at the far post, but Di Genaro was equal to the challenge.

Team: Alnwick, Archibald-Henville, Lee, Mills, Hughton (Martin 61), Hutton (Hutchins 61), McKenna (Livermore 45), O'Hara, Barcham, Barnard, Pekhart (Smith 66). Subs: Forecast.

Sampdoria: Di Gennaro, Enow, Sablone, Donato (C), Ciancio, Compagnone, Marilungo, Cucciniello, Romeo, Fontes Da Mota, Ferrari. Subs: Fiorillo, Calzolaio, Orero, Diarra, Koman, Azor, Pondaco, Arnulfo, Rizzo.