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Youth Cup report

Posted on 19 January 2005  - 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).

Tommy Forecast was the hero with two fine saves in the penalty shootout as our Academy side overcame Liverpool at Anfield on a night of high drama.

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The game finished all square at 1-1 after extra-time but the scores finishing level was not really a reflection of the performance put on by the team who dominated for large periods of the game.

Andy Barcham (pictured left) netted our goal after Karl Noon struck an early blow for the home side.

Forecast made the difference in the penalty contest, while Jamie O'Hara, Phil Ifil, Charlie Lee and Scott Thyer kept their cool to secure a 5th round tie at home to Everton.

Things were done in the customary way at Anfield, the reading of the teams was followed by the playing of You'll Never Walk Alone as the teams emerged from the tunnel. Spectators, although not too many, congregated on the Kop while, from our side, Frank Arnesen and Chris Hughton looked on from the director's box.

The first danger signal from the home side came on three minutes when a huge wind-assisted clearance from David Roberts landed on the edge of the area, forcing Forecast to dash out and challenge striker Conal Platt. The ball ran loose and was cleared, but it was a definite wind warning.

Liverpool began to ping the ball around with some intent and the boys fell behind on eight minutes after a slick interchange between Danny Guthrie and Paul Barratt. The two combined to set Barratt away down the left of the penalty area, he squared beyond Forecast and Noon was on hand for the tap in.

It took just six minutes for the boys to respond in the best possible way, a period of possession concluded with Mark Wright feeding the ball into the home area for Andy Barcham - scorer of the winner in the last round against Nottingham Forest - to shake off his marker and slot the ball past keeper David Roberts at the Kop end.

There was another chance shortly after when Roberts and defender Adam Hitchen got into a muddle from a Wright cross and the ball fell to Jamie Davis at the back post, but he was unable to control his shot from a tight angle.

As you would expect from these two clubs, it was a pure football contest with the ball being zipped around on the pitch and both teams looking to play from the back.

There was an almighty scramble in the Liverpool six yard box on 23 minutes, a low Phil Ifil cross was not gathered by Roberts and was spinning around near the goal line with Barcham in combat with two defenders desperate to get the decisive touch before Roberts redeemed himself and smothered the ball on the line. Simon Dawkins then nearly shot us into the lead with a low effort from the edge of the area that, at first, appeared to have been turned around the post by Roberts.

Spurs were asserting control in the tie and, you got the feeling, Liverpool would have been happy to get to the break at level pegging. They still carried a threat with their pacy front and wide players, but it was Pat Holland's side displaying the midfield authority and greater attacking punch.

The second period did not begin at the same tempo the first ended and Liverpool had half a chance a few minutes in when a low cross from the right pin-balled between Leigh Mills and Charlie Lee (pictured left) before being scooped to safety.

Liverpool probably came out of the blocks slightly quicker and enjoyed their first real patch of sustained pressure. All of this was repelled by the resolute Lee and Mills.

Barcham had a great chance to grab a second on the night when a mistake by Robbie Threlfall allowed him to break through on goal. The striker got his head up and took aim, but his shot was met by the legs of Roberts to send the ball high in the air and eventually to safety.

Frontman Scott Thyer was introduced on 58 minutes for a tiring Joe Martin and just six minutes later embarked on a typical thrust into the area to force a corner, from which suitable mayhem was caused with a couple of chest high blocks proving necessary from the Liverpool markers. Thyer had a shout for a goal on 67 when, after challenging Roberts for the ball from a cross, the keeper appeared to skirt a little too close to his goal line and there were more than a few glances over to the assistant on the right.

The increasingly influential Thyer then thumped a low shot in on goal that was well foiled by Roberts. Ifil (pictured right) also went close with a deflected drive from the right of the area.

Pat Holland elected for change on 84 minutes, bringing on schoolboy Radwan Hamed for Simon Dawkins in a bid to avert extra-time.

If territory and possession won football matches, Spurs would have been out of sight, but were forced to remain patient in seeking a winner. But, it was Liverpool who so nearly clinched it with two minutes left when a Noon cross was met by a Barratt header. Stationed off his line, Forecast was forced to arch his back to make the vital touch in order to see the ball over the bar.

Forecast was the hero again in stoppage time, coming of his line to block effort from Noon with his legs. Extra time then became a welcome reality.

There looked to be a few tired legs in the Spurs side as the game stumbled into an additional half an hour, several of them had not featured since the 3rd round encounter with Forest. Cool heads and a big final effort was called for.

Barcham appeared to be hauled back on a burst through after 8 minutes of extra-time. He did win a corner which was spilt by Roberts and Barcham smashed the loose ball against bar. Minutes later a Hamed cross was volleyed first time by Thyer, but into the grateful arms of Roberts.

Just into the second period Ifil unleased a speculative drive from an angle that Roberts grabbed at the second attempt before home sub Phil Townley was granted a free strike inside the area that he smashed over the bar.

The game appeared there for the taking for whichever team really seized the initiative. As at the end of 90 minutes, Forecast again came to the rescue when he bravely blocked Adam Hitchen's effort right in front of goal when a winner seemed the more likely outcome.

The final whistle blew and the lottery of a penalty shootout loomed very large.