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Youths 2-0 Spurs
Youths 2-0 Spurs
Friday, 8th Apr 2005 22:27

Town's U18s will take a 2-0 lead into Wednesday's FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg after the first game at Portman Road. Midfielder Liam Trotter put the Blues in front in the first half and Irish U19 international striker Billy Clarke added the second after the break.

Lengthy queues outside the ground caused kick-off to be put back 15 minutes. The club had clearly been expecting a reserves type attendance but ended up with a crowd of 4,325.

Early on both sides looked nervous in front of an audience larger than they were used to but Billy Clarke almost forced an opening, his blocked effort landing at the feet of strike partner Darryl Knights who sent the ball over the bar.

Clarke went close in the 14th minute with a looping 25-yard strike which only just went just wide A minute later, the same player seized on a loose ball just outside the area and shot just over.

There was a big scare for the Blues in the 17th minute when Aidan Collins lost the ball to Spurs striker Andy Darcham just outside the area. Tottenham's main danger took the ball into the area and had only Shane Supple to beat but the keeper blocked with his legs, Chris Casement clearing.

Spurs came close a minute later when Barcham crossed from the left and Charlie Daniels hit a first time shot straight at Supple.

Despite the chances, the visitors had clearly come to frustrate the Blues, stringing five men across midfield and leaving only Barcham up. As the half developed, Town were increasingly in the ascendancy although chances took a little while in coming.

In the 28th minute skipper Liam Craig crossed from the left, the ball eventually ending up at the feet of Knights who shot wide.

A minute later, the Blues went in front. A corner was cleared to Craig wide on the right on this occasion, the Scot sending in a cross which Clarke headed goalwards, Liam Trotter adding the final touch from close range.

Not long after the goal, Spurs weren't too far from an equaliser when Simon Dawkins shot only marginally wide from just inside the area after a swift break.

The Blues were inches from a second in the 41st minute when Trotter climbed a long way and headed Craig's left-wing freekick only just wide.

Trotter might have scored again a minute later when Clarke laid the ball back to him from the byline. Keeper Tommy Forecast parried the midfielder's first strike but was left helpless as the same player got to the rebound first, only to put it wide. Spurs had had a very lucky escape.

Just before the break, referee Clive Penton, who refereed the first team in the 2-1 win at Coventry in October, got his book out for the first and only time when Stuart Lewis went through late on Michael Synnott.

The Blues fully deserved their lead at the break and if anything ought to have been further ahead.

Spurs started the second half brightly but failed to create anything of note and the home side were soon back on top. Town midfielder Cathal Lordan came close to adding to the earlier goal on the hour when his cross shot from the right beat the keeper but went just wide of the post.

Soon after, Barcham volleyed a Phil Ifil cross straight at Supple. A minute or so later Spurs came close again when Leigh Mills got on to a Stuart Lewis corner but his and a subsequent effort were blocked.

Knights put Craig in a good position on the left in the 67th minute, the midfielder shooting wide.

Trotter was again near to a second goal two minutes later when Clarke cut the ball back to him and the central midfielder flicked the outside of the post from 20 yards.

Clarke himself tried an audacious 30-yarder which went over on 71, before Spurs made the game's one and only substitution, Jamie Davis taking over from Simon Dawkins.

The Blues finally got the second goal that their domination had deserved in the 76th minute. Right-back Sammy Moore played a pass to Darryl Knights who dummied. Clarke read his feint and hit a shot from the edge of the area which took a wild deflection and beat the Spurs keeper.

The goal itself may have been somewhat fortuitous but a two-goal lead was the least Town deserved on the balance of play.

As the game entered injury time, Clarke played in Knights one-on-one with the keeper but the Ipswich-born striker shot wide.

Another fine team performance from the Town youths who, apart from short spells early in each half, were on top throughout. Garvan and Trotter impressed in the centre of midfield, while Casement was a rock at the back.

Keeper Shane Supple made a couple of important saves, in particular from Barcham after Collins's gaffe in the first half, while Knights and Clarke's pace and movement up front were always difficult for the visitors' defence to keep in check.

Spurs appeared to come with a very defensive attitude and rarely went forward with anything other than long hopeful balls for lone striker Barcham to chase. They will have to be a lot more attacking and have far more ideas when the sides meet at White Hart Lane on Wednesday if they are to prevent the Blues from reaching the final.

Town: Supple, Moore, Synnott, Trotter, Collins, Casement, Lordan, Knights, Clarke, Garvan, Craig. Unused: Hammond, Reynolds, Ainsley, Sheringham, Haynes. Att: 4,325.

Photo: Action Images

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