Burch Saves Best For Spurs

ON LOAN Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Robert Burch could hardly have chosen a better Hammers debut than taking on his old teammates from Spurs at Upton Park. 

The stopper, signed by Alan Pardew on a month's loan from White Hart Lane as cover for the injured Jimmy Walker, took his claret and blue bow in last night's 2-2 Reserve team draw against Spurs.

Not only did Robert put on a commanding performance against his North London teammates, but he also saved a last minute penalty from good friend Jamie Slabber that would have earned the visitors all three points and sent them top of the Premiership Reserve League South table.

"It was great to make my debut against Spurs," he said, "and even better to save a penalty against them in the last minute. I trained with Jamie every day at Spurs and he's beaten me with a few penalties before, so it was nice to get my own back for West Ham.

"To be honest, I didn't know he was going to put it there, but thankfully I guessed right and managed to save it.

"It could hardly have worked out better for me really and I was pleased that we got a point. The first-half was a struggle for us. We gave Spurs too much space and they exploited it. But we came back really well in the second-half, competed much better and did well to earn a draw.

"I certainly didn't want to lose against them, so when the referee gave a penalty I was pretty determined to save it."

Robert arrived at Upton Park last week, just in time to take a place on the bench for the 1-1 draw against Leeds. He is likely to occupy a similar position at Preston this weekend and insists that he is settling in well after making the short trip from North London.

"For a short term loan this was a good move for me," he said. "Stephen Bywater is an excellent goalkeeper and I've enjoyed working with him in training. There's a good atmosphere down at the training ground and I've had no trouble settling into life at the Club.

"I understood when I arrived that I was going to be cover for Stephen, but it's important to have two goalkeepers competing for the number one spot. Now I'll just concentrate on working well in training and then I'll see what happens once the month is up."