FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER, 2000
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) WEST HAM UNITED 0 (0)
Referee:- Steve Dunn
Spurs (4-3-3):- Sullivan; Carr, Young (sub Vega, 49), Campbell (Capt.), Taricco (sub Thatcher, 72); Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Freund; Rebrov, Ferdinand, Iversen
Subs not used:- Walker; Clemence; Etherington
Booked:- Freund (Foul)
West Ham(4-4-2):- Hislop; Lomas (Capt.), Ferdinand, Pearce, Winterburn; Sinclair, Cole, Carrick, Lampard; Di Canio, Kanoute
Subs not used:- Forrest(GK); Peacock, Potts; Moncur; Kitson
Booked:-Lampard (Foul on Carr), Pearce (Foul on Rebrov)
In a match that must have pleased the neutrals, and Sky TV, whose cameras covered the game, with end to end football throughout, and which featured three Tottenham strikers, matched by the flair of Sinclair, Di Canio and Kanoute at the other end, it was of course a defender who scored the solitary goal in typical fashion for a George Graham side. Sol Campbell put power into his header from a Leonhardsen corner, and the ball hit the underside of the bar, and took a touch off Hislop's back in the 67th minute to put Spurs into 5th place, and to keep the Hammers on the bottom with just 2 points.
The presence of the three man strike force was not the sole surprise from Graham, as Perry was absent, and Luke Young covered magnificently in the first half. Sadly, he took a heavy knock early in the second half, but he did hobble off, and should recover quickly. Taricco also started, but he too had to be replaced by the man who had till now unseated him from the left back berth. I like Taricco, but he was too often embarrassed by the West Ham attack, who obviously fancied their chances down their right, rather than against stalwart Stephen Carr.
Spurs were camped in the opposition half for the first five minutes, and looked as if they would dominate the game, but they had to play second fiddle for much of the first half, as the Hammers gave Neil Sullivan more work to do. George Graham called his formation a 4-3-3, but Sergei Rebrov played behind the other two, with Iversen often falling back to cover the left midfield and assist in defence, as he does for his country. Leonhardsen and Ferdinand had early chances courtesy of Rebrov and Sherwood, but then Stephen Carr made an uncharacteristic error to gift the ball to Di Canio. The Italian passed to Kanoute, who fortunately shot straight at Sullivan.
Kanoute then had another chance as Sinclair and Di Canio tricked their way past Taricco, but his shot was blocked for a corner, from which a Pearce thunderbolt was held well by the Spurs keeper. Spurs were too often inaccurate with their long and short passing, and Taricco was slow off the mark when the Hammers took a quick throw from one such pass. Sinclair and Di Canio again caused some havoc, and there was some frantic defending to be done. Young midfielder Michael Carrick hit a long shot to threaten the goal.
Hislop's first real piece of work came from a Sherwood indirect free kick on the edge of the area. Spurs were again at sixes and sevens at the other end though, as Joe Cole and Di Canio worried Taricco yet again. This attack ended in a Winterburn header across the area, which Spurs managed to clear. Winterburn of course received no sympathy when crumbling under a Carr challenge. Sullivan made a good save from Sinclair with his feet. Rebrov tried to counter, but struggled to find movement and support quick enough.
After 39 minutes, Di Canio stayed on the floor in the Spurs area, griping over a denied penalty appeal, whilst Spurs put his defence under pressure. Iversen crossed from the right, and Sherwood's header was tipped over by Hislop. Sol Campbell was on target from a corner, but his header was blocked,and it began to look as though this Derby would end in another goalless draw.
There was some genuine concern for Luke Young when he went down early in the second half, and he was replaced by Ramon Vega. Vega made one or two errors, but then so did just about everybody else in the team. Overall in the second half, what the team was getting wrong in the first period, they rectified. I thought that Sherwood in particular was influential, as his clever lobbed passes over the defence were more often or not won by Ferdinand, or Iversen. Iversen's touch had been found wanting in the first, but he too improved, and don't forget what he did defensively, as he won many important challenges.
Whilst there were one or two chances for Cole and Kanoute, Spurs dominated the second half, and should have scored more thorough Leo and Ferdinand. Leo nearly got on the end of a Vega cross after 56 minutes, but then missed what was the best chance of the game, after Ferdinand headed down an Iversen cross, which Leonhardsen fired way over the target. A further chance for Leo came when a Ramon Vega header went back all the way to Carr on the right; Carr's pass was crossed by Iversen, and this time Vega headed across goal. Leo picked up the blocked ball, but hit wide.
At last the deserved goal came for Spurs, as Sol rose magnificently to head home the corner which had been won typically by the rampaging Carr. Spurs had to manage with only ten men on two occasions, when Young and Taricco were injured, because the play was relentless. During the second such period, Stephen Carr did well to hold off a Kanoute attack, taking the sting out of his angled shot from the left. With 15 minutes left Steffen Freund nearly scored the goal we have waited for so long. ONE DAY I SHALL SEE HIM SCORE! It was Sol who teed him up for what must have been the best shot he has hit in Spurs colours so far. The ball hit the top of the angle of the woodwork. had it been on target, it would have ripped the net, and possibly taken somebody's head off! Soon after Steffen got his first booking of the season for a typical challenge.
Ferdinand's best chance came from some good play out of defence. Iversen cleverly back-heeled to Sherwood, and Leonhardsen put Les in play, with only the keeper to beat. Ferdinand's first touch was too heavy, and Hislop recovered to push the ball round for a corner. Hislop had one more save to make from an Iversen long range effort with three minutes to go. The tension rose as injury time dragged on, and the referee blew the final whistle as West Ham were about to take a corner.
Spurs move up to fifth place with 10 points from their first five games, and three consecutive home wins. We can officially call it a good start, but those of us who were there know that we are not a convincing side as yet. On the face of it, the next two games (away to Charlton and at Home to Man City) should be relatively easy, but Spurs still look too inconsistent to be confident.
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