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Spurs v West Ham, 13.04.02

BARCLAYCARD FA PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 13TH APRIL, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) WEST HAM UNITED 1 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Sheringham, 53

West Ham scorer:-
Pearce, 89

Attendance:- 36,083

Referee:- Neale Barry

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; Perry, Gardner, Thatcher; Davies, Anderton, Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege (sub Doherty, 83); Sheringham (Capt.), Rebrov (sub Iversen, 46)

Subs not used:- Sullivan; Clemence, Etherington

No bookings

West Ham (3-5-2):- James; Pearce, Repka, Dailly; Schemmel, Sinclair, Lomas (Capt), Carrick, Labant (sub Winterburn, 59); Kanoute, Defoe

Subs not used:- Hislop; Potts; Moncur, Garcia

No bookings

The unlikely hero of this surprisingly tepid Derby match was West Ham defender Ian Pearce, playing in his 100th game for the Hammers, and scoring only his fifth league goal for the Hammers, and seventh ever career league goal in the 89th minute to snatch a draw, and to keep the East London side above Spurs in seventh place. Pearce scored an unstoppable right foot rising drive from 20 yards to cancel out Teddy Sheringham's 53rd minute goal in a match viewed by England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. Both sides had some good chances, and to be honest, a draw was a fair result.

Both teams were missing key players, with not only Di Canio absent for the Irons, but also young star Joe Cole, who has broken a finger, and therefore will not get a chance to play for England in their forthcoming friendly against Paraguay. Spurs have plenty of long term casualties, like Les Ferdinand, but also had to cope without Dean Richards and Ledley King. Both Glenns opted for 3-5-2, and in the battle of the wing-backs, Simon Davies easily won over Slovakian Vladimir Labant, who had to be replaced by veteran Nigel Winterburn for the last half-hour, due to his inability to restrict Davies' charges.

It was a timid start to the game, with Kasey Keller having an easy shot from Lomas, before Teddy Sheringham nodded down to Poyet who fired just to the right of James' right hand post. West Ham were getting some space on our right flank, and Kanoute did well to hold the ball and feed Jermain Defoe who hit a 20 yard shot that brought a decent save from Keller. Neil Sullivan might have dropped out of the Scotland squad next week, but he was on the Spurs bench today, despite an alleged hip injury.

Simon Davies rounded Labant for the first of many occasions, before delivering a deep cross for Christian Ziege, who returned the ball to the 6 yard area, but there was no Spurs player to convert the chance. Sergei Rebrov had yet another chance to impress, but surely, even the most ardent Rebrov fans can see that he is too easily brushed off the ball. A typical example came after 15 minutes, when Sherwood sent a clearance to Rebrov, who allowed the defender to come round to his front and easily return the ball to the Spurs area, leading to a headed chance for Kanoute and another Keller catch.

Ziege again received a Davies cross at the back post, and sent a good-powered header just wide. Ziege again was on hand to pass short to Sheringham, whose left foot shot was saved easily. West Ham had their best chance to date after 22 minutes, when Defoe got to the bye line cut the ball back for Kanoute, whose sharp shot went narrowly past the post. Spurs were defending well though, and Ben Thatcher is winning a lot of fans with competent performances, and a (fairly!) controlled willingness to get stuck in! Each of the back three played well today, and Sherwood and Anderton did well in front of them, getting a foot in to slow down or prevent attacks. The problem was we showed little creativity in the middle, with Gus Poyet too often inconspicuous, and too much empty space in front of our defensive line-up.

David James showed an early touch of bad handling (there was more to come in the second half!), when he dropped a Ziege cross, but luckily for him, no-one was there to take advantage. At the other end, Ben Thatcher let one stray ball run to Defoe, who hit a good shot across Keller towards the far post, but Kasey did well to stretch and save. On the stroke of half time, Gus Poyet fed Anderton, who was about 20 yards out, with all the goal to aim at. He pulled his shot too far off target.

On came Iversen after the break, and suddenly Spurs had a target man of sorts, who could hold the ball up a bit, and link with the other attackers. Kanoute rounded Sherwood on the right, and brought a good save from Keller diving to his left to reach the long range effort. It was an early release of the ball by Keller to Davies that led eventually to the Spurs goal. After a little hold up in the middle, Davies sent a lovely ball down the channel to Iversen, whose shot was parried by James. Teddy was on hand to mop up from close range.

Great play from Davies soon after when he beat Labant and Dailly, nearly led to a second goal, but Iversen stooped and just failed to make contact with the cross. Poyet then got the ball down to Simon, whose shot was not held by James at the first attempt, but this time he did recover when Ted followed up again. Spurs had a great chance to go two up, with fifteen minutes to go, when Iversen crossed from the right, and Sherwood made a rare pounce in the box. He chested the ball down and shot well, but James saved at the near post, when perhaps Sherwood could have shot across him. Davies seemed to be put down inside the box by Repka, but Neale Barry saw no offence. The referee did not find the need to get his notebook out at all today, which perhaps indicates the nature of the game.

Sinclair and Poyet both had 30 yard dipping shots go just over the bar, and in the closing stages, it was the Hammers who put Spurs under more pressure. Gary Doherty got a rousing reception when he replaced the injured Ziege for the last 10 minutes, making his first appearance since his injury against Torquay in September. No-one could prevent the equaliser, except to say that in my view, Simon Davies made a cardinal error in returning a cross back into the penalty area, where Pearce lurked on the edge of the box to fire that unstoppable shot that nearly burst Keller's net. it was such a shame for Davies' game to end on a sad note, when in my view he was Spurs man of the match along with Thatcher.

Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
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