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Spurs v Charlton, 26.12.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
THURSDAY DECEMBER 26TH, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Keane, 68
Iversen, 87

Charlton scorer:-
Euell, 14, 48

Attendance:- 36,043

Referee:- Andy D'Urso

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; Perry, King, Bunjevcevic; Carr, Freund (sub Iversen, 60), Anderton (sub Davies, 46), Poyet, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt) (sub Ferdinand, 60), Keane (Captain's armband was handed to Poyet)

Subs not used:- Sullivan; Taricco

Booked:- Freund, Ziege

Sent off:- Ziege (second yellow - both for fouls)

Charlton (3-5-2):- Kiely; Rowett (capt), Fish (sub Konchesky, 73), Rufus; Young, Parker, Jensen (sub Kishishev, 81), Euell, Powell; Bartlett (sub Fortune, 88), Lisbie

Subs not used:- Roberts; Johansson

Booked:- Rufus

Steffen Iversen was signed by Spurs in December, 1996, having made an impression upon the then manager, Gerry Francis, particularly when he scored vital goals for Rosenborg in their Champions League campaign of that year. On Boxing Day that year, against Southampton, Iversen showed great promise when he scored two of the three goals that day for Spurs. He scored only four more goals that season, in a total of sixteen appearances, three of which were scored at a windy Roker Park, Sunderland on a March evening. In all his Spurs career so far, Iversen has scored 35 league goals (not including this match) in 128 league appearances. Apart from those early signs of promise which have been unfulfilled, the highlights of his Spurs career probably came in our winning Worthington Cup campaign of 1999, with the winner at Selhurst Park in the semi-final, and the run that made Nielsen's winner at Wembley. Where am I going with this? Well, Iversen - the Ghost of Christmas Past - was one of three substitutes that made all the difference in the world to a lacklustre Spurs performance this Boxing Day. Steffen scored the equaliser, made Robbie Keane's cracker, and could have scored a spectacular winner with an overhead kick in the dying minutes.

Yes, there were other heroes for Spurs. Christmas Present was represented by the ever-exciting and entertaining Robbie Keane, and by Simon Davies, who replaced "Tiny Tim" Anderton at half-time, after Anderton had given one of his worst performances in the first half. Veteran Les Ferdinand replaced the skipper, and he too was as much as a hero for Spurs, winning everything in the air, and rattling the Charlton defence in that last half hour, which included some of the most exciting football I have seen from Spurs this season. It's just a pity it all started so badly, but when you go two down, you have to be happy with a point, although we could easily have won.

It appears that Dean Richards was injured, not rested, as he is doubtful for Newcastle with an Achilles problem, but Sheringham and Poyet returned to the starting line-up, meaning that once again, we lacked pace in the middle where it counted, and we were so exploited by the likes of Scott Parker, who must have been a contender for man of the match. Another would have to be two-goal hero for the visitors, Jason Euell, cleverly placed behind the front two by Alan Curbishley, who has led his side to a seven match unbeaten run.

There was no place in the starting line-up for Spurs Members' Club Player of the Year, Simon Davies. As the full house was still settling down for their Christmas footballing fayre, Goran Bunjevcevic sent Robbie Keane away down the left with a great ball. Keane worked his way all the way into the six-yard box with his run, but was finally thwarted by Dean Kiely in goal. Soon after that Ziege took a free kick from the right side of the field, but Kiely got down comfortably in front of his left post to collect the dipping ball. On 10 minutes, a Keane low cross from the left, on the edge of the area reached Poyet as two players dummied, but Gus's attempted shot was easily blocked. Steffen Freund had one of those exciting moments, as Ledley King was in the box to lead an attack. From his header, the ball fell to Freund, whose shot was on target, but was blocked on the edge of the area.

Things had been looking good for Spurs, but then they were caught out, as Lisbie raced down the left, cutting the ball behind three defenders, for Euell to sweep the ball home from 12 yards. Soon after that, Parker took advantage of a loose ball from Ledley King, and curled a shot across Keller. Kasey dived to his left and pushed the ball away from danger. The alarm bells were starting to ring, as Spurs' passing failed dismally. After 18 minutes, Anderton was harshly penalised outside the left of the penalty area. Charlton's skipper Gary Rowett chipped the free kick to Lisbie whose header landed on the net.

Ledley was looking shaky, and was lucky not to be punished when he lost the ball in the middle to Parker, who sent Jensen away. Keller was out to pick the ball up just in time. Bunjee was beaten to a header by Bartlett, but the ball was hit straight to Keller. Spurs did have one more decent attack before the break when a clever reverse pass from Teddy Sheringham sent Ziege away. Ziege fed Keane, whose shot was well saved by Kiely.

There was fun at half-time when a Spurs and Charlton fan contested prizes from Spurs sponsors, Thomsons. They had to dribble the ball round three deck-chairs placed on the pitch, then score past Chirpy in goal. Only one goal was scored against the intrepid mascot, but the standard was not good, as the Charlton fan, even struggled to beat the static deck-chair on one run!

With Davies' arrival for Spurs, Hoddle switched the formation to a 4-4-2. Bunjevcevic moved into the midfield, and Ziege played at left-back. Davies immediately had an effect winning two balls in the middle and finding Robbie with a good pass. However, things got worse before they got better as Jensen curled a shot towards Keller's left post that was saved, but then Euell picked up another ball from Lisbie (this time deeper on the right). Euell's first shot was parried by Keller, but the rebound ran well for Euell who had an easy finish in front of his own fans.

At last, Spurs picked up the tempo, mainly inspired by Davies, but Carr deserves a mention too for his work down the right. Even though he survived the 60 minute substitutions, Gus Poyet's influence was not good in this game, and he often failed to anticipate balls right. Davies sent a pass from right to centre, and Keane completed the switch in play to the left. Ziege sent a deep cross to the back post, but Teddy's shot went into the side netting. Carr's cross was then put into Poyet's path by the skipper, but the shot was deflected for a corner. Just before the hour, Ledley King headed on a Davies throw, and Keane was behind the defence with only the keeper to beat, but he fired over.

After the effective substitutions came another Ziege corner, which Perry headed into the side netting from beyond the back post. By this time, Ziege had already been fairly booked by Andy D'Urso. Spurs pressure was rewarded with a great goal on 68 minutes. A great ball, floated from the left just inside the Charlton half, was cleverly back-headed by Iversen into the path of Keane who hit a cracking right foot shot that was unstoppable. There was no time for the cartwheel, as Robbie picked the ball up, to get a quick re-start.

A Ziege shot was deflected fortunately into Kiely's hands, and with less than 10 minutes left, Ziege was the one to get the final touch again, after good work from Ferdinand, Iversen, Keane and Poyet. Charlton were getting rattled by all the Spurs pressure and the crowd was really behind the team, who surged again and again. The equaliser came with three minutes of normal time left, when Davies floated a ball from right to left, and Iversen rose beyond the back post to head gracefully across Kiely and into the far corner of the net!

A sensational winner nearly came following some great football. Ledley King sent a long ball to Keane, who flicked to Ferdinand, who put Davies through in the middle of the box. Simon's shot was parried by Kiely, and Iversen so nearly scored with a great overhead kick that was heading for the corner of the net, except that Rufus was there to keep it out. The Charlton defender was gratefully congratulated by his team-mates, as they defended the ensuing corner successfully. Spurs' momentum was damaged when Ziege got a second yellow for another alleged foul. He went off in tears, but will now miss three games due to consecutive red cards. Only Taricco will be rubbing his hands with anything resembling glee, as Ziege has been a very great part of the current 6 game unbeaten run, which keeps Spurs in seventh place, and on form over the last 6 games, one of the top four sides.

Let us hope that the near Christmas Future at Newcastle is successful, and that we might recruit a partner for Keane in January. Iversen may have done enough in this game to get a place on Sunday, but so too may Les Ferdinand, who will be only too willing to play in front of his admiring Newcastle fans, before his three match ban comes into effect.

A very Merry Christmas to us all!

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