FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 21ST APRIL, 2003
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1)
West Brom scorers:-
Keane, 45, 85
Referee:- Phil Dowd
West Brom (3-5-2):- Sigurdsson, Wallwork, Gregan; Balis, Koumas, McInnes, Johnson, Udeze (sub Clement, 57); Roberts, Dichio (sub Dobie, 68)
Subs not used:- Murphy (GK); Chambers, Lyttle
Booked:- Sigurdsson, Roberts
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; King, Richards (sub Perry, 83), Gardner; Carr, Toda (sub Poyet, 46), Davies, Bunjevcevic, Etherington; Sheringham (Capt), Keane
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Acimovic; Iversen
Booked:- Gardner, Richards
It was great to leave a game with a smile for a change. The man, above all, who put it there was the one and only Robbie Keane, who of all the Spurs side is probably the one person who has given us good reason to watch our team this season. Today, Robbie scored two great goals to bring his league tally for Spurs to 13 in 26 league appearances, which is the sort of scoring ratio we just love! Robbie's achievement was all the sweeter of course, because the West Brom fans hate him due to his "wrong side of the Black Country" history, when playing for Wolves. Keane has scored against this side at home and away, as he did against his former team Leeds. He's had a good season, at least!
As expected, West Brom played open and relaxed football, in the knowledge of their fate, but also determined to go out with some razzmatazz, as Jason Roberts in particular gave the three man Spurs defence some worrying moments. Glenn Hoddle had re-shuffled his side and formation after Friday's dismal show, with a mixture of tactical and forced changes. Dean Richards returned between King on the right and Gardner on the left. Toda got a start in place of Poyet, but was replaced by Gus at half time, and Matthew Etherington played on the left, with Taricco absent through injury, as was Darren Anderton. With Carr playing right wing-back, Simon Davies got the midfield role in front of Bunjevcevic and Toda, linking with the attack.
The full house was bathed in cool sunshine, but it was a while before any penetrative football was presented. When the first danger did come, it was from the Baggies, as Jason Roberts beat Richards with ease on the left, but his ball into the box was cleared. Spurs took another ten minutes to cause danger themselves, when Simon Davies' throw from the right reached Robbie Keane in the middle. Keane hit an overhead kick towards Hoult's right post, and the keeper parried the ball out to Sheringham, who was adjudged offside, as he prepared to finish off.
West Brom put Spurs under a bit of pressure with a couple of corners, before taking the lead on 24 minutes, when Dichio rose with suspicious ease to head home a cross from the right. Dichio may have hitched a ride, but no infringement was spotted by referee Dowd, who was to incur the wrath of all before the game was out. Spurs were adopting a patient approach on the whole, with most attacks down the right, and Matty Etherington not getting too much of the ball in the first half. Toda was having a decent game, getting into all the right areas, and offering support with short balls. Unfortunately, Spurs were struggling to find end product, with Keane spending a lot of his time on the right flank.
After 34 minutes, the powerful Roberts beat Gardner on the right, crossed for Johnson, whose shot was blocked and then Kasey Keller had to make a good save from McInnes shot from 20 yards. Five minutes later, it looked like West Brom had gone two up, as Roberts broke away in the Spurs half, and seemed to have the beating of Ledley King, before firing past Keller. However, it seems they were the only two players who were unaware that the referee had given a free kick to Spurs just inside the West Brom half. I certainly didn't notice it, although with hindsight, perhaps Ledley was only going at half pace.
The home fans were livid with Mr Dowd, and their mood did not improve, when he booked Sigurdsson and Roberts in quick succession, and then allowed a Spurs attack to continue when they felt one of their players had been fouled. Almost on the stroke of half time, Spurs equalised following another slow build up down the right, culminating in a quick one-two on the edge of the box, when Robbie slipped the ball back to Sheringham, and Teddy chipped over the defence for Keane to stroke the ball under Hoult. The home fans were treated to Robbie's trademark celebration.
Toda may feel a little unlucky to be the one replaced at half time, with Bunjevcevic, and even Etherington more likely candidates. However, it has to be said that 45 minutes of Gus was impactive, as he and Teddy fed Etherington well, which led to the pressure being turned on the Baggies in a more enterprising display from both sides. After 50 minutes, Teddy sent Etherington away down the inside left channel with a great ball. Matty's cross was nearly converted by Poyet who stretched to hit a shot just outside Hoult's left post.
Jason Koumas was fouled on the edge of the area by Bunjee, and the free kick was chipped over the defence, being nearly converted by Dichio. Clement replaced Ifeanyi Udeze, and within four minutes had put his side in the lead. Richards was booked for an infringement 25 yards out, and Clement stepped up to hit a rocket left footer through the wall and to the left of Keller. It was a Stuart Pearce style kick.
The home side could only hold the lead for two minutes, as Spurs responded positively. Ledley got forward and was fouled on the edge of the area. Carr knocked the ball back for Keane who chipped over the defence to the back post, where Bunjevcevic nearly broke his duck again, with a header that hit the foot of Hoult's left post. Teddy Sheringham was on hand to mop up as the ball bounced out.
Spurs then had a number of strong attacks. Firstly, Matty Etherington hit the side netting following a throw on the left. However, the same player lost a ball in the middle which led to a good counter attack and a run from Roberts, who raced into the box, only to be thwarted by a marvellous saving tackle from King. Spurs then had some strong pressure in front of their vocal and ever-faithful support. After one corner, Robbie Keane fed the ball back to Carr who hit a great shot which Hoult saved just in front of his left post. Then with 5 minutes to go, the points were secured when Robbie raced onto a Ledley King long ball and hit a great left foot shot to the left of Hoult and into the net.
Spurs have now exceeded the number of away games won last season, and reached the 50 point mark, which they made at the end of last season. Standards are different every year, though, and it does not feel that progress has been made. Still, let's finish on a positive note, and enjoy the win, Robbie's goals, and the second double of the season, with a third possible double on the last day of the season, when we entertain Blackburn
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