FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0) WEST HAM UNITED 2 (0)
Sheringham (pen), 71
West Ham scorers:-
Referee:- Uriah Rennie
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Taricco (sub Thatcher, 46), Perry, (sub Doherty, 32), Gardner, Ziege; Davies, Redknapp, Bunjevcevic, Etherington (sub Iversen, 84); Sheringham (Capt), Keane
Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Acimovic
Booked:- Bunjevcevic, Redknapp
West Ham (4-4-2):- James; Pearce, Breen, Repka (sub Winterburn, 9), Dailly; Cole, Lomas, Cisse, Sinclair; Di Canio (Capt) (sub Carrick, 79 - Lomas took armband), Kanoute (sub Defoe, 84)
Subs not used:- van der Gouw; Camara
Booked:- Sinclair, Kanoute
Sent off:- Pearce (foul on Keane - last defender, conceded penalty)
For the second time in five days, Spurs were involved in a thrilling London Derby, and this time they were on the right side of the 3-2 result. After a first half which was dominated by the referee's whistle, and where neither goalkeeper was really challenged, the second half had more flow, and certainly more excitement than most observers would have anticipated. The Sky TV viewers must have been pleased with the fare offered, as twice, bottom-of-the-table West Ham came back from a goal down, and looked like salvaging a point, despite being a man down due to Pearce's cynical tackle on Robbie Keane in front of goal, where a goal looked a certainty. A very cool Sheringham converted the penalty.
Spurs fans will have been highly pleased with Keane's performance, and indeed he deserved his man of the match award. Robbie was all over the pitch from left to right. He always wanted the ball, moved well off the ball, and entertained us with plenty of skill, and a number of good efforts on goal. Once again, Spurs won in the closing stages, and it has to be said that Lady Luck was on our side, as Anthony Gardner (22 next Thursday) was allowed to storm out of his half, and fire a shot from 22 yards which was cruelly deflected past James off Gary Breen.
Glenn Hoddle was presented with his August Manager of the month award before the game, but sadly, not too many of the full house had taken their seats at the time. This is the second award Glenn has won in the last year, after a gap of several years since the Francis days when such an award had come to the Lane. Similarly, Spurs returned to second place in the league to confirm their best ever Premiership start, and are only one point behind Arsenal, despite having an entire first team missing from the action.
Indeed, Dean Richards was unavailable today, due to a shoulder problem, and Les Ferdinand was rested completely. Hoddle seems to have adopted a policy of not playing anyone with even a slight knock, and when you run down the list of players yet to return to consideration, you cannot help but feel that the result would be improved performances, and perhaps an extended stay in the upper echelons of the table.
The subject of the West Ham boo boys - Tomas Repka - was hurt in only the fourth minute in a 50/50 challenge with Jamie Redknapp, and soon had to be replaced by Winterburn who got the expected welcome from the home contingent! After 6 minutes, Robbie Keane was showing us the shape of things to come, when a defender's head sent a high ball in his direction. Robbie first flicked the ball over a defender's head with his left foot, then sent a right foot shot just over the bar.
Most of West Ham's early efforts fell to Joe Cole, which was lucky, as he rarely provides a finish for all his delightful midfield play. This time, the linesman had missed two obvious offsides by Kanoute, allowing Cole a shot which was well over Keller's bar. Chris Perry was having a great game at the heart of the defence, but sadly had to leave the field on a stretcher, after a crunching block of the advancing Kanoute, who had evaded Anthony Gardner, and was about to shoot. Perry had sent Matthew Etherington away though on one of several dazzling runs, which was thwarted just outside the box.
For all their early possession, Spurs were guilty of over-hitting crosses and free kicks, giving James little to worry about. Cole again was a threat after 18 minutes, as he burst through the middle, but again struck off target. Keane was busy in front of the South Stand, but his back heeled reverse pass was too clever for Simon Davies. Then Keane was on the left, feeding Ziege whose low cross was aimed at Sheringham at the near post, but cleared for a corner. Subsequently, Teddy was beyond the back post for another Ziege cross, but headed wide.
Sometimes, Spurs were guilty of delaying their build-up, allowing West Ham to get behind the ball too easily. It was clear that it was going to take some clever stuff to beat the desperate Hammers today. Such was the case when a build-up on the right eventually led to Bunjevcevic arrowing a left foot shot from 20 yards, that threatened James, but curled wide of the keeper's right post. Bunjee then got booked for a late tackle on Lomas. Referee Rennie could not stop blowing his whistle, as if it was a major emergency, but to Lomas's credit, he was up quickly, and even tried to dissuade the referee from getting a card out.
When Perry had to be taken off, the referee gave a dropped ball, and Keller had to put the ball out of play to enable Doherty to get on. Again, West Ham are to be given credit for the spirit in which they gave the ball to Spurs from the dropped ball, and the throw. Cole was again off target when Di Canio touched the ball down for him in the centre of the 18 yard line. Sheringham got on the end of another Ziege cross, but headed straight to James, whilst complaining vehemently that Dailly had impeded him.
West Ham countered, and Kanoute's cross from the right was met by Sinclair at the near post, but the shot was high and wide. The same player hit wide again, after Gary Doherty had gifted what should have been a routine clearance down the line. Doherty was to make some important blocks during the game, but he would also be exposed for pace in the second half.
Ben Thatcher replaced Taricco at the start of the second half, and once again Christian Ziege moved to a right wing-back position, as Spurs reverted to a three at the back, with Etherington having to get up and down on the left. Ziege hit an early free kick with his left foot that was always going wide, giving James (wearing bleached hair) no bother at all. Etherington led a sharp beak away attack and passed inside to Davies, who found Robbie Keane, whose shot was not far off the mark, but suffered a little as he scuffed the ground as well.
I should mention that since the Spurs pitch was re-laid in the summer, sprinklers have been installed, and so far, the pitch has been generously watered at half time. This does mean that sometimes the ball holds up better than one would otherwise expect, and there were a couple of occasions when this benefited Spurs. To their credit, West Ham were taking the game to Spurs, and Spurs had a scare when firstly a Di Canio cross was headed back across the goal, and Keller could only palm the ball away, allowing Di Canio to follow up and hit a hard cross which Kanoute could not direct on target.
Matthew Etherington was unlucky when his excellent tackle on Di Canio only sent the ball to Kanoute, whose cross was met by Lomas, but headed over by a distance. After 61 minutes, Spurs took the lead with a great goal. Thatcher led the break out, and fed to Keane, who immediately sent Etherington away. Matty got deep down his flank, and was able to cross back low into the pat of Simon Davies, who met the ball perfectly in front of Dailly, to slide home a perfect left foot shot to the right of James.
The Hammers responded strongly, and Spurs were kept on the back foot. It came as no surprise when they got a quick equaliser, after another Di Canio right field cross was headed back across the goal by Dailly, giving Kanoute an easy tap-in. Robbie Keane was then away on the break for Spurs, and should have shot himself, but instead tried to set up Etherington, but put the ball behind the advancing colleague.
Keane's sublime skill won us a penalty, as he received a low ball from Bunjee on the right, then flicked over Pearce who tripped Keane just as he was about to pull the trigger. Rennie had no choice but to award the penalty, and send Pearce off. Pearce had been a hero for West Ham in the last game between these two sides, when he hit a rocket equaliser late in the game, but this time he had to slope off with his head down.
Despite delaying tactics by James and Di Canio, Teddy Sheringham once again confidently fired home the penalty to James' left corner. Keane was the first to congratulate his new captain. Within minutes, it was Teddy giving Keane the chance to score, as Keane tried a delicate chip over James, who was only a couple of yards off his line. The ball was only just over the bar. Next it was our Robbie threading a ball for Sheringham, that just didn't quite reach the player.
Again, Spurs failed to hold their lead, and Spurs will have to be prepared for a sterner challenge at Old Trafford next week. Redknapp got booked for a foul about 40 yards out - Di Canio took a fairly quick free kick, and Ben Thatcher stood still as Trevor Sinclair raced into space to flick the ball past Keller. Gary Doherty's big scare came when Cole broke out of the West Ham half, and had the beating of Gary all the way to our area. Luckily for us, Cole tried to go the wrong way, and Thatcher recovered to block his shot for a corner.
Doherty was at the other end, and challenging for a high ball, which gave Simon Davies a shooting chance, but his left foot effort went low to the right of the goal. Just when it was looking like a draw, up came Anthony Gardner, receiving the ball in his own half, then being allowed to advance unchallenged all the way to the edge of the area, before he unleashed a not too powerful shot, which was deflected to the right of the despairing James by Gary Breen. This was Gardner's very first goal for Spurs at the top level, and he was swamped on the ground by his delighted team-mates. Cisse had a driven shot over the bar before the end, but the points went Tottenham's way to put them back into second place.
Whatever happens at Old Trafford, we will remain above United. When was the last time we went to Old Trafford above the hosts by such a margin, and when did Man Utd last lose three consecutive league games?
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