CARLING CUP 3RD ROUND
WEDNESDAY 29TH OCTOBER, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) WEST HAM UNITED 0 (0)
(a.e.t - score after 90 minutes 0-0)
Referee:- Graham Barber
Attendance:- 36, 053
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Doherty, Gardner, Ziege (sub Blondel, 60); Ricketts (sub Postiga, 76), Dalmat (sub Mabizela, 57), Konchesky; Keane, Zamora
Subs not used:- Burch; Bunjevcevic
West Ham (4-3-1-2):- James; Stockdale (sub Ferdinand, 21), Dailly (Capt.), Kilgallon, Quinn; Carrick, Horlock (sub Mellor, 105), Lee (sub Garcia, 67); Etherington; Defoe, Hutchison
Subs not used:- Bywater; Sofiane
Bobby Zamora scored his first goal for Spurs (at first team level) just two minutes into extra time at White Hart Lane, to secure the win that takes Spurs through to the fourth round of the Carling Cup and a home tie against fancied side Manchester City. This was a keenly contested match, played with a good degree of pace, and the referee, Graham Barber deserves commendation for allowing the game to flow as much as he could throughout.
West Ham provided sterner competition than many had anticipated, though David Pleat said before the game that Spurs would not be under-estimating their opponents, who are after all expected to make a quick return to the top flight at the end of this season. Indeed, whilst the home side put some pressure on in the early stages, it was the Hammers who had the most clear-cut chances, with Rob Lee having a hat-trick of great opportunities, one of which was thwarted by a great saving tackle from Gary Doherty, standing in for Dean Richards, who was rested along with Taricco, Anderton and Poyet.
Matthew Etherington was to prove a thorn in the side of his former team, behind Jermain Defoe and Don Hutchison. Etherington started on the right side, but in the latter stages moved to his orthodox left wing position. For much of the game though, he seemed to be given licence to roam left to right in front of Carrick, Horlock and Lee.
Spurs started with Ledley King and Dalmat in the centre of midfield, flanked by Konchesky on the left and Ricketts on the right. Christian Ziege made a welcome return from injury, but had to be replaced in the second half, as he worryingly clutched his thigh, leading the spectator to think that maybe his injury is of a career-threatening nature.
It was a full house and West Ham had been allowed a generous allocation of support which probably amounted to some 4,500. Whilst the game was played in good spirit between the players, sadly the same cannot be said of the fans, as I heard that a West Ham contingent had wrecked the "Cockerel" pub early in the afternoon. Hence there were more police on show than usual.
There were a couple of half chances for Robbie Keane early on, before Anthony Gardner made a mistake at the other end presenting the ball to Hutchison. In line with Mr. Pleat's recent exhortations to his defenders to assume that their colleagues will make mistakes, Christian Ziege was on hand to cover and clear. Spurs best chance yet arrived after 14 minutes, when Zamora exchanged passes with Konchesky, before trying to place his shot inside James' left post. The ball went just outside the target. Zamora had another chance after a few more minutes, after Konchesky battled to win a driven cross from Ricketts. The ball fell for Zamora, who hit a right foot shot just over the bar this time.
Dalmat had the next effort for Spurs, after good build up play on the left from the triangular play of Zamora, Ziege, and Konchesky. Zamora had the final pass to Dalmat, whose shot was high and wide of the mark. Dalmat was having an in and out game, as he played his usual tricks to beat players, but too often gave the ball away after good work. It was no surprise when he was replaced early in the second half by Mabizela, who did a good job of shoring up the middle alongside Ledley King.
West Ham lost Robbie Stockdale at an early stage, which must have been frustrating, as they had won an agreement to play this man on loan from Middlesbrough. Then came Doherty's great saving tackle as Lee was through for a one on one in the Spurs area. Robbie Keane provided typical thrills with a run to the bye line on the left, before slotting the ball inside for Dalmat to try and place a shot past a sea of legs, one of which managed to clear the ball. Keane's next effort was down the right wing, as he left claret and blue behind him, but chipped his shot into the side netting. Zamora chipped a nice ball into the West Ham area, but James was out well to clear from the feet of Paul Konchesky.
Spurs were ore than a little lackadaisical when they should have cleared the ball, but instead Carr passed across his area into what he thought was clear space, only to allow Defoe to run back from an offside spot and collect the ball. Lee was again sent into the area, and his shot bounced back of the post into the grateful arms of Keller.
Five minutes after the break, Matthew Etherington had a great run in from the left, leaving a trail of midfielders, including Ledley King, threading the ball to Lee, whose reaction shot was saved by Keller. The tempo was lifted even more, and Spurs moved well out of their own half with passes from Dalmat to Zamora, then Keane hit a low pass to Konchesky, whose shot across the goalmouth was wide. Konchesky fell to the left back slot when Ziege was replaced by Blondel, who played on the right, whilst Ricketts switched to the left.
There was an amazing offside decision given by the linesman at the Paxton Road End, as the ball was floated into the area, and James struggled to challenge the Spurs forward. The offside decision was given with a West Ham defender lying injured behind his keeper. No doubt the linesman was not counting this individual! Keller (who was voted Spurs ON man of the match) made a great save from Defoe, as the striker got behind Doherty in the 65th minute.
With fifteen minutes to go of normal time, Spurs started to realise the fullness of their mission. Blondel threaded a neat ball to Keane, whose shot was saved by James. Ricketts' follow up shot was wide and this was to be his last piece of action, as Postiga was brought on to play beside Zamora, with Keane dropping back to a midfield role. It was a worry that Spurs might (and did) have to play another 45 minutes with no more substitute available, but the line-up thrived to such a degree that I would love to them start on Saturday.
Keane and Blondel switched at will from left and right, and a Blondel cross from the left was nearly converted by Postiga at the stretch. A bad ball from Mabizela somehow ran to Zamora, who made a great turn of his defender before sending a powerful shot that was tipped over by the current England number one. Carr was next to have a pop, and with his left foot, but the shot was over the bar. There was defensive work to be done by Gardner against two strikers in the Spurs area, just before Graham Barber blew for full time.
The last period of extra time that I can remember Spurs playing was in March 1996, when we lost on penalties to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup quarter final. It came as a great relief therefore, when Zamora gave Spurs the lead just two minutes into the extra period. If only he could have timed his goal better we could have all gone home that bit sooner! It was Robbie Keane, outside the box, but in the middle of the pitch, who slipped the ball to his left for Zamora to turn and race into the box past Anton Ferdinand. The full back tried to drag the striker back, but to no avail, as Bobby hit a lovely left foot shot that was squeezed between James diving to his right, and what was his near post. That's Zamora's confidence boosted - now we need to get Postiga off the mark in the absence of Fredi Kanoute of course.
Defoe got through at the other end, but Keller saved again, before the keeper had to dive to push a great curling shot from Hutchison round for a corner. Hutchison had been set up by a great back-heel. It was end to end all the way now, as James saved first from Postiga, then Zamora again. Keane also had a goal-bound shot deflected for q corner by Ferdinand. In the second period of extra time, Neil Mellor (on loan from Liverpool) replaced Horlock, and had a good effort pushed over the bar by Keller, before James had to save from Postiga, set up by a clever flick from Zamora.
There were some not particularly anxious moments for the Spurs defence, as the Hammers' attacks fizzled out, and when the whistle blew, the Iron's fans slunk off to enjoy the rest of their Nationwide season, whilst Spurs celebrated their fifth clean sheet in six unbeaten games, and look forward to that tie with Keegan's men in the first week in December.
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