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Match Reports
Spurs v Crystal Palace, 28.12.04

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
TUESDAY 28TH DECEMBER, 2004
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) CRYSTAL PALACE 1 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Defoe, 54

Palace scorer:-
Johnson, 79

Referee:- Uriah Rennie

Attendance:- 36,100

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, King (Capt.), Gardner, Edman; Ricketts (sub Mendes, 46), Carrick, Brown, Ziegler; Kanoute (sub Keane, 82), Defoe

Subs not used:- Fulop; Davenport; Redknapp

Booked:- Pamarot

Palace (4-5-1):- Kiraly; Butterfield, Hall, Sorondo, Granville; Routledge (sub Torghelle, 67), Rihilahti, Hughes (Capt.), Soares, Lakis; Johnson

Subs not used:- Speroni; Leigertwood, Boyce, Andrews

No bookings

Ian Dowie's Crystal Palace dragged themselves out of the bottom three with this well-deserved draw at White Hart Lane, where the home crowd had hoped to see a record sixth consecutive Premiership win for the season. Over the years we have of course grown used to unconvincing performances against "lesser" teams, so our failure to assert ourselves in yet another London Derby should have come as no surprise. Ten years ago, at Christmas, Spurs drew against Palace and beat Norwich, so history has repeated itself to an extent, although the venues were reversed last time out.

As expected, Martin Jol operated a rotation policy, with Naybet rested, and Atouba missing through injury. Jermain Defoe started and Robbie Keane was benched. Reto Ziegler made a welcome start, and Rohan Ricketts got a surprise inclusion, at the expense of Pedro Mendes - also demoted to the bench. It was only when Mendes replaced Ricketts at half-time that Spurs ticked and purred as we now know they can.

Palace played in their customary 4-5-1, with star man Andy Johnson the lone striker, but well supported by Routledge on the right, Lakis on the left and not least by the forward runs of Tom Soares, who gave the defence plenty to think about. Michael Brown was as tigerish as ever, but his partner Michael Carrick probably found it difficult to get enough room to play as he likes with the Palace packing the middle. Too often, Spurs were over-run in the midfield areas by the ever-advancing Eagles, none of whom lack for pace and effort.

Erik Edman in particular found the going hard against Routledge at times, and although Routledge's replacement mid-way through the second half (Sandor Torghelle) gave Johnson support up front, the absence of Routledge must have come as some relief to Spurs.

At the end of the day the match was settled by the top goalscorers from each club, who are also level on 10 Premiership goals apiece. It had looked as if Defoe's 54th minute goal would make it another 1-0 to the Tottenham, but a superb leveller from Johnson ensured a nervous finish for the Spurs side which is still unbeaten in their last 6 games.

There was danger in the Spurs area as early as the third minute, as Butterfield's cross whistled over the area, and was not dealt with convincingly. Robinson got a touch but then Pamarot conceded a corner, stumbling and actually making contact with his arm, although it was "ball to hand". Spurs first decent move came after 6 minutes, as they worked their way down the left side through a couple of Edman throws. Ultimately a throw inside the Palace half was headed by Kanoute to Defoe, who passed the ball back to Ziegler, whose shot was deflected for a corner.

After 8 minutes, Carrick and Ziegler failed to clear a Palace corner, seized upon by Lakis, whose shot was parried by Robinson, and fired home by Johnson, only to see the offside flag raised against at least three Palace players. Even Ledley King had a touch of the jitters, as he first made a mistake against Soares, but then made a good recovery, aided by Pamarot, as Soares got inside the Spurs box, and was about to shoot. Ricketts had a 25 yard shot deflected for a corner, from which Kanoute got a header across the goal, but not threatening the keeper's territory.

At last Spurs spent some time in the Palace half, and some good possession culminated in Carrick picking out Defoe, whose attempt was blocked by the keeper. Shortly after that Carrick had a chance from an angle on the right, but his shot lacked power and was wide anyway. There was more panic for Spurs, as Robinson just got a palm to a cross that was headed for Johnson. After 27 minutes, Noe Pamarot led a Spurs break out with a ball to Brown. Defoe gave the ball to Kanoute on the left side of the area, and his low shot was half saved by Kiraly, going into the side-netting, and a corner. Pamarot got forward in the next minutes, and fed Defoe, who hit a shot from an angle on the right into Kiraly's arms.

On the half hour, Michael Brown picked up the pieces in the middle, as Carrick failed with his pass. Kanoute made room for a shot, moving to his right, but again the shot was straight at the keeper. Palace now put Spurs under a degree of pressure, with Lakis just closed down in time when he had been in acres of space, and then Rihilahti heading Hughes' corner to Robinson's arms. Robinson had to make the best save of the match five minutes before the end of the half, as Johnson hit a close range shot to bring a great reaction dive, fully justifying his "England's Number One" tag.

After the break, Martin Jol re-shuffled his midfield, with Mendes replacing Ricketts, but also playing in his natural central position at the back of a diamond. Carrick moved to the right, Brown supported the attack, and Ziegler stayed on the left. For the first 20 minutes or so, Spurs dominated and played some exciting flowing football. Brown had the first shot within a minute of the re-start, and after 52 minutes, Defoe took advantage of poor defensive play, hitting a shot to the right of the keeper who did get a touch and managed to push the ball onto the post. Within minutes, Spurs had the lead, as Defoe collected from Edman and planted a right footed low shot in the keeper's left corner. A line of Spurs players ran all the way back to keeper Robinson to share in the celebrations!

The officials managed to upset both sets of fans at various times, and Spurs fans were upset by a Kanoute "goal" being disallowed for offside after a Defoe threaded ball. Defoe and Kanoute had further shots on target, but they were not enough of a test for Kiraly. Mendes and Brown had been the providers of the passes, and combined well in the middle before Mendes sent a great long ball to Defoe, with yet another shot on target but held by the keeper. When Torghelle replaced Routledge, the visitors provided a different sort of threat, with two in the middle, and Palace fans were up in arms for a penalty when Torghelle went down under a Gardner challenge.

The Palace equaliser came in the 79th minute after a build from centre to right. Johnson was 25 yards and a good angle away from goal, but managed to make a shot out of nothing with a superb low strike across the keeper and into the far corner. Robbie Keane replaced Kanoute for the last 10 minutes, but had no time to make an impact. The closest either side got to a winner was after 88 minutes, when Carrick sent a potentially disastrous ball backwards towards Johnson. Mendes bravely intercepted and started a counter which ended with a good effort by Defoe, deflected for a corner.

The "Glory-Glory" theme at the end of the game was not appropriate for Spurs under-achievement, but of course the visitors were over-joyed with a precious point towards their ongoing battle for survival. Spurs will need to be at their best for the next 4 Premiership fixtures, the last of which will be the return game at Selhurst Park, if they want to maintain their unbeaten record.

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