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Match Reports
Spurs v Charlton, 05.02.06

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 5TH FEBRUARY, 2006
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2) CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1 (0)

Spurs scorers:-
Defoe, 14, 46
Jenas, 41

Charlton scorer:-
Thomas, 70

Referee: - Phil Dowd

Attendance: - 36, 034

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, King (Capt.), Gardner, Kelly; Lennon (sub Jackson, 46), Jenas, Carrick, Tainio (sub Huddlestone, 25); Keane, Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Davenport; Barnard

No Bookings

Charlton (4-5-1):- Myhre; Young (Capt.), Fortune, Hreidarsson, Powell (sub Spector, 67); M. Bent, Kishishev (sub Thomas, 54), Smertin, Hughes, Ambrose (sub Bothroyd, 74); D. Bent

Subs not used: - Andersen; Perry

Booked: - Hughes, Hreidarsson, Fortune

Jermain Defoe scored his first goals since Boxing Day, and his team’s first league goal for a month to ensure that Spurs regained their four point lead over Arsenal, and their hold on fourth place in the Premiership. Sven Goran Eriksson’s assistant, Tord Grip was watching in the stand next to Spurs’ new signing Danny Murphy, and both must have been very pleased with much of what they saw in the Spurs side.

There were Defoe’s two goals – the first following a typical pass from Michael Carrick, and the second collecting a beautifully weighted pass by home debutant Tom Huddlestone (on for the injured Tainio) – which were different in their execution, but equally delightful. Carrick’s performance was superb, as he swept up all that came his way, and directed so much of Spurs midfield dominance over the first 50 minutes. Skipper Ledley King was un-flustered by the double threat from the strikers Bent (Marcus and Darren), and Aaron Lennon enchanted the Charlton defence. Mind you, Huddlestone and Lennon are probably going to interest Sven’s successor, more than the incumbent.

Charlton adopted a defensive stance, with Marcus Bent playing on the right of a five man midfield, but offering support to Darren, when the opportunity arose. Such was Spurs early superiority, that such openings were rare. Spurs were buzzing down the right flank, threatening veteran left back Chris Powell. Robbie Keane was playing a slightly deep role to good effect, whilst Lennon, Stalteri and Jenas worked the right flank. Teemu Tainio was hardly in evidence, and it was soon evident that he had attempted a return too early, as he had to be replaced by Huddlestone mid-way through the first half. With John Jackson and Reserves’ goal-machine Lee Barnard on the bench, Spurs were down to the bare bones of their squad, which has been reduced as a result of the transfer window, and has a number of well-known absentees. (Davids, Mido, Dawson, Lee to name but four)

There was an early chance for Defoe after Jenas pressured Hreidarsson, but goalkeeper Thomas Myhre was easily able to collect this shot. Myhre was beaten however in the 14th minute, when Carrick sent a ball down the inside right channel, and Defoe twisted and turned left and right before hitting a shot that was deflected and went above the keeper into the roof of the net. Had referee Phil Dowd been aware of Defoe’s Charlton antecedents, he might have taken a dimmer view of Jermain’s celebration in the away corner. Mind you, that corner was more than half filled by grateful Spurs fans, as Charlton’s faithful measure few who can be bothered even to come through the Blackwall Tunnel to follow their side.

Significant action was coming every seven minutes, and when Aaron Lennon led a break from his own half after 21 minutes, it seemed a goal must follow, but he and others, such as Stalteri messed around too long, rather than take a shot on goal. Stalteri was getting forward often, and when Keane sent him towards the Charlton box after 29 minutes, and Hughes brought the full back down, it seemed possible that a red card might follow. After all, Stalteri had been victim of the professional foul rule at Anfield recently, and his offence was committed a lot further from goal than Hughes, who challenged just as Stalteri was to pull the trigger. Hughes was shown yellow, and Spurs failed to punish the offence suitably.

Once Huddlestone had come on, Lennon had switched to the left flank, and Jenas moved out on the right, so Spurs were set up as they were at Fulham on Tuesday. Lennon showed supreme skill and confidence in beating Young with a clever flick over the defender, but then saw his shot smothered by Myhre. Spurs got a fair reward for their supremacy in the 41st minute, with a lovely goal, crafted by Robbie Keane, who picked out Jenas’s run, and then Jenas himself who finished with a right footed drive low across the keeper for his fifth goal of the season. There was a scare just before the break though, as Spurs dropped their guard and Darren Bent headed down for Marcus, whose shot hit the top of the bar in the left hand corner.

John Jackson replaced the injured Lennon at half-time, but before he had touched the ball (and not many others had a touch either!), Keane had won possession in midfield with good pressure, before Huddlestone controlled the ball, then sent Defoe away with a weighted pass. It looked for a moment as if Myhre would beat Jermain, but the striker deftly flicked the ball above the keeper, and watched it run into the net at the Paxton Road end.

Keane had a great chance to make it 4-0 ten minutes later as he was one on one after a rebounded backwards pass. Hreidarsson did well to block Robbie’s shot, and concede a corner. Huddlestone started another good move, with cool work in the area, sending Stalteri away on the break. Stalteri fed Keane, who was just taken out too wide along the bye-line, seeing his cross shot come to nought. Carrick was fouled by Smertin and the free kick was touched to Keane who flicked the ball over the defence for Defoe, who tested Myhre yet again.

By now, Charlton had enjoyed more possession, and Spurs were guilty of relaxing, rather than going for the throat. Substitute and ex-gooner Jerome Thomas was allowed to cut in from the left flank, then hit a low right foot shot from the edge of the area, that beat Robinson’s dive to the right. In the closing stages, Robbo made a great save, diving to his left this time, to save Hreidarsson’s header from a free kick.

I had hoped that Lee Barnard might get a run in the closing stages with Spurs two goals to the good. He was warming up just before the Charlton goal, and I suspect that Martin Jol wisely decided that there was no room for sentiment, and persisted with those experienced players that remained for Tottenham. Hopefully Lee’s chance will come.

With Sky’s TV cameras and microphones present the Spurs vocal support in the South Stand treated the viewers to a full repertoire of anti-Campbell songs. I assume that when they sang “You’re Bent and you know you are”, that it was a waggish reference to the twin strike force of Charlton!

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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