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Match Reports
West Brom v Spurs, 28.12.05
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
WEDNESDAY 28TH DECEMBER 2005
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Scorer:-
Kanu, 23, 52

Attendance: - 27,510

Referee: - Mike Riley

Teams:-
West Brom (4-4-2); - Kuszczak; Watson, Davies, Clement (Capt.), Albrechtsen; Greening, Wallwork, Carter, Kamara (sub Moore, 90); Kanu (sub Campbell, 85), Ellington (sub Horsfield, 89)

Subs not used: - Kirkland; Chaplow

No Bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Stalteri, Dawson, Gardner, Lee; Jenas (sub Brown, 82), Carrick, Davids, Routledge (sub Keane, 54); Rasiak (sub Mido, 70), Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Pamarot

No Bookings

From a Spurs perspective, it’s a case of least said the better, as our chickens came home to roost last night, with easily the worse Premiership performance of the season. Sadly, the pride of the strutting Cockerel was left in North London, as West Brom grabbed a deserved win (their first over Tottenham for 21 years) to haul themselves above Everton and five points clear of the drop zone. As I said in the preview, Bryan Robson’s side have captured some notable scalps at home this term, including that of Arsenal, and this defeat hurt especially for Spurs fans, as Kanu was allowed to score both goals.

I say “allowed”, as sadly the involuntary change of Gardner for skipper Ledley King cost us dear, as Anthony struggled to stay on his feet at crucial times in the icy conditions, and can be faulted for both goals. It’s not fair to label Gardner alone though, as one or two of Martin Jol’s voluntary changes (Routledge and Rasiak) failed dismally to take the opportunity given them in a situation where Jol clearly believes that rotation is necessary due to the fixture congestion this week.

Routledge was required to play on the left, but, as we say all too often, even he was instructed to play a narrow path, and with Jenas on the right, Spurs struggled to get past the West Brom full backs. Edgar Davids was the only Spurs player to consistently display the sort of drive, vigour and skill to make headway in the middle, but even he ran into the effective opposition too often. Left back Young-Pyo Lee surely needs a break in favour of Stephen Kelly on Saturday, as he was woefully short in application when getting forward. Too often he needed to halt a run to get on his right foot, he over-hit passes, and on one occasion in the second half, when a left footer might have made a good cross from Davids’ ball, all Lee could do was try and rescue the ball with his right foot.

Give credit to West Brom though. They knew they needed something out of this game, and despite missing their own Paul Robinson (concussed on Monday), they put Spurs on the back foot from the start. As early as the third minute, Paul Robinson showed rare indecision as Ellington and Diomansy Kamara worked a move on the Spurs’ left channel. Somehow, Michael Dawson managed to prevent an early set-back. Whilst referee Mike Riley didn’t dish out any yellow cards, he might have missed a few crucial moments, as Ellington handled the ball and got round Gardner. Robinson saved and cleared the shot.

Spurs managed a decent move after 13 minutes, when Carrick and Davids fed Defoe with good piercing delivery. Defoe shot from an angle on the left, but Kuszczak held easily, as he did most of Spurs’ half-hit efforts. West Brom’s first goal came after a Spurs move broke down with Routledge losing the ball around the half-way line, Gardner tried to tackle but was beaten, and Kanu was away, inside the box, able to carry the ball round Robbo, and finish from short range and a tight angle. Spurs at least managed to get more of grip in defence, but the overall quality of football was not good enough to worry the home fans. One or two more decisions did not go Spurs’ way, as there seemed to be a handball from a defender to thwart Davids’ advance, and then Defoe went down in the area under Clement’s challenge, drawing no response from Mr. Riley.

At least Routledge started on the right in the second half, with Lee being given chief attacking duties down the left flank. Defoe looked threatening after a Davids ball, but was soon deprived of the ball by three defenders buzzing around him. The points looked secure for the “Throstles”, as Gardner slipped and allowed Kanu to advance from the inside right channel. Dawson tried desperately to rescue the situation, but the lanky striker (I said lanky!) beat Robinson at his near post for a precious two-goal margin.

It was time for change, and firstly Robbie Keane came on for the ineffective Routledge, before Rasiak was replaced by Mido. West Brom were the ones doing the strutting though, as Kanu and Greening showed good skills on the left, before Greening’s shot was deflected over for a corner. Defoe had another half-hit effort on target, after Lee’s cross was touched to him by Mido, but Darren Carter made a better attempt on goal with a left footed shot curled around the defence, testing Paul Robinson to the full at his right-hand post. Spurs had one more chance in stoppage time, as Paul Robinson took a free kick at the half way line, hit it short to Davids, whose ball reached Defoe (looking offside), but that man Kuszczak held it comfortably.

Spurs held onto fourth place, but have lost precious ground with Bolton now having two games in hand and Arsenal only two points behind – also with a game in hand. Wigan, who won at Upton Park, are also level on points, refusing to fall down the league table. With the news about Ledley King possibly being out for a month, Martin Jol will have think hard about who should partner Michael Dawson on Saturday against Shearer and Owen

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