FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 26TH AUGUST, 2006
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) EVERTON 2 (0)
Davenport (o.g.), 53
Referee: - Mark Halsey
Attendance: - 35,540
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Lee (sub Defoe, 59, Dawson, Davenport, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Davids, Tainio (sub Zokora, 73; Keane (Capt.), Berbatov
Subs not used: - Cerny; Stalteri, Gardner
Booked: - Dawson
Everton (4-1-4-1):- Howard; Neville (Capt.), Yobo, Lescott (sub Weir, 83), Naysmith; Carsley; Osman, Cahill, Arteta, Kilbane; Johnson
Subs not used: - Wright; Hibbert; McFadden; Beattie
Booked: - Kilbane
Sent off (2nd yellow):- Kilbane (both offences were fouls on Lee)
All runs have to come to an end sometime, don’t they? It is 21 years to the day since Everton’s last League win at White Hart Lane. They had never won a Premiership game here, but today, despite losing Kevin Kilbane to a second bookable offence with only half an hour gone, David Moyes’ side out-fought Spurs, whose performance was as weak as it had been last Saturday at The Reebock. I said then that Spurs would need to toughen up, and I said after Tuesday’s win that they would need to be sharper and more ruthless. Sadly, today’s Spurs performance was as bad as I can recall for a long, long time, and the first save that Tim Howard had to make was in injury time, when the cause was well and truly lost. From Everton’s point of view it was a shame that they failed to sell out their allocation of tickets, and that those fans who did not feel the trip worthwhile missed a little bit of history!
Spurs fielded an unchanged line-up, and the bench was the same as well. David Moyes clearly set out for a draw, with Carsley playing in front of the back four, and Andy Johnson the lone striker. Kevin Kilbane was beside Johnson on the left, but his task was to assist Naysmith in defending the left flank against Lennon and Lee. Kilbane’s battle with Lee was to prove expensive for the individual, but not for the team, whose formation was hardly affected, and who still managed to defend stoutly whenever Spurs were in possession in their half. There always seemed to be two or three blue shirts around a Spurs attacker, whereas, when Everton did counter, they found space. This trend is getting very disturbing for Spurs fans.
It was a long time before any significant action, and the longer that situation continued, the quieter the home crowd became. Spurs did dominate the first half though, but the strikers were kept away from goal, and when we did have corners or free kicks, neither Davenport nor Dawson could hit a decent header towards the target. Too often a weak looping header went way over the bar. A lofted ball from Teemu Tainio did reach Robbie Keane on the edge of the box after 13 minutes, but the defence cleared.
Kilbane got his first booking, and I recorded on 22 minutes that neither side had hit a shot on target! Then a goal nearly came from an Everton boot, as a Spurs throw was hit across their own area, and Naysmith whacked the ball over his own bar. Lee got round Kilbane again, was brought down (although Evertonians claim he was unlucky to get the resulting red card). Keane took the free kick, and Michael Dawson’s shot was deflected and held by Howard. The remaining three Everton midfielders (Osman, Cahill, and Arteta) spread from right to left in front of Carsley.
Spurs managed a decent move from the back, ending with Tainio sliding the ball to Jenas, whose shot from 25 yards out went across the far post and wide. Jenas will once again get stick from Spurs fans, but I saw him winning strong tackles in the middle, fighting back for the ball, and winning an otherwise lost pass near the touchline. He gets stick from the crowd when something goes wrong. If our hero Aaron Lennon runs a little too far, misplaces a pass, fails to shoot, or fails to pick out a striker, there is no such criticism. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lennon, but his delivery and timing was not at its best today.
Davids had a decent shot just before the break, and then Spurs won a corner after the interval with good play from Tainio, Berbatov, Keane and Lennon. Keane’s corner was headed over by Dawson. This was a scenario repeated too often in the game – not that we actually got many corners!
Everton took a surprise lead after Ekotto was penalised near the corner flag. Arteta hit the kick, which looked as if it was passing across the Spurs box, until Davenport got a touch to it, and conceded the own goal. Lee was sacrificed by Martin Jol for Jermain Defoe, and Jenas covered at right back. Unfortunately, Jenas did not help his battle to win over the home fans, when he skied a shot after Lennon laid the ball back to him.
Everton’s lead was increased to the glee of their travelling support in the 66th minute. Davids had been battling well in the middle, but Osman got a touch on the ball which ran to Neville on the right. Neville’s cross was converted at an angle from quite close range by Johnson, scoring his second goal in three games, and aiding his claim for an England place next week.
Zokora replaced Tainio, but although Spurs tried to press, they couldn’t break through. Keane was brought down on the edge of the box, but Defoe’s kick was blocked. With two minutes of normal time left, Davenport was still up after a corner. He headed back a ball which Lennon crossed low for Robbie Keane, who repeated his trick from Tuesday night, hooking his shot well outside the target. As injury time approached, Lennon teed up Defoe, who fired wide, then at last Howard did have to make a save, when Berbatov headed Lennon’s cross, and the Everton keeper dived low to his left to make the save.
It’s going to be a sad two weeks for Spurs fans, with the next match at Old Trafford against 100% United. The performance today was enough to finally persuade me that forking out for a trip to Prague will be a waste of money. I fear it will be our one and only European trip this season.
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