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West Ham v Spurs, 04.03.07

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 4TH MARCH, 2007
WEST HAM UNITED 3 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (0)

West Ham scorers:-
Noble, 16
Tevez, 41
Zamora, 85

Spurs scorers:-
Defoe (pen), 51
Tainio, 63
Berbatov, 89
Stalteri, 90

Attendance: - 34,966

Referee: - Mike Dean

Teams:-
West Ham (4-4-2):- Green; Neill (Capt.), Ferdinand, Upson (sub Davenport, 11), Konchesky; Bowyer, Quashie (sub Blanco, 79), Noble, Etherington (sub Zamora, 83); Harewood, Tevez

Subs not used: - Walker; Spector

Booked: - Noble, Tevez, Bowyer, Neill, Konchesky, Quashie

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Chimbonda (sub Taarabt, 86), Dawson, Gardner, Lee; Ghaly (sub Huddlestone, 46), Jenas (sub Stalteri, 56), Tainio, Lennon; Berbatov, Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Rocha

Booked: - Chimbonda

Spurs Joy at Hammer House of Horror!

I’m still laughing!

I laughed as we celebrated wildly with the players at the Centenary Stand end. I laughed as we waved cheerio to the dejected Hammers’ fans in the upper tier. I laughed as one Spurs wag chanted “Going in your car to Yeovil” at one of those home fans who had spat abuse at us as he leant over from the upper tier. I restrained myself for safety purposes as we edged past Upton Park tube, north up Green Street. Then, I laughed as we stumbled past the Duke of Edinburgh – a home pub that we had infiltrated before the game to witness the morose atmosphere of the home supporters. I was still laughing when I reached the car; then when I watched the highlights (again and again); and I still laugh today, especially to see the despair of Hammers’ Chairman Eggert Magnusson, as Spurs first equalised in the 89th minute, then snatched all three points in that dramatic finish.

I might have been displaying sorrow of course, for such were the highs and lows of this game which encapsulated all the emotions of a game of football, on and off the pitch. This was perhaps the most dramatic Spurs win, since a 19 year old Darren Caskey scored an added time winner for Spurs to turn around a home game against Everton for a 3-2 Spurs win. I am also thinking of our late winner in the Worthington Cup Final of 1999, and some late, late equalisers, but in view of the “Lasagne-gate” history to this fixture, this has to be the most satisfying of all those results. On this occasion the late introduction (for his debut) of 17 year old Adel Taarabt had everything to do with Spurs victory, but that is only part of the minutiae of this memorable occasion.

Many tales of woe surround the playing staff of Upton Park, such as gambling problems and Anton Ferdinand mis-leading the management over a trip to the States for a private birthday celebration without permission, but with Curbishley ringing several changes, his team did at least produce one of their best efforts of the season in what was, after all, a do or die game. Tevez shone up front beside Harewood, and youngster Mark Noble got a rare outing, playing exceptionally in the middle. The Hammers even had Lucas Neill and Matthew Upson back in action. Neill was the Captain, but Upson only lasted 11 minutes, having to be replaced by Calum Davenport.

Spurs were forced to play Defoe in place of the suspended Keane, but he rode the tide of abuse confidently. With no Malbranque or Zokora available, Teemu Tainio moved to central midfield, and Ghaly was introduced, with Lennon playing again on the left.

The short story of the first half is that Spurs allowed West Ham too much time and space in the middle, where even after one minute, Harewood picked up a poor ball from Jenas; Tevez passed back to Noble, who forced an early great save from Paul Robinson. Noble got the first of a punishable 6 bookings for the home side for a lunge on Ghaly. Ghaly was the subject of a lot of criticism from Spurs fans, but he was at the start of two of Spurs finest first half moves. Ghaly was at the hub of a 14th minute move where he won the ball in the middle, then advanced to receive from Lennon and chip over the defence for a Berbatov chance which was saved by Robert Green who made at least four great saves in that first half. It was almost a double save this time, as Berbatov got a ball from Lennon and shot from the left.

West Ham took what looked like a precious lead in the 16th minute, as Konchesky carried the ball into the Spurs half, passed inside to Tevez, whose touch back was fired home by Noble, low to Robinson’s right. Five minutes later, Green came to the rescue again with a definite double save. Defoe’s effort was blocked, and then Green had to save from Bowyer, before Berbatov’s shot gave him another save to make. It began to look as if it would be the Hammers’ day. Quashie was afforded too much space, but fired wide, and Ghaly lost the ball after a defensive throw from Chimbonda, leading to another chance for Harewood, thankfully also outside the target. Spurs were under pressure, when Robinson came for a corner, but could not hold the ball, one effort was blocked, but then Harewood had another shot – wide again.

Spurs were harshly penalised when Dawson seemed to win the ball from Tevez just outside the box, but referee Dean not only gave the free kick, but booked Chimbonda for good measure for taking too long to move back in the wall. Having had plenty of time to set up the wall, it came as a great disappointment when Tevez chipped in off the underside of the bar, with Paul Robinson possibly too far off his line for the kick. Tevez got booked for sharing his joy in the West Ham crowd, after scoring his long-awaited first goal for the club.

Ghaly was replaced at half time by Tom Huddlestone, and Tainio moved out to the wide right. Spurs quickly got a goal back, when Bowyer brought down Aaron Lennon, and Defoe coolly slotted home the penalty, sending Green the wrong way. Jenas was replaced by Stalteri after 56 minutes, and it is still not clear to me whether this was tactical or down to an injury. Martin Jol made a great tactical move by putting Chimbonda on the right side of midfield, with his place taken by Stalteri, who was to become just one of the heroes of this game. Spurs certainly dominated this period of the game, with Lennon playing a big part in their advance.

Thus it came as no surprise when Tainio levelled the scores with just over an hour gone. Chimbonda picked out Berbatov on the right, whose cross was cleverly flicked back first time by Lennon into the path of Teemu who delightfully fired home for his second goal of the season. Curbishley was naturally desperate and added two more strikers to the fray with recent signing Kepa Blanco replacing Quashie, and Bobby Zamora replacing Etherington. Zamora was the 85th minute hero, as he headed home Tevez’s free kick and the Hammers though they had at least some hope of prolonging their relegation fight.

Martin Jol had his own ace up his sleeve though, in Adel Taarabt. I had seen Taarabt taunt the Hammers’ reserve side a couple of weeks ago, and he was involved in the move that led to a decisive free kick at least three times, displaying the ball skills and confidence (arrogance even) to beat Premiership opponents. Taarabt was forced down just outside the box by Ferdinand, and Berbatov was set to take a free kick from virtually the same spot where Tevez had scored. Huddlestone played his part by legitimately standing a few yards off Green and blocking his ability to spot the ball, which was hit with more force than Tevez’s kick, and although Konchesky got to the ball, it went into the net off the top of his head.

In the circumstances, we’d have been happy with a point, especially when Tevez’s shot whisked inches past the far post in front of the Bobby Moore stand. However, there was a mighty twist in the tail, with the Hammers committing everyone to attack, and Paul Stalteri doing his best Jenas impersonation, collecting outside his own area, then leading the break out with a pass to Defoe, and also making the run to support Defoe, being on hand to collect Green’s parry from Jermain’s shot, to deliver what was surely the relegation coup de grace that Spurs fans will remember forever!

Cue final whistle; camera shots of head in hands from Eggert, despair from Curbishley, tears from Noble, but deep, deep joy from the Spurs players and fans to celebrate sweet, sweet revenge after last year, not to mention their third consecutive Premiership win, and 14 goals in their last 4 games. Bring on Braga!

· Spurs recent record in London Derbies (Premiership)
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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