FA CUP 6TH ROUND
SATURDAY 6TH MARCH 2010
FULHAM 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee:- Mr. M. Clattenburg
Assistants:- Mr. P. Kirkup & Mr. M. Murphy
Fourth Official:- Mr. K. Friend
Fulham (4-4-1-1):- Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes (Capt.), Hangeland, Shorey; Duff, Etuhu, Greening, Davies (sub Elm, 73); Gera; Zamora
Subs not used:- Zuberbuhler; Kelly, Konchesky, Smalling; Riise; Okaka Chuka
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson (Capt.), Bassong, Ekotto; Kranjcar, Palacios, Modric, Bale; Crouch, Pavlyuchenko (sub Defoe, 81)
Subs not used:- Alnwick; Dervite; Rose, Livermore, Townsend; Gudjohnsen
Into the semi-final draw at least
In a game of few chances, and relatively little action for either goalkeeper, both teams can take credit from this game, where the draw was a fair result. Spurs will take Fulham back to the Lane in two and a half weeks time (Fulham have away and home games against Juventus in the meantime), and for the moment, both teams are in the semi-final draw, and can keep a grasp on their dreams of Wembley for the semi-final and the final of this year’s FA Cup.
As has been reported, Harry Redknapp’s choices were extremely limited, due to the number of injuries and a couple of cup-tied January signings, which meant that both Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend, who were recalled from their loan spells this week, found themselves on the bench in this vital game. Neither were used though, as Harry Redknapp was able to include the doubtful Jermain Defoe on the bench, who was the only Spurs substitute used.
Redknapp advanced Gareth Bale into the midfield, where he played on the left side, whilst Luka Modric played in a central role beside Wilson Palacios. Ekotto played at left back. There were many good performances for Spurs, and two or three excellent efforts. Modric did generally keep the discipline of playing in the left of centre midfield position, where he helped at the back, and fed the attack, in particular sending Bale away on plenty of probes down the left flank, which was really Spurs’ main attacking outlet.
Wilson Palacios had an excellent game patrolling the back of midfield, and avoided a yellow card too, despite his tenacity and ball-winning skills. For Fulham, Bobby Zamora was dominant and had a really impressive game, playing with his back to goal, and winning the greater percentage of balls aimed in his direction, shielding and protecting that ball so well. Whilst Zamora would start with possession, Bassong and Ekotto often combined to clear the decks so well for Tottenham.
Peter Crouch was winning the ball more often than not, but his distribution was too often thwarted by the alert Fulham defence. Despite being the home side, Fulham played like an away team with Gera in a withdrawn role, and the home side getting plenty of men behind the ball, putting as many as three defenders on Bale. It was a game where both defences played well, and a lot of fans might have been frustrated in a game that was of perhaps more technical interest than one filled with excitement.
Fulham put Spurs under some pressure in the first minute, and it was Bale’s timely interception on the left flank in his own half that eased that situation, when he sprayed the ball across the field. Having dealt with that initial attack, Spurs then dominated possession, without threatening Mark Schwarzer in goal. Kranjcar had the first clear chance on goal with a free kick after 18 minutes, which he hooked a little and sent wide of Schwarzer’s right post. The ball then ran in Zamora’s favour as he carried it across the edge of the Spurs area, squeezing in a low shot, which Gomes held. Soon after that Bassong defended well against the former Spurs man, and enabled Spurs to clear their lines down the left flank, where Bale would often be the main threat, getting to the bye-line on more than one occasion.
Schwarzer then had to make two great saves, firstly from an excellent shot by Kranjcar and then from a Crouch header across his goalmouth, as Spurs piled on a bit of pressure. Crouch had another effort go wide after 35 minutes, following good work by Bale and Ekotto, who crossed the ball.
Fulham had their best chance just after the break. They had a free kick and Simon Davies crossed deep from the left. Zamora at the back post headed back towards Gera, whose close range header was pawed away by Gomes. Gomes was positioned well on subsequent occasions when chances came in his direction from inside the box. Bale was again dominant at the other end, as the visitors piled on the pressure and had one handball appeal turned down by Mark Clattenburg, who had a good game – allowing the football to flow. Michael Dawson had a shot on goal after a corner in the 58th minute, which curled just outside the top corner.
Ekotto made one error that I can recall, in failing to clear, which led to Damien Duff hitting a shot across Gomes’ bows, which passed wide. Zamora fed Duff for another chance which he hit well wide. After a Bale cross and pressure by Peter Crouch, Roman Pavlyuchenko tried an overhead kick which was too high. Spurs best chance of the half came after Modric started the attack and Bale crossed, by which time Modric was in the middle with Crouch, but neither of them could make their mind up whether to go for the ball as it fell loose.
Simon Davies was replaced by striker David Elm, as Fulham sought to finish the tie off, and Defoe replaced Pavlyuchenko. Jermain nearly forged one or two openings for himself, but it was just not quite happening for us, despite the fact that Schwarzer was beaten a couple of times by crosses from left and right by Bale and Kranjcar.
Both teams live to fight another day, and with Fulham having the heavier programme of the two sides before the replay, Spurs must surely be favourites to get to the semi-final. The delay before the replay will also give us a chance to get some key players fit again!
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