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West Ham v Spurs, 25.02.13

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
MONDAY 25TH FEBRUARY, 2013
(8 PM)
WEST HAM UNITED 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(1)

West Ham Scorers:-
Carroll (pen), 25
J. Cole, 58

Spurs scorers:-
Bale, 13, 90
Sigurdsson, 76

Attendance:- 35,005

Referee:- Howard Webb
Assistants:- Mr. M. Mullarkey & Mr. S. Bennett
Fourth official:- Martin Atkinson

Teams:-
West Ham (4-1-4-1):- Jaaskelainen; Demel (sub Pogatetz, 72), Collins, Reid, O'Brien; O'Neil; J. Cole, Diame (sub Collison, 84), Nolan (Capt.) (sub Taylor, 35), Jarvis; Carroll
(Armband to Reid)

Subs not used:- Spiegel; C. Cole, Vaz Te, Chamakh

Booked:- J. Cole, Diame (foul on Bale), O'Neil (foul on Bale), Collins (foul on Bale)

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Caulker, Vertonghen; Lennon, Parker (sub Livermore, 88), Dembele (sub Carroll, 75), Holtby (sub Sigurdsson, 56); Bale; Adebayor

Subs not used:- Friedel; Gallas, Naughton, Assou-Ekotto

Booked:- Dembele (foul on Nolan)

It's Bale again, scoring the most sublime winner!

Almost exactly 6 years ago, Spurs full back Paul Stalteri scored an added time winner for Spurs at Upton Park, which we thought was the most fantastic moment. That goal came after Spurs had come from behind to grab all three points. Tonight, that goal, and that moment was royally trumped by Gareth Bale's simply sublime 90th minute winner that hit the top left corner of Jaaskelainen's net. Bale's shot beat a goalkeeper who had been hero for his side, holding Spurs' second half onslaught at bay. Bale's goal beats that of Stalteri, because of its individual brilliance, but more so because it put us in third place above Chelsea, and gave us a four point cushion before we play fifth placed Arsenal on Sunday.

The big games just keep coming for Spurs. The joyful away days keep mounting. This was our eighth away league win of the season. Gareth Bale scored two goals tonight to bring his league tally for the season to 15. He has scored 8 club goals in his last 6 games. He, and Spurs's season, just keep getting better and better.

Tonight's game was preceded by a commemoration of the great Bobby Moore who died at the age of just 51, 20 years ago this week. Spurs fans paid due respect to this legendary footballer and joined in fully with the one minute's applause before kick-off.

Andre Villas-Boas has shown a liking to rotate his defence this season, and his deliberations obviously took into account the presence of Andy Carroll, and the likelihood of plenty of high balls into the area. Thus Kyle Walker was the only survivor, in the same position, from the defence that had played in Lyon on Thursday night. Jan Vertonghen had played, but moved to left back for this game.

It is also noteworthy that over the course of the game, AVB'S substitutions were of a creative stance, whereas Sam Allardyce brought on defensive players in his desperation to firstly hold onto a second half lead, then at least to hold onto a point. Spurs's defenders were unused. West Ham's attackers also stayed on the bench.

AVB's strategy for patience; to seek possession and to try and slow the game down can be frustrating, but in the end, there can be no doubt that in picking up the tempo in the second half, and for waiting till the last quarter before going all out to at least draw, or perhaps win, AVB got it right. I also give kudos to our head coach for the courageous substitution of Tom Carroll, making a rare appearance in the Premier League, when he replaced Mousa Dembele, rather than the more defensive Jake Livermore.

However, it is also pertinent to note that by the end of the game, Spurs had three Academy students on the field in the shape of Caulker, Carroll and Livermore. All this in a tense and crucial London Derby match!

Sam Allardyce's team was set up in a 4-1-4-1, with Gary O'Neil in front of the back four, and Joe Cole supporting Carroll from the right wing.

Spurs were ponderous in the early stages; content to deal with the anticipated onslaught from a home team buoyed by the memory of Bobby Moore, and of course determined to win their "Cup Final". Spurs defended well as a unit as the Hammers threatened with a ball fed in from the right and played across the Spurs area.

Bale had his first shot on goal after 4 minutes from a central position, but fired wide. Mousa Dembele took an early yellow card from referee Howard Webb for a foul on Nolan. Dembele had taken umbridge at not being awarded a foul moments earlier and reacted too strongly putting himself under undue pressure for the rest of the game.

A Lewis Holtby clearance failed and Spurs had to deal with a quick ball over the top to Joe Cole, who got a shot on target, but Lloris held. A Spurs attack broke down due to Adebayor, and West Ham attacked down the left flank, with Jarvis hitting a dangerous cross/shot through some legs, which Lloris did well to see clearly, and to hold.

Lloris started a good attack with a clearance that Adebayor held up, and fed to Holtby, who passed to Lennon on the right side. Lennon forced his way into the box, but was blocked.

After that clearance, the ball was worked back to the middle, and Adebayor passed to Bale in a central position. Bale moved towards the left side of the box and beat Jaaskelainen with a left foot shot across the keeper's left hand, in front of The Bobby Moore stand, to give Spurs the lead.

Hugo Lloris acts like a fifth defender at times, and Spurs were grateful for one of his advances out of his area to clear the ball from the feet of the advancing Joe Cole. Soon after that, Michael Dawson made a good diving defensive header to clear a cross from the left wing.

Scott Parker managed to carry the ball out of defence and fed it to Bale who went off on a solo run, ending in a shot to the keeper, when perhaps he could have utilised a team-mate.

Spurs were then shocked when the home side were awarded a penalty, when Parker was deemed to have fouled Carroll. Carroll had already been taking a fair amount of abuse from the Spurs support, and took great delight in planting the penalty beyond Lloris then celebrating in front of Spurs fans. He has now scored two thirds of his goals for the season against us!

West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan had to be replaced early by Matt Taylor, who took over Nolan's duties of harassing Lloris whenever West Ham had a corner.

Kyle Walker defended well on the left of the Spurs area, tracking Jarvis's run, and preventing his pass from reaching the area. Dembele hit a great ball down the right channel, and Holtby's shot was deflected for a corner. The Hammers had to defend several corners at this point. Caulker had a header saved, and Holtby had a shot blocked.

Bale had a chance to try his free kick skills with the last kick of the half, but it passed wide of the left post. Generally, Bale did not find his free kick touch tonight. He had several opportunities, because three of the West Ham bookings were for halting him in his tracks on his way towards goal in the second half.

Spurs upped the tempo after the break. Adebayor sent a good ball out to Vertonghen on the left, whose cross/shot took a deflection and was then pushed round for a corner by Jaaskelainen. From the corner, the keeper punched clear a Caulker header.

Scott Parker brought a ball out of defence with a clever header over an opponent, then a good run, before he ran into a claret and blue wall. Howard Webb had his back to the play and missed a blatant push on Lewis Holtby in midfield. Holtby was replaced by Sigurdsson after 55 minutes. Siggy generally occupied the left flank.

Parker fed a ball to Sigurdsson, who placed a shot to the left of Jaaskelainen. The goalie might have got a slight touch, and the ball rebounded off his left post. Adebayor tried to pounce upon the rebound, but failed to score, with the keeper managing a double save.

West Ham took a 58th minute lead, after the Spurs defence (mainly Steven Caulker) mis-judged the bounce of a throw, and the ball landed to the feet of Joe Cole who beat Lloris with a shot to his left.

The Spurs onslaught began, but it took a while to bear fruit.

Sigurdsson hit a good shot, but it was blocked and looped for a corner, which was taken by Bale. Caulker met the ball and headed down with the ball bouncing in front of the grateful keeper.

Jaaskelainen next tipped over a super Bale shot after Lennon had fed the ball inside. The shot was just under the bar, and the keeper had to dive to his top right. After the corner,and a half clearance, Scott Parker tried a shot which passed wide across the goalmouth.

Lloris still had work to do, and so did his defence, as the game became one of an end to end nature. Lloris came out again to steal the ball off Taylor, who had been left in too much space, receiving a ball from the right.

Spurs levelled in the 76th minute, when Bale's free kick was scrambled across goal, and reached Sigurdsson, who fired home from close range at the back post for a crucial goal.

Bale had another effort saved, after Lennon and Parker had been the providers. Then Vertonghen crossed from the left, but that man Jaaskelainen saved again from Adebayor's header.

As normal time was drawing to a close, Bale was on the advance again, and was fouled, but Howard Webb waved play-on, the ball went to Bale's left, but nothing came of the attack until it was passed in front of him. Bale had only just pulled himself to his feet, but then scored with that sublime shot into Jaaskelainen's top left corner. It was unstoppable, and was truly a goal worthy of winning any match.

West Ham cannot yet say they are clear of relegation, whereas Spurs are very, very much in the frame for Champions' League football again. Last year fate and form took that prize out of our grasp, but I have a feeling that won't happen this year.

Roll on Sunday!

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