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Spurs v Cardiff City, 02.03.14

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 2ND MARCH, 2014
(4.30pm)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) CARDIFF CITY 0 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Soldado, 28

Attendance:- 35, 512

Referee:- Mr. P. Dowd
Assistants:- Mr. S. Bennett & Mr. S. Burt
Fourth official:- Mr. R. East

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Fryers; Lennon, Paulinho (sub Sandro, 73), Dembele, Townsend (sub Chadli, 70); Soldado (sub Kane, 83), Adebayor

Subs not used:- Friedel; Veljkovic; Bentaleb, Sigurdsson

Booked:- Sandro (foul on Kim)

Cardiff (3-5-2):- Marshall; Caulker (Capt.), Cala, Turner; Fabio (sub Jones, 73), Gunnarsson (sub Mutch, 63), Medel, Kim, John; Bellamy (sub Daehli, 63), Campbell

Subs not used:- Lewis; Cowie, Theopile-Catherine, Zaha

Booked:- Kim (foul on Fryers), Bellamy (Dissent), Cala

Soldado goal enough for Spurs

Spurs had a scare when their former centre-half, now Cardiff Captain Steven Caulker headed against the crossbar from a corner, but other than that, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side hardly looked like scoring, after Roberto Soldado had scored his first goal since December, which proved enough to secure all three points for Spurs.

The game rarely excited the crowd, many of whom had been watching the Capital One Cup Final which delayed the kick-off for half an hour. Manchester City's 3-1 win over Sunderland probably means that finishing in sixth place will secure European football next season, but of course, Tim Sherwood is still targeting a top four place.

Spurs will need to play more incisively than they did today if they are to achieve the top four objective.

Solskjaer's team were set up to defend, in what I perceived as a 3-5-2 when not defending, but otherwise a 5-3-2. The hope, of course was that a break through either Bellamy or Fraizer Campbell would have threatened Spurs, but today, despite the absence of their first choice full backs, Cardiff found Spurs resilient in defence, with skipper Michael Dawson making a number of good defensive blocks and headers.

Dawson also had chances to score, but after scoring, it was almost as if Spurs felt confident their opponents would not find the net, and they did not seem to over-commit.

Spurs had a chance through a Townsend shot, after the left winger fed Fryers, who did well to keep the ball in play then return it to Townsend, who tried a right foot shot, which passed wide. A minute later, Soldado had a chance from a cross from the right, but headed wide back across the goal.

Bellamy took a Cardiff free kick,after 6 minutes, which was way over the target. Cardiff then had a counter attack, after Fryers had been caught out in front of Townsend. It was Bellamy who crossed from the right, and Dawson got in an important block.

Andros Townsend was fouled right on the edge of the box, and Adebayor took the shot, which was blocked. Kim then got booked for a foul on Zeki Fryers, and Bellamy also saw yellow for arguing with Phil Dowd. Bellamy might even have got a second yellow as he took too long to calm down.

Townsend had another shot parried by Marshall in the Cardiff goal, and cleared. A Spurs free kick taken by Naughton was met by Dawson's head, but held by the goalkeeper. After a Spurs corner, and some prolonged passing play, when the ball was sent to and fro across the Cardiff area, Soldado and Dawson had an exchange of passes, and it was Dawson who shot wide across the goalmouth from the right side.

Dawson met another Spurs corner, but again headed across goal. Spurs took a deserved lead in the 28th minute, after being under pressure at the back, when I felt Lloris should have held a high ball. However, his punch led to a quick Spurs counter-attack, with Townsend making ground through the middle, and feeding the ball to Adebayor on the left. Adebayor passed inside, and Soldado scored nicely with a deft finish to the left of Marshall inside his left post. Adebayor led the celebrations, and encouraged the rest of the team to join Soldado in his understandably enthusiastic celebration in front of the Park Lane crowd.

In no time at all, Caulker had that headed chance, but after that, the action faded somewhat. Spurs fans regaled Cardiff with a chant of "You're supposed to be in blue" (They were in red shirts). The Cardiff fans responded with applause and responded with "We've always been blue", which in turn was applauded by the Park Lane End.

Incidentally, today had seen the debut of the Park Lane surfing flag (Can't smile without you), which I felt was a little small, and certainly nowhere near as big as flags seem at other grounds. The sentiment was fine though, and Spurs fans had chosen the flag through an online survey.

Left sided player Declan John had a clear run at Spurs In a counter attack, testing Lloris with his shot, and winning a corner. At the other end, Dembele worked a little room for a shot, which went wide.

After a Cardiff corner, and a Spurs throw, Aaron Lennon made an exciting run down the left channel, but had his final shot blocked. Lennon worked hard today, and on one occasion was almost the last line of the Spurs defence, thwarting a Cardiff attack.

Spurs won a free kick on the edge of the box, after Naughton had split the fence with a ball to Lennon, who was fouled. Townsend took the kick, with his left foot, but Marshall held. Townsend had another effort on goal, which went wide, after Spurs had attacked from their own half.

Solskjaer made a couple of substitutions, one of which was to replace Bellamy.

More good passing by Naughton gave Soldado work to and he was fouled on the Spurs right flank. Unfortunately, Townsend's kick did not test the Cardiff defence.

The pattern of the game was now such that Spurs tried to force a way though the Cardiff wall, but perhaps without over-exerting themselves.

Sandro came on for Paulinho, and got his second yellow card of the week, after a typical midfield challenge. Chadli had replaced Townsend, and Harry Kane replaced Soldado. Both showed more than a little skill and effort, but Spurs could not find that second goal.

The best direct chance fell to Kane, after Lennon had fed Chadli, who made the final pass. Kane's shot was too soft, and easy for Marshall.

Spurs will need to find another gear for their next mission, next Saturday tea-time at Stamford Bridge, but for now, they sit comfortably in fifth place.

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