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Spurs v West Ham, 22.02.15

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 22ND FEBRUARY, 2015
(12 noon)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) WEST HAM UNITED 2 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Rose, 81
Kane, 90 (+6)

West Ham scorers:-
Kouyate, 22
Sakho, 62

Attendance:- 35,837

Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- J. Brooks & E. Smart
Fourth official:- M. Dean

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason (sub Chadli, 80), Bentaleb; Townsend (sub Soldado, 60), Dembele (sub Eriksen, 46), Lamela; Kane

Subs not used:- Vorm; Fazio, Davies; Stambouli

No bookings

West Ham (4-2-3-1):- Adrian; Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell; Kouyate, Song; Downing, Noble (Capt.) (sub Cole, 68 (sub Collins, 87)), Valencia (sub Jarvis, 75); Sakho

Subs not used:- Jaaskelainen; O’Brien; Nolan, Demel

Booked:- Noble (foul), Cresswell (foul on Townsend)

Harry Kane – Almost too late the hero *

It was a grey day at White Hart Lane and it was so nearly a darker day, with West Ham set to win their fourth out of their last five games against Tottenham. However, in the very last seconds of the allotted five minutes of added time, Harry Kane was pushed to the floor in the area by Alex Song, and referee Jon Moss, with assistance from the line, pointed unerringly to the penalty spot. Up stepped the ever confident Kane to fire to the right of goalkeeper Adrian. Adrian was West Ham’s penalty hero against Everton in their FA Cup Third Round shoot-out, and he saved Kane’s spot-kick, which was not one of his best. However, Adrian couldn’t hold the penalty, and the ball rebounded kindly for Kane who slotted home for a late, late equaliser, and his 24th goal of the season.

The buoyant West Ham fans had been singing “It’s happening again – West Ham are winning” both at the 1-0 and 2-0 stages of the game, and Spurs fans could respond in kind, “It’s happening again – Spurs score a late goal – It’s happening again”. Those “Hammers’ “ fans had also been singing “Oh when the Spurs are 2-0 down”. Most of them would have gone home with big sulks on their faces. Sam Allardyce bemoaned the luck of his team, saying Harry Kane had gone down very well. He later seemed to retract some of his words, agreeing that it was a penalty, and criticising Song.

It is true to say that Spurs were lucky to get a draw, having played badly for so much of the game, with countless passes going astray. Even Hugo Lloris had the jitters at one stage with a short goal-kick, which soon turned into a West Ham attack.

Mauricio Pochettino made 6 changes from the team which drew on Thursday night, with Eriksen left on the bench in favour of Dembele. Dembele had one of his worst games, and was replaced by Eriksen at half-time. Perhaps the whole squad has the jitters with Wembley on the near horizon. Of course they don’t want to get injured. Referee Jon Moss has a tendency to let strong challenges go un-punished, and perhaps West Ham knew this, because they certainly got away with a fair bit. I didn’t see the incident closely myself, but it has been suggested to me that Mark Noble should have had a red card. Noble was Allardyce’s captain today, with Kevin Nolan relegated to the bench, perhaps because of last week’s 4-0 drubbing in the FA Cup at The Hawthorns. Credit where it is due though, and the bottom line is that West Ham defended well all over the pitch, getting very close to the man on the ball, and double marking those they saw as a danger, such as Harry Kane, and Townsend, who played down the right wing.

Spurs had early chances. Kane made a determined run to catch and keep in Bentaleb’s ball over the defence, retrieving it near the bye-line. That enabled a cross from the right and a shot by Bentaleb, which was pushed round his left post by Adrian. Ryan Mason was fouled outside the area, and both Kane and Lamela hinted at taking it, but Lamela took the plunge. The ball was deflected by the wall, and cleared from behind the Hammers’ defence.

Our best chance came when Danny Rose chipped another ball over the top, and Kane just got a touch to the ball, beating the keeper, but only to see his shot hit the outside of the post and go out of play.

After a West Ham corner, Aaron Creswell tried a long range shot, but that was wide. Townsend was again fouled in an attacking area on the right, and took the kick himself. The ball was safely held by Adrian. Spurs had already been guilty of gifting passes to the opposition. Ryan Mason offended two or three times in this way, but Dembele became the main offender when he was forced back towards his own area, and gave the ball away. In the follow-up, Cresswell came running through for a pass, and crossed well for Kouyate to power home a header past Lloris. The Spurs nightmare was beginning.

Spurs won a corner on the right, and after a couple of clearances (one from Bentaleb’s shot), Jan Vertonghen tried a shot from 25 yards, which passed well over the goal. Bentaleb had been our most effective player up to this point, and has truly become a mainstay of the team, with good tackling, interception and passing skills. No wonder he played in the World Cup, and the African Cup of Nations! Harry Kane became provider for the advancing Danny Rose, whose header landed on the top of the net.

There was an exciting passage of play after 28 minutes. At the Spurs end, Hugo Lloris did well to pat clear from the threat of Valencia, after a cross from the left. The ball was sent forward, and Lamela linked up with Kane, who passed to Ryan Mason, whose shot was just wide. Lamela attracts a lot of criticism from many fans, who want him to deliver so much more, but I swear to you he was involved in many of the Spurs attacks that built up the pressure on West Ham late in the second half. He also benefitted from playing on the right once Townsend was replaced by Soldado.

After 38 minutes, Mason did well to reach, and hold a ball on the stretch, exchanging with Dembele, before hitting another shot wide.

Noble and Cresswell got booked either side of half-time, during which Paul Allen was interviewed by Paul Coyte, no doubt just to wind up the West Ham fans a little more.

Substitute Eriksen was involved in a triangular passing move towards the right with Townsend (who was impeded), and finally Mason, who had yet another shot. This one went straight to Adrian’s arms.

Sakho had a shot saved by Lloris, after Noble had threaded a ball from the right. This move had started from that poor goal-kick by Lloris, where he and his defence failed to take the pressure off themselves, as you would expect. Things got worse in front of the gleeful “Hammers” fans when Noble collected a deep cross from the right, beyond the back post, promptly returning the ball across goal to Sakho, who fired home a low shot. Valencia was actually in an offside position when Noble’s pass was hit, and Danny Rose, behind him, and in front of Valencia, paused with his hand raised, expecting a free kick. Play to the whistle Danny!

There was more panic in front of the Spurs goal, after a free kick by Noble (who perhaps should not have been on the pitch). Valencia had a close range effort cleared, and Bentaleb and Lloris were required in subsequent attempts after a corner or two.

Carlton Cole replaced Noble and Matty Jarvis took over from Valencia. Spurs suddenly found their mojo, and truly put the Hammers’ goal under pressure in the closing stages. Lamela cut in from the right and hit a left foot shot, which was deflected and looped up for Harry Kane, who put the ball in the net, but was offside. Adrian made a good diving save to his left from an Eriksen free kick. The ball was running out towards the touch-lien and Lamela was chasing, and fouled, but the officials (there was an assistant nearby) gave nothing.

Spurs won a corner following a Walker foray (he had not got forward much in the first half), and with the wind blowing so much, the ball would not stay still in the quadrant, Lamela took a short corner and exchanged with Eriksen, before crossing. The ball reached Danny Rose, who hit a shot into the ground, which bounced up and confused Adrian, passing him on the left and hitting the net. There were no celebrations from Rose, who merely ran back to resume his position for the kick-off. There was more business to be done.

Substitute Chadli received Eriksen’s pass towards the left, crossing for Soldado, whose shot was saved. West Ham were whingeing by now, because a lot of play had gone on (by both sides) with Carlton Cole injured near the dug-outs. The injured substitute had to be replaced by defender James Collins.

Vertonghen had a header go high from an Eriksen corner before we entered five minutes of added time, and that high drama, with Harry Kane at its centre. I’ll be honest. I had given up hope and was already on the concourse, but I was able to see the action on screen, rejoicing with many other fans of a similar mind.

Liverpool won later in the afternoon and have gone above us to sixth place. There are, however, only four points separating the teams from third to seventh, so all five are in the hunt for the top four. Spurs now have to focus upon Thursday’s difficult game in Florence, and Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final, before resuming the quest for League success.

· Did you know? Michael (not Harry) Caine (not Kane) starred in a 1970 film entitled “Too late the hero” Not a lot of people know that!

· See the exclusive "Spursometer" and have your say regarding the performances of the team, individual players, manager and officials.

· Spurs' record in recent London Derby matches

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