FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 18TH MARCH, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1 (0)
Referee:- Jeff Winter
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; King, Perry, Gardner; Davies, Anderton, Sherwood (Capt), Poyet, Ziege; Rebrov (sub Etherington, 72), Ferdinand (sub Iversen, 46)
Subs not used:- Keller; Taricco, Thelwell
Booked:- Gardner (Foul)
Charlton (3-5-2):- Kiely; Rufus, Costa, Fortune; Young, Bart-Williams, Parker (sub Konchesky, 82), Stuart (Capt.), Powell (sub Robinson, 90);
Subs not used:- Ilic; Kinsella; Johansson
Spurs were clueless, goalless and pointless as they slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat, and their third straight defeat in the league. Of equal concern is the fact that they have failed to score in each of those games, but at least tonight they did manage their first shot on target in some 120 minutes, when Kiely made the first of several excellent saves from a Ferdinand close range header. Charlton have a great record against London sides, having done the double over Chelsea and beaten Arsenal at Highbury. Currently, Spurs are the fourth best team in London, but they may fall below West Ham, as it is difficult to see where the next point is going to come from.
I am afraid Ledley King has to carry the can for Chris Powell's soft winner, and once again he has made an expensive error in front of the England manager. However, poor Ledley need not shoulder all the blame, as the whole team struggled to make headway. Charlton matched Hoddle's 3-5-2 formation, but they displayed much more energy, getting behind the ball, as soon as Spurs got possession, but also managing to threaten in sufficient numbers to worry the Spurs defence. Too often Spurs were sluggish in moving forward, assisting the defensive organisation of their opponents.
Sergei Rebrov got another start, but once again failed to impress. Yes, he had one or two touches, and I recall a long range shot that Kiely saved easily, but that was it. The home crowd booed when he was replaced by Etherington, but Sergei had not done enough to stay on. Mind you, Iversen had replaced Ferdinand at half time, and did even less! Sheringham was rested, and of course he and Les will be missing on Sunday through suspension, so a goal will be hard to find at Craven Cottage. Dean Richards and Ben Thatcher were absent through injury.
Simon Davies got into some good attacking positions early on, but it was Spurs old boy Luke Young who brought the first threat to goal with a good cross that led to a blocked shot from Chris Bart-Williams. Then Anthony Gardner made a useful forward run - Rebrov ran into space for him, but Anthony ignored the striker and shot wide from distance. Jason Euell put Ledley under pressure, causing Ledley to head a right field ball into Stuart's path. The Charlton skipper's shot across goal was wide, but Sullivan looked badly positioned, too far to left of the goal.
A very late tackle by Parker on Les Ferdinand went un-punished except for a free kick. Had the offender been Taricco (on the bench tonight), he would probably have been sent off! Charlton were making the most threats on goal, and Rufus was unmarked in the 6 yard box, but headed Bart-Williams corner just wide. Ferdinand was fouled by Costa on the edge of the box, but Charlton were safe, as Ziege took the free kick, and hit it way over. He or Anderton took any such kicks, and we always knew they were going over the goal.
On the half hour mark, Spurs got their first decent chance when Gardner got to the bye-line and passed back to Ziege. Ziege's deep cross went over Costa, and Les ducked to head, but Kiely stretched his hand to his right to prevent the goal. The home crowd was irate when Gardner was punished for a foul on Parker, but it was the only yellow card of the night from referee Winter. Svensson headed over at the near post, before Luke Young rounded Ziege, and forced a good save from Sullivan with a low shot. In first half injury time, Gus Poyet headed Spurs first corner of the game goalward. The ball may have been prevented from going over the line by Anthony Gardner!
The early part of the second half was pretty tepid, and it was Parker who had the first memorable effort on goal, after a 1-2 with Euell. His shot was straight to the keeper. Too often, Spurs took an age to formulate their attack, but it was Gus Poyet who popped up with two or three excellent chances. After 62 minutes he got on the end of a Davies ball, and shot across the goal. Kiely got a touch, but the referee awarded a goal kick. Poyet should have scored anyway. Within minutes, Gus was through again in the middle of the penalty area. Kiely was the saviour once again with a good save from Gus's low shot.
Then came the killer blow, and what a soft goal it was. Ledley failed to deal properly with Stuart's hopeful ball into the area, and I am sure that the ball simply rebounded into the goal off Powell from King's attempt to pass back to Sullivan. All Spurs had to show for their remaining endeavours was a header from Poyet that hit the underside of the bar, which was cleared by Konchesky.
The programme notes contained various forms of positive "spin" after the "recent setbacks" (not disasters?), suggesting that any team in the "lower reaches of the top half of the table" (that's us) would "certainly be in contention for a European slot" with a strong finish. Well, that chance may fall to Charlton, but at the moment, I am struggling to see the point of even travelling to our remaining games, let alone investing a further thousand pounds or two in season tickets for next year. The fact is that tonight's performance approached almost the most dire of performances under "The Predecessor". The crowd let the team know what they thought tonight, but at the moment, the team gives little suggestion that they are even playing for pride. I repeat, it is hard to know where the next point will come from, and that is a real concern in our position. We are not secure in the Premiership yet!
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