FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY DECEMBER 15TH, 2001
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (2) FULHAM 0 (0)
Referee:- Neale Barry
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards, King; Davies, Anderton, Freund, Poyet, Taricco; Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand (sub Rebrov, 62)
Subs not used:- Keller; Gardner; Sherwood, Leonhardsen
Booked:- Ferdinand, Perry, Freund (all fouls)
Fulham (4-4-2):- Van Der Sar; Finnan, Melville (Capt), Goma, Brevett; Boa Morte, Malbranque, Legwinski, Collins (sub Clarke, 72); Hayles, Saha
Subs not used:- Taylor; Knight, Davis, Stolcers
Booked:- Saha (Foul), Boa Morte (Diving)
It is fitting that one of the top three goalscorers in the 10 year history of the Premiership, and a player who was included in the Premiership hall of Fame, Sir Leslie Ferdinand, should score the 10,000th premiership goal. Although it was scored after 20 minutes, it was the first of the day, and Les was rewarded by Barclaycard with the sum of £10,000, which he is passing onto his two favourite cancer charities. Ferdinand is returning to form, as this goal put him into double figures already - a landmark that took all of last season. Suddenly Les looks like achieving the level of scoring that we hoped for when he was signed four years ago. 10 goals in 17 games this season is easily up to the best standard that Ferdinand has achieved over his career. Well done Les!
Jean Tigana claimed that his side were tired after their long week, but Spurs have played three games too, and scored four smooth goals to finish with a margin far more comfortable than any pundit predicted. Fulham enjoyed a period of dominating possession in the middle of the fist half, and had several chances in the second, but they rarely hit the target or bothered Neil Sullivan. Hayles and Saha were guilty of a glaring miss each. Spurs have now won their last two games convincingly, scoring a total of ten, and keeping a clean sheet. Full marks then to the back three. Dean Richards was man of the match in some peoples' eyes, but for me Darren Anderton, who had a hand in all of the goals, was the star. It has to be said that he is hitting excellent form in the middle, showing determination to win the ball, and accuracy and incisiveness in his passing. The off the ball movement of the players around him was excellent today too.
Anderton started an excellent seventh minute move by sending Ferdinand away down the inside right channel. Les found Taricco, and it was Gus Poyet's effort that was turned for a corner. There were claims from the Spurs section of the South Stand for a handball when Teddy got to the bye line, but we were to get little out of referee Barry today. The South Stand is worth a mention, as they start many of the chants these days, and I reckon a large proportion of the away support are regulars here, as the Steffen Freund loves me got its premiere in a recent away game.
Fulham did have us on the back foot after 12 minutes, when a couple of blocked shots fell to Steed Malbranque, unmarked on the left side of goal. His shot flashed into the side netting. Spurs were generally defending well, but very threatening on the break. They took the lead after 20 minutes. Steffen Freund was tackled about 35 yards out but the ball ran to Simon Davies on the right. Anderton made a run for him, and picked the ball up near the bye line. Darren put a low cross into the 6 yard box, and Ferdinand gratefully snapped up the opportunity. Those of us who had backed the other Spurs player whose name begins with F to score that magic goal were disappointed!
Les seemed to have been elbowed to the ground in the middle by Legwinski, who escaped unpunished, without even a free kick being awarded. Minutes later, Les was booked when the ref must have decided he decided to get his own back on the villain of the piece! The lead was doubled when Teddy headed on a long clearance, Les touched the ball back to Anderton, who hit a sweet low drive inside Van Der Sar's right post. Fulham had a chance to get on the scoresheet just before the break, when Perry slipped and allowed a cross to reach Hayles in front of goal. He fired way over the bar.
Within two minutes of the restart, Van Der Sar kept his side in the game with a marvellous save from Gus Poyet, but the ball hit Dean Richards, somehow going over the bar. At the other end Malbranque wasted a Collins header, as he shot over and wide of the far post. Sullivan's one and only test came from a cross shot from the right. This was at the far end from my position, but Sullivan seemed to parry the shot, and Chris Perry had to sweep up.
Hayles again headed a chance wide, and Taricco tried a curling shot after some trickery on the right from Anderton and Davies. Then came, what for me was the goal of the game. Spurs came out on the break, and Anderton found Davies with a lovely threaded ball down the inside right line. Simon chested it on, and showed control, confidence and deft play, as he placed his left foot shot to the keeper's left.
Fulham's heads were down now, as Spurs dominated the closing stages. Anderton was in the build up again, as this time Teddy Sheringham sent a ball through the middle inviting Sergei Rebrov (who replaced Ferdinand) to make it his own. With the defence left standing, Sergei took up the offer, lifting the ball over the advancing Van Der Sar for another great finish. Van Der Sar was needed again to tip over another Poyet effort, and Boa Morte got booked for diving in the penalty area. Fulham's display was typified really by Saha's last minute miss, when Malbranque set him up.
Spurs are now an established top eight side, would you believe? Even the fact that we have drawn Chelsea in the Worthington Cup semi-final can't deflate the mood of optimism, can it? Bring on bottom of the table Ipswich next week, and look forward to the good times!
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
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