FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 24TH MARCH, 2002
FULHAM 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)
Referee:- Paul Durkin
Fulham (4-1-2-3):- Van Der Sar; Finnan (Capt), Ouaddou, Goma, Harley (sub Brevett, 57); Davis; Malbranque, Legwinski; Marlet, Hayles, Saha
Subs not used:- Taylor; Melville; Collins; Boa Morte
Booked:- Malbranque, Goma
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Gardner, Thatcher; King, Anderton (sub Davies, 75), Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Iversen
Subs not used:- Keller; Thelwell; Etherington, Rebrov
Booked:- Gardner, Sherwood
Gus Poyet was quoted earlier in the week as saying that all Spurs needed was a lucky goal to get their confidence back, and perhaps get a result, and to a degree that is what happened at Craven Cottage today, as Teddy Sheringham got on the mark for his first league goal since 3rd December, as he deflected a Ziege cross into the net to set Spurs on their way to their first win in five games, and scored their first goal in over 400 minutes of action, to end their recent dismal run.. Poyet scored a second, and Steffen Iversen should have settled the issue just after half time, when he managed to put a perfect 1 on 1 chance wide of the goal. Fulham were unlucky not to score, especially when their best player today - Marlet - hit the post Ferdinand style with 20 minutes to go, and whilst Spurs have passed the sacred 40 point mark, Fulham must keep an eye over their shoulders as they are only three points ahead of the relegation zone.
Safety issues after trouble at the League Cup game here in November, had caused the officials to restrict Spurs to just 750 fans for this game, but those 750 made enough noise for double their number, whilst Fulham could not fill their ground, and seem to be struggling to get rid of their allocation for their forthcoming semi-final against local rivals, Chelsea. Indeed the biggest cheer from the home crowd was the news of Chelsea's one goal defeat at Anfield today.
Glenn Hoddle said earlier in the week that he may have to sacrifice his flair principals in order to get a result or two, and he firmed up the defence by playing Ledley King at right wing back, leaving Simon Davies on the bench. Ziege was given his usual licence to attack, more in the first half, but man of the match Tim Sherwood shored up the defence by taking a position just in front of the back three of Perry, Gardner and Thatcher - each of whom had solid games. Glenn's formation did leave a lot of midfield ground to the opposition though, and Darren Anderton was left with a lot of ground to cover, taking responsibility for right field attacks, as Ledley stayed back. Anderton's stamina must have been sorely affected, as he started to give away too many passes as the game went on, eventually being replaced by Simon Davies. Whilst he missed that early second half chance, I do think that Iversen played pretty well, having to chase many long balls, and often managing to hold the ball up, without threatening the goal himself. Sheringham and Poyet were improved, but make no mistakes, Spurs could easily have conceded a goal or two in the second half, and the first league clean sheet since New Year's Day was down to Fulham's bad luck and inaccuracy at times, rather than excellent defending.
Jean Tigana left perhaps his most influential player - John Collins - on the bench, and played Marlet on the right side of a three pronged attack. Had Marlet played in the middle instead of the often profligate Hayles and Saha, maybe they would have scored, but Marlet gave us enough problems as it was - often beating Thatcher for pace.
Spurs were often happy to let Fulham come at them, and manage a break-away attack, and an early Poyet cross from the left was headed over by Iversen. Spurs did have an early period of pressure as Ziege hit three corners in quick succession. An Anderton cross was deflected to Sheringham's feet, but the ball was cleared before the skipper could get a shot in. Then Malbranque was away with the ball, and managed a long distance shot, wide to the left of Sullivan. After 11 minutes, Ziege found Iversen with a good long ball. Iversen crossed from the right, but all Teddy could do was dolly his header to Van Der Sar. Gardner got an early booking, and the free kick was chipped over the defence, but Saha could only flick the ball wide of goal.
Sheringham took a quick free kick after 25 minutes, finding Anderton on the right. Darren's cross was met at the far post by Iversen, but the keeper saved with his back against the post. Three minutes later, Hayles forced Iversen down just outside the area, and Ziege's free kick was deflected by the wall into Sheringham's path. The ball flew into the net off Teddy but he didn't seem to know too much about it, as it had actually hit his face. Never mind - a goal's a goal! - and boy did we need it! Spurs were magically two up within another three minutes, when Ledley sent a long ball from the half way line to the far side of the area. Iversen's effort to carry the ball through was blocked, but the ball fell to Ziege, whose cross shot was parried by the keeper into the path of Gus Poyet to gratefully pick up his ninth league goal of the season (tenth in all).
Spurs then started gifting too many balls in the middle (mainly thorugh Anderton), but it was Ledley King stray ball that led to Marlet trying a long shot that only just went over the bar in front of the half empty Fulham terraces. In injury time at the end of the first half, Malbranque passed to Marlet, who crossed from the right, but Hayles headed wide when he ahd the goal at his mercy.
Ledley sent Iversen away just after the break, and h had time and space to pick his spot against Van Der Sar, but missed the target completely with a shot to the left of goal. Until Davies came on, Spurs were on the back foot. First Finnan sent Marlet away past Thatcher. Marlet lobbed Sullivan from an acurte angle, and the ball went to the back post, where Hayles was blocked by Perry, and Malbranque's follow-up shot went over the bar.
Brevett replaced Harley, and immediately made his presence felt, sending a good cross to Marlet again. Marlet's header was put out for a corner by Anthony Gardner, but from the corner, Sullivan had to make a good reaction save from another header. With 20 minutes to go, Hayles beat Ledley, but Marlet managed to head the cross against the post. The ball rolled across the goal, and Perry cleared again.
Once Davies was on, he had an early chance. having fed the ball to Sheringham on the right, Simon was in the box to receive Iversen's chip, but he headed across the target and wide. Spurs eased the pressure and started to play some decent football. Teddy crossed from the right, and Christian Ziege tried a first time shot that dipped but still went over the bar. Fulham's last chance came when Sullivan saved a Saha shot with a double punched clearance. The Fulham not-so-faithful started to leave, whilst the 750 sang up for Tottenham and celebrated their first away league win since West Ham, four months ago to the day.
· Full on at Fulham - Additional comment by Anton Lang.
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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