FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 24TH FEBRUARY, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) FULHAM 1 (1)
Sheringham (pen), 40
King (o.g), 15
Attendance:- 34, 704
Referee:- Graham Barber
Spurs (4-3-1-2):- Keller; Carr, Richards, King, Taricco; Davies, Bunjevcevic, Anderton; Poyet (sub Acimovic, 35) (sub Etherington, 83); Sheringham (Capt), Doherty
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Thatcher; Toda
Booked:- Richards, Anderton
Sent Off:- Anderton (second yellow)
Fulham (4-4-2):- Taylor; Finnan (Capt), Djetou (sub Knight, 12), Quaddou, Wome; Malbranque, Legwinski, Davis, Marlet (sub Saha, 18); Sava (sub Herrera, 38), Boa Morte
Subs not used:- Harley; Inamoto
Booked:- Wome, Boa Morte
Sent off:- Taylor (foul on Davies)
Spurs played like a side that had spent the last two weeks resting on its backside, instead of sharpening up their fitness and skills. So much for the benefit of rest for a team, as Fulham, playing the first of three games in 6 days, and in the middle of a busy programme, looked sharper and more eager throughout, despite their own early injury problems, and the forced replacement of goalkeeper Taylor, who was sent off for bringing down Davies in the box with seven minutes of the first half to go. Thus the visitors had used all their substitutes, with over half the match to go, and it looked as if Spurs would make hay in the second half. However, it has to be said that Fulham looked more likely to score with ten men, than Spurs did with 11, especially as Milenko Acimovic, who had replaced the injured Poyet, contrived to dink a ball onto the top of the bar and over the goal from just three yards in front of a gaping goalmouth.
Call me an old cynic if you like, but wasn't it a bit spooky that both Ianamoto and Toda featured on the substitutes bench for this fixture live on TV, and probably being relayed to Japan? Neither got on the pitch despite all the departures, but no doubt their fans at home were kept on the edge of their seats hoping to see their heroes play!
Spurs did look eager from the kick off and Teddy Sheringham sent Gary Doherty away down the left immediately. Doherty passed to Anderton, whose cross was straight to the keeper. This was to prove a pattern for the night really, as too many crosses were either fodder for the keeper, or way too strong to be of any potency. Boa Morte responded straightaway for Fulham and cut the ball back to Sean Davis, whose shot was deflected wide for a corner.
There were only two minutes on the clock when Anderton's free kick from the left reached Sheringham who had a free header but managed to send it back across the goal and far too wide. In front of the Paxton stand, Malbranque rounded Taricco with ease but Sava headed the cross straight to Keller. Fulham suffered early injury setbacks either side of their opening goal, with Djetou replaced by Zat Knight (himself an injury doubt before the game), and Marley replaced by Saha. The goal came when Boa Morte found an opening on the left, and his shot across goal was deflected in by the unfortunate Ledley King, who goes down as the scorer at the wrong end.
After 20 minutes, Teddy had another header from an Anderton kick, this time from the right, and this time, Teddy did hit the target and at least force Taylor to stoop down to collect the ball. Shortly, Sheringham nearly scored a spectacular left foot volley from 22 yards when he latched onto a loose ball. The shot was considerably wide, but would have been a great goal!
There was a criminal waste by Spurs of a short corner on the half hour, before Boa Morte was closing down on Keller's goal, and looking like scoring, only to pass the ball to his right and no team-mate. Taricco then passed inside to Anderton who hit a cracking shot which curled into the target, and was tipped over by Taylor. Taylor got a touch to Ledley King's header that also hit the bar.
Then came some drama, as Dean Richards recovered well just inside his own half, before sending a long pass in the direction of Davies. The Fulham defender made a bit of a hash of the situation and Simon was round him and into the area with the ball, and only Taylor to beat. The goalie grabbed his ankles, Davies went sprawling and referee Barber had no hesitation in awarding the penalty and sending off Taylor. Now, I understand that Andy Gray (on Sky TV) has criticised this decision, but when I saw the replays at half time on the Jumbotron, Taylor looked about as far away from the ball to me, as George Bush does in making peace with Saddam!
Sheringham sent the penalty just inside the goalie's left post, although Herrera so nearly reached the ball. After the break, Louis Saha had several good chances, and within a minute, Ledley King and Kasey Keller had their work cut out to block Saha's advance and concede a corner.
For too much of the game, Spurs were bereft of ideas, and lacking movement off the ball. The midfield central pair of Bunjevcevic and Anderton would one minute make a great pass, but the other make a silly mistake to lose the ball. Gary Doherty, I'm afraid to say, was a passenger for much of the time, getting caught offside too easily, and getting no change out of the defence. On 50 minutes, Bunjee sent Carr away with a clever ball, but Acimovic headed Carr's cross straight to the keeper.
Stephen Carr was the main driving force behind Spurs attacks in the second half, and after 63 minutes he was away again, sending a low cross in front and past Herrera, finding Acimovic three yards out with a wide-open goal to aim at. Instead of just prodding or driving the ball home, Acimovic managed to chip the ball onto the bar and over the goal. Disaster! Doherty at least did get a header on target and forced the goalkeeper into action.
Anderton had collected his first booking before Acimovic nearly made amends for his gaffe, with a powerful 20 yards shot that went just over the bar, after Knight presented him with the ball. Then it was farewell to Anderton, as he needlessly fouled Saha, and was shown the second yellow and his first red card in his time at Spurs. Saha nearly snatched the spoils with a rasping left foot shot that rapped the bar, and may have had a saving touch from Keller.
Etherington got on all too late, and did not get a touch for 4 minutes. By the time he did manage to get involved, Spurs did put Fulham under a little pressure towards the end with a couple of corners, taken by Davies, one of which was headed goalward by Sheringham, only to be blocked in front of the keeper.
Fulham were well pleased with their point, whilst Spurs failed to impose themselves upon the race for Europe. Mind you, what's the point of qualifying for Europe when you haven't got a team capable of competing? On this form, I fear defeat at Upton Park on Saturday. Oh, and by the way, I shall be staking something on Les Ferdinand to score against us.
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