FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 1ST MARCH, 2003
WEST HAM UNITED 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee:- Neale Barry
West Ham (4-4-2):- James; Johnson, Repka, Pearce, Brevett; Bowyer, Cole (Capt), Carrick, Sinclair; Ferdinand (sub Hutchison, 62), Defoe
Subs not used:- Van Der Gouw; Breen; Moncur, Cisse
Booked:- Johnson, Bowyer, Cole
Spurs (4-4-2/3-5-2):- Keller; Carr, Richards, King, Taricco; Davies, Bunjevcevic (sub Thatcher, 46), Anderton, Etherington (sub Acimovic, 71); Sheringham (Capt), Doherty (sub Freund, 66)
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Toda
Booked:- Taricco, Davies
I don't want to be the one who told you so, but er...I told you so, when I predicted that West Ham would beat us today, and that Les Ferdinand would score. What I did not forsee was that I would have to witness yet another abject performance from a Glenn Hoddle side, as we made the Hammers look a class above us, and not the team that has been battling relegation all season. Those diabolical efforts from our boys in white are getting too many for one hand now - Middlesbrough, Burnley, Arsenal (Away), Southampton, Fulham, and now West Ham.
I was at a meeting this week where I think a couple of Spurs directors were surprised that there is a growing feeling of disenchantment with Hoddle. His was a side that before this game was legitimately hailed as a contender for Europe (even the Champions League in some quarters). You would think that a team in that position would play with spirit, would be well motivated, and would play with a discernible pattern and style, but this is not the case with Spurs. Richards and King looked out of sorts at times, Anderton's passing was often woeful, and yet Bunjevcevic was taken off at the break to allow Thatcher on and allegedly re-inforce the defence which reverted to a 3-5-2, and quite frankly, looked more frail than it had in the first half.
By this time we had four potential wing-backs on the field, but only one - Stephen Carr - played anywhere near his potential. Doherty was a passenger, and should not be tried as a striker again, and sad to say, skipper Teddy Sheringham missed a couple of decent chances, but also failed too often with his passing. Davies and Etherington were there to provide a bit of pace, but never really got going, although they were both the main targets of some hefty tackling from Johnson, Bowyer, and Cole, each of whom got booked in the first half. Such was the desire of West Ham, who thoroughly deserve this win, which gives them a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.
Spurs failed to really test the leakiest defence of the Premiership, which kept its first clean sheet since October. James was not given a stiff effort to save, and even misfit Repka was made to look good. Spurs drop to ninth, and will be lucky to retain that position now.
Strangely, the home crowd was remarkably quiet in the early phases of the game, when it was their biggest Derby match, and one they desperately needed to win. The Spurs fans that taunted them with chants of "We'll never play you again", and "Say Hello to Millwall" were to be silenced before the second half was more than two minutes old.
West Ham gave Spurs a number of close shaves from the start. After just 4 minutes, Ferdinand beat King and headed to Defoe who slipped the ball through for Bowyer to be one on one with Keller, who smothered the shot, and took a blow from Bowyer's follow-through. Then Richards fell asleep to a lofted ball from the left, allowing Defoe to pass him and bring another save from Keller.
Spurs had given Etherington a couple of runs down the left, but their first real chance came when Anderton found Carr with space on the right. The visiting support shouted "Shoot" and Carr obliged with a low drive saved by James. Ferdinand and Richards had a clash of heads which left them both on the floor - Ferdinand for longer. Spurs next scare came when Brevett cut in from the left and sent Defoe away. Defoe threaded the ball to Bowyer, who was clear for another one on one. This time his shot was parried against the right post by Kasey Keller, but he failed to save Ferdinand's shot eight minutes later. Defoe turned well just inside the Spurs half, and left the defence behind passing to Ferdinand on the right side of the 18 yard line. Again, Les got the better of King and his right foot shot found the net, with Keller getting a touch, but not enough on the ball. My £5 bet at Les to be the first scorer at 13 to 2 had come off. Paul Kemsley told me it was a good bet on Thursday at the Trust Q & A.
With four minutes to go before the interval, Sheringham spurned a good chance when he met Anderton's corner beyond the back post, and headed with power, but all the way across goal and just wide. Anderton then hit a curving shot to James' right, but the keeper was equal to that effort. Spurs had Stephen Carr to thank for preventing a second goal as Sinclair, Defoe and Cole led a three-pronged attack on the Spurs goal. Cole's shipped pass from the right was heading for Defoe, but Carr cleared well.
Despite Hoddle's tactical change, the Hammers were two up within two minutes, after the Spurs defence failed to clear a ball from the right. Keller could only punch the ball weakly out, and it got as far as Carrick, who scored his first goal of the season with a powerful drive. Another cross from the right by Bowyer was saved well by Keller from a Pearce header.
Etherington and Taricco won a battle down the left, before Sheringham managed to head Taricco's cross way over the goal. Doherty was replaced by Freund, to great applause from the fans, and Steffen did have an early shot, but was as badly off target as Sheringham's header. West Ham were the only likely scorers though, and Hutchison's shot was deflected for a corner after he had latched onto Richards' half clearance. Defoe left Thatcher behind as he ran to the left, tried a long shot, but this was across the target.
And so, we trudged dejected out of the ground, as the Hammers started "Blowing Bubbles". I'm off to join THSA. "My name is Paul. I'm a Tottenham Hotspur Supporter"
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