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Match Reports
Spurs v Aston Villa, 23.11.03

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 23RD NOVEMBER, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) ASTON VILLA 1 (0)

Spurs scorers:-
Ricketts, 78
Keane, 81

Villa scorer:-
Allback, 66

Referee:- Jeff Winter

Attendance:- 33, 140

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Anderton, King, Dalmat, Konchesky (sub Ricketts, 57); Keane, Postiga (sub Zamora, 72)

Subs not used:- Burch; Doherty; Poyet

No bookings

Aston Villa (4-4-2):- Sorensen; Delaney (sub Dublin, 80), Mellberg (Capt..), Johnsen, Samuel; Hendrie (sub Moore, 86), Hitzlsperger, Whittingham, Barry; Vassell, Allback

Subs not used:- Postma; Ridgewell, Kinsella

Booked:- Hendrie

Just when it looked like Spurs were going to be staring at the bottom three from 17th place, after Villa had taken a 66th minute lead through Allback, up popped substitute Rohan Ricketts, and Robbie Keane with two goals in three minutes to send the home fans home happy, and to lift Spurs to 12th place, where they can breathe just a little easier until the next 6-pointer at Blackburn!

Sky's "Super Sunday" team must have been dreading yet another goal-less draw, and thinking of a new title for their show, as neither of the two sides looked like bothering the opposition keeper, or shaking the rain from the nets in what was a lack-lustre first hour. You would never have thought that both sides started in the relegation zone, knowing that three points could give them a degree of comfort in the upper reaches of the bottom half.

Spurs had started with the same team that started at Highbury two weeks ago, but perhaps predictably, the fighting spirit from the derby game was not in evidence until late today. The only member of the Spurs line-up who looked capable of making something happen was Stephane Dalmat, who started inside Anderton, beside Ledley King in midfield, but after half an hour, was switched to the right wing. Dalmat made a number of good runs from both positions, able to beat and pass players, but sadly often running into trouble, or making an inaccurate final ball.

On the other flank, I have to say that Konchesky looks no more than a good squad player, and once again he was feeding the opposition keeper with his crosses. The defence looked solid, but to be truthful, Villa rarely gave us any problems, as they seemed to have very little in their creative locker. Sadly, Postiga still needs to gain his confidence,and his game was over when he missed a real howler in front of the goal after 71 minutes. Helder did make one or two clever flicked passes during the game, and a decent run or two, but I fancy that his replacement, Bobby Zamora, will get the nod until Fredi Kanoute returns to action - hopefully in two weeks' time.

It has been raining for two days solidly in London, and there must have been a few worries about the game, but the pitch held up well throughout. In a first half devoid of much excitement, it was Spurs who had most of the chances. Firstly, after 3 minutes, Anderton (who had the freedom of the midfield from right to left) fed Keane, who flicked the ball over the defence, giving Postiga his first great opportunity today. With a defender in close proximity, Postiga could only poke the ball wide, when he should have hit the target. Soon after that Mellberg mis-kicked an attempted clearance inside his area, presenting Konchesky with a scoring chance. However, the chance was unexpected and the angle was sharp, and Konchesky shot across the front of goal.

After 11 minutes, Robbie Keane (having been denied a valid free-kick appeal near the bye-line) sent the ball inside from a throw-in to Postiga, who teed up Dalmat, whose shot was always going over the bar. Five minutes later, a nice move started on the right led to Keane feeding Konchesky, who crossed, but Anderton - ghosting into the area - could not match the height of the ball, heading too high.

Villa created the best chance so far after 31 minutes, when they crossed low from the left, and Allback passed back to Hitzlsperger, who hit a low drive outside Keller's left post. Keane did get a shot on target from a Stephen Carr throw, but it was fodder for Sorensen who then started a good counter for the visitors, as Gardner had to clear from Vassell, advancing upon Keller's goal. Just before the break, Taricco nearly emulated his scoring feat of the Leeds game, as he cut inside and hit a great right foot shot that was heading just inside Sorensen's left post, but was pushed round by the keeper at full stretch for the corner.

It was five minutes into the second half before Spurs showed the level of determination needed, and this came from Taricco who found Keane, whose cross from the left was in front of everyone in the goal area. Ricketts then replaced Konchesky, but did not get in the game for a while, as Villa enjoyed a period of some pressure including another shot from Hitzlsperger. which was deflected for a corner. Villa took the lead mid-way through the second half, when Allback rose to a chipped pass at the back of the area to send a looping header over Keller into the goal.

This goal turned out to be the spark needed to fire up the home side, as Carr and King started to get further forward to good effect. After 71 minutes, Ricketts chipped a nice ball over the Villa defence, and it was Taricco who picked up the chance, but shot wide across the goalmouth. Robbie Keane was beyond the far post to send the ball back into the area, and this was Postiga's chance from close range with only Sorensen to beat. Postiga managed to scoop the ball over, and predictably held his head in his hands. This miss was probably three times the distance of that by Acimovic last season at home against Fulham, but it could have been SO expensive!

Keller did well to save a Barry shot that was deflected, and then Zamora replaced Postiga. With 12 minutes to go, Ledley King worked his way towards the area, and found Keane, who slipped it to Ricketts on the left with a sharp ball. Rohan hit a great low right foot shot, and Zamora did well to dummy, letting the ball go through his legs and those of a defender, to hit the net just inside the post, with Sorensen beaten. Rohan puffed his chest, and was rightfully proud of his second senior goal for Spurs.

Within three minutes, Spurs took the lead. They had just had a decent attack down the right side with Dalmat to the fore. Delaney had got injured and was replaced by Dublin. Villa had failed to re-organise their defence when Robbie Keane was aware of extra space around him, signalled for the ball from the right, and turned, leaving Johnsen in his wake, beating the keeper with a low right-footed shot across the goal. Off went Robbie on an extended trademark celebration in the north-west corner of the ground.

Keller made his best save of the match from Stephen Carr, who nearly scored an own goal with a header above and to the right of his keeper. Zamora and Dalmat chiefly played possession football in the corner for much of the remainder of the game, and the points were secured, much to the relief of most people in the stadium.

Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here

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