FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
WEDNESDAY 11TH FEBRUARY, 2004
CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (2)
Referee:- Graham Barber
Charlton (4-4-2):- Kiely; Young, Fish, Perry, Hreidarsson; Holland (Capt.), Kishishev (sub Stuart, 32), Jensen, Konchesky; Bartlett (sub Di Canio, 54), Cole (sub Euell, 70)
Subs not used:- Royce; Fortune
Booked:- Fish, Young, Perry
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Doherty, Richards, Taricco; Davies, Brown, King, Jackson; Keane, Defoe (sub Poyet, 86)
Subs not used:- Burch; Bunjevcevic, Dalmat; Barnard
There was yet another goal bonanza, and ultimately a magnificent night for Spurs fans at The Valley tonight, as the team secured their third away win of the season, and their fifth in six league games in another exciting match. Spurs had gone 3-0 up within a minute of half time, but the home side clawed their way back to 3-2 which led to nervy minutes for Spurs, who could only relax once John Jackson restored the two goal lead with his first senior goal for the club. Those who had a "fun bet" at 100 to 1 for a 4-3 win to Spurs must have mixed feelings about the closing minutes, but the 4,000 fans in the Jimmy Seed stand were ecstatic at the end, as were the team and management.
Charlton slumped to their third consecutive defeat, and to 6th place in the league. The Spurs support was terrific, and started off by giving Dean Richards a marvellous reception as his name was announced, which could only have given him extra confidence. The cheers paid off too, as Richards had an effective game overall, certainly improving on Saturday's show, which is best forgotten. Gary Doherty returned in place of the injured Gardner, and Taricco was welcomed back to strengthen the back line, allowing Jackson to play left side of midfield, and Simon Davies to return to his natural right side.
Charlton featured Luke Young at right back, Perry in the central defence, and of course Paul Konchesky, who played on the left side of midfield. Two of these three were to feature prominently in the story of the game. Konchesky had the first shot of the night, which went just over and wide of the goal, and at the other end, Ledley King hit a good low drive across the goal, but wide.
There was no let-up in the end to end nature of the game right from the start, and after 7 minutes, Davies sent Defoe away with a well-timed ball. Defoe's right foot shot was well saved by Kiely. There were occasions of indecision at the back by Spurs though, and Gary Doherty came to the rescue of Keller as he failed to make the necessary ground to collect a long ball. "Doc" cleared, with Bartlett bearing down.
Then Spurs took a dramatic lead in the 10th minute. It was about this stage of the game, when Simon Davies scored the only goal of the corresponding fixture of last season. This time, Spurs cleared from the back, and it was Defoe's ball that Konchesky headed tamely towards his keeper, easily intercepted by Davies, who finished with a right footed shot. 1-0!
That indecision led to a chance that should have given Charlton an equaliser, as both Bartlett and Cole advanced with only Keller to beat. Bartlett could have finished off, but chose to do the charitable thing and tried to set up Cole. Bartlett simply slid the ball into the oh so grateful Keller's hands. In fact, I was waiting for what I thought was the inevitable goal for Cole, but Keller had been gifted a Houdini-style escape!
After 18 minutes, Hreidarsson passed inside to Jensen (who always looks like he runs the game for Charlton), who hit a shot from distance that was easily collected by Kasey. Ledley King rather cheaply conceded a corner, taken by Jensen, which was half cleared to Perry who hit a shot on target, but straight to Keller. One of the trends the Spurs coaching staff will have to address is this tendency to give "cheap" corners, and needless free kicks on the edge of the box. What didn't help tonight was the fact that Graham Barber looked like a "homer" despite his booking of three home players. I also felt that Spurs needed to play with more control, and less gusto, as they seemed desperate to reach the opponents' goal, rather than play a holding game at times, and perhaps try to stroke the ball around.
In flashes there were great skills on show, and plenty of determination from Michael Brown, who is making a good impact on the team. It was Jackson though who sent Keane away with a good long ball. Keane deceived Fish with a twist to the left and right, but he could not get any strength on his shot. Keane and Defoe seem to have hit off a quick understanding with plenty of darting runs, dummies and intricate skills on display. Fredi Kanoute might have to wait to get back into the team when he returns from Tunisia!
Bartlett had a good chance but hit over, before Simon Davies made a good interception in his own half, and made a good long pass to Jacko. Jackson's cross was met by the head of Keane but also went over the bar.
It was interesting to observe the different approach of both teams to the current interpretation of the offside law at free kicks. Charlton marked up those Spurs players that sought to get beyond the line, whereas Spurs left the Charlton infiltrators to get back behind the line of their own volition. No goals resulted directly from either approach.
With 5 minutes to go before the break, Gary Doherty could only head another Charlton corner out as far as Stuart (who had already replaced the injured Kishishev). Stuart hit a cracking shot, which was pushed onto his right hand post by Keller. A free kick was awarded in Carr's favour as the ball was cleared. Then Spurs increased their lead. It started with a swift throw from Keller to Davies on the right. Davies made a great run down the flank, before crossing for Defoe who hit a shot on target, which Kiely saved but Defoe headed home in a reflex reaction. (TV replays have suggested there may have been a touch of hands about Defoe's instinctive response, but Mr. Barber was happy for the goal to stand)
After another corner from Charlton, the ball reached Konchesky lurking beyond the back post. His driven cross-shot was deflected by Cole's foot onto the bar. Somehow the referee found nearly 6 minutes of injury time, much of which was played in the Spurs defensive third of the pitch. Stuart did get the ball in the net, but he was correctly adjudged to be offside.
Within a minute of the break, Spurs took a 3 goal lead. Carr had taken a throw on the right, and Keane had deceived Perry as he dummied the ball and made headway from right to left. Perry stuck his foot out, but the ball only reached King, 18 yards out, and whose left foot shot rocketed past Kiely's right hand. Despite being 3 goals to the good, Spurs fans know only too well, just how fragile even such a lead can be, so we felt we still needed another couple of goals to relax! It wasn't to be, as a corner was only half cleared in the 51st minute, and Stuart's low shot from the back post was deflected on its way past Keller.
Understandably, Charlton sniffed an opportunity, and Spurs did look a little rattled as they failed to slow the tempo, and also failed to hold the ball. Headed clearances fell to opponents, and too many of those clearances were panicky, rather than composed. Di Canio had replaced Bartlett and with 15 minutes to go, he forced save from Keller with a curler that Kasey held second time around.
Then came the start of the agenda with Perry, who was booked for a nasty foul on Brown just outside the Charlton area. The Spurs crowd chanted "Same Old Perry - f****** useless", which I felt was somewhat harsh, as this number 36 would have done a better job than ours last Saturday. Perhaps inevitably then, it was Perry who rose at the back post to head home a corner in the 81st minute to really give us the jitters. He took the opportunity to gesture his delight to the away fans, who then chanted "Perry, Perry, you're a c***"
The welcome 2 goal margin was restored though with a great finish from Jackson. King had sent him away in the middle, and as Jackson made a bee-line for the area, he spotted a funnel through which he could shoot, and that he did, sending a great left-foot drive to the right of Kiely. Marvellous! Gus Poyet then replaced Defoe, and in fact the best chance of the remainder of the game fell to Poyet, after a great determined run, and a cross that reached Poyet, whose shot was saved by Kiely for a corner.
At the end it was clear what this win meant to the team and the management of Tottenham. Taricco whipped his shirt off, waved it to the Spurs fans, and put up the necessary number of fingers to indicate the score. David Pleat joined the team as they approached the away fans to show their gratitude for such wonderful support throughout the game.
Some of the teams around us also won their mid-week games, so Spurs are no higher than 11th. However, we are above Southampton now, and over the last 6 games, we are second only to Arsenal in the league form table. Predictions for Spurs final position are being amended all the time, but it does seem we can look at those above us now, and forget about those battling against relegation. Have a nice 10 days off, Spurs fans!
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· The preview for this game can still be read here
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