FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
FRIDAY 9TH APRIL, 2004
EVERTON 3 (3) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Referee:- Rob Styles
Everton (4-4-1-1):- Martyn; Pistone, Yobo, Unsworth (Capt.), Naysmith; Watson, Linderoth, Gravesen (sub Carsley, 87), Kilbane; McFadden (sub Jeffers, 78); Radzinski
Subs not used:- Wright; Hibbert, Nyarko
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, Doherty, Gardner, Kelly; Davies (sub Ricketts, 72), Redknapp(Capt.) (sub Bunjevcevic, 72), Ziege (sub Kanoute, 46); Defoe, Keane
Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Jackson
Booked:- Redknapp, Doherty, Carr
Sent off:- Carr (second yellow card)
When David Pleat said after the game that Spurs played with a lack of passion, and that Everton played with more drive, and thrust, and that they were a yard faster than us, he was absolutely right. The question that has to be asked though is "WHY?" The simple answer evident last night was that Everton had a motivator in the shape of David Moyes, whilst Spurs have had no such thing since the sixth game of the season. The prolonged absence of a secure leader, coupled with the hesitation if not prevarication by the club has finally come home to roost, as Spurs lost their fourth successive league game for the second time under Pleat's current stewardship, and Everton climbed above us, with their first victory over us in 7 years.
I've seen some dismal performances in recent years, but Spurs' first half effort last night (again witnessed by a television audience) ranked amongst the worst, as Everton (who had failed to score a first half goal in their last 8 home Premiership games) scored three times to put the game beyond redemption before the interval. Spurs, after all, are NOT team capable of a come-back such as we have seen all too often from opponents this season.
Everton did come out of the blocks fastest, and despite missing Rooney, through suspension, Ferguson, and their inspirational skipper Alan Stubbs, they were made to look good by a team that was always second to the ball; provided no support for their strikers, and fell back in droves allowing the likes of Gravesen, Watson, Kilbane (Yes - even Kilbane), but especially young James McFadden to swarm over them at will. Gary Doherty may be considered the main villain of the piece, as he conceded what were to prove expensive free kicks with desperate lunges a yard outside the penalty area, and his confidence (what there is of it) must be shot to pieces. Indeed, it was a surprise to see him emerge after the break, but that he did, and it was skipper Redknapp not Doherty, who was eventually replaced by Goran Bunjevcevic, who has not seen the first team light of day for most of the season.
Spurs were under pressure from the start, when Steve Watson got the better of Kelly (playing in an unnatural left-back position), put in a low cross, that was met at the near post by the lively Radzinski, hitting the ball outside the post. Kelly had a bit of a struggle in that left back position, but a lot of that could be the lack of support he got from Christian Ziege, surely playing out the season, before being off-loaded. In not time at all, another cross from the right gave Kilbane a close range chance, which was only half-hit and saved by Keller with ease.
Anthony Gardner disappointed after 7 minutes, when, instead of controlling the ball with a cushion header, and taking it forward, he simply headed the ball to Watson, who took up the pace, threaded to Radzinski, whose shot was parried by Keller and ultimately cleared. In the opening period there had been little adventure from Spurs, except a Keane shot charged down outside the box, and another shot that was deflected into Martyn's waiting arms.
Everton's first goal was thoroughly deserved, despite the fact that it may have been technically illegal, as the scorer was offside when Gravesen's ball (following a short corner) was flicked on by Watson, then hit into the roof of the net by Unsworth's out-stretched knee. Ziege did manage a curled shot from a Keane ball, that was outside the target, but in no time, Spurs were two down, and things were looking bleak for the loyal travelling fans. McFadden cut in from the left attempting to run across the outside of the area, but Doherty tackled late, and the award of the free kick was inevitable. Keller was no doubt expecting Gravesen to hit a right foot shot to his left, but up stepped Naysmith to clip the ball with his left foot around the end of the Spurs wall and just inside Keller's right post, with the keeper unable to make up the ground.
Jermain Defoe created a good chance for himself from the inside left channel, hitting a good low shot, saved by Nigel Martyn. McFadden tested Keller with a good drive after cutting in from the right. Everton's third goal followed a shambolic period of defending from Spurs. First Doherty hit a weak header that bounced down then up, so that Keller's clearance was desperate. Kilbane then shot, but Doherty had got back to head the ball clear, before Everton came rushing back, and Doherty conceded a free kick again, this time earning a booking. This time, Gravesen did take the kick, which Keller failed to hold and Joseph Yobo followed up (unattended by any Spurs players/statues) for an easy finish.
The players skulked off, and Ziege did not return, replaced by Kanoute, who partnered Defoe. However, Spurs now lacked width, as Davies had not played a pure right wing role all night, and Keane played behind the front two, rather than on the left, where right-footed Kelly was left with the responsibility to get forward in that area. Tactically, Spurs have been in disarray virtually all season. If Ranieri is the Tinker-man, I don't know what that makes Mr.. Pleat. Indeed, Spurs did not manage to start the second half well, as they worked their way backwards, pressed by the Blues, and Keller hit a rushed ball out for a throw, taken on the right, leading to a cross that gave Watson a good close range chance, which he hit at Keller.
Everton had another good chance, when Gravesen made the best of space inside Kelly, passed to Radzinski, who set up McFadden for a shot just outside the post. Now Spurs at least started to get more of the ball, and played with an element of composure, as Everton faded. Defoe hit a cross cum shot down Martyn's throat, then Carr had a couple of shots, one with his left foot which was wide, the other with his right which he skied. Redknapp too skied a shot from a Kelly pass. When Simon Davies and Redkanpp were replaced, perhaps it was more through lack of fitness than application, but Spurs fans welcomed the seemingly reprieved Rohan Ricketts onto the field, whilst not enthusing about Bunjevcevic getting a midfield role. Indeed the chant went up "David Pleat, you're having a laugh", being a variation on the "You don't know what you're doing" theme.
Throughout the second half, the Spurs support was magnificent, and even applauded by Everton fans near me, as our faithful few outsung the hosts by a mile. Sadly of course, that does not give us a winning team. We did at least get to see the first goal scored by a Spurs player in 6 games, when Ricketts fed the advancing Carr, who slotted home a low shot with his left foot, for his first league goal since May 5th 2001 (at Leicester). Sadly, Spurs were soon down to ten men, when Carr was sent off for his second yellow, when he was adjudged to have cynically fouled McFadden, who was otherwise going to get past Kelly. There was minimal contact really, but Rob Styles is not Spurs' best friend, and his mind was made up. Carr angrily threw the Captain's armband he had inherited from Redknapp to the floor, and it ended up with Keller.
Kelly moved over to the right, and Bunjee fell back to cover left back, and Spurs did at least try and maintain some momentum, with few chances falling to Everton. Michael Brown made a bit of space for himself in the middle hitting a good low shot that Martyn parried, and then Ricketts had a one-two with Kanoute, before hitting a shot across the goalmouth outside the far post.
Rohan Ricketts was the only white-shirted player to at least acknowledge the travelling support at the end of the game, getting a great reception, and hopefully another chance in Monday's game against Man City. Whoever is chosen to represent that famous Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the remaining games needs to understand the desire (and entitlement) of the paying fans for urgency, fire and passion. There is of course a little matter of revenge for that 4-3 to be sought, but as things stand, Spurs do still need to look over their shoulder at the relegation zone, and gain a win or two, so that we might at least relax and enjoy one or two of the approaching games.
Stephen Carr has now collected 10 bookings in all, and will be suspended for three games, including that against Arsenal.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· The preview for this game can still be read here
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