FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 23RD AUGUST, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) LEEDS UNITED 1 (1)
Referee:- Steve Dunn
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; King, Richards, Gardner; Carr, Davies, Redknapp (Captain), Ricketts, Taricco (sub Marney, 85); Zamora (sub Kanoute, 61), Postiga
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Bunjevcevic; Acimovic
Booked:- Postiga (foul)
Leeds (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, Camara, Radebe, Matteo (Captain); Wilcox (sub Pennant, 54), Morris, Johnson, Sakho (sub Domi, 63); Viduka (sub Lennon, 78), Smith
Subs not used:- Martyn; Batty
Booked:- Kelly (foul on Ricketts), Matteo (foul on Postiga)
Two quality goals, and a determined performance won this game for Spurs, despite going down to an early goal by Alan Smith. It looked like it might turn into one of those days, when Smith scored out of the blue after only 4 minutes, but apart from a couple of speculative second half shots from Johnson, Leeds rarely threatened the Spurs defence, strengthened in heart and spirit by the return of both Dean Richards and Ledley King. Glenn Hoddle's first choice back three dominated Viduka and Smith, but there were positives for Spurs throughout the side, despite their still lengthy injury list.
Rohan Ricketts captured the eye yet again, and I tell you, he is going to take some shifting from this position. There was a fantastic cameo from him in the second half, of which more later, which won him a standing ovation from the Paxton Road crowd. Mauricio Taricco was a revelation to be honest, in the first half, providing almost the main threat to Leeds right flank, and capping his first half with a marvellous strike on his 100th league appearance for Spurs. This was only his second goal for Spurs, the last being a similar goal against Liverpool in the Spring this year.
Both Zamora and Postiga looked lively, with Postiga starting slowly, but winning the affection of the home fans with his determined runs and tackles, and clearly demonstrating his eye for goal. Zamora was replaced by Kanoute on the hour, and truth be told, neither of these two are probably fully fit. Kanoute's first few touches looked a little dodgy, but suddenly he scored a marvellous 71st minute winner, worth the admission money alone!
About 2,000 fans chose not to pay to watch this game. The gaps appeared at either end of the West Stand, and the East Stand, so some fans have decided to pay cheaper prices, or none at all! Leeds did not quite fill their allocation, but those present made enough noise to make this a full blooded Premiership game in all respects. Credit to Steve Dunn too, for allowing the game to flow too.
In the opening phases of the game, Spurs 3-5-2 left the front two somewhat stranded by the flat five in the middle. Only Ricketts seemed to be offering much support (aligned with Taricco), whilst Davies played a withdrawn and subdued first half. There was much more of Davies to be seen after the break, and Carr was to be given the main attacking wing-back role. Anyway, Zamora and Postiga might win a header, but they had not enough support in the first 20 minutes to pick up the "second ball". Taricco did have a shot as early as the third minute, when Ricketts passed inside and "Tano's" 25 yard effort was just over Robinson's bar.
Then came an opening goal for Leeds in just the fifth minute. A free kick taken on the left reached Smith, lurking 25 yards out at the right angle of the penalty area. There were legs between him and goal, but not close enough, and his well-hit low shot beat Keller, diving to his right. Three minutes later, Zamora had a half chance as Taricco lifted the ball over the defence. Bobby got inside the box to the left hand side, but hit a poor shot nearer the corner flag, than the goal.
Lamine Sakho ( a loan player from Marseilles) looked lively in the opening exchanges, but nobody else was making much impression. After 18 minutes, Ricketts picked up a loose ball 25-30 yards out, moved to his right, then hit a low right footed cross/shot wide of the keeper's right post. 6 minutes later, Ricketts was nearly the provider for an equaliser, when he crossed to the back post, and Stephen Carr met the ball, hitting it first time with his shin, and firing just wide.
Now we were mid-way through the first half, and Postiga started to make his presence felt. First he got a right foot to a long throw that was headed on, but his shot was blocked. Then he met a cross from the left, and hit a left footed shot straight to Robinson. On the half hour mark, Ricketts, making a typical run, was brought down on the edge of the box. Carr ran over and flicked back the free kick to Jamie Redknapp, but his shot had insufficient power to trouble Robinson beyond a simple pick-up.
Three minutes later, a throw was headed on by Richards, and Davies had time to measure a shot, but hit the ball sky-high instead. Half-time was looming when Spurs got a deserved equaliser. The ball was moved down the right, and Postiga passed inside to Zamora, who released Taricco with a great pass to the left. Taricco cut inside with glee, and hit a simply stunning 25 yarder beyond Robinson's outstretched arms, into the top corner. What a goal! There was time for Postiga to have a go from outside the box, with a right foot shot that went wide across the goalmouth.
Unchanged at the interval, Spurs came out like a team possessed, and Leeds were glad to keep on level terms. Postiga picked up a long ball, and held off the defence, passing back to the advancing Redknapp. Jamie put the ball down the inside right channel for Carr, whose cross was not quite right for Zamora, who found himself with his back to goal, and unable to get a shot in. In this part of the game, Ledley King was almost camped in the opponents half, and he had a great arrowed shot that just flew over the bar. Postiga then beat Robinson with a great curling shot from the left (with his right foot), but the ball just went round the post.
It wasn't long before Jason Willcox was replaced by Arsenal loanee Jermaine Pennant. Pennant got the customary welcome to the Lane, and made little impact on the game. Johnson's first effort came after 59 minutes, when he was left in too much space receiving the ball from a throw, shooting over the bar. After taking the place of Zamora, Freddie Kanoute tried but failed to reach Carr's cross, and it was Postiga that did get decent power on the cross, heading wide.
Postiga eventually tested Dunn's patience with an over-exuberant tackle, but no real harm was done. Then came the great bit of trickery and determination from Ricketts down in the corner in front of the Paxton Road and West Stands. He turned Gary Kelly inside out, before the International right back had to haul him down and get booked for his trouble. Gardner headed Carr's free kick wide, when the goal beckoned.
Then, with nineteen minutes left to play, came what was to prove a superb winning goal. Gardner was in the area and up for a free kick taken from the right. The ball reached Kanoute, 12 yards out, with his back to goal. Freddie knew where his target lay though, as he teed himself up with one touch, then hit a magnificent volley with his right foot, as he turned, hitting the net to the left of the goal. Thus, one new striker's debut was superbly capped!
There was no turning back for Spurs really. Viduka had scored in his previous five league games, but was replaced by a youngster - Lennon. One reason why Leeds made little headway today was the close attention they got from each of the back three, who played superbly. There was real effort in support from those in front of them, right up to the front line. Richards headed another Carr cross over the bar, with a powerful diving attempt, and then Pennant did have the ball, after Domi rounded Redknapp. The cross went beyond everyone and safely out of play.
With 4 minutes to go, Kanoute fed Postiga, who turned to his right and beat Robinson with another great shot, that was only just over the bar. Johnson had one more effort for Leeds, parried by Keller, and it was great to see Spurs play time out with possession near the corner flags, to fully frustrate the visitors.
If Spurs can continue this vein of form and effort, those few empty seats will fill up in no time. They travel to Liverpool on Wednesday with a good degree of confidence.
· Read "A Day in the Life of a (Northern) Spurs fan"
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
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