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Match Reports
Spurs v Leicester, 22.02.04

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 22ND FEBRUARY, 2004
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (3) LEICESTER CITY 4 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Brown, 6
Defoe, 13, 88
Keane, 28

Leicester scorers:-
Doherty (o.g), 9
Ferdinand, 51
Thatcher, 72
Bent, 77

Referee:- Neale Barry

Attendance:- 35, 218

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Doherty, Richards, Taricco; Davies, Brown (sub Kanoute, 77), King, Jackson (sub Anderton, 60); Defoe, Keane

Subs not used:- Burch; Poyet, Dalmat

Booked:- Taricco

Leicester (4-4-2):- Walker; Scimeca, Dabizas, Taggart (sub Davidson, 49), Thatcher; Scowcroft, Freund, Nalis, Guppy; Dickov (Capt.) (sub Sinclair, 87), Ferdinand (sub Bent, 72)

Subs not used:- Coyne; Stewart

Booked:- Taggart, Dabizas, Dickov

Sent off:- Scowcroft

Mesdames et messieurs ! Bienvenue au cirque à la ruelle blanche de cerf ! Votre ringmaster, M. Pleat, présente pour vous une véritable collection de clowns, une partie de qui comportent maintenant dans le cirque des renards !

Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the Circus at White Hart Lane! Your ringmaster, Mr. Pleat, presents for you a veritable collection of clowns, some of whom now feature in the Circus of Foxes!

There's Steffo, who cannot score a goal to save his life, but is still much loved by regulars at the Circus. Then there's "Walko", who has many tricks, one of which is to let the ball through is hands when he's supposed to stop it! Don't forget "Thuggo", who never scored a league goal for the home circus, but did manage it today for only the third time in his career. "Thuggo" was not a favoured ex-home clown today, especially when he scored. Also playing for the Foxes and fondly remembered, was Les Ferdinand, who has now scored in two of the three games he has played against us since departing last year.

Best of all the clowns though were those dressed in white, especially the performing seals, "Deano" and "Doc", who knew how to head a ball, but just kept putting it in the wrong place. "Doc", otherwise known as "Ginger Pele" scored one own goal and gifted the visitors with the goal that looked like sealing the points with 13 minutes remaining.

Seriously folks, it's all very well witnessing an average of 7 goals per game over the last 4, with 15 of the 28 to Spurs, but for the home fan, this was not entertainment after the first half, but a disgrace. In truth, Spurs scored 7 of the 8 goals, as three were gifted, with John Jackson presenting Ferdinand with a present, and Doherty adding to his own goal with that woeful back pass that led to Bent's goal. Although we were 3-1 up at half-time, we knew we needed 5 goals before we could relax. Oh, and don't forget also that Leicester scored two of their second half goals with only ten men, after Scowcroft was sent off for a high challenge on Taricco, who was enemy of the people today - well, the Leicester people at least.

On the bright side, Jermain Defoe scored two great goals to make it 4 in just 3 games since his signing. His equaliser, two minutes before time, was probably the goal of the game. Spurs fans had a strong bench, and for once the opposition must have been envious, as Poyet, Anderton, Dalmat and Kanoute warmed the bench with Rob Burch.

Many of you will of course have witnessed proceedings through Sky TV, but with all the action replays, you never know what you might have missed, so read on! Leicester had the first chance after only 4 minutes, when, despite a good tackle by Doherty, the ball rebounded in Dickov's favour and the Leicester skipper was through in a 1 on 1 against Keller. The keeper made a great save at close range with his legs. Spurs were then awarded a free kick 25 yards out, after Robbie Keane was fouled running across the box. Michael Brown stepped up and scored his first senior goal for Spurs with a free kick that bounced just in front of Walker, diving to his right, but then went through his hands into the net. Walker's reward was to be serenaded with "You're Spurs and you know you are" by the South Stand support.

Leicester' support was pretty threadbare by the way, but they were rewarded with a quick come-back, thanks to Doherty stretching out as Walker's kick made it all the way towards Dickov. Doherty got a nice touch on the ball (had he been at the other end) and despite a heroic effort by Keller, who did get his hand to the ball, it went into the back of the Spurs goal. Doherty had got himself into trouble really as he failed to deal with the ball when he was facing it, as Ferdinand went just under the ball on its way to Dickov.

The goals kept coming, and the spread betting sites must have been worrying about the number of goals to come, as in the 13th minute Simon Davies won the ball in the middle, and sent it into the path of Defoe, who was quickly behind the defence, and seeing Walker coming out to his left, Defoe placed the ball rather than powered it across the keeper into the far corner. Good defending was a rare commodity today, as the next error was made by Thatcher, as he presented the ball to Keane, who fired from the right of the area, but gave Walker some confidence as the keeper held on to the ball at the second attempt.

After 25 minutes, Michael Brown threaded a good ball for Keane, and Taggart over-hit a back pass, which Walker picked up to concede an indirect free kick in the box. Keane touched the ball to Jackson, who fired away. The ball was blocked and after a couple of touches ran out to Keane who blasted the ball through the sea of legs to put Spurs 3-1 up. It was all over, wasn't it? No, of course, we all know better than that.

The ball ran for Spurs minutes later, as Keane hit it against a defender, and the rebound fell into Defoe's path. Jermain was away, but his right footed shot was well saved by Ian Walker. It was about this time that Spurs seemed to slacken. Maybe they thought they did have the game sewn up, but whatever the case, Leicester seemed to win all the second balls, and were given too much space in the midfield. Dickov had a good effort saved by Keller as he turned Doherty well, before sending a curler towards the keeper's left post. Steffen Freund had already brought laughter with a skied effort from 25 yards, but he had a better effort after Dickov's shot, which was wide of the target. John Jackson headed back a long ball for a Keano shot, which led to a corner, but Spurs dawdled a little and got no time to make use of the short kick.

Leicester got a bit rougher after the break, no doubt conforming to Micky Adams' instructions to get tougher (on the right side of the law of course!). Dickov had already been having a running battle with Taricco, but Taggart was first in the book for a foul on Defoe. Within a minute of the restart, Les Ferdinand made it into the box, despite the attention of 3 defenders. The ball was prodded to Dickov, who screwed his kick. Spurs were just not able to get out of their half, and even from free kicks or throws in their favour, managed to play backwards. One such occasion led to the Foxes second goal, as Jackson ran the wrong way, and ended up gifting the ball to Ferdinand who could not miss. 3-2 in the 51st minute. The writing was on the wall, wasn't it?

Dabizas complied to the new Leicester instructions as he cynically fouled Simon Davies about 40 yards out, heading for goal, after Spurs first effective break out. Brown's free kick was fodder, even for Walker. John Jackson was replaced by Anderton, but he made no difference to the midfield performance overall. There was a good chance carved out by Defoe, out on the right, crossing for a header by Doherty over the bar. This move had followed a Spurs free kick, explaining "Doc"'s presence in the opponent's half. Spurs had another good chance, when the Leicester defence were appealing for an offside decision against the "inactive" Defoe. Robbie Keane had the ball just on the edge of the area, but took one too many turns, losing the ball.

After 68 minutes, Scowcroft was shown a straight red card by referee Neale Barry, for his high challenge on Taricco, who won no favours from the visiting support for a theatrical roll or two, or even three. In fairness, Taricco was off the pitch for a while, getting treatment.

Ten-man Leicester were soon level, after Thatcher, of all people, headed home a corner taken on the right. By this time, the Spurs crowd were singing "We want Ledley at the back", as the confidence and competence of Richards and Doherty was totally blown. Defoe had a long range effort saved, before Michael Brown chose to soot from distance, rather than use Anderton on his right. Walker made the comfortable save.

The unthinkable happened in the 77th minute, when Gary Doherty passed back from some distance out to the right. Keller was always struggling to beat Dickov to the ball, which ran for substitute Bent to tap in. The boos rang out around the ground. Fredi Kanoute replaced Brown, but had no impact today. Richards made a total mess of things on the edge of the box, when he should have been comfortable in clearing the ball. He ended up conceding a free kick which Dickov took quickly, but put it wide of Keller's left post.

In the closing stages, maybe Spurs at last realised they were playing 10 men, as they did surge forward in more force. King hit a long range shot at Walker, and Carr hit a shot wide, before the Paxton Road end finally witnessed a goal, when Defoe received the ball from King, turned and struck home a great left foot shot that hit the roof of the net to make it 4-4, to resounding cheers.

There were still boos from the home crowd at the final whistle though. Spurs still went up to tenth place, and are in the top half of the table for the first time since August. We should have been 8th though, and like most Spurs fans, I went away disgusted with much of what I had seen. Spurs need the two and a half week break that they will now have, and with tougher games to come, that defence needs plenty of shoring. In that respect, the Spurs team resembles the Circus car that starts off looking snazzy, but simply falls apart at the seams. It's been said before, but that new Ringmaster needs to come sooner rather than later.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· The preview for this game can still be read here

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