FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY DECEMBER 6TH, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 (1) WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 2 (1)
Keane 29, 75, 83
Attendance:- 34, 825
Referee:- Uriah Rennie
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Anderton, King, Poyet (sub Dalmat, 75), Ricketts (sub Konchesky, 66); Kanoute, Keane
Subs not used:- Burch; Mabizela; Postiga
Booked:- Richards, Anderton
Wolves (4-4-2):- Oakes; Irwin, Butler, Craddock, Naylor; Rea (sub Miller, 85), Ince(Capt.), Cameron, Kennedy; Camara, Blake (sub Sturridge, 57)
Subs not used:- Marshall; Luzhny; Gudjonsson
There were no cartwheels from Robbie Keane today, despite the fact that he scored his second Spurs hat-trick against his former team. Spurs scored 5 league goals at home for the first time since September 18th, 1993, when Oldham were the victims.(I have since been reminded of our 7-2 win at home to Glenn Hoddle's Southampton in March 2000) Oldham were to be relegation victims that season, and Wolves dropped back to the bottom of the league after today's game, having conceded 5 goals for the third time in the Premiership this season. Add to that, their 5-1 defeat against Arsenal Reserves on Tuesday night, and it has been a miserable week for Dave Jones' boys.
Whilst Spurs played well in spasms, and displayed real class occasionally, it has to be said that the scoreline does flatter the home side somewhat, as twice the visitors got a goal back within a minute of a Spurs goal, and indeed they could have equalised with less than 20 minutes of the game remaining, when Henri Camara fired over from close range.
Spurs brought back Dean Richards to play against his former team, and maybe he was one of the three players that had a fitness test in the morning, as in truth, neither he nor Anthony Gardner looked too sharp today. Gus Poyet had one of his quiet games in the middle, and Ledley King was struggling to find enough time on the ball as the Wolves midfield hassled and tackled with great effect. Rohan Ricketts started, but he too may have been below par fitness-wise, being replaced early in the second half by Paul Konchesky, who was to be instrumental in two of Spurs late goals. The biggest cheer before the game, when the teams were announced, was of course for the return to the starting line-up of goal-machine Fredi Kanoute, who lived up to his reputation with a classy show, including a vital goal 5 minutes into the second half.
Wolves featured two former Sunderland players at centre-back, and whilst we may have expected a bonanza today, it didn't look like coming for quite a while. The other ex-Wanderer, Dean Richards was the man with the first chance to score, after a Spurs corner, when Anderton sent a deep cross to the back post. Richards was still forward, and had the space and time to do what a striker would, and put the ball in the net, but Dean just wanted too much of that precious time, failing to get in a meaningful shot.
Paul Ince had a fair crack at goal from 28 yards, when a free kick was cleared to the outside of the area, where Ince patrolled and hit a shot that bounced in front of Keller and went harmlessly past his right post. Dean Richards went into the book at an early stage, and already Mr.. Rennie was winding up the home crowd, as decisions in our favour seemed few and far between. Thankfully, he didn't get too much time to interfere today, although some rough challenges on Spurs players went un-punished.
Spurs took the lead in the 29th minute, after a touch of class in midfield from Anderton, then King, as he chipped the ball to the edge of the box, where Robbie pounced to shoot low to the left of Oakes for the goal. As we saw at Coventry earlier in the season, there was no extravagant celebration from Robbie today, and as this goal was scored at the Park Lane End, he turned away from his former fans, who had been giving him a rousing reception. Their reception for Richards seemed to be less enthusiastic.
From the kick off though, Spurs lost their concentration, and Blake set up Ince who was allowed a run from left to right across the outside of the box, before hitting a right foot shot inside Kasey's right post. Oops! Robbie could and should have restored the lead 5 minutes later, after a slick move from Darren Anderton and Rohan Ricketts left Robbie with only the keeper to beat. Keane managed to mis-cue his shot which went wide.
The visitors were getting too much of the play for comfort, and just before the break there was scramble in the Spurs goalmouth, which was cleared, although Mr.. Rennie had spotted an infringement committed upon Richards, so the worry was for nothing.
Spurs scored from their first decent attack of the second half, after a period of Wolves' possession. Anderton exchanged the ball with Carr after a throw-in on the right, then sent in a great cross which Kanoute rose to meet and head home from close range. Camara nearly equalised again, when he tried a shot from distance as he got inside Taricco. The ball went across the keeper and outside the target. Nathan Blake had been pretty effective for the visitors, but was replaced by Dean Sturridge with more than half an hour to go.
There was an unusual event of role-reversal as Darren Anderton brought Ince down with a strong challenge that amazingly went un-punished by the referee. Rea hit the free kick wide to our relief, as he has scored a couple of decent goals this season, with cracking shots.
A moment of genuine class was demonstrated on 67 minutes. Spurs played the ball swiftly out of their own half. Kanoute played the ball across to Anderton and then made the run down the right for Anderton's long ball. Fredi was onto it in a flash, and with a half-volley similar to his goal against Everton, he cracked a dipping shot from 25 yards on the right edge of the area, that Oakes tipped over for a corner.
Wolves were not sitting back though, and had two good chances. Firstly, Sturridge tried an overhead kick from close range that was over the bar, then on the other side of the area, Sturridge forced Carr off the ball with a shoulder barge, hitting a shot from the narrowest of angles, which Keller just got a foot to, diverting the ball away from goal. Sturridge then raced in from the right and fed Camara, who should have put the ball away, but hit it well over the bar.
Having been under continuing pressure and failing to keep possession, Spurs at last increased their lead with 15 minutes to go. Anthony Gardner had brought the ball forward, and Konchesky used him by not using him (as Barry Davies used to say!), instead sending a good cross the the back of the area, where Keane fired home with a right foot shot. Dalmat replaced the inconspicuous Poyet, and had a crack at goal within minutes after a good flowing move out of their own half featuring Dalmat, Keane and Anderton.
Spurs' fourth goal came from another great move. Kanoute passed to Konchesky, who had an exchange with Keane down the left flank. Konchesky then sent in one of the best crosses I have seen from him all season, just swerving away from the keeper. Anderton had raced in and nearly scored himself with his header which was parried by Oakes, and finished off the man himself - Robbie Keane for the match ball goal.
Again, Spurs slipped up, and from the re-start, Rea was allowed to shoot home with a shot from the left of the area, that nestled inside Kasey's left post. The game was well and truly wrapped up with a simply stunning goal from Dalmat, who raced in from the right, and hit a rocket of a shot into the roof of the net for his first senior goal for Spurs.
Southampton play Charlton tomorrow, but for the moment, Spurs have leapt up to 11th place and (in theory) could climb above Newcastle next week with a win. We all know though, don't we, how much of a test that game, and the following match at home to Man Utd will be. As always, Spurs fans should live in hope and not expectation, but let's enjoy the fact that we have scored 8 goals in two games this week!
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
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