FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 15TH MAY, 2004
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee:- Steve Bennett
Wolves (4-4-2):- Jones:- Irwin (sub Craddock, 88), Okoronkwo, Butler, Naylor (sub Rae, 71); Newton (sub Ganea, 59), Ince, Cameron, Kennedy; Cort, Camara
Subs not used:- Oakes; Iversen
Booked:- Ince (dissent)
Sent off:- Ince (2nd yellow, foul on Rednapp)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Kelly, King, Gardner, Ziege; Yeates, Redknapp, Brown, Ricketts (sub Kanoute, 71); Keane (sub Poyet, 87), Defoe
Subs not used:- Burch; Doherty, Mabizela
Booked:- Redknapp (Foul)
Robbie Keane helped to perform the last Premiership rites over his old club, with his 34th minute goal, and as usual, when he scores (so often) against his old teams, he showed the greatest restraint in his celebration. In fact he hardly acknowledged this goal. Jermain Defoe scored the second for Spurs to give them just their fourth away win of the season, which was enough to lift them to 14th, equalling their second-worse positional finish of the 97-98 season. (15th in 93-94)The 45 points is an improvement upon that year though, but the two successive wins to finish the season do not hide the disasters that went before.
Of course, the home fans had been determined to have a party today, with a massive banner on display stating "Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all". The wearers of the famous gold shirts defiantly chanted "Going Down, but we'll be back", but I for one hope I never have to travel to Molineaux again.
Spurs fans had been generous towards the home club. Firstly there was great applause around the ground for a superb singing performance before the game from a local 11-year old lad. Then, both sets of fans had applauded the achievements of the recently deceased ex- Wolves player Dennis Wilshaw, who was the first man to score 4 goals against Scotland for England. The one-minute silence was well observed in his memory. The Spurs fans also applauded Denis Irwin who was substituted just before the end to receive his deserved accolade for the end of a fine Professional career. Robbie Keane had a similar ovation as he was replaced by Gus Poyet with minutes to go.
However, the nasty side of the Hosts' fans was to be seen, when Jamie Redknapp had the audacity to be fouled by Ince, who having been legitimately beaten in the challenge, was determined to tangle Redknapp's legs and got sent off for his second bookable offence, having talked his way into Steve Bennett's book in the first half. Thereafter, Redknapp and all the Spurs team were heartily jeered by the home support, AND I saw Nazi salutes from one or two members of the home crowd. This report WILL concentrate on the football, but it seems that the local police were so concerned at the prospect of violence between the Wolves and Spurs "crews", that all of us, reasonable fans, the infirm, women and children, were forcibly compounded, then herded to the Railway Station, where many of us did not want to go.
The way that Wolves started this game, you would have thought it was Spurs and not them that were already consigned to play Nationwide Football again next term. Spurs had to deal with quite an onslaught in the first quarter of an hour, as Kennedy exploited Spurs relative weakness down their right flank. Mark Yeates was making his debut on the right wing, but his talents lie offensively, and initially Kelly was left exposed to the forays of Kennedy and left-back Naylor. Almost from the start, Kennedy crossed from deep, and the ball reached Ince lurking on the edge of the box. The Wolves skipper delicately chipped the ball goalward, and Keller tipped the ball over for the first corner of the game.
Soon after that, Kennedy and Naylor combined, and the ball was crossed low for a close range effort from Henri Camara, which was hit without power to Keller. Camara then went down in the box after a challenge from Ledley King, playing beside Gardner once again, but referee Bennett waved away home appeals. After a cross from the right, Carl Cort was up to head towards goal, and Keller tipped this one onto the bar, before the ball went for a corner. Irwin hit a free kick from 22 yards that beat Keller but went out of play off the outside of the post.
At last, Spurs started to exert a degree of control, and Ziege hit a free kick to the keeper after 20 minutes, after Defoe had been fouled by Naylor. Ince got his booking for moaning about a decision not going his way, and then Mark Yeates became creative down the inside-right channel. First he squeezed a ball through to Defoe, which was cleared, but then Yeates crossed beyond the defence finding Rohan Ricketts, who volleyed with his left, only to be thwarted by the flying Paul Jones. Five minutes later though, Yeates again threaded a ball for Keane to beat the offside flag, to have only Jones to beat. His first effort bounced back off Jones, but that left Robbie with an open goal, although from a sharp angle on the right. Robbie slotted home off the far post, turning quietly to be greeted by his colleagues.
Three minutes before the break, Keane and Redknapp worked the ball into the box. Jamie fed Defoe, who had a shot on really on the left, but chose to cross it to no-one. As the half-time whistle approached, Paul Ince hit a glancing header, meeting a cross from the right, hitting the ball straight to Keller.
Three minutes after the break. Keane found Kelly advancing down to the bye-line. Kelly passed back to Defoe, who went down under a challenge. The ball ran to Keane whose snatched shot was saved. Spurs took a two-goal lead partly thanks to Carl Cort's poor ball back from almost the half-way line. Defoe took advantage of the present, carrying the ball goalward from the right, and then beating Jones with a good finish. After Ince's sending off, Wolves managed plenty of possession, but they had not managed any penetration since that fine opening spell. Substitute Ganea did hit a useful dipping shot that landed on top of the net. Fredi Kanoute had replaced Ricketts, and brought a save from Jones after winning a battle for the ball inside the area.
Following the round of substitutions, Jermain Defoe nearly made it three, after a good move featuring Yeates, Poyet and Ziege, before Defoe hit a right foot low shot, saved by Jones, and scraping the post.
The post-match celebrations were to be for Wolves, but the away fans gave special applause for departing stars Gus Poyet and Christian Ziege. Sadly, what had been a relaxing afternoon in the sun turned ugly for me, not because of violence or threats from fans, but because of the pig-headedness of the riot police, some of whom were only too keen to prod away with their truncheons, and shove us with their shields to an unwanted destination. On reflection, there is a simple analogy with a far more devastating historic event, and whilst I should not be paranoid, I did find the after match experience very distressing. Some of you may have heard me on Talk Sport, and got the general picture. The moral, I suppose is that, should we meet Wolves in an away Cup Fixture in the future, then, don't wear your colours, and don't park in the Town Centre!
Despite the poor season, it has been a pleasure for Spurs Odyssey to report exclusively on some 80 or 90 matches at all levels. We all know the summer is to be crucial (again!) for Spurs development, but I hope you have a restful time, and look forward to seeing you, or reporting for you in the new season.
COME ON YOU SPURS!
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· The preview for this game can still be read here
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