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Match Reports

Spurs v Brighton, 08.01.05


Spurs scorers:-
King, 40
Keane, 83

Brighton scorer:-
Carpenter, 48

Referee:- Alan Wiley

Attendance:- 36,094

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly (sub Marney, 72), King (Capt.), Gardner, Edman; Brown, Mendes (sub Yeates, 77), Carrick, Ziegler ; Defoe, Keane

Subs not used:- Fulop; Pamarot, Ifil

Booked:- Edman

Brighton (3-5-2):- Kuipers; Hinshelwood, Butters (Capt.), Virgo; Reid, Carpenter, Harding, Oatway, Mayo; Knight, Hart

Subs not used:- May (GK); Watson, Nicolas, Jones, Hammond

Booked:- Carpenter, Hart

The magic of the FA Cup was alive in many places today, including at White Hart Lane. Against a team that most people expected to be easily cast aside, Spurs struggled and it was only thanks to a superb 83rd minute goal from Robbie Keane - a goal fit to win any match - that Spurs did beat Championship side Brighton, who can take most of the credit out of the match, sending their massive contingent of fans home happy, having given an excellent account of themselves at a Premiership ground.

Mark McGhee's side came with a game plan, swamping the midfield, quickly closing down whichever Spurs player had the ball, reducing Spurs' opportunities to play their natural game. Hart and Knight did very well up front, and with their pace too often gave the Spurs defence problems. Somehow too many long balls played in their direction managed to be collected by the intended striker or a supporting wing man such as Paul Reid on the right or Mayo on the left.

Spurs rested Naybet and played Gardner. Whenever Gardner comes in, he takes the left side, where Ledley usually plays with Naybet, and Ledley shifts to the right. Perhaps this unsettles Spurs a little, but it is no use making excuses for an under-par performance, whoever the personnel on display. Also rested (presumably) was Noe Pamarot, subject of transfer speculation this week, remaining on the bench throughout the 90 minutes. Stephen Kelly returned at right back. The Spurs midfield formation was unconventional. No doubt to accommodate Brown, Carrick and Mendes, there was no designated right side man for the first half, and Brown seemed to take up a position ahead of Mendes inside right, with Kelly having responsibility for right side advances. Of the two, Brown tended towards the right at times in the first half, but then after the break, Mendes was forced out wide.

Fredi Kanoute was absent and sorely missed, as Defoe and Keane made little headway against the three-man central defence, much better equipped for the high balls sent in the strikers' direction. Mendes every touch early on was greeted with cries of "Shoot!", after Tuesday night's "goal that wasn't" at Old Trafford. There was a half-chance for Mendes after 3 minutes, which was blocked. Kelly on the right passed low inside for Defoe, whose shot from a sharp angle was cleared for a throw.

After 7 minutes, Brighton (playing in all-yellow) showed they were not there just to make up the numbers, as Mayo passed inside from the left and Knight got a shot on target to the right side of Robinson, collecting down by the post. Knight was hailed by his fans as "Leon Knight, Knight, Knight" in the same vein as someone we do not remember fondly from down the road. Michael Carrick hit a great ball down the left side for Defoe, who hit a decent shot from a difficult angle on the left, that went beyond the far post. Then, on the quarter-hour mark, Spurs had a scare when Carpenter received the ball from his left and hit the top of the crossbar from 25 yards, with Robinson in close attendance.

Robbie Keane had a chance from just outside the box on 20 minutes, with a rising shot going over the bar, and then 10 minutes later hit the bar. A free kick had been pushed to Edman, whose cross was headed down by Kelly. Robbie tried a little chip over the keeper, but the woodwork denied him. Spurs took the lead five minutes before the break, following a short corner worked by Brown and Ziegler. Ziegler's cross was subject to a speculative back header from Skipper Ledley King, and the ball looped over Kuipers into the net.

The "Seagulls" had no intention of lying down, and before the interval, Kelly made a great recovery and saving tackle after Knight had got beyond the defence to a long ball. Then Reid's free kick on the right was headed by Knight and tipped over by Robinson. After the break, Brighton soon won a corner then a free kick just outside the box. The Spurs wall was deceived by one man shaping to take the kick then running over the ball, allowing Carpenter to follow up with a great shot across the wall, area and keeper Robinson, to hit the net inside the back post, in front of the visiting fans.

Carpenter soon got booked for standing too close to a free kick, and the ball was moved 10 yards forward (not the only time the referee did this today). Defoe took the kick but the ball was well over the bar. Defoe then had an effort on target as he cut in from the left, hitting a low right footed shot, saved by the keeper. Robinson was still getting action though, and a long free kick by Harding, which might have been flicked on by Hart, was punched clear by "England's Number One". Now Spurs seemed to realise the need to step up a gear or two, and they attacked with more vigour. Keane got into the box, but Virgo stood up against him well, and in the end Robbie let the ball run out of play, much to the frustration of the home support.

Ziegler had a good shot saved for a corner, and then Mark Yeates replaced Mendes, playing in an attacking left side position, with Ziegler showing his versatility by moving inside. This was Yeates' first appearance in front of the home crowd, and his first touch was nervous allowing the ball to run into touch at the half-way line. He had a number of good runs and three good chances in the closing stages, but when it came to the crunch just failed to make the right decision with potential passes to Defoe or Keane, or he had his shots deflected. The Spurs crowd should be patient with this lad, who so nearly scored in injury time.

That winning goal came in the 83rd minute. Edman chipped a ball towards Robbie Keane with his back to goal and a defender on his back. With one swift motion, Robbie chested the ball, turned and hit a simply magnificent shot to the keeper's top left corner in front of an ecstatic Paxton Road. Just for a change, Robbie did his cartwheel in the North-East corner. I repeat, it was a goal worthy of winning any game, and Spurs go forward to the fourth round which is more than can be said for their Premiership rivals, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Norwich, all of whom lost to Coca-Cola League teams. Manchester United were taken to a reply by little Exeter, directed by our own legend, Steve Perryman.

Now Spurs must prepare for the Premiership game next Saturday against leaders Chelsea. We shall need to be at full strength for that one, and we might need a second team bus!

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