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Match Reports
Spurs v Fulham, 26.02.05


Kanoute, 78
Keane, 90

Referee:- Neale Barry

Attendance:- 35,885

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, Naybet, King (Capt.), Edman; Davies, Carrick, Brown, Reid; Mido (sub Keane, 78), Defoe (sub Kanoute, 72)

Subs not used:- Cerny; Pamarot; Ziegler

No bookings

Fulham (4-1-4-1):- Van Der Sar; Rosenior, Knight, Goma, Bocanegra; Diop; Radzinski, Jensen (sub McBride, 85), Clark (Capt.), Boa Morte; Cole (sub John, 58)

Subs not used:- Crossley; Volz; Legwinski

Booked:- Clark (foul)

One more sign of the progress Spurs are making was demonstrated yesterday, when, like the best of teams in recent years, they were able to simply swap their first choice of strike partnership, with two substitutes, who managed to rescue a dire first 75 minutes, with two goals, three points, and some lively football in those closing stages. As soon as Fredi Kanoute had given Spurs a 78th minute lead with a free kick, Fulham had to come out of their shell, and the game at last became more of an entertainment. Spurs remained the more likely team to score, and the win was secured with a Robbie Keane successful one-on-one against Edwin Van Der Sar as injury-time commenced.

Fulham had clearly come to The Lane for a draw. Their shape was familiar, but their lack of ambition was a millstone around the neck of any prospective entertainment value. It is easy to remember the threatening moments from the “Cottagers”, which consisted of Radzinski getting the Spurs defence in a bit of a flummox just before the break, with a cross from deep on the right, followed up by a speculative effort from Diop. Diop again was the main second-half threat with a shot over the bar from a late free kick. The visitors had lined up in a familiar 4-5-1, perhaps more accurately 4-1-4-1, as Diop protected the defence, and Andrew Cole was the lone striker, not so well supported by his midfield.

Erik Edman made a welcome return to the back four, and Andy Reid joined the now familiar Martin Jol Spurs midfield. Jol (being linked this week-end with the vacant manager’s position at Ajax Amsterdam - another sign of Spurs’ progress) chose Jermain Defoe and Mido as his starting strike partnership. Mido showed plenty of application and skill, but Defoe was being pulled to the floor almost at will, by the Fulham defence, with no fear of retribution from the weak-willed referee, Neale Barry, who upset the home crowd with a number of perverse decisions, holding up play or allowing play-on at the wrong times.

There was little flow to the game, thanks partly to the referee’s whistle and also the desire of both sides to defend as high up in their own half as possible, bringing plenty of offside decisions. It was 11 minutes before we saw anything resembling decent football, when Jermain Defoe did well to win a defender’s ball 35 yards out, turned and passed to Simon Davies, whose cross went to the back of the area, where Mido tried an early shot, that went miles wide. A few minutes later, Mido collected a long ball some 40 yards out and tried an audacious shot, which was about 5 yards wide. A header by Michael Brown was cleared in front of goal from a Carrick corner. Spurs were looking the only team likely to score, but did not give Van Der Sar enough work to do.

Mid-way through the half, Spurs cleared their lines under a little pressure. A move started with a Ledley King headed clearance to Carrick, then Defoe passed to Reid whose shot from outside the box was blocked. Reid had another effort saved by a flying save from Van Der Sar, but the referee had already found a mysterious infringement. Ledley King’s diving header from another corner was just about diverted for a corner. After the break, Spurs continued to get the ball into the area, and they dominated possession, but just could not force the goalkeeper to get to work. Naybet tried his best to inspire his team-mates with some good interceptions around the half-way line, and several moves forward. The Spurs defender met Reid’s 58th minute corner with a strong header that went over the bar.

After 72 minutes, Simon Davies got to the bye-line and put in a low cross which Reid just failed to reach and which was cleared for a corner. Kanoute replaced Defoe, and within minutes, Fulham skipper Lee Clark had earnt the only booking of the game for a blatant trip on the advancing Andy Reid. Kanoute decided he was going to take the kick, and gave all the signals to suggest he was going to chip the ball to the back of the area, where the line of defenders and attackers prepared. Van Der Sar’s wall-preparation and personal positioning was ruthlessly exposed though, and I called the goal correctly as Fredi did indeed “have a pop” curling his kick around the wall beyond the frozen keeper.

At last, Fulham did show a little desire, which only served to open up the game, and Fredi Kanoute crossed for Reid, who hit a powerful shot that was parried by the Fulham keeper. Edman’s cross was met by a Kelly header that went down before the keeper then up, but Van Der Sar was correctly positioned to hold the ball, unlike the Arsenal keeper at Southampton earlier in the day against Peter Crouch. After 84 minutes, a typical Carrick ball found Reid on the left, and his cross was headed back to the left of the defence where Keane (on for Mido) fired over the bar. Keane had a better chance minutes later, again supplied by Kanoute, but screwed his shot wide. Just into injury-time, Robbie collected a ball from the middle by Simon Davies, and left Boa Morte stumbling, as he left the confused Van Der Sar on the floor as he walked the ball into the net for a deserved two-goal margin of victory.

Spurs now have a potential three consecutive away games, but that very much depends upon finishing the job properly against Championship side Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night. We play Southampton next Saturday, and have a possible FA Cup Quarter-Final at Newcastle the following week-end. At least both these sides will be intent on playing attacking football, and Spurs should be able to play with a bit more penetration than was present on this occasion for too long.

· See how this result affects our recent record in London Derbies

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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