FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER, 2004
FULHAM 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Boa Morte, 33
Referee:- Alan Wiley
Attendance:- 21, 317
Fulham (4-4-1-1):- Crossley; Volz, Rehman, Knight, Bocanegra; John (sub Radzinski, 69), Diop, Pembridge, Boa Morte; Malbranque; Cole (Capt..)
Subs not used:- Flitney (GK); Green, Rosenior; McBride
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King (Capt.), Bunjevcevic; Brown (sub Davies, 40), Mendes, Davis (sub Carrick, 82), Ziegler (sub Kanoute, 66); Keane, Defoe
Subs not used:- Keller; Taricco
Spurs slumped inexorably to their third consecutive league defeat, and a fourth such defeat in five games, with their most dismal performance of the season so far. What we saw on the field reminded me of the pre-season, and the fare was as bad as any seen last year, without all those Arnesen-Santini acquisitions. The usual loyal band of 4,000 Spurs supporters filled the new Putney Stand, but quite frankly, this motley band does not deserve the massive support given up and down the country. There had been not a whisper from the home fans until they scored, apart of course from their ritual booing of old boy Sean Davis, who, like Carrick at Portsmouth, failed to impress in the negative atmosphere. I wouldn't call it a hostile atmosphere, as it was like being jeered by a bunch of pussycats, to be frank, and we all know how pathetic the Fulham away support is.
There can be no question about the result. Chris Coleman's team thoroughly deserved the spoils, that gave them some breathing space from the relegation zone, and puts them just two points behind this ailing Spurs outfit, now in the wrong half of the table. The Keane-Defoe pairing (you cannot call it a partnership) has failed again, and long high balls aimed in their direction were fodder for the lanky Zat Knight and Zesh Rehman. Jacques Santini was clearly so disappointed with Brown's efforts on the right wing that he replaced him with Simon Davies before half time. Davies role became a mystery for much of the game, as he was rarely to be found seeking the ball in wide places. Ziegler tried hard on the left, with little reward, but any Fulham player seemed to want the ball, win the challenges, and pass successfully more than Spurs were able. Pembridge was a dynamo in the middle, and Malbranque seemed to have been given licence to roam from left to right behind Cole, although both Collins John and Boa Morte supported the attack ably.
There was little incident of note throughout the game, to be honest. Until the last five or ten minutes, when it was all too late, the only decent effort I recall from Spurs is a first half shot from Defoe that went across goal without bothering Crossley, who was not tested, which is a shame as he struggled to hold crosses that did reach him in the second half.
Fulham had the first crack at goal after 19 minutes, when Malbranque took a free kick from the left, and Cole glanced a header wide across Robinson's goal. Bunjee got the only booking of the game, and that was quite early, for a challenge upon that man Malbranque, making his first league appearance of the season, much to the delight of "Diddy" David Hamilton's fans. (For the uninitiated around the world, Hamilton was once a housewives' favourite on morning radio, and can probably still be found on a local network somewhere! Hamilton is the pitch-side announcer at Craven Cottage)
The Spurs fans had been in good voice up to this point, but that didn't stop Davis geeing them up, when he won a corner from a Keane threaded ball. It didn't work though, as the corner was easily cleared, and Spurs were on the defensive again. The Fulham goal came from a break-away attack that followed a failed Robinson long ball, being sent straight to Malbranque down the left wing. Steed flashed the ball inside to Boa Morte (just one of the many ex-gooners we love to hate), who hit a quick left footed shot low to Robinson's left for a goal.
Now the home crowd sang, and they nearly saw their lead doubled as Robinson stretched well to his right to save John's header. Pamarot then got into the Fulham box, but struggled to control the ball, and did not make a pass. At the other end, Pamarot was looking fallible against the pace of Boa Morte and Cole got past him just before the break, pulling the ball back, which was well blocked by Robinson, with Diop's follow-up going astray.
There was mostly uninspiring football in the second half, before Fulham doubled their lead with a clearly avoidable goal. It was all too easy as Boa Morte was sent past Pamarot, got to the bye-line inside the area, and chipped a cross for Cole to head home from close range. This goal was similar to that scored against us at Portsmouth. Maybe Coleman has studied the tapes and discovered a weakness. Boa Morte then robbed Davis in the middle and his ball was just snatched off the feet of John by the advancing Robinson.
Kanoute replaced Ziegler, but you were more likely to find Fredi on the right than Simon Davies, who ventured down the inside channel. For Fulham, Radzinski replaced John, and almost immediately he was getting into the right side of the box, nearly setting up Boa Morte, whose effort was blocked for a corner. Carrick replaced Sean Davis with little time left, and he did no better when trying to hold the ball in the middle. It was Fulham who came closest to scoring again, as Malbranque teed up Cole, whose shot was palmed away by the Spurs keeper. Spurs did manage a little pressure in the closing stages, but it was all too late, with an effort by Defoe, being cleared for a corner, and a Carrick free kick curled just wide.
So, it's back to the drawing board for Santini, and next week's opposition, Charlton will be as desperate for points as were Fulham. Spurs only have to actually put the effort in for the full 90 minutes, and I am sure they can win a game, but the chemistry of the side sure ain't right yet!
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