FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 19TH MARCH, 2005
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) MANCHESTER CITY 1 (1)
Referee: - Barrie Knight
Attendance: - 35,681
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, Naybet (sub Gardner, 75), King (Capt.), Atouba; Davies, Brown, Carrick, Reid (sub Keane, 79); Mido (sub Kanoute, 64), Defoe
Subs not used: - Cerny; Davis
Booked: - Atouba, Defoe
Man City (4-1-4-1):- James; Onuoha (sub Mills, 82), Dunne, Distin (Capt.), Jordan; Bosvelt (sub Macken, 89); Reyna, Barton, Sibierski (sub Flood, 75), Musampa; Fowler
Subs not used: - Weaver; Sommeil
Booked: - Dunne, Fowler, Barton
Spurs got themselves back in the mix for the potential UEFA Cup places, thanks to a late winner by Robbie Keane that is already being labelled controversial due to an alleged elbowing incident between Atouba and Barton during the build-up to the goal. Those of us following the play (and I suspect that includes the vast majority of the City fans) were oblivious to any incident. Clearly the City players were riled, as shortly afterwards, when a free kick was awarded to City outside the Spurs area, a melee took place leading to 3 bookings, one of which was Atouba.
You could say that Spurs “lucked” this win. The game lacked any rhythm, and there was little action to set the pulses racing. A lot of the game was played in the central part of the pitch, and too much of that was Spurs strikers being persistently caught offside, within 10 yards of the centre-line. Both the Spurs goals came from attempted shots by Simon Davies. One was miscued; the other was deflected into Keane’s path for the winner. This may be the game where we say the two points we lost at Old Trafford were put back into the bank.
This was Stuart Pearce’s first game in charge, and it was always going to be interesting to see how the City side would shape up under his command. There was nothing new about their formation, as since losing Anelka in the January transfer window, they have been short of strike power. It should be remembered that City’s finest moments this season have been their home win, and away stalemate against Champions elect – Chelsea, so the potential was there for the visitors to make it hard for Spurs, who had failed to score in their last three games.
And so it proved, as Spurs dominated the early possession. Once again, Martin Jol rung the changes, and Mido returned from injury to partner Defoe. Mido won an early corner which James flapped at, failing to convince throughout the game, and earning the accolade from home fans of “England’s Number 4”(!). Spurs did have a panic after 10 minutes, as Atouba took a defensive throw, which bounced too high for Robinson, who headed out, and then saw his team-mates clear for a corner. Atouba got an ear-bashing from his keeper for poor delivery.
After 14 minutes, Andy Reid sent a cross beyond the goal, and James did save Defoe’s shot, but a minute later, Spurs were in front. It was Reid’s cross again that reached Simon Davies just outside the area. Davies hit his shot, but it was going wide of the goal, as Jermain Defoe reacted to head it past James for his first goal in 5 games, and Spurs first in 4.
After 28 minutes, Atouba was caught napping as he stood still 45 yards out, and watched a long ball over the top reach Reyna. His cross was flicked on by Fowler, and Musampa’s effort was blocked. There was a worrying moment for Spurs when Fowler clearly hand-balled as he entered the area, but luckily this move came to nought. Barton made a lively run into the box, and Robinson made a good save from the low shot. Ledley King’s long ball was headed down by Mido, and Michael Brown skipped to the left and hit a low shot, held by James.
You will notice I haven’t mentioned Carrick so far. That is no coincidence, as once again he was not evident for much of the game so far. Sadly his lack of bottle had a little to do with the equaliser, which came a minute before half time. Reid over-hit a ball back down the line, and City took advantage getting in a cross which was dinked over the defence by Fowler for Reyna to advance and fire home. Carrick had a chance to challenge, but failed. Too often he seems to “bottle out” of situations where a more physical player would get stuck in and win the ball. In fairness I do always spot one or two occasions when he does get a foot in.
Five minutes after the break there was a spasm of end to end play, as firstly Robinson came out to thwart Fowler’s advance onto a threaded pass, then Simon Davies hit a good ball over the defence for Stephen Kelly, who got into a shooting position, but could not control the ball. Davies then had a shot from a corner blocked, and after 63 minutes, Musampa was running clear, ready to shoot when Kelly did just enough to put him off, and the ball was wide.
Kanoute replaced Mido, and after 67 minutes, Andy Reid (working left and right) had a great shot which James did well to tip over the bar. Carrick did make a penetrating pass through the middle that Kanoute laid back for Brown, whose shot was deflected then held at the second try by James. Reid was replaced by Robbie Keane, who might have scored with his first touch. Robinson had saved a Reyna free kick then his clearance made it to the City area, where Keane failed to get the ball under control and let it run out of play. Keane’s goal came thanks to great work by Kanoute running down the right flank, passing inside to Davies, who hit an early shot, deflected into Keane’s path and touched over James for the goal. Robbie went off to celebrate as some of the City team remonstrated with the referee.
The melee came a few minutes later, and Barrie Knight spent some time calming things down, talking to both Captains, and booking Atouba, Dunne and Fowler. The wounded Barton and Jermain Defoe followed them into the book in the time remaining. City tried hard to level in injury time. Fowler flicked to Macken, who fired wide across the goal. Then Musampa had a shot tipped over by Robinson, before Mills’ shot was wide after another corner.
Credit is due to Pearce, who in his post-match interview said he did not see the incident between Atouba and Barton, and also said he did not feel it would have had a direct bearing on the goal. Martin Jol will look at TV replays before passing judgement, as will the Premier League, who might punish Atouba, but they can’t take back our two extra points!
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.
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