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Match Reports
Newcastle v Spurs, 21.08.04

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 21ST AUGUST, 2004
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Scorer:-
Atouba, 51

Referee:- Mike Dean

Attendance:- 52,185

Teams:-
Newcastle (4-4-2):- Given; Carr, O'Brien, Hughes, Bernard; Milner (sub Kluivert, 75), Jenas (sub Dyer, 75), Butt, Robert (sub Ameobi, 75); Shearer (Capt..), Bellamy

Subs not used:- Harper; Elliott

Booked:- Robert

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Ifil, Naybet, King, Edman; Redknapp (Capt.) (sub Brown, 69), Davis, Mendes, Atouba (sub Jackson, 89); Defoe, Kanoute (sub Gardner, 79)
(Spurs played in their all-yellow strip)

Subs not used:- Keller; Silva

Booked:- Redknapp, Brown

Last week was encouraging. This week was blissful! Spurs loyal band of travelling supporters were rewarded today by a simply fantastic TEAM performance, on territory regarded as a fortress, in front of over 52,000 fans, mostly decked out in the black and white, but out-sung by the Spurs support, despite being placed (as is usual for the away support here) in one of the highest and most distant parts of the ground. Spurs had to endure something of an onslaught in the first half, particularly the opening 20 minutes, but they defended magnificently, with Ledley King to the fore, but especially Paul Robinson, pulling off several great saves, the best of which was probably from his former team-mate - James Milner. The pleasure of Thimothee Atouba's stunning 51st minute goal was enhanced by the knowledge that it was Stephen Carr that he drifted round, before placing his winning strike!

Carr was booed by many of the Spurs support, which is a shame, because he never asked to leave. Another player to get a mixed reception was Newcastle substitute Kieron Dyer, who was initially booed when he replaced Jermaine Jenas. Those boos were soon drowned out though, and it looks as if Dyer will find his way back into the favour of the Toon army.

So, how exactly did Spurs win this game? They survived that initial home effort by some stout defending. Clearly, Newcastle fancied their chances down the Spurs left, where once again, 17 year old Phil Ifil was trusted to hold up against top class International opponents. Ifil was deceived a few times, but did more than enough to prove his worth. Naybet struggled with Bellamy's pace, but made up for that with more classy and skilful interceptions. All of the midfield supported their defence, and most of them had the stamina to create a few chances for Spurs too. Sean Davis was simply a dynamo, making biting tackles, but also being behind most of Spurs penetrative attacks. Jamie Redknapp often found space to weave a few decent passes, not least the one that sent Atouba away for the winner.

As the first half progressed, Spurs held their line well, and Bellamy's troubling runs were stemmed on the whole. It looked inevitable that Shearer would be replaced by Kluivert, simply because Ledley did keep such a tight rein on the Toon Captain, but that did not happen, as Sir Bobby's desperate second half triple substitution by-passed his Captain. In the second half, Spurs, having scored, simply got everyone behind the ball, except Kanoute and Defoe, and succeeded in frustrating the Magpies, whose play, particularly from the dead ball, simply deteriorated after the break. Corners were going out of play, and free kicks were aimed wildly into the Gallowgate End.

Spurs only team change was the insertion of Atouba for Jackson, meaning no less than seven different faces from the team that played last season. The evidence of the Arnesen-Santini revolution could be no more visible.

Bellamy got behind Naybet after only one minute, and won a free kick on the edge of the box. Robinson made his first save from the free kick, and then in a goalmouth scramble from the corner, managed to clear to the feet of one of his defenders. Naybet conceded another free kick against the Welsh striker, and Shearer's effort was blocked, but it was looking like being a backs to the wall job for the yellow-clad Spurs. There was occasional relief and a real chance for the Spurs strike force though, as Kanoute passed inside or Defoe, who turned his defender, but then hit his left foot shot under-strength to Given. Spurs did actually have more shots on target than the hosts today, and Defoe must have had most of them. After 9 minutes, Jamie Redknapp had forged a bit of space about 25 yards out, and tried a bending shot, picked out by Given.

After 10 minutes, Jenas slipped the Spurs right-side defence at the half way line and raced away down the left. As he advanced on goal, Robinson looked a little uncertain, but I suspect he decided to stay within his area, making himself as big as possible. Jenas's shot across the goalmouth trickled just wide with Edman in attendance. At this stage, I was thinking that a draw would be a great result! The onslaught continued, as Bellamy got into the area again, cutting the ball back, only for Mendes to intercept and to carry the ball out of the area, starting a decent counter attack. The danger from Defoe and Kanoute came to nought on this occasion.

Bellamy got round Naybet, and crossed for Jenas making ground. Ledley made a well-timed headed clearance. Davis was behind a good passing build-up for Tottenham, which was helped by Kanoute and then Redknapp, who crossed to the back of the area, giving Atouba the first of several good chances. Atouba got under the ball on this occasion, but soon displayed good skill, leaving two defenders behind, switching the play to Redknapp, whose cross was deflected for a corner.

Atouba's next chance was more difficult, after another Davis-Kanoute-Redknapp move, as he had to snatch at the shot, again off target. Newcastle must have felt that this man was no worry to them! Possibly Robinson's best save came mid-way through the half, as Shearer knocked down a cross from the right, and Milner hit a rocket from the middle of the area. Robbo's touch was slender, but enough to prevent a goal. Young Ifil got a great foot in to deprive Jenas of a shot, as Bellamy had cut the ball back, this time from the right side. Bellamy himself got in the way of Jenas's powerful header from a corner, but Robinson was behind the striker anyway.

Spurs fans thought they had been cheated by referee Dean, when Given picked up what looked like a back pass in the 40th minute, before Atouba again fired over after yet another Davis-inspired attack. This move had been preceded by a good midfield battle between Jenas and Davis, which Jenas initially won to great applause, but then the ball fell for Tottenham, leading to the move, which should really have ended in a goal. So ended a cracking first half of football, with Spurs competing fully with a team desperate to get into the winning habit, having drawn their last 4 Premiership games.

Spurs held their ground for the first five minutes after the break, before that man Davis won the ball deep in his own half, sending Redknapp away down the middle. Jamie found Atouba in plenty of space on the left, and Carr allowed the Cameroon International to drift in on his inside, when from about 22 yards Atouba sent a great curling shot around Given into the far corner for a fantastic goal. The Spurs army was of course ecstatic, but then had to spend much of the remaining 40 minutes on the edge of their seats, as the pattern of the game became one of Spurs getting men behind the ball (effectively), occasionally breaking, whilst the Toon did their best (not that that was good enough) to level the scores.

The home crowd, and their Captain wanted a penalty when Robinson punched clear from a corner, claiming a push on Shearer from Atouba, and then became even more frustrated as a free kick (conceded by Edman) was deflected out of play by one of their own men. Defoe had a good effort saved after 62 minutes, following some good passing from Spurs, and a final ball provided by the Atouba-Edman combination. Shearer provided a chance for Robert at the other end, who hit a great shot, which was matched by yet another fine save from Robinson.

Despite the pressure, it was in fact Spurs who had the best of the remaining chances. Ledley King hit a great powerful header from a corner towards the net, but his effort was matched by an equally great save from Given. Defoe became creator for once as he cut the ball back for substitute Michael Brown, who was in the middle of the area and really should have put the match beyond redemption, but fluffed his effort. Bobby Robson's triple substitution came to nought, as Jacques Santini matched the strategy by putting Gardner on for Kanoute, and despite 4 minutes of added time, Spurs achieved a marvellous win in front of a thrilled band of supporters.

It is 8 years since Spurs last won their first away game of the season (at Blackburn - 17.08.96), and this is only the fourth time it has happened in the Premiership. Two of those wins have been at St.James Park. Of course it is very early days, but the confirmed signing of Michael Carrick (from our "feeder club" - West Ham!) simply adds to the evidence of a real desire for success at Tottenham, and to the existence of genuine competition for places all over the field. Last week's encouragement has turned to genuine hope that Spurs really have turned the corner this time.

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