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Match Reports
Norwich v Spurs, 26.12.04


Keane, 73
Brown, 77

Referee:- Mike Riley

Attendance:- 24,508

Norwich (4-3-2-1):- Green; Edworthy, Fleming (Capt.), Doherty, Charlton (sub Drury, 8); Bentley, Helveg, Safri (sub Mulryne, 46); Jonson (sub McVeigh, 38), Huckerby; McKenzie

Subs not used:- Lewis; Jarvis

Booked:- Safri

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King (Capt.), Edman; Mendes, Carrick, Brown (sub Redknapp, 86), Atouba (sub Ziegler, 65); Kanoute (sub Defoe, 70), Keane

Subs not used:- Fulop; Gardner

No bookings

Martin Jol's Spurs gave their fans the Christmas present they all wanted with a fifth successive league win, third successive away win, and their first win at Christmas for five years. The win was secured by a stunning Michael Brown goal, which caps the fantastic run of form he is having as the engine in the Spurs midfield. Brown has been the creator of three of Spurs' recent goals, and his 77th minute cracker was a just reward, recognised by Martin Jol, who allowed Brown to take the applause as he was substituted in the closing minutes.

Norwich will feel they were unlucky, and they did have Spurs on the back foot for much of the first half, hitting the woodwork twice during the game, and having another effort cleared off the line by veteran Nourredine Naybet of all people. The figures do show that Spurs bossed possession over the 90 minutes, and once McKenzie's header was tipped onto the bar by Paul Robinson early in the second half, Spurs' quality came to the fore and they were in charge for the remainder of the game.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Spurs struggled a bit in the first half was the unsettling changes to the team - a necessary impediment in this busy holiday season. Spurs are now a side that CAN do a bit of rotating, having the luxury of last week's hat-trick hero, Jermain Defoe on the bench, along with Ziegler who made way for Atouba to move forward, himself moving aside for the returning left back Erik Edman, sporting a new cropped hair style. Naybet returned at the back, but Martin Jol gave every indication after the game that Anthony Gardner and Defoe can expect more football over the next week. Defoe must be a certain starter for the Palace game, surely, and Robbie Keane's post match interview indicated that he has come to terms with the head coach's policy.

Norwich played a fast game, with pace on the flanks in the shape of Huckerby and Jonson, supporting McKenzie as a lone striker. Another element of bad luck for the home side was the need to use all three substitutions by half time, losing Charlton, Jonson and Safri to injuries sustained in legitimate challenges in what was an entertaining and hard-fought game. Jonson's loss was probably hardest felt, as he had been combining well with Gooner loanee David Bentley on the right, although Jonson and Huckerby switched flanks occasionally. When Jonson was replaced by ex-Spur Paul McVeigh, the home side lost their rhythm somewhat.

An early cross from Atouba ended up threatening Green's goal, as it nearly became one of those freak goals, before Huckerby passed inside to Bentley shooting on the run, beating Robinson and seeing his shot rebound off the post, then Huckerby again was at the heart of a move from a corner, where his final ball was cleared nervously by Mendes over the Spurs bar. Robbie Keane sent Kanoute away, enjoying a re-union battle with Gary Doherty. Doherty managed to concede a corner from which Ledley King desperately tried to get in a shot, but was blocked by the defence.

Norwich had two more good chances when Jonson tried from 25 yards but fired over the bar, then Bentley was allowed a run, but this time his shot was parried by Robinson. The Carrick-Brown relationship is clearly becoming an effective one for Spurs. Carrick tried his chipped passes again, but there was also plenty of short successful passing from him as well. Mendes still does not look at his best on the right, and Spurs must surely be looking hard for an authentic right-winger in the transfer window.

Michael Brown got a warning from Mike Riley for a foul on Huckerby on the very edge of the Spurs box. From the free kick it was a Doherty header that was cleared in front of goal by Mendes again. After another Jonson - Bentley combination, Kanoute had an excellent chance on the half-hour, if only he could have been more aware of the ball! A Pamarot cross was headed up high, and when it fell it took Kanoute a long time to latch onto the ball, he still had an excellent chance to score but seemed to stumble just as he could have shot. A half-cleared header by Doherty fell to Keane, who tried an early shot over the target. Then Carrick hit the target with a 35 yard drive, straight into Green's body. Naybet's clearance off the line came in first half injury time, when McKenzie just beat Robinson to a long ball, almost chipping it out of Robbo's hands. Naybet was alert and in the end his clearance was comfortable.

McKenzie's chance after 51 minutes, came from another Huckerby corner, with a powerful header that was just tipped by Robinson onto the bar, rebounding into safety. Spurs had a great chance to score on the break, as Keane and Kanoute worked their way forward. Keane's final pass to Fredi was quite woeful and candy for Green. Carrick, Kanoute and Keane took part in a move on the right that gave Mendes a chance. It was clever final flick from Robbie that gave Mendes a great chance, saved well by Green, diving to his right.

Ziegler replaced Atouba, who may have been carrying a slight knock from various challenges. The chances started coming thick and fast for Spurs, with a Keane header wide after good work by Carrick, Brown and Mendes, then Mendes himself had another opportunity, as Kanoute fed him Robinson's clearance. This time Mendes was way off target! It was Kanoute's last contribution, and it came as a surprise to most around me to see him, rather than Robbie be replaced by Defoe, with 20 minutes to go. Big Marty obviously knows best though, as within minutes it was Robbie Keane who took advantage of Norwich's poor defending of a corner to prod in a low shot, after Fleming had headed Ziegler's corner back across the box, and the Canaries failed to clear their lines.

Robbie's cartwheels in front of the new Jarrold Stand were soon to be eclipsed by Brown's stunner. Keane had been "the wall" for Brown's 1-2, as he ran through the middle. Defoe's run cleared a path for Brown who beat Green with a powerful 25 yard drive then rose to the middle of the net to the left of Green. Now the Spurs "Jingle Bells" chants could be aired with confidence, and not prematurely as they had been after Keane's effort!

Norwich had one or two efforts in the closing stages, but Robinson and the Spurs defence were equal to them, as they competently played out the final minutes, before the Boxing Day celebrations began for the travelling fans.

Spurs are back in seventh place, whereas at this time last year they briefly dropped into the bottom three. They are almost top of the 6-game form league, and whilst we dream of them getting closer to the teams above them, there are tough times ahead with a trip to Old Trafford next week, then a home game against Chelsea. Perhaps we'll have to get the team bus out again, but first we face Palace tomorrow, then Everton on New Year's Day!

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