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Match Reports
Spurs v Portsmouth, 05.02.05

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 5TH FEBRUARY, 2005
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) PORTSMOUTH 1 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Mido, 34, 57
Keane, 83

Portsmouth scorer:-
Kamara, 28

Referee:- Steve Dunn

Attendance:- 36,105

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, Naybet (sub Bunjevcevic, 84), King (Capt.), Atouba; Davies, Brown, Carrick, Reid; Mido (sub Keane, 62), Defoe

Subs not used:- Cerny; Edman; Marney

No Bookings

Portsmouth (4-4-2):- Chalkias; Primus (sub Skopelitis, 88), De Zeeuw (Capt.), Stefanovic, Taylor; O'Neil (sub Mezague, 62), Hughes, Cisse, Berger (sub Fuller, 62); Kamara, Yakubu

Subs not used:- Ashdown; Rodic

No Bookings

This was a good match in which to make a Premiership debut, with not too much pressure anticipated from today's opposition, and Ahmed Hossam MIDO made a great debut, scoring two crowd-pleasing goals, adding to those a good work rate, coupled with the sort of aerial domination and all-round skill that will have given the suspended Fredi Kanoute plenty to ponder in the run-up to next week's Fourth Round replay against West Bromwich Albion.

Andy Reid also made a good start, although I felt he was a little off the pace in the second half, despite the fact he hit the post with a shot and made Robbie Keane's goal (Spurs' third) to ensure all three points came to Spurs. Reid has always looked as if he carries some excess weight, and he makes up for less pace with plenty of clever ball play, and silky skills. Reid made plenty of friends in the Spurs section today, let there be no doubt.

The four changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday night's game were made without affecting the team's format, and in fact, there were many times when Spurs played smooth attacking passing football, without making the Portsmouth goalkeeper - Kostas Chalkias - do as much work as the Spurs possession warranted. Stephen Kelly looks more and more comfortable at right back, and was allowed plenty of forward ventures. Ledley King continues to play with an air of calm, but pace and strength when needed and command always. Nourredine Naybet returned to keep that back four together, and Timmy Atouba entertained as only he can, but also defended well.

In the middle, Michael Carrick was probably the most quiet of the quartet, with Davies having his best game since his return, Michael Brown battling as always, and Reid playing as if he had known all his new colleagues for ages. Portsmouth's midfield was a diamond for a lot of the time, with Richard Hughes shielding the back four, and Cisse playing the more attacking role. Not that Pompey did much attacking before they took a surprise lead in the 28th minute! Their best player was Diomansy Kamara, another Senegalese, who was definitely the more threatening of their twin strike force, with Yakubu playing second fiddle today.

Spurs had half a chance after just two minutes, when Atouba combined with Mido, feeding Simon Davies for an early shot wide of the post. A corner from the right after 6 minutes fell to the feet of Ledley King, who had little time to react, and instinctively fired over the bar. And that was all we had in the way of direct chances for the next 20 odd minutes, although Mido brought cheers from the crowd as he leapt and back-heeled a through ball into the goalie's arms from the edge of the box. Mido had been working hard and made runs to the left, combining with Reid.

The Portsmouth goal came out of the blue, and I am not even certain that the corner was justified as it looked to me like Atouba did not have the last touch. A corner it was though, taken at the North-East flag by Berger and headed home by Kamara, rising unchallenged at the near post, in similar fashion to Ben Haim's goal at The Reebock on Tuesday night. Something to be worked on methinks!

Minutes later Defoe seemed to be tugged down in the Portsmouth area, but Mr. Dunn was having none of it, and we Spurs fans have learnt not to expect handballs and penalties - even goals! - in our favour. It wasn't long before we were level though, and the goal came at the end of an excellent move, started by Ledley King powering forward. Ledley passed to Defoe, who found Simon Davies on the right wing. Davies sent in a powerful cross that was headed home with gusto by Mido for a delightful debut goal. He'll have to be guided away from the visitors section for future celebrations though!

Just before the break, Portsmouth did have the ball in the net, but referee Dunn had spotted a handball by Kamara as he rounded the defence, although he clearly did not deem this bit of cheating worthy of a yellow card.

Spurs dominated possession again after the break, and very quickly, Carrick and Brown shared good inter-play on the approach. Carrick threaded to Defoe, who chipped the defence, but Mido and De Zeeuw suffered a clash of heads. De Zeeuw central defending partner - Stefanovic - suffered in an undignified fashion blocking a powerful Defoe drive minutes later! Kelly made a good run, crossing for Mido, who turned and shot with his left foot, saved by Chalkias diving to his right.

Spurs took a deserved lead in the 57th minute, and were still on the rebound from another failed penalty appeal as a Pompey defender definitely handled in the box. The ball quickly ran to Defoe on the right, within the area, and he crossed low past the keeper for Mido to finish it off at the back post. Spurs were clearly not finished as Reid and Mido combined at a short corner. Reid crossed and this time Defoe was at the back post, but his shot from 10 yards was deflected for a corner. The visitors did have a useful effort from Cisse, curling a shot that went just outside the top left of goal.

Mido went off to great applause after 62 minutes, and was carrying a knock. He was replaced by Robbie Keane. Yakubu latched onto a free kick and gave Robinson some work to do, but the keeper was not too stretched to hold the ball.With 10 minutes left Davies found Defoe on the left side of the box, beating the offside flag, trying to direct a shot round Chalkias who reacted well and dived to his left to catch the ball.

For much of the second half, Simon Davies played almost a free role, and this pass had been made from an inside left position. Reid and Atouba worked the ball down the left, before Reid came inside to receive from Defoe. Reid hit a good low shot that hit the bottom of the keeper's right post, bouncing well out of danger. A minute later though, Reid made the chipped pass that Keane cleverly flicked over the keeper to the far side of the net to make it 3-1. Just before the final whistle, Simon Davies made a good interception in the middle, made a run and passed to Defoe, whose shot was blocked. The follow-up from Carrick was wide.

With Bolton winning their sixth successive League game at Selhurst Park today, Spurs remain in ninth spot, but they are consolidated in that position, and with a potential three more consecutive Saturday home games this month, they have a great chance to make progress in their quest for European qualification. My head is telling me that we will just miss out this season, but with all the competition for places, we should have fun watching the team try to cross the line!

Come on you Spurs!

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