FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 5TH MARCH, 2005
SOUTHAMPTON 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee: - Peter Walton
Attendance: - 31,903
Southampton (4-4-2):- Smith; Delap (sub Nilsson, 49), Lundekvam, Higginbottom, Bernard; Telfer, Redknapp, Quashie, Le Saux (Capt.) (sub Svensson, 88); Crouch, Camara
Subs not used: - Blayney; Cranie; Phillips
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly (sub Ziegler, 67), King (Capt.), Gardner, Edman; Davies, Carrick, Brown, Reid (sub Keane, 74); Defoe, Mido (sub Kanoute, 57)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Pamarot
Booked:- Edman, Brown
FA Cup quarter-finalists Spurs, who are allegedly prospective qualifiers for a UEFA Cup place in the Premiership managed in the tradition that their fans know only too well to stumble against relegation battlers Southampton, who gained a precious three points, gaining two on their nearest rivals Crystal Palace who managed a goal-less draw at home to Manchester United today. With both Liverpool and Middlesbrough failing today, and Charlton only drawing, Spurs had a golden opportunity to better state their claim to Europe. Perhaps the players had half an eye on the Cup game next week, but Southampton have no time for such luxuries, and in the end their win came down to more desire, and a lack of ruthlessness by Spurs.
Unbelievably, this was Spurs sixth consecutive away game against the Saints, without even a goal, let alone a win, and the fourth consecutive 1-0 Premiership defeat at their hands. 4 of those defeats have been here at the St. Mary’s Stadium.
As was to be expected, Martin Jol rang the changes after Wednesday’s win at Forest, with Ledley King, Michael Carrick, Andy Reid, and Mido returning to the starting line-up. Saints featured our ex-skipper Jamie Redknapp, former Spurs Junior, Peter Crouch, and ex-Celtic and Wolves striker, Henri Camara, who is technically still a Wolves man, but has been on loan since the start of this season. Saints had my name-sake in goal, continuing the great work he started when replacing the injured Niemi.
Spurs lack of punch was demonstrated in the first minute really. Michael Brown had won the ball, got it to Mido who was in the Saints’ box, with only Paul Smith in his way. Surely a goal should have followed, but Smith managed to save with his legs. Not that it all went Spurs way, but they had enough chances to put the game out of reach of the hosts in that first half, perhaps even in the first 20 minutes. Andy Reid sent over a good ball to Mido who chested it down to Defoe, who fired straight at the keeper. Southampton were looking threatening on the break, and neither Gardner or King were comfortable against the pace of Camara, who always seemed to find the position to receive the ball in space then run at the defenders. Gardner made a bad clearance to Telfer on the right, and his ball into the area was fired over by Camara at an angle.
Defoe had a shot blocked for a corner after good approach play by Edman and Reid, then Smith’s clearance was collected by Crouch who left Kelly in his wake, but had his shot well blocked by Ledley King. Robinson reciprocated with the long ball, and Smith tipped over Defoe’s shot after 23 minutes for another Spurs corner. Once again, Simon Davies was under instructions to play inside for much of the time. He sent a good ball to the back of the area for Kelly, who made a good advance, and had the choice of goal or a lay-off pass. His attempt at a shot was woeful and miles over the target!
Carrick was significantly absent from the action in my opinion. He made the occasional defensive block, and one or two decent balls in the second half, but for a cultured midfielder, should surely have imposed himself upon this game. Spurs delivery from passes, and dead balls was poor, and Mido’s deft touches were not coming off, although he did have one great battle into the box leaving Bernard struggling. Bernard sent a long ball that found Camara, beating the offside appeals and leaving him with Robinson to beat. I didn’t say just Robinson as the England keeper was more than equal to Camara’s attempted chip. Mido’s shot across the goal mouth after that battle with the left back was from too sharp an angle, and made no impression on the target.
Crouch and Camara persistently gave the Spurs defence problems, although ironically after the break, Spurs had more possession, despite conceding the deciding goal. Crouch somehow managed to shoot wide after Camara got away from Kelly on the Spurs right flank, and delivered for a close range effort. After the break, with Spurs playing away from their fans, they made several good moves from defence. One of these came from Simon Davies winning a second ball, then a move through Kelly, Defoe, Carrick, and Davies again, before Brown hit a good low shot saved again by that man Smith. A Spurs short corner was cleared, Kelly got the ball quickly into the area, and Ledley slid the ball to Mido whose shot on the turn was just wide.
Rory Delap was replaced by Mikael Nillson, whose first touch was to cross into the path of Nigel Quashie allowed a short run into space for a sucker-punch header. After another Defoe shot saved, it could have been two down for Spurs, as Redknapp’s free kick from the right reached Crouch at the back post for a powerful header that needed a super save from Robinson to keep the score to one. Andy Reid worked hard to retrieve a ball near the touch-line and passed inside for Defoe, whose shot hit the side netting. Mido was replaced by Kanoute, and I have to say that if Fredi had started, then surely Spurs would have been out of sight in the first half. Fredi was all over the place and battled supremely, demonstrated by one occasion when he managed to win a throw by the Saints’ corner flag when the cause looked lost, after he had chased a Robinson clearance.
Spurs had been frustrated so many times and Martin Jol tried every trick he had to get the ball in the net. Ziegler replaced Kelly, and Davies reverted to right back, whilst Reid was pushed to a central position. He was soon replaced by Robbie Keane, and whilst we now saw little of Southampton attacking the Spurs goal, the only decent chance we had was when Davies stole the ball off Camara near half way, and Ziegler threaded a great ball for Kanoute, who really should have scored in a one on one situation, but was thwarted by the keeper.
Spurs will have to play much, much better than this next week, to have any hope of a result at St. James Park. Too often we seemed to want too much time on the ball, allowing time for the defence to organise, whereas a more direct approach would surely reap the necessary rewards. The Spurs fans taunts of “Harry and Jim, taking you down” were easily changed to “…keeping us up” by the hopeful Saints’ fans, who once again had gloating rights over us on their turf.
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