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Spurs v West Bromwich Albion, 12.02.05

FA CUP 4TH ROUND REPLAY
SATURDAY 12TH FEBRUARY, 2005
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Keane (pen), 45
Defoe, 50, 55

West Brom scorer:-
Kanu, 12

Referee:- Rob Styles

Attendance:- 27,860

Teams:-
Spurs (4-3-1-2/4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, King (Capt.), Gardner, Atouba; Brown, Carrick, Ziegler; Keane (sub Davies, 46); Kanoute, Defoe

Subs not used:- Cerny; Edman, Naybet; Mendes

No bookings

West Brom (4-4-2):- Hoult (sub Kuszcak, 43); Albrechtsen, Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson; Gera, Scimeca (sub O'Connor, 68), Wallwork, Koumas; Campbell (Capt.), Kanu (sub Earnshaw, 61)

Subs not used:- Purse; Horsfield

Booked:- Campbell, Wallwork

A Robbie Keane penalty just before half-time and two cracking Jermain Defoe goals within ten minutes of the break ensured that Spurs ultimately coasted through to next Sunday's fifth round tie at home to Nottingham Forest. Defeat had looked all too likely though until that penalty, as Martin Jol's experiment with his three main strikers failed and the midfield was surrendered tamely to a relaxed West Brom side. The "Baggies" played in red shirts, and the way that Spurs stood off their midfield, allowing them to boss the game made it look like the opposition was another red-shirted outfit such as Manchester United!

Having scored the equaliser after Russel Hoult had injured himself in flattening Stephen Kelly just inside the West Brom box, Robbie Keane was sacrificed for Simon Davies, giving Spurs a well-balanced appearance that simply dominated the second half proceedings. Naybet, Edman and Mendes remained on the bench, and next week's game will bring further selection dilemma's to Jol with the eligibility of Mido.

I would have left Thimothee Atouba in the dressing room at half time too, as he had his worst game in Spurs colours, in my view. There were a number of times when his colleagues were berating him for errors at the back. Atouba was up against Gera, but too often he drifted away from his man, allowed long balls to pass over head, failed with his own passes, and gave the ball away needlessly. Although Atouba improved as the game went on, surely Edman would have done a better job overall.

Spurs could just not get a grip on the game in the opening stages, and to be honest they were lucky to be just one down before the penalty, as Paul Robinson made at least three great saves, proving his worth to Spurs for the umpteenth time this season. The visitors showed their intentions in the 7th minute. Kanu was on the left and worked the ball inside to skipper Kevin Campbell in a central position. Campbell slipped the ball to Gera on his right, and Robinson just beat the advancing Ronnie Wallwork to the ball. Ledley King soon had to go at full stretch to intercept a Kanu ball intended for West Brom's left back - another Paul Robinson!

It therefore came as no surprise when the visitors did take the lead in the 12th minute. Atouba chiefly, but also Gardner failed to commit themselves to a long ball down the line and Campbell retrieved it near the corner flag, before back-heeling to Gera, whose cross was headed back across the Spurs goal into the net by Kanu. Two minutes later, Campbell latched onto a back-header by Ledley King, and brought another great save from Robinson. The Spurs keeper soon had to stretch to his left to save from his namesake, who had been threaded a ball by Kanu, as the left back entered the Spurs area.

At last Spurs managed something resembling an attack, as Robbie Keane very nearly got on the end of a long ball from Ledley King at the half-way line, into the West Brom area. Mid-way through the half, a long free kick reached Defoe at the back of the West Brom area. His ball back was hit by Carrick, and half saved by Hoult, who appeared to have over-stepped the bye-line, but the appeals of the South Stand Spurs fans fell on deaf ears. After 32 minutes, a quick free kick by Spurs in their own half, went to Atouba who did find Kanoute with his cross. Fredi headed down to Robbie Keane who went down under Clement's challenge, but I suspect the fans appealed more than the players for a penalty this time. Keane might have got a shot in before being tackled. Two minutes later, keeper Robinson was in action again, stretching fully to his right to push a low shot from Campbell away for a corner. Gera had been the provider this time.

The best chance yet came for Spurs, as Kanoute got to the bye-line on the right, crossed and Defoe tried a first time shot from the middle of the area, hitting the ball way over the bar. The penalty came as Kelly got forward and raced into the West Brom area. Hoult rushed out and clattered Kelly feet first in front of his own fans who claim to have been cheated by the referee, as they felt Hoult got a touch on the ball. Countless times I see midfielders make challenges like that in central areas of the pitch, getting the ball, but also taking out the opponent, conceding free kicks. Hence I think Mr. Styles was correct. Hoult was badly injured and had to be replaced, but it looked like the referee was hovering at the ready to issue a card of either colour, but no card was shown. Thus Kuszcak's first task was to pick out Robbie Keane's superbly taken spot-kick from the back of his net. Robbie had waited calmly whilst Hoult was treated, then fired the shot into the corner right of the keeper.

Spurs then went for their half-time cuppa, lucky to be on level terms when they might have conceded four goals. What a blessing a quality keeper has been to us!

Straight away, Simon Davies' presence gave the side balance, and Spurs controlled the midfield now. Within five minutes, West Brom's left back had conceded a free kick for handball just outside the penalty area. Jermain Defoe conferred with Carrick who took the kick and the two of them surprised the defence with a kick across the outside of the area, and a smashing drive into the roof of the net from Defoe racing from left to right to meet the ball.

Another five minutes passed and Fredi Kanoute created the goal that nailed The Baggies coffin. He collected a throw behind the defence (there is no offside from a throw in), but started to go backwards, then came back on himself leaving Gaardsoe in his wake, getting to that magic bye-line, before cutting the ball back for Defoe to take one touch then finish with another rasping right foot shot that might have gone through the keeper had he been in the way!

Spurs looked as if they might get a hatful now, as Michael Brown got on the end of Kelly's cross, but headed at the keeper. There were then one or two questionable decisions by the officials as Kelly was either adjudged offside (when he wasn't) or might have fouled the defender as he broke through. Defoe was stopped in his tracks by an offside flag as he played through the defence 35 yards out, with Kanoute in an offside position, but not interfering. Then in another dodgy looking call, Ziegler had put Jermain through, but he was thwarted by the flag. I checked my programme to see if the same linesman as we had at Old Trafford was officiating, but it wasn't him! Defoe just failed to control a good long ball into the box as the hour mark approached, but the keeper just beat him to the ball.

Now Spurs did slow down the pace a bit, but West Brom hardly threatened apart from a Clement free kick that Robinson saved with strong hands. A flowing move from Ziegler, Defoe and Kanoute ended with a Davies shot in the closing stages which Kuszcak pushed away for a corner.

West Brom return to their relegation battle, with enforced breaks for FA Cup and Carling Cup week-ends, whilst Spurs now face Nottingham Forest next Sunday at 3 p.m in the last 16. Recent signings Andy Reid and Michael Dawson are cup-tied, but Mido will be eligible for the game, and faces an interesting competition for a first team place with Kanoute.

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