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Match Reports

Spurs v Fulham, 26.09.05


Defoe, 8

Referee: - Mr A. Wiley

Attendance: - 35,427

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, Naybet, King (Capt.), Lee; Lennon (sub Reid, 70), Jenas, Mendes, Davids; Mido (sub Rasiak, 88), Defoe (sub Keane, 74)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Kelly

No bookings

Fulham (4-4-2):- Warner; Volz, Knight, Bocanegra, n. Jensen; Malbranque, C. Jensen, Diop, Boa Morte (Capt.); Radznski, McBride (sub John, 74)

Subs not used: - Crossley; Leacock; Elrich, Christanval

Booked: - Knight, Diop, John

Having taken an early lead in the 8th minute through Jermain Defoe, Spurs looked for a while like this was going to be plain sailing, as they sought to put last week’s aberration at Grimsby behind them, and to secure fourth place in the early Premiership table. It was hardly that though, as apart from a burst after the half-time interval, Spurs gradually sat further and further back, looking more like a team playing away from home than vice versa. Fulham were no push-overs, fighting tooth and nail till the end, rarely allowing the home side time on the ball and space to compose their passing game.

Pedro Mendes made a welcome return to first team action, deputising for Michael Carrick, and Edgar Davids also returned. It was a real plus that Davids (and every other Spurs player) completed the game without seeing yellow, meaning that Edgar will be able to face Charlton in Saturday’s exciting prospect at The Valley. Martin Jol gave the nod to Aaron Lennon on the right, being rewarded with a man of the match performance, whilst Mido was also back, to partner Defoe.

Fulham forsook caution and played 4-4-2, with Radzinski partnering Brian McBride. As anticipated the Fulham crowd was sparse, failing to fill their allocation in the top tier of the south-west corner, but it was still a good gate, with only a few spaces in the corners of the ground. The crowd were willing to forgive the Carling Cup exit and gave the team a rousing welcome and all the backing they could have wished for.

Spurs made the early running down the left, with Defoe feeding Davids, who won a corner, from which Lee hit a shot from distance which Warner saved for another corner kick. Spurs got the head start they must have dreamt of, when Defoe was allowed a run onto Ledley King’s long ball upfield. Fulham looked for an offside flag, to no avail, and Jermain raced goalward to beat Warner with a low shot across his body.

Lennon was providing all the thrills for Spurs and two of the biggest were great balls from a central position – not on the flank where we love to see him passing his full back. Jenas and Davids were uncharacteristically sending too many passes astray, often very short and simple options too. Spurs generally struggled to put a string of passing movements together, whilst the likes of Claus Jensen and Diop were given too much space in the middle. Jensen hit a long range effort that glanced the top of the bar after a Jenas lapse after 21 minutes.

Spurs had a good move after 27 minutes, which started with Robinson’s clearance to Mido on the left flank. Defoe later fed Mido in a central area, and Mido’s shot should have hit the net, but he almost aimed at Warner, who was able to make the save. Davids had a great shot saved 8 minutes before the break, after Stalteri took a quick throw, and Lennon showed great skill to turn and beat his man, before finding Davids with the final ball.

Spurs flurry of chances after the break began with a Lennon ball to Stalteri, going down in the area, but to no avail. Then Defoe made a great reverse pass to Mido from the left side, and Mido put Davids through, who hit a rising shot just over the corner of the bar. Spurs were displaying movement and variety at this stage, with the midfield turning up anywhere across the field. Fulham were not without their efforts though as a cross from the left gave Malbranque a shot that he fired over. Paul Robinson was alert to Radzinski’s close range shot after 52 minutes, and made a good save with his legs.

Spurs broke from the back through Mido of all people, after 55 minutes, and had a nice prolonged build-up, but it continued more by luck than judgement at times. The move ended with a good switch by Mendes and a fine run into the box by Lennon, and a low shot that Warner saved at his left post for a corner.

That was it really, as far as decent chances for either side. Spurs failed to get forward in sufficient numbers to make a decent threat on goal Fulham got into dangerous areas only to be blocked by any one of the four defenders, who did the blocking well, but made panic clearances rather than composed passes. Saturday’s task at Charlton will be a toughie, but Spurs do have a chance of going second for a day. Now there’s a challenge!

One of the highlights for the home crowd was the introduction on the pitch of David Ginola (who was in the Sky Box). Daveed’s reception was as rapturous as ever, and he easily out-scored Alan Mullery on the clapometer. (Mullery had preceded Ginola to be introduced to the crowd, as an old favourite of both teams)

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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