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Match Reports
Spurs v Man City, 08.04.06


Spurs scorers:-
Stalteri, 44
Carrick, 49

Man City scorer:-
Samaras, 52

Attendance: - 36,167

Referee: - Dermot Gallagher (not as published)
Assistants: - R. Burton, A. Halliday
4th Official: - T. Kettle

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, King (Capt.), Gardner, Lee; Lennon (sub Defoe, 82), Jenas, Carrick, Tainio (sub Davids, 88); Mido, Keane

Subs not used: - Cerny; Davenport; Murphy

No Bookings

Man City (4-4-2):- James; Mills (sub Riera, 58), Dunne, Distin (Capt.), Thatcher; Sinclair, Richards, Musampa, Reyna (sub Sibierski, 78); Vassell, Samaras

Subs not used: - Weaver; Sommeil; Wright-Phillips

Booked: - Vassell, Richards, Thatcher

Spurs’ nail-biting run-in continues, as The Lilywhites continued their outstanding statistical home form (11 wins from 17 games) but made the win against Manchester City harder than necessary, largely thanks to a lack of concentration after taking a two goal lead, when Ledley King allowed Samaras to prod home a low shot from a long throw. Robbie Keane was formally awarded the man of the match award, but in fairness, City keeper David James might easily have won that accolade for a string of precious saves.

James was derided by the South Stand Spurs in the first half as “England’s Number Four”, and did have a couple of nervous moments, not helped by his shaky defence. However by the time James ran out to the Paxton Road End for the second half, he did win deserved applause for his overall display.

Martin Jol had made bold decisions, in re-instating Paul Stalteri at right back, resting Edgar Davids (on the bench), and playing Ledley King to help Gardner through the game. Teemu Tainio made a welcome return, and Jenas was allowed a rare outing in his favoured central midfield berth. City had Claudio Reyna back in tow, but still missed Joey Barton, and of course long term absentee Andrew Cole.

Dermot Gallagher was a late appointment as referee, as Graham Poll has taken over the Old Trafford game that we will be watching eagerly tomorrow. (The programme had Chris Foy down as match official for our game!)

Spurs have been holding the pre-match ritualistic huddle recently, and the early indications were good, as Martin Jol’s men occupied enemy territory for much of the first five minutes. Keano fed Tainio as he burst into the box, but Teemu’s effort was well blocked by the defence. City had a shot on goal though after 5 minutes, as Vassell managed to head the ball back to Samaras, who skewed his shot miles wide. Spurs won the first of a series of free kicks in threatening areas, when Dunne was penalised for fouling Mido. Carrick not only shaped up to take the kick from 25 yards, but hit the ball harder than I think I’ve seen him do before, piercing the wall, and bringing the first of James’ excellent saves.

City started to get more space in the middle though, and were hardly challenged from a throw on the right when Sinclair threaded the defence to give Richards a great chance. The youngster fired across Robinson and missed the target. It was Richards who scored that late, late equaliser at Villa Park in a 5th Round Cup game, then swore in all his excitement when interviewed by Garth Crooks live on the Beeb. Inexperience cost City dear on this occasion, as Sinclair had given him an excellent chance.

It was an entertaining game, assisted by Dermot Gallagher’s usual inclination to let the football flow. Lennon battled hard and forced a mistake by James, when the ball was picked up by Mido, but then needlessly taken to the bye-line allowing City to cover their tracks. Soon after, the City defence was at sixes and sevens, as Thatcher headed across the area in front of James, and Robbie Keane pounced. Robbie tried to chip James, who just managed to reach up far enough and hold the ball. This was when the South Stand smelt blood and baited James, sensing that they might help him to make another mistake. The negative energy probably inspired James throughout the remainder of the game.

City created a good move featuring passes at close quarters, deep in the Spurs half and Richards hit a shot from the edge of the area which Paul Robinson held. After 30 minutes, Jenas made a clever lay-off for Keane, who jinked into the box, but saw his shot deflected and held by James. After yet another foul by Dunne on Mido, Jenas tried a free kick from the left hand side, and beat the wall, aiming for the far corner. He couldn’t beat James. Lennon drew more cheers for great work as he beat two defenders to reach shooting territory, but again the chance was blocked by the desperate City defenders. Keane collected Lee’s cross, and hit a powerful rising shot, which James tipped onto the bar, and which rebounded clear. The goal finally came in the 44th minute, after a build up involving Jenas and Mido, who flicked to Robbie, who fired, but saw James parry the ball. This time Stalteri was on hand to finish off the job with his second goal of the season.

Spurs started the second half in much the same vein. Carrick’s corner cleared everybody in the box, but got back to Tainio about 30 yards out. Tainio had spotted Carrick’s continued run from the corner. Carrick’s arm was raised calling for the ball, and it was a great chipped pass by Tainio allowing Carrick to collect with momentum and hit a rising shot through James’ outstretched and raised arms. It was Carrick’s second goal too. The first had been in the 3-2 win against Sunderland from a similar position, and that too had been created by Tainio.

Sadly, Spurs failed to hold onto the two goal lead for long, as following a somewhat needless free kick, City got a throw, and it got all the way to Samaras who got his foot around King and beat Robinson with his shot. Nerves started to kick in, although in fairness this was displayed mostly by the fans rather than the players who kept to their task in a patient manner. We could have had that lead back, when what looked like a good goal was disallowed for offside against Keane. Jenas had made another good run to space and collected Ledley King’s long ball. Jermaine picked out Keane with a ball that looked as if it was played straight across the pitch, rather than forward. Keane turned twisted and “scored”, but then we all saw the linesman’s flag to dampen our celebrations.

Richards got a yellow card for kicking the ball away after a decision, and very soon was lucky to get away with “words” for a similar offence. Spurs had to defend hard, and clear the ball from in front of the line following a corner, and then Robinson made his best save of the match, diving high to his right to push round substitute Riera’s powerful drive. At the other end, James had to be sharp to collect Gardner’s low left foot shot after a corner and a cross from Lee. Carrick found Stalteri with a lovely ball from the half way line, and Stalteri’s intended cross was deflected towards James’ corner. The keeper somehow managed to change direction and push the ball onto the post.

Jermain Defoe was a late replacement for Lennon, and Mido got more and more tired. Usually during the game, his ball control failed him, but in the closing stages, when he succeeded in controlling the ball, he took too long to pass or shoot with incision. You could see why Robbie Keane got the man of the match award, as in addition to his chances, after Defoe’s entrance, Robbie could be seen assisting at the back, and being on hand to collect a short throw from the keeper. Robbie also made a great interception on the half way line, then made a run and passed to Defoe for his one chance at goal, which went well over the bar.

The fans wanted the third goal, but as full time loomed, Spurs were happy to try and keep possession, rather than over-commit themselves. In the end, such discipline has kept us in control of fourth place for another few days, whilst we all sweat on Arsenal’s results at Old Trafford tomorrow and Portsmouth next Wednesday. Blackburn drew again, and remain four points behind.

The tension continues!

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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