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Match Reports
Spurs v West Bromwich Albion, 27.03.06

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 68, 89 (pen)

West Brom scorer:-
Davies, 21

Attendance: - 36,152

Referee: - Mr. C. Foy
Assistants: - Mr. G. Beale & Mr. R. Burton
4th Official: - Mr. D. Gallagher

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly (sub Mido, 59), Dawson, King (Capt.), Lee; Lennon (sub Tainio, 89), Jenas, Carrick, Davids (sub Murphy, 85); Keane, Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Gardner

No bookings

West Brom (4-4-2):- Kuszczak; Albrechtsen, Davies (Capt.), Watson, Robinson; Kozak (sub Inamoto, 62), Wallwork, Johnson, Greening; Kanu (sub Campbell, 81), Ellington (sub Gera, 85)

Subs not used: - Hoult; Clement

Booked: - Greening, Kuszczak

Just when it looked as if we would be travelling to Newcastle this Saturday with our tails between our legs, the fates delivered a moment of sublime poetic justice, when West Brom keeper Tomasz Kuszczak made a hash of an attempted clearance, and then when the determined Jermain Defoe got goalside of him inside his area, Kuszczak manhandled Defoe to the floor to concede a last minute penalty. Somehow Kuszczak got away with a yellow and not red card, but he was then beaten by the second moment of supreme class in this game from Robbie Keane, who confidently fired the spot kick to the right of the keeper to spark great celebrations in front of the ecstatic Paxton Road stand.

In truth, Kuszczak had been the less busy of the two keepers, with Paul Robinson having to make three or four decent stops to prevent the Baggies increasing their first half lead, taken through a 21st minute header by skipper Curtis Davies. For too much of the game, the visitors looked like the fourth best team in the league, and not fourth bottom, where they remain, somewhat unfortunately as a result of Spurs last gasp victory.

The poetic justice stems from the fact that Kuszczak was baited all night by the Spurs crowd, as he consistently took an age over every goal-kick, and got away with his behaviour despite the referee having words before half time. Needless to say, the home crowd were not over-pleased when 3 minutes added time were allowed, through which they could bite their nails to the quick!

It took far too long for Spurs to assert themselves as a team in their position should, and in the end, they owe the three points to the utterly superb class of Robbie Keane, scoring his 12th and 13th goals of the season, to take over the mantle of top scorer so far this season. In the circumstances, Keane’s first goal in the 68th minute was one of coolness and greatness.

Martin Jol decided upon an unchanged starting line-up. Even the bench was the same as had been selected at St. Andrews last week. Bryan Robson clearly set out upon an attacking strategy, with Kanu partnered by Nathan Ellington, who was top scorer for Wigan last season. Behind them were Jonathan Greening on the left wing, and in the middle Ronnie Wallwork and Andy Johnson, who seemed to find more room in which to operate than their Spurs counterparts.

Aaron Lennon started on the right, and it was only when he was switched to the left flank after half an hour, that Spurs started to penetrate the West Brom defence. Edgar Davids sadly has not found his form since injury a few weeks ago, and Spurs missed a big man in the middle and in attacking areas, until Mido made an entrance after an hour. West Brom had the first real effort after 12 minutes, when a midfield pass from Lee went astray, and Ellington hit a 25 yard shot wide after making a short run. West Brom’s goal was no surprise when it came, from a Greening free kick, and a Davies header planted firmly to the left of the Spurs keeper. Davies was only signed on the last day of the August transfer window from Luton Town, and has clearly made a quick advance through the West Brom pecking order, as he was skipper tonight.

West Brom were giving no quarter, and Greening got a booking for a handball in the middle of the park. That first decent bit of play for Spurs came from a typical diagonal ball by Michael Dawson, to Lennon who made a great jinking run towards goal along the bye-line. Lennon’s cross was blocked for a corner. Spurs then got in the box for a while, but just couldn’t get a shot on the target. Defoe tried, and then even the referee got in the way of the Spurs attack. Davids did hit a piercing ball towards the area after 39 minutes, which Keane dummied and Jermain Defoe hit a shot that Kuszczak tipped over the bar. From one of the two ensuing corners, Ledley King had a shot that was deflected for another corner. Aaron Lennon had a good 25 yard shot saved by that man Kuszczak in first half added time.

After the break, Spurs did play with more purpose, but Carrick’s dead balls were letting us down again. One was floated across the area, and allowed to pass out of danger with no Spurs player attacking the ball. A second free kick was hit low across the outside of the box, and easily cleared by West Brom. After 53 minutes, Ledley King started a move from the back. Defoe put the ball to his right, where Jenas fired wide. Carrick had shooting opportunity, which he declined, feeding Kelly on the right. The cross was headed wide by Robbie Keane. Kelly was replaced by Mido, and Jenas had to take over at right back. The effort of Robbie Keane was such that one time he was to be found assisting Jenas deep in his own half to assist in clearing danger.

Soon after Mido entered the arena, he was threaded a ball by Defoe, and hit his sot past the keeper, but just in front of the far post. At last, an equaliser arrived mid-way through the half. After a good move down the left, it was Carrick who hit a lovely pass low inside the defence, and Robbie hit a wonderful deft left footed shot over the advancing keeper to make it 1-1. It really was one of the best Spurs goals I have seen this season.

West Brom responded with a shot by Ellington, having been fed by substitute Inamoto. Jermain Defoe was awarded a free kick, after battling for a long clearance, and Carrick tried his low approach across the outside of the box again. Defoe scuffed a shot, and Mido had a good effort saved. Paul Robinson had to be sharp to hold Kanu’s header from a Greening free kick, and then another Ellington effort was held cleanly by the Spurs keeper at his near post. There was another save for the Spurs guardian to make, with Gera and Watson close at hand, before the dramatic climax. Kuszczak’s attempted clearance was closed down by Defoe, who got goal-side of the keeper, and was then bundled to the ground. In the aftermath, Mido did in fact fire the ball into the net, but referee Chris Foy had already blown for the penalty. Perhaps retreating defenders had saved Kuszczak from what looked like a certain red card. Some people had to turn away in the tension, but thankfully, Mr Cool – man of the match Robbie Keane had no qualms about smashing the ball high past Kuszczak’s dive to the right, to send most of the 36,152 crowd home in a delirious state.

Thanks Robbie! You have kept our Champions League dream alive!

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