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Match Reports
Spurs v Slavia Prague, 28.09.06
(Aggregate 2-0 to Spurs)

Keane, 80

Referee: - Mr. Tommy Skjerven (Norway)

Attendance: - 35,191

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Davenport, Y-P Lee; Jenas, Murphy (sub Ghaly, 70), Zokora, Ziegler (sub Tainio, 61); Keane (Capt.), Mido

Subs not used: - Cerny; Ifil, C. Lee, Ekotto; Huddlestone (Note this was Charlie Lee’s first selection for the first team squad)

Booked: - Tainio

Slavia Prague (4-1-4-1):- Kozacik; Krajcik, Latka, Suchy, Hubacek; Svec; Janda (sub Vlcek, 62), Jarolim (Capt.), Hrdlicka (sub Kalivoda, 73), Svento; Fort (sub Necid, 77)

Subs not used: - Divis; Dosoudil, Aracic; Gaucho

Booked: - Latka

It was a case of “Job done – now let’s get on with the tour”, as Martin Jol’s side achieved their priority of keeping a clean sheet, and managed a late goal to make sure of their passage to the 5-team, 4-game Round 2 Group stage of the UEFA Cup, thus ensuring that the Spurs tour of Europe goes on until December, at least.

There was little in the way of entertainment though to keep the near full house happy on a traditional “European Night” at White Hart lane, where the side wore an all-white strip – apart from obligatory flashes of navy blue and sponsorship red. Gary Mabbutt was welcomed onto the pitch at half-time to re-live the magic of 1984, and of course to encourage the sale of the newly released Spurs DVD of that famous UEFA Cup victory against Anderlecht. (Spurs Odyssey hopes to get some cheaper copies for you soon!)

Pre-game, Martin Jol had announced a legion of injuries, but only Jermain Defoe and Ledley King had started the Liverpool game. There were other changes too, as Ekotto was rested to the bench, and Young-Pyo Lee got a start at left back. Reto Ziegler also started, but rarely showed the wing play that the fans hope for, as Spurs continued to pack the middle and tried to forge their way through the Slavia defence, which was also packed. The visitors played only one man up front, which was Pavel Fort, who had scored a hat-trick in the Czech Liga 1 at the week-end. Fort was supported chiefly by skipper Lukas Jarolim (who is the son of coach Karel), and Dusan Svento on the left flank. Michal Svec was the holding midfielder for Prague, who managed to keep Spurs at bay for so long.

Slavia were forced to play their second choice keeper – Kozacik, who had replaced the injured Vorel in the first leg. Sadly, Spurs gave him little in the way of a stern test, generally missing the target when they did get near the goal. Spurs first threat was provided by a Chimbonda cross, after Keane’s pass, but the ball passed across Jenas and Mido. Jenas took the resulting corner, but Davenport’s glanced header went across the goal. Slavia gave Spurs a little worry after 5 minutes, when Hrdlicka’s cross from the left reached the back post, but went wide without a final threat.

After that early flurry, it was a while before Spurs managed a decent attack, but firstly, Chimbonda defended well against Svento, who tried to meet a cross from the right. Spurs had two corners following a great run from defence by Jenas, who took the second corner, headed wide by Keane. Jenas had been Spurs best player by far up till this point, and he started an effective move from the left side of midfield with the ball being crossed to the near post by Chimbonda, met by Mido, but not hitting the target. Krajcik made a cross from the right again, which was met by Fort, whose header was held by Paul Robinson. Spurs last chance before the break came from a Murphy cross, put back by Mido to Keane, who should have scored but fired at the goalie, and not too strongly at that.

After the break it was Prague getting the chances, with right back Krajcik firing two decent shots over Robinson’s bar. The two or three hundred travelling fans were getting noisier, and clearly sniffing a goal, although the Spurs defence looked comfortable throughout. It was Robinson who was being tested more though, and as the hour approached, Hubaceck tried a shot from 25 yards, which Robinson held easily. Ziegler was replaced by Tainio, and soon after that Mido took a free kick from 25 yards out on the right. Davenport headed towards goal, but the ball was deflected out for a corner.

Murphy led the next Spurs attack with a good run from the deep, feeding the ball to Keane, who just couldn’t get his kick right. Zokora was getting into the game more and more now, making several runs himself. He won a free kick or two, and on one occasion, when he did get to the edge of the area, he just lacked the conviction to take on a shot for himself, hitting a defender, who deflected the ball to the keeper.

It began to look like another blank sheet for Spurs, who have only managed to score against Prague in the month of September, and with ten minutes to go, Robbie at last broke the deadlock on the night, and scored his first of the season, when Hossam Ghaly chested down Chimbonda’s cross, and Robbie turned on the ball firing low past the keeper, with his right foot. Robbie led a Jurgen Klinsmann type diving celebration too!

Ghaly had replaced Murphy, and in the time he was on the pitch, Spurs looked more and more like scoring, as he played from the right, allowing Jenas inside again. Spurs started to play down the clock, and Mido crossed from the right, for Keane to touch back to Zokora who fired over. In injury time, Robbie Keane had one header disallowed for offside, from a Ghaly cross, and then Mido thought he had scored, only to see he had hit the side netting from another cross from his fellow countryman. Mido had been quite ineffective until Ghaly came on, and the two of them certainly look out for each other, to good effect. Ghaly will surely get a few games this season.

Spurs have a much more difficult and crucial task on Sunday when Harry Redknapp comes to town. At least Martin Jol will be keeping Harry guessing as far as his team selection goes, with several options available.

Bring on that tour!

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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