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Spurs v Watford, 17.03.07


Spurs scorers:-
Jenas, 41
Robinson, 63
Ghaly, 85

Watford scorer:-
Henderson, 89

Attendance: - 36,051

Referee: - Mark Halsey

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha, Lee (sub Stalteri, 79); Ghaly, Huddlestone, Jenas, Malbranque (sub Lennon, 70); Mido, Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Berbatov, Keane

No bookings

Watford (4-4-2):- Foster; Mariappa, Doyley, Shittu, Powell; Chambers (sub Kabba, 76), Williams (sub Rinaldi, 61), Mahon (Capt.), Smith; Priskin (sub Henderson, 56), Bouazza

Subs not used: - Lee; Williamson

No Bookings

Robinson goal puts Foster in the shade!

There was a little bit of history today at White Hart Lane, with goalkeeper Paul Robinson scoring the first goal by a Spurs goalkeeper since Pat Jennings’ famous 1967 Charity Shield goal, with a free kick taken from deep in his own half. Robinson will share a chuckle this week, at the expense of fellow England keeper Ben Foster, who is on loan at Watford from Manchester United. It was a United keeper (Alex Stepney) who had been beaten by that Jennings kick from his goal area in 1967. It was not Robinson’s first goal at senior level though, as he scored from a last minute corner for Leeds on 24th September, 2003, to take a League Cup tie against Swindon into extra time.

The Robbo goal was clearly the high point of the game, which was of a moderate standard, against a team on the brink of relegation, and clearly of Championship standard. Spurs did enough to get the three points, successfully resting Berbatov and Keane, and using Aaron Lennon only for the last 20 minutes today. The win takes Spurs to their highest position of the season so far (6th), just two points behind fifth placed Bolton. The three-pronged attack on a European place goes on!

With Teemu Tainio out for another two weeks after his latest set-back, and Zokora out of the sixteen, Jermaine Jenas made a welcome return in the middle, partnering Tom Huddlestone. Mido and Defoe took the striker roles, but sadly failed to hit the target, with Defoe busy, and Mido somewhat hapless, desperately looking for some form.

A full house bathed in spring sunshine, as the teams took a while to build the pace. Spurs had a couple of half chances with crosses from Mido and Malbranque, which found no target in the middle. During this opening period, Ricardo Rocha had to leave for stitches to a cheek injury, returning with the number 50 shirt. After 16 minutes, Young-Pyo Lee (who had just wasted one cross) sent Malbranque to the bye-line. Steed cut the ball back handsomely for Mido, who was falling back as he tried the shot that was scooped way over the goal. Three minutes later, a long ball nearly fell for Defoe, but was knocked back to Jenas, whose right footed shot whistled past Foster’s right post.

Lee crossed low for Jenas, who was in space, who then threaded a ball down the left channel for Defoe. Foster held the shot comfortably. At last Spurs took a lead they deserved. Jenas had failed to make good use of the ball twice in the vicinity of the Watford area, but then climbed magnificently at the back post to head down Chimbonda’s cross beyond the flailing Foster. Spurs then played some good close football within the centre circle (with Ghaly involved) before the ball was sent to Defoe, who we felt must have scored. Defoe’s poked the ball with his right foot beyond Foster but just the wrong side of the far post.

Spurs upped the tempo in the second half, with Mido and Chimbonda having early efforts. Mido’s shot was two yards outside the left post, and after being fed by Malbranque, Chimbonda’s shot was disappointing from close range, hitting the back of the side netting. Next up was a pass from Malbranque to Defoe, who tried a neat chip shot that passed outside the goal. On the hour, Mido headed a Huddlestone free kick into Foster’s arms.

Paul Robinson had been getting a little baiting from the visiting fans, who referred to him as England’s number two, and they got their come-uppance in the best possible way, when the Spurs keeper took a 73 yard free kick that bounced inside the Watford area, was mis-judged by Foster, and sailed into the net in front of the delirious Paxton Road fans. Rocha and Dawson led the race back down the pitch to celebrate their keeper’s goal. The Watford fans were stunned into silence, and every time Robbo touched the ball after that, he got the cry of “Shoot!”

Foster redeemed himself two minutes after the Robinson goal, tipping over a 30 yarder from Huddlestone, who then failed to get enough contact on the corner. Mido should have increased the lead in the 74th minute, when Foster could only parry another Huddlestone shot. Mido had not been sufficiently alert to the possibility of the parry, but still had plenty of time to fire home. He only managed to hit a low shot which Foster managed to spread himself to, and clear. Mido’s compatriot did manage to score a deserved goal from a move he had started from deep in the midfield. Ghaly’s ball to Stalteri was fed back to him via Defoe and Lennon, and Ghaly scored with right footed shot that was deflected past Foster.

Watford got a consolation a minute from time, when Tommy Smith beat Chimbonda to the bye-line (Chimbonda was now covering the left flank, after Lee’s substitution), cutting the ball back to give Henderson an easy finish.

Thus Spurs failed yet again to gain a Premiership clean sheet (21 games now), but they have won 7 of their last 8 games, including their last 4 Premiership games, scoring another three goals too!

Chelsea beat Sheffield United 3-0 today, and Mourinho managed to use Lampard, Ballack and Drogba sparingly in preparation for Monday night’s quarter-final replay. Let’s hope Paul Robinson can have a chuckle in the faces of Terry, Lampard and Cole in the England training camp too!

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