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Derby v Spurs, 09.02.08


Keane, 68
Kaboul, 81
Berbatov (pen), 90

Referee: - Martin Atkinson

Attendance: - 33,058

Derby (4-4-2):- Carroll; Leacock, Moore (sub Todd, 10), Stubbs, Edworthy (sub Jones, 77); Fagan, Barnes, Savage (Capt.) (sub Sterjovski, 73), Pearson; Miller, Villa
(Armband to Stubbs)

Subs not used: - Price; Earnshaw

Booked: - Leacock, Stubbs, Jones

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Hutton, Dawson (sub Kaboul, 13), Huddlestone, Chimbonda; Lennon, Jenas, Boateng (sub O’Hara, 4y6), Malbranque; Bent (sub Berbatov, 57), Keane (Capt.)

Subs not used: - Robinson; Gunter

Booked: - Chimbonda

Derby’s biggest crowd of the season so far saw their team give one of their best performances of the season for the first half hour, testing Radek Cerny and the Spurs defence with several decent chances, from which they arguably should have scored twice. After a goal-less first 45 minutes, and one forced change after only 13 minutes, when Michael Dawson had to be replaced by Younes Kaboul, Juande Ramos made a decisive change at the break, putting Jamie O’Hara on in place of Kevin Prince Boateng who had been guilty of two wayward passes. The subsequent insertion of Dimitar Berbatov for Darren Bent completed the picture for Spurs, whose superior class was telling, as they ran the second half and won by three goals.

Former Derby man Tom Huddlestone was not given the warmest of welcomes by his old stamping ground, and some of the locals feel that he departed because of the temptations of money, and not because his club was lured by the tasty fee that Spurs paid for his services. Huddlestone once again played at centre back, and once Spurs lost Dawson (to a suspected hamstring injury) they were reduced to the novice centre back partnership of Huddlestone and Younes Kaboul, who has had relatively little football so far this year.

Kaboul and Huddlestone held out well against the twin pronged attack of Kenny Miller and new Argentinean signing Emanuel Villa, both of whom were being supplied well through a softish Spurs central midfield, by Giles Barnes, Robbie Savage, not to mention Fagan and Pearson, both of whom ventured inside the well protected Spurs flanks. Most of the Derby shots were off target, and Radek Cerny handled anything else more than satisfactorily.

Derby had also lost a defender in the early exchanges, as Darren Moore succumbed to injury and was replaced by Andy Todd. Jermaine Jenas was greeted consistently with boos because of his former affiliation with Nottingham Forest, who are Derby’s near rivals from the other side of the M1. By comparison, Spurs were quite gentle towards Robbie Savage, who won his notoriety through his dramatics at the old Wembley in the 1999 League Cup Final. The Spurs fans did not even seem to take notice of the fact that Roy Carroll was in goal for the home side, and did not bait him over his antics at Old Trafford three years ago. We were too busy celebrating the fact that we are once again “on the way to Wembley”, that we “beat the scum 5-1”, and (to Derby’s fans) “we’ll never play you again”.

Indeed it might be a while before we travel to Pride Park again, but Paul Jewell’s side will put up a better fight on the run in than they did earlier in the season – of that I am certain. It was Scottish International Kenny Miller who had the first pop at goal. He was flagged offside, but Cerny had still made a good save for good measure. Spurs broke after 7 minutes, with Keane leading the way, and Darren Bent (playing his first game of the calendar year) raced away down the right flank, testing Carroll with a right foot shot that was parried then collected. Keane then hit a decent left foot shot across Carroll, which the keeper pushed out for a corner.

After the substitution of Moore and whilst Dawson was off the pitch and had not been replaced, Cerny had more work to do, saving this time from Villa. Derby had a good chance after 23 minutes, when Pearson found Barnes in the middle with a good pass, and Barnes got thought to a one on one against Cerny. Barnes fired wide across Cerny’s goal. Spurs then had a good penalty claim turned down when Malbranque put Bent clear with a good ball down the left side. Bent pulled the ball back and Lennon was clearly fouled inside the box by Todd, only to see Mr. Atkinson wave the appeals away. A couple of minutes later, Lennon crossed sharply from the right, and Kaboul was still up following a corner, testing Carroll again with a shot from close range.

Derby had run out of steam, and Spurs settled into a pattern as half-time approached. The score remained 0-0 though, but the arrival of O’Hara seemed to give Spurs more success creatively from the middle. Derby had a free kick from the right side of the box, and after a bit of ping pong around the area, Cerny saved the final shot by Fagan.

Jenas and O’Hara combined in the middle and it was Jenas who sent Hutton away with the final ball. Hutton (who once again had been very solid) had a good chance, but sliced it as the ball bobbled on the uneven pitch. O’Hara took a free kick after Lennon had been fouled by Fagan. Huddlestone met the ball, but once again Carroll got in the way to concede a corner. It wasn’t long before Berbatov entered the fray, and not much longer before Robbie Keane hit the outside of the post with a shot, but the offside flag had already been raised against one of his team-mates ahead of him.

Spurs took a deserved lead when Huddlestone lifted a ball over the defence. Berbatov had been in an offside position but not active, and Malbranque took advantage of the hesitation by Derby to beat Carroll with a hard and low cross which Robbie Keane turned in from short range in front of the away fans. It was Robbie’s 12th league goal and nineteenth in all competitions so far. Once again Keane is bound to hit the 20+ mark for Spurs! Alan Stubbs got booked for dissent as he cynically applauded the linesman who he obviously felt had failed his defence to allow the goal.

Spurs had a good chance after 72 minutes, as Lennon received a good pass from O’Hara and crossed for Berbatov who got a shot on target, but with no power. Carroll then made a double save from Jenas and Berbatov, saving Jenas’s shot with his legs and then reacting well to Berbatov’s attempt to finish it off. Spurs increased their lead and sealed the points with less than ten minutes to go, as Lennon’s corner was headed down by Chimbonda for Kaboul, who showed not a little skill in close quarters to turn the ball round Todd, and fire home from 8 yards. This was Kaboul’s 4th goal of the season from 24 starts. Not bad for a defender!

Derby’s pain was complete when Stubbs needlessly handled Malbranque’s ball into the box to concede a penalty, which Berbatov planted to Carroll’s left. For once the Derby keeper had been sent the wrong way.

Michael Dawson’s injury is a worry, with the Carling Cup Final on the horizon, but Jonathan Woodgate lies in wait to step in on Thursday in Prague, and of course we hope that Ledley King will also re-appear soon. Spurs have completed their league programme now for the month of February (unbeaten!), and have no suspensions to worry about for Wembley. It’s Cup competition all the way now till March and if you want an omen for Wembley, how about this:-

In February 2002, Spurs played and lost at Derby ahead of a League Cup Final on February 24th (same date as this month’s Final). They also lost that League Cup Final. Having beaten Derby this time, we will surely beat Chelsea at Wembley!

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