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West Ham v Spurs, 25.11.07


West Ham scorer:-
Cole, 20

Spurs scorer:-
Dawson, 66

Referee: - Mike Riley

Attendance:-, 34, 966

West Ham (4-4-2):- Green; Neill (Capt.), Gabbidon, Upson, McCartney; Solano (sub Spector, 81), Noble (sub Parker, 62), Mullins, Etherington; Boa Morte (sub Ashton, 72), Cole

Subs not used: - Wright; Collins

Booked: - Cole, Gabbidon, Etherington

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul (sub Bent, 53), Bale; Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque; Keane (Capt.) (sub Defoe, 77), Berbatov Armband to Robinson

Subs not used: - Cerny; Lee; Boateng

Booked: - Zokora, Chimbonda, Dawson, Defoe

Former West Ham star and local boo-boy Jermain Defoe spurned the chance of glory in added time that might have matched last seasonís injury time win, when he won, took and ultimately missed a penalty that was pushed against the post by Robert Green to give the home fans some gloating rights at the end of a decent London Derby match. Spurs had dominated proceedings before Kaboulís error let in Carlton Cole for an easy first half lead, before Michael Dawson had justifiably equalised in the second half with a header that Green will regret trying to come out for.

In accordance with the week-endís events, home fans took every chance to boo Paul Robinson, Defoe and Bent for being a part of the England squad that has so disappointed home fans. Unfortunately, West Ham did not have any England Internationals that would have qualified for vilification Ė not that I agree with the practice that has permeated the Premier League fixtures this week-end. Spursí substitutes Defoe and Bent earn the venom of West Ham fans for other reasons of course. One because he left them; the other because he turned down their high money offer for the chance to play at White Hart Lane. The Spurs fans made clear their support of Robinson from the outset, and when they called Green ďEnglandís Number FiveĒ, he held up six fingers and thereafter was accorded the desired title of ďEnglandís Number SixĒ

Spurs pre-match warnings of Malbranque and Kaboul being doubtful turned out to be a load of rubbish, and we welcomed back Gareth Bale to the fold, although he played instead of Young-Pyo Lee, and not in front of him, where he might have been more effective. Coach Juande Ramos sprung a surprise in the second half that made good use of both Bale and Lennon as wing-backs, and it should be mentioned of course that he has also maintained his five-match unbeaten record in charge of Spurs.

West Ham welcomed back Mark Noble and Hayden Mullins to the midfield, where they both had good games, along with veteran Nobby Solano, playing on the right. Noble had to be replaced after an hour, and Solano didnít last the 90 minutes, being replaced by Jonathan Spector, as Alan Curbishley tried to shore up his defences, sensing a Spurs win. Indeed this was a game there for the winning by Spurs, and in the end it has to be said two points were lost, but to get a draw after going one down is a creditable result, in my view.

It was Spurs who dominated the early stages, with Berbatov playing support to Keane, who ironically had a relatively quiet game. Berbatovís hold-up play led to an early chance when he fed the ball back to Jenas, whose pass to Lennon ended in a shot from the left of goal which Green parried, not realising the offside flag had been raised against Lennon. The game was not over-feisty, and Mr Riley may have made a bit of a rod for his own back, with early bookings of Zokora and Carlton Cole.

Having been the masters throughout the first 20 minutes, it was sickening when Younes Kaboul was slack in clearing a pass from Dawson, allowing Boa Morte to charge the ball down, giving Solano the opportunity to cross for Cole, who had an easy finish to beat Paul Robinson. Soon after that, it was also disturbing to see Mullins being afforded space in the middle and getting a shot on target, which Robinson held after one touch. In this mini-spell by the home side, Cole got into the area on the left side, and gave the ball to Boa Morte, whose shot was saved for a corner.

After the corner, Spurs broke well out of defence, and Zokora carried the ball out, passing to Bale, whose cross went deep beyond the far post, and was hit over the target by Berbatov. West Ham had an attacking throw after 38 minutes, from which Solano, Cole and Etherington had easy touches in the box. It was former Spur Etherington who had the last attempt on goal, easily held by Robbo. A moment of controversy followed, when Kaboul sent Keane away with a long ball. Keane might have been offside, but no flag was raised. He flicked the ball over Green, who in the same motion brought Robbie down, as the ball passed outside the post. Spurs (justifiably) wanted a penalty, but Mr Riley ran away and did not even have the courage to stand his ground and support his decision.

Mullins headed over from a Solano corner just before the half-time break.

Four minutes into the second half, Berbatov fed Jenas from a deep position, and Jermaine passed from the right channel to the left, where Malbranque hit a shot wide. Chimbonda got booked for protesting a failure to award Spurs a deserved corner, before Kaboul was replaced by Darren Bent after 53 minutes. Ramos changed the formation radically, with Dawson, Zokora and Chimbonda across the back, and Lennon and Bale playing as wing-backs. Bale took a soft free kick after Keane had been fouled by Gabbidon, but Spurs deservedly equalised in the 66th minute. Bale had done really well to hold a long pass, and was fouled on the left side. Jenas took the kick, and Dawson headed it over the advancing Green for a goal in front of the away support that was given the celebration it deserved!

Malbranque released Bale with a good ball, and Bale made a good run gaining territory down that flank, before returning the ball to Malbranque who was thwarted with two attempts on goal. The first was well saved by Green, and his follow-up was blocked. Carlton Cole had a half chance, firing outside the post, with Dawson and Lennon giving him attention, before Robinson pushed out a Parker shot for a corner, after Bale had lost out in a challenge for the ball 30 yards out. Robinson then made a good save from Ashtonís shot, after an exchange with Cole.

As we entered added time, Defoe entered the area on the left side, and went down under Neillís challenge. It looked nothing like as clear cut as the earlier Keane incident, but Mr Riley awarded Spurs and Defoe a penalty and the chance for glory and ecstasy approaching the level achieved when we won 4-3 in March. Defoe insisted on taking the kick, pushed it to Greenís left, with insufficient power, allowing the keeper to push the ball against the post and to become the hero of the hour for the home fans, who were mightily relieved to secure a point.

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