BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 17TH OCTOBER, 2009
PORTSMOUTH 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)
Attendance: - 20,821
Referee: - Phil Dowd
Portsmouth (4-1-3-2):- James; Finnan (sub Utaka, 90), Kaboul, Wilson, Ben Haim; Mokoena (Capt.) (sub Belhadj, 78); Yebda, Boateng, Brown; Dindane, Smith (sub Piquionne, 63)
(Armband to Brown, then to Boateng)
Subs not used: - Ashdown; Williamson, Mullins; Webber
Booked: - Mokoena, Yebda, Brown
Sent off: - Brown (second yellow), 90
Spurs (4-4-2)):- Gomes; Corluka, King, Bassong, Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Huddlestone (sub Dawson, 87), Kranjcar (sub Palacios, 66); Keane (Capt.) (sub Crouch, 56), Defoe
(Armband to King)
Subs not used: - Cudicini; Hutton; Bentley; Pavlyuchenko
Booked: - Jenas, Palacios, Ekotto
Sent off: - Defoe (stamping), 60
Pompey play up, but Spurs hold on.
It was something of a backs to the wall job after Jermain Defoe stupidly got sent off with half an hour to go (for stamping on Portsmouth skipper Aaron Mokoena), but Spurs held on in the face of a determined onslaught by an improving Pompey side to take all three points; stay in third place and to be only three points behind the league leaders. When was the last time we could say that after 9 games? (25 years ago actually in October 1984 – thanks to Declan Mulcahy)
Jermain Defoe became hero and villain twice over on his first return to Fratton Park after his brief spell here. Defoe scored a fine goal to put Spurs two up (celebrating in front of the home fans), and then came the second half sending off. After all the pre-match hullabaloo about Harry Redknapp’s return there was relatively little friction shown towards him, and in fact substitute Peter Crouch seemed to get booed more than other former Pompey connections, probably because of his former Southampton association.
It says something about the parlous state of Portsmouth when you find that Mokoena (who was really a bit-part player at Blackburn) has become Captain here. When he was replaced (possibly having suffered an injury through Defoe’s action, the armband went to former Spurs midfielder Michael Brown, and when he got sent off in the closing stages, Kevin-Prince Boateng wore the armband! Inevitably, Boateng scored the goal that put Portsmouth right back in this game, and it was quite a goal too.
There is no doubt though that Portsmouth are an improving side, and had Dindane found his scoring touch, and had a Piquionne header not gone agonisingly in front of the goal line across the goal mouth, Spurs could well have been mourning defeat here.
Despite their predicament and the return of former Pompey manager and players, the home team struggled to sell out their section, whereas Spurs brought a strong contingent of fans as always. Spurs welcomed back Gomes to the starting line-up, and his saves also had a lot to do with the result. Ledley King partnered Bassong, and whilst it was a surprise to even see Wilson Palacios on the bench, Tom Huddlestone retained his place next to Jenas.
Portsmouth were not allowed to play Spurs loanee Jamie O’Hara, but still had three former Spurs in the shape of Kaboul, Brown and Boateng. Mokoena played behind his three midfield colleagues, whilst Tommy Smith and Dindane formed a two-man strike force indicating that Portsmouth had every intention of attacking Spurs. As early as the first minute referee Phil Dowd was having words with Jermain Defoe, for an early foul on Michael Brown. In the next minute though, Defoe was on a goalward run, hitting a right foot shot that was held by David James. After 5 minutes, Jenas found Lennon with a good ball, but Lennon’s delivery found no-one in the middle. Huddlestone was the next to deliver to Defoe who fired wide across the goal from an angle on the right.
Spurs had started well, but after 11 minutes, Corluka over-committed himself near the half-way line and Smith was away down the left flank. His cross reached Dindane with Gomes beaten, but the striker managed to lift his shot over the bar. That was Spurs’ first escape. Boateng had a decent shot after 15 minutes, but this one was held by Gomes in front of the away stand. Jenas got a card for a foul committed when put under pressure by a poor clearance by Gomes, who then made a great save from a deflected Kaboul shot which followed Boateng’s free kick. Up to this point, Spurs had not really got the ball enough to Lennon, who was being double marked anyway.
However, Spurs did take the lead from a corner taken by Kranjcar. Ledley King rose high to plant a firm header high into the net to the right of James to score his first goal of the season and to become the thirteenth player to score for Spurs so far this season. Spurs doubled their lead just before the break after a clever training ground free kick move by Huddlestone and Jenas. After their exchange, Jenas moved down the right channel and delivered a sharp low cross which Defoe glanced across James in front of the home fans. Jenas ran to the corner flag to wait for the celebrating Spurs striker, scoring his sixth Premier League goal of the season.
Early in the second half, Spurs won a succession of corners after Defoe fed Lennon, and then after a Kranjcar corner Defoe fired wide. Robbie Keane was replaced after 56 minutes by Peter Crouch. Tommy Smith forced one save from Gomes, then delivered a deep cross for Dindane who missed another excellent chance in front of goal, firing wide of the post this time. However, it wasn’t long before Pompey got a deserved goal. Finnan crossed from the right and the ball reached Boateng standing 15 yards beyond the far post. He met the cross with a cracking low drive that whizzed inside the narrow gap to Gomes’ right.
Defoe’s foolish stamp on Mokoena followed shortly, and Spurs reverted to a 4-4-1, with Crouch doing a bold job of trying to hold the ball up with little support. In fact Crouch had a great effort go just outside the post, as he beat two defenders and sent a shot to the left of James. Kranjcar was the next Spurs player to be replaced and it was Wilson Palacios who was called upon to try and shore up the Spurs midfield.
Ledley King was uncharacteristically disposed by a determined Dindane, who crossed from the left for Yebda to take a shot which Gomes pushed outside the target with his outstretched right hand as he dived to the left. Huddlestone had a decent effort on the Pompey goal after good work with Aaron Lennon, but Spurs had another escape after a Portsmouth corner from the right, when substitute Piquionne headed the ball straight across the goal over Gomes but off target.
Or some reason referee Mr. Dowd twice denied Spurs their request to put on substitute Michael Dawson, who was stripped and ready, but eventually he replaced Huddlestone to re-inforce the defences. During 5 minutes of added time Aaron Lennon burst through and should have scored. He was tackled in the box by Brown, but the ball had gone out off Lennon. Yebda got booked for his foul on Ekotto just outside the Portsmouth box, and Ekotto also saw yellow for his reaction. Michael Brown got booked twice, and was shown the red card after his foul on Lennon.
The last half hour was too tense for comfort for Spurs fans, but they celebrated all the threes! It was our third away league win of the season. We are in third place, and just three points behind the leaders! Portsmouth remain at the bottom with just three points from 9 games, looking for something from their trip to Hull next week.
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