BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 6TH MARCH, 2011
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 3 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2)
Doyle, 20, 40 (pen)
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Assistants:- Mr. S. Long & Mr. M. Mullarkey
Fourth Official:- Mr. C. Foy
Wolves (4-2-3-1):- Hennessey; Foley, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi; Milijas, Henry (Capt.); Hammill (sub Fletcher, 73) , Ward (sub Ebanks-Blake, 60), Jarvis; Doyle
Subs not used:- Hahnemann; Craddock, Mouyokolo, Doherty, Griffiths
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson (Capt.), Ekotto; Pienaar (sub Bale, 69), Sandro, Jenas, Modric (sub Kranjcar, 84); Pavlyuchenko (sub Lennon, 74), Defoe
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Bassong; Palacios; Crouch
Booked:- Hutton, Dawson, Gallas
It’s a hell of a game …………
…… and it was a hell of a game. The afternoon started with a dignified and emotional tribute to the late Dean Richards, where representatives of each of his four clubs held aloft autographed club shirts which will be auctioned in aid of the hospice where Dean spent his last days. Our own Ledley King was one of those present, along with James Beattie, former Wolves managers Dave Jones and Graham Taylor (who signed Dean for Wolves), Don Goodman, Steve Bull and others. Most especially, Dean’s widow walked to the centre circle accompanied by their two young sons to witness the fulsome affection held for their lost loved one by all those present throughout the one minute’s applause.
This emotion was followed by all the passion you would expect from a professional game of football in which one side was challenging to stay amongst the super-elite of the Champions League, and the other was fighting for survival, just to stay at Premier League level. None of us expected any less than a full blooded effort by the home side, and that is exactly what we got. Harry Redknapp’s team selection made allowances for the need to preserve some players for Wednesday night’s Champions League match at White Hart Lane against Serie A leaders AC Milan. This meant that van der Vaart was not present, and wing-men Gareth Bale, and Aaron Lennon were on the bench along with Peter Crouch who we can expect to see on Wednesday.
It is arguable whether or not Harry made the right choice not to play at least one out and out winger. Sandro and Jenas battled hard in the middle, with Sandro having another impressive game winning so many challenges, and feeding the ball quite well too. Luka Modric was somewhat withdrawn on the left flank, often playing deeper than was ideal. Pienaar worked hard and effectively, up and down the right flank. Alan Hutton was redeemed with his first selection for over a month, but will suffer judgement because of his penalty concession and failure to defend the final equalising cross in the 87th minute. Jermain Defoe scored not only his first Premier League goal of the season, but then his second. They were both crackers too, as was Pavlyuchenko’s early second half goal, which put Spurs into a 3-2 lead, having fought back from 1-0 down. Defoe could have had a hat-trick, with a shot that rebounded off the post. Wolves had a goal disallowed for a foul on Gomes, who seemed to have made a gross error in losing control of the ball which fell into the net. Mr. Halsey was his friend, and also the friend of Hutton in the eyes of the home fans, as he was shown a yellow and not a red card when conceding a penalty in the 6 yard box. It WAS a hell of a game!
Wolves played with Doyle up front, but supported by three just behind him – Hammill, Ward and Jarvis. In particular, Ward was getting forward to offer support, but skipper Karl Henry’s defensive midfield partner Nenad Milijas also got forward as much as he could. Hutton was exposed early on by the pace of Jarvis, but his cross was well picked out by Gomes. Gallas displayed strength in defence against an advance of Milijas, and again Gomes was out to cover and pick up. Spurs shad yet to make much headway, and Jarvis had a shot blocked by Dawson. After a corner on the right and a cross, Doyle beat Gomes with a glanced header to beat Gomes and put the home side into a lead that sent their fans into rhapsodies of joy.
At last Spurs did strike up a meaningful response and it was Sandro that led the move with a good pass forward to Modric, who threaded it to Pienaar, whose shot hit the side netting. Pienaar and Modric were involved again after a Spurs free kick had been hit across field to the South African. This time, he was the provider for Modric, whose shot passed wide. Spurs got back on level terms in spectacular style after Pienaar’s hard work earnt him a free kick, after which Pavlyuchenko passed on a ball through the middle for Jermain who scored with all the panache we have seen so many times before, leaving Hennessey no chance with his right footed drive from fully 20 yards.
It took only five minutes before Defoe repeated his trick and Spurs took the lead. It came after intricate play out of defence by Sandro, Pavlyuchenko, and Modric, who became the wall for Defoe, before Defoe hit another cracking right footed driven shot.
Minutes later, Wolves were level and controversy surrounded the award of a penalty. The ball had been crossed from the right and Gomes and Hutton seemed to be quite close together. Hutton was adjudged to have fouled a Wolves player for a penalty, but not to have prevented a goal-scoring opportunity, presumably as the ball was running away from goal. Referee Mark Halsey judged that a yellow card was sufficient, and Kevin Doyle inflicted full pain upon Spurs, by firing high beyond Gomes right hand. There was still time for Pienaar to give Pavlyuchenko a half chance, but he just showed too much of the ball to the keeper who gratefully picked up.
Within three minutes of the re-start, Spurs had a lead to defend again, as Jenas carried the ball forward before feeding it to Pavlyuchenko, who took a touch to his left before hitting a great shot into the top of the net with his left foot. Pavlyuchenko gave some sort of signal towards his bench too, as if to indicate he ought to be given more chances. Having been a hero and provider, a few minutes later Jenas was the villain as his error led to Michael Dawson having to over-commit himself and get a booking as he defended a Wolves attack. Milijas took the kick which was deflected for a Wolves corner.
Mick McCarthy took off Ward for another striker Ebanks-Blake, reverting to a traditional 4-4-2 in search of at least a precious point in the Wolves fight for survival. Under some pressure, Sandro headed over his own goal to concede a corner. Ekotto cleared a Milijas shot and then Gomes saved a directly from the same player, conceding another corner. Modric broke from his own half and gave a chance to Defoe who was one on one with the keeper, but it was Hennessey who came off best.
Now we saw the first of Gareth Bale since January, but surprisingly, he was placed on the right flank. Straight away Gareth did make a good run for Pavlyuchenko’s pass, but he was offside. Next time, Bale got to the bye line and crossed to the far post, but both Modric and Defoe failed to make best use of the ball. Even when Lennon replaced Pavlyuchenko, Bale stayed on the right and Lennon played on the left. Harry Redknapp certainly had no intention of simply trying to defend our one goal lead.
Milijas had another effort go over the bar, before Gallas was perhaps harshly penalised by a free kick and a card for another challenge a few yards outside the box. After the referee turned down crowd appeals for a handball by Hutton as he fell in the Spurs area, Bale broke forward to the other end and his shot was saved by the keeper as the ball crossed the area for a corner. A minute later after a free kick on the right, Stearman headed the ball into the net, but amidst some confusion, Mark Halsey awarded Gomes and Spurs a free kick, adjudging that the keeper had been impeded in his goal area. It had looked like a Gomes error from our position. By now the Wolves fans were chanting “3-2 to the referee”.
After 83 minutes, Defoe might have had his hat-trick after Sandro chased Bale’s ball and nicked the ball off the Wolves defence in the area, before cutting it back to Defoe, whose shot rebounded off the far post. Now Kranjcar replaced Modric, and combined with Defoe, before Lennon had a shot deflected for a corner. Finally, Spurs were pegged back as Ebanks-Blake fed Jarvis down the left flank, to leave Hutton stranded. Sandro was beaten by Jarvis’s cross to the back post, where substitute Fletcher rose to head back across goal beating Gomes’ right hand.
Dean Richards was remembered again with resounding chants around the ground, and really it was a fitting game in his memory. Despite the disappointments in both camps who wanted all three points, the draw was probably a fair and just result. It was a hell of a game!
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