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Everton v Spurs, 24.05.15

(3 PM)

Kane, 24

Attendance:- 39,365

Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- D. England & S. Bennett
Fourth official:- K.A.Woolmer

Everton (4-2-3-1):- Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka (Capt.), Galloway (sub Distin, 84); McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas (sub Naismith, 73), Barkley (sub Besic, 46), Osman; Lukaku

Subs not used:- Robles; McGeady, Atsu, Kone

Booked:- Jagielka 9foul on Mason)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Bentaleb; Mason, Dembele (sub Stambouli, 53); Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli (sub Soldado, 93); Kane (sub Townsend, 85)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Yedlin; Winks, Onomah

Booked:- Stambouli (foul), Mason (foul on McCarthy)

Fifth Amendment

When Harry Kane scored his record-equalling 21st Premier League goal of the season in the 24th minute, putting Spurs in the lead, we very quickly learnt that Stoke had gone 2-0 up against Liverpool. This meant that Spurs had every chance of over-hauling Liverpool on the very last day of the season. Little did we think that Stoke could go 5-0 up at half-time. A five goal deficit for Liverpool actually meant that Spurs could afford to draw, because we had scored more goals than Liverpool. Whilst Spurs looked very comfortable indeed for most of the game, that didn’t make it any easier for me to see through the second half, in the knowledge that in December 2012, we had thrown away a one goal lead in added time at Goodison Park.

Spurs did have a happy ending though, and Liverpool lost emphatically 6-1. We only lost 3-0 at Stoke, so we can’t be that bad after all, can we? By finishing fifth, we have ensured that we enter next season’s Europa League directly into the Group stages, rather than suffering the inconvenience of qualifiers. This is the fifth time in six seasons that we have finished above Liverpool. Harry Kane’s well-taken header from a Dier cross put him on 21 Premier League goals for the season, thus equalling the record held by Gareth Bale and Teddy Sheringham.

The team news contained the surprising absence (again) of Danny Rose, not even on the bench, and no doubt suffering a recurrence of his recent injury. It was a mystery who was going to play at left back until the warm-up, resolved by the presence of Nabil Bentaleb, who recently covered at left back after an injury during the game. Bentaleb was an excellent cover, defending well, and also offering plenty in attack. Mousa Dembele made his first start since February, playing beside Mason, but the team was otherwise un-changed. Everton, of course, had to compensate for the enforced absence of Spurs loanee Aaron Lennon.

For a side seeking to hold onto a top half place, and needing to satisfy their ever- demanding fans, Everton showed a surprising lack of desire and urgency. They had two or three flashing opportunities, mostly for Kevin Mirallas, but Spurs were totally dominant for most off the game, particularly in the first half. The only frustration was that for all their possession, they lacked a degree of urgency in the final third, and certainly lacked chances.

It was a sunny but cool day, and the away section was almost sold out, with Spurs occupying both lower and upper tiers. Both sides played in what is virtually a template 4-2-3-1 formation. Spurs moved forward as a unit, with Everton occasionally breaking out, but always having numbers at the back to stem Spurs’ flow. Spurs’ first attack of note came after 4 minutes, following an interception by Dier in his own half. The move continued centrally through Chadli and Eriksen, before Dier got the ball again, this time in the Everton half on the right. Dier fed the ball inside to Ryan Mason, who threaded a short pass to Lamela, who hit a shot over from 22 yards.

Lloris then grabbed a Mirallas cross which was designed to reach Lukaku. After 8 minutes, Ryan Mason had a one-two exchange with Eriksen, before entering the penalty area, and going down in the midst of a blue-shirted sandwich. Spurs wanted, and might have deserved a penalty, but next week’s Cup Final referee Jon Moss waved away the appeals. In fairness, Mr. Moss wanted to let the game flow, and didn’t show a yellow card until the second half.

In another move from the half-way line, Eriksen passed forward to Kane, whose effort was blocked and won Spurs a corner. Eriksen won the ball deep in the Everton half, blocking an attempted clearance, leading the ball to run to Lamela, who hit a right foot shot, with no power. Howard recovered his ground and managed to retrieve the ball just in front of his right-hand post. After an Everton break, Mirallas had another chance, but Lloris made a comfortable save. Spurs fans thought Lamela’s effort was goal-bound, and Everton fans had jeered. When Mirallas was through, the home fans cheered and the away fans reciprocated their jeers when Lloris saved!

Chadli had a shot deflected for another Spurs corner, following Bentaleb’s cross. Spurs were virtually camped in the Everton half at the Gwladys Street End, but had little penetration. Kane had a shot go wide, before he was just not able to reach a low cross from Dier. Mid-way through the half, after an uncharacteristic errant midfield Spurs pass, 19 year old left back Brendan Galloway crossed, and the second ball went to Mirallas, whose shot was just over the far corner.

Spurs then scored the only goal of the game. It came after some synchronised falling in the middle by Kane and another Spurs player, before the ball ran to Dier out on the right, who returned it quickly, for Kane to plant home a neat header from the centre of the goal. Kane had another chance soon after that, when he collected a poor Everton defensive pass, but his shot was blocked. All football fans love young players who have come through their ranks and who manage to impress at senior level, and Galloway (standing in for the injured Leighton Baines) is no exception. He made a powerful run to beat Dier, who was a little slow to read the movement of the left back. Galloway fed the ball to Mirallas who was forced out to the edge of the area, where Lloris stumbled as he challenged for the ball. Mirallas tried a curled shot from a sharp angle, which passed just over the bar onto the net.

Lamela got into the Everton penalty area, and seemed to be barged in the back, but Mr. Moss must have interpreted this as a shoulder barge. In first half added time Everton’s right back Seamus Coleman, who is a regular scorer, hit a powerful shot which was well saved by Lloris at the expense of a corner.

Roberto Martinez replaced Barkley at half time with Besic, who within two minutes had a crack from 25 yards. His right-footed shot passed just outside Lloris’s right post. Lukaku headed on a cross from the left and Osman had shot which also passed outside the post across the goal. That lad Galloway made an impressive run through the middle, towards the box, and got into the area, despite a couple of Spurs defensive blocks. Lloris saved at his feet.

The Everton fans had booed their team off at half-time, but one of their biggest cheers for the day was reserved for Galloway blocking near the Spurs corner flag to prevent a long ball, conceding a throw-in.

Dembele was replaced by Stambouli. In the knowledge that Stoke were 5-0 up, perhaps Pochettino was seeking to protect, rather than extend his lead. This was the cause for some frustration for Spurs fans, watching their team pass backward rather than forward sometimes. However, both Eriksen and Kane were blocked on the edge of the Everton area, before Eriksen’s shot was deflected for a corner. Eriksen also joined Jan Vertonghen in successful and determined defending at the Gwladys Street End.

Despite some lack of adventure in their passing, Spurs fans were ringing out the “Oles” for persistent successful passing play. One move ended with a lofted Eriksen ball, headed wide by an offside Kane. Chadli received a ball on the left and cut inside to make room for a shot, similar to his goal at Newcastle, but he only got a corner this time.

More enthusiastic Everton cheers came when the sighted Sylvain Distin warming up on the touchline, and indeed he did replace Galloway for a cameo farewell appearance. Everton fans had little else to cheer on a day which saw them slip to a final place in the bottom half, below Crystal Palace. Spurs saw out the three minutes of added time. Harry Kane had been replaced by Townsend with five minutes to play, no doubt to have some rest before this week’s long distance trek to Australia and Malaysia for the squad in two end of season friendlies!

Spurs can also fulfil their arranged pre-season friendly on 29th July in the USA, without the worry of how to field a team for what had been a potential Europa League qualifier on 30th July!

Have a great summer!

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