SATURDAY 11TH MARCH, 2023
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(2) NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1(0)
Kane 19, 35 (pen)
Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- Marc Perry, Scott Ledger
Fourth official:- Tim Robinson
VAR:- Darren England
Assistant VAR:- Derek Eaton.
Spurs (3-4-3):- Forster; Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Pedro Porro, Skipp (sub Sarr, 90+7), Hojbjerg, Davies; Richarlison (sub Kulusevski, 84), Kane (Capt.), Son (sub Lucas Moura, 84)
Subs not used:- Austin; Sanchez, Tanganga; Perisic, Mundle; Danjuma
Booked:- Skipp (foul on Dennis), Dier (foul on Ayew), Hojbjerg (foul on Aurier)
Forest (4-3-3):- Navas; Aurier, Worrall (Capt.), Felipe, Lodi; Freuler (sub Yates, 67), J. Shelvey, Mangala (sub Ayew, 46); Gibbs-White, Johnson (sub Wood, 67 (sub N. Williams, 73), Lingard (sub Dennis, 46)
Subs not used:- G. Shelvey (GK); Niakhate; Colback, Danilo
Booked:- Lodi (foul on Richarlison)
VAR hampers comfortable win
Spurs fans were not in the best frame of mind after a terrible ten day period which has seen our FA Cup and Champions League exits and an upsetting 1-0 defeat at Wolves. Their mood had been improved by Liverpool’s lunchtime defeat at Bournemouth. Referee Craig Pawson and VAR Darren England did their best at the beginning and end of the game to upset the home fans, but they went home happy after a comfortable win against a rather poor Forest team.
Talisman and captain Harry Kane scored our first two goals, one of which was a convincing penalty, to become only the third Premier League player (after Shearer and Aguero) to score 20 or more league goals in six separate seasons. Harry’s goals were his 202nd and 203rd Premier League goals and his 269th and 270th goals for the club. Heung-min Son added Spurs’ third goal in the second half and he now has 99 Premier League goals to his name.
Despite his protestations to the Brazilian press after Wednesday night’s game, Richarlison made his eighth league start of the season, in place of Kulusevski, and played well. “Richy” was denied an excellent third minute goal by the narrowest of VAR offside decisions, but he was influential in Spurs’ success and had an assist to his name for Son’s goal. Emerson Royal did not pass his late fitness test and Pedro Porro took his place. He too played very well, particularly when attacking, and provided the excellent short cross for Kane’s first goal.
When initially being substituted at the beginning of added time, Oliver Skipp was given a generous and loud standing ovation for arguably a man of the match performance. “Ollie” was strong and tigerish in the tackle and confident and clever with his ball control and passing. His substitution had to be delayed because of a late VAR farce when a penalty was awarded, but Fraser Forster saved Ayew’s penalty to cap another decent performance.
Former Spur Serge Aurier was in the Forest side which kicked off and played towards the South Stand. The away contingent was early with its chant of “Champions of Europe! You’ll never sing that!” It is true, of course, but Spurs have won a European trophy and a little more than Forest in the intervening 43 years.
That early “goal” followed an excellent long ball by Skipp which was collected by Richarlison towards the right of the Forest area. He hit the net with an excellent right-footed rising shot, only to be denied after prolonged VAR consideration.
After a foul by former Newcastle man Jonjo Shelvey on Hojbjerg, Son’s free kick was headed over by Romero. An offside flag had been raised in any case. The next song in Forest’s repertoire was “Keylor Navas! He’s won more than you!” Playing for Real Madrid and PSG, that was inevitable, of course.
Forest played an open, rather than defensive style, and I suspect they have paid for that over the course of the season. Perhaps they had also been prepared for Emerson Royal and Kulusevski down our right flank, rather than Pedro Porro and Richarlison. Conte deserves kudos for his selection here. Spurs’ opener followed clever and progressive play by Richarlison on the right. His deep cross was sent back across the area to Pedro Porro who lifted a lovely cross for Kane to head back past Navas into the net!
With Richarlison in attack, Harry Kane was able to sit deeper at times in his playmaker role, and of course we benefited from that. After an excellent Kane cross from the right both Richarlison and Ben Davies (playing at left wing-back today) went down, but Mr. Pawson was giving nothing to Spurs here. Spurs fans were on the referee’s back by the end of the game, particularly after harsh bookings for Skipp and Dier and that late VAR decision.
Skipp hit a shot into the ground, which was then cleared, after a good challenge by Kane. Navas collected a Pedro Porro cross after approach play by Hojbjerg down the right channel. Skipp sent a good pass down the middle for Kane who fed the ball to Richarlison, who was fouled inside the right of the box by Forest skipper Joe Worrall. Harry made no mistake from the spot, firing high to the left of Navas, who committed himself to go right.
Kane had another chance two minutes before the break when Son sent Pedro Porro forward and Kane met the cross in front of the near post but glanced his header over the bar. Forest had shown little threat in the first half, but in added time Shelvey did force a corner with a left-footed shot.
Forest manager Steve Cooper made two half-time changes with Andre Ayew replacing Mangala and former Watford man Emmanuel Dennis replacing Lingard. Spurs kicked off and Son fed an early ball to Richarlison inside the box on the left, but he was closed down effectively. A Son-Kane-Richarlison move was also thwarted.
Dennis was giving Pedro Porro more to think about defensively and after the Spurs right wing-back was pulled up for a foul, Gibbs-White’s free kick into the box was cleared by a Lenglet-Dier combination. Spurs got no joy for a handball shout after Pedro Porro’s pass to Romero was turned onto Son, whose shot was blocked inside the area.
Shelvey floated in a long free kick inside the Spurs half and Felipe went close, but his shot was lifted wide across the goal. Forster made a good low save from a shot by Brennan Johnson before Spurs extended their lead. Romero was being a good boy today and he moved to the half-way line before sending a good pass to Richarlison on the right. Richarlison got to the bye-line inside the area and had two chances to cross. His second found Son who turned and was able to pick his spot with a low left-footed shot.
At 3-0 up, I was feeling as comfortable as at any other time this season, and for the first time in ages. Two more subs followed for Forest. One of those was Chris Wood, but he didn’t last long after suffering an injury when trying to challenge Forster for a loose ball.
Skipp was booked for what looked like a good challenge on Dennis, and Dier’s name soon followed for a similar ball-winning tackle on Ayew. The referee had words with Conte over his protestations of his players’ innocence.
Pedro Porro won a corner, after receiving a great cross-field ball. Son delivered the corner and Lenglet’s header was saved by Navas. Forster made a great save from Serge Aurier’s seemingly goa-bound header after a corner from the left by Gibbs-White. Forster subsequently saved again, this time with his legs from Dennis, firing from the left side of goal.
Spurs went close again after Kane delivered the ball to Son on the left side of the area. Son’s right foot effort was flicked by Davies and saved at his left post by Navas. Navas saved again, this time directly from Son after Hojbjerg pounced upon a loose ball and delivered to Son, who again shot from the left of the box.
Forest’s goal was not exactly out of the blue, as they had been attacking more in this half. It came from a corner, flicked on by Felipe, over the advance of Forster, giving Worrall an easy finish inside the back post.
Antonio’s first two substitutions came after 84 minutes. A tiring Richarlison was replaced by Kulusevski and Lucas Moura took over from Son. Four minutes of added time were indicated, at the start of which Kulusevski had a shot saved by Navas after Pedro Porro’s pass inside. Hojbjerg was booked for a foul on Aurier, and it seemed Spurs had cleared the free kick when Skipp’s substitution was announced. He was prevented from leaving the pitch as VAR was checking a handball. Mr. Pawson was called to the monitor and having been informed the ball had touched Kulusevski’s hand inside the area (he was standing outside), a penalty was awarded. Forster capped a good day with a save to his right, at a nice height after Ayew’s less than perfect spot-kick.
Skipp was able to make his late exit, and after a contretemps between the two dug-outs (I think it was over Romero aiming a ball at a Forest player) Steve Cooper was shown a yellow card by Mr. Pawson.
After Liverpool’s defeat, Spurs win put them six points clear of Liverpool, who only have one game in hand, and whose next league game is at Manchester City on April 1st. A bigger threat is Newcastle, who have three games in hand and play Wolves today.
There are tougher challenges ahead for Spurs than the one they faced yesterday. Next up is a trip to Southampton who are fighting for survival.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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