FRIDAY 15TH DECEMBER, 2023
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1)
Referee:- Jarred Gillett
Assistants:- Darren Cann, Derek Eaton
Fourth official:- Peter Bankes
VAR:- Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR:- Wade Smith
Forest (3-5-2):- Turner; Boly (sub Wood, 67), Murillo, Niakhate; N. Williams, Yates (Capt.), Mangala (sub Hudson-Odoi, 83), Kouyate (sub Danilo, 67), Toffolo; Elanga, Gibbs-White
Subs not used:- Vlachodimos (GK); Omobamidele, Aina, Montiel; Dominguez; Origi
Booked:- Murillo (foul on Pedro Porro), Toffolo (foul on Emerson Royal)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vicario; Pedro Porro, Romero, Davies, Udogie; Sarr, Bissouma; Johnson (sub Skipp, 32), Kulusevski (sub Veliz, 90+9), Son (Capt.) (sub Emerson Royal, 88); Richarlison (sub Hojbjerg, 72)
(Armband to Romero)
Subs not used:- Forster; Dier, Dorrington; Gil; Donley
Booked:- Udogie (foul on Yates), Sarr (foul on Gibbs-White), Davies (foul on Gibbs-White), Son (foul on Yates)
Sent off:- Bissouma (70 mins - serious foul play on Yates)
Special win for Spurs
I went out on Friday night and came home on Saturday morning(*). This was a special win for Spurs, who won a battle against a Forest team who are becoming increasingly in danger of falling into the bottom three with this fifth defeat in six games. The battle was against a team who packed the midfield; against a vociferous home crowd, and against their own persistent lack of discipline which saw Udogie see an inevitable fifth yellow card and Yves Bissouma sent off for a second time this season.
Both players will miss next Saturday's game against Everton. Bissouma has become a liability and will now take an enforced four-match break over the rest of Christmas and the New Year. He'll be off to the African Cup of Nations in January too.
Spurs' goals came from Richarlison (three in two games now) and the excellent "Deki" Kulusevski, who created Richie's goal and scored an excellent right-footed goal in the second half. Spurs moved level on points with Manchester City and six points (plus goal difference) above Manchester United.
Brennan Johnson, who was playing against his former (boyhood) team had to go off after half an hour with a head wound, but he has no concussion and will hopefully be fit for Everton. Johnson was regaled by his former fans as he went off with "He's one of our own".
The Forest pre-match build-up includes the theme to "Robin Hood", footage of Brian Clough, Trevor Francis, European Cup success of 40+ years ago, Underworld's "Born Slippy" and Wings' "Mull of Kintyre".
Spurs kicked off, playing towards the Trent End, and had a bright start with Son prominent down the left side. Son had an early chance, created by man of the match Kulusevski, but his shot lacked punch and former Arsenal man Matt Turner saved with his legs.
Son was fouled twice by Neco Williams in those early stages, but a Pedro Porro free kick was cleared.
After that bright start Spurs withdrew a little and also made mistakes with some of their midfield passing. This gave Forest encouragement and opportunities as their fans sniffed a breakaway goal.
A poor ball out from Turner led to a Spurs chance. Kulusevski fed Son again, but the Spurs skipper sought a pass rather than a shot. Niakhate managed to head clear a cross from the right by Johnson.
Vicario made a good save from Elanga after a break-out move with Morgan Gibbs-White. After the save, the offside flag was raised. It wasn't long before the defence was in action again when Romero tackled and denied Ryan Yates who tried to take advantage of a poor crossfield pass by Sarr.
Spurs had been in total control, but they were masters of their own destiny, and it looked as if Forest would gain from our mistakes only. Johnson was denied by Turner after more good work by Kulusevski. A corner resulted, taken by Porro; headed over by Ben Davies.
Both Davies and Romero were excellent at the back, but the usual adventure of our full-backs (I swear I saw both of them in an advanced position on the right at one stage) gave Forest counter-attacking possibilities.
Johnson needed lengthy treatment after taking a blow to his head on the edge of our area and had to leave, being replaced, not by Gil, who would have been a natural replacement, but by Oliver Skipp. Skipp had his moments towards the end of the game and was no doubt chosen to counter Forest's five-man midfield. In my view he lacked the required physicality to compete in the middle and I didn't notice him for a long time after he came on.
Forest fans were desperate for a penalty when Gibbs-White went down in the box but got no return. Spurs suffered the same result when Kulusevski seemed to be victimised (not in the box) and generally speaking Mr. Gillett was letting a lot go for the home side in particular.
Pedro Porro glanced a header wide after a cross by Son. Gibbs-White was not called for what looked like a foul on Bissouma and he advanced but fired high. Son chased a Ben Davies ball, but Turner raced out to collect. Udogie got his card for a needless foul on Yates.
Four minutes of added time were added and in the second of these, Spurs took the lead after an excellent cross by Kulusevski from the right, met by the head of Richarlison with Turner seemingly committing himself too far towards the right of his goal. It was an excellent way to end the first half.
Forest kicked off at the re-start. Romero fouled Kouyate, but Pedro Porro headed away the free kick. Niakhate is a long-throw merchant for Forest and after we failed to clear one such throw, Boly thankfully skied a shot from the right side of the box.
Pedro Porro went down after a challenge but was able to carry on without the attention of the physio. Elanga offered danger on the left side, but Romero managed to clear at the expense of a corner. Vicario convincingly punched clear a free kick by Gibbs-White. Elanga had the ball in the net after Williams crossed from the right. The home crowd roared but were ultimately denied by a correct VAR offside decision which could be seen on hospitality TV screens by away fans in our corner.
Udogie advanced down the left and Son crossed for Richarlison with Boly heading clear. Kulusevski advanced into the box and forced a save before Son's chance was blocked and cleared. Son had another chance seizing upon Porro's short central pass, turning and shooting on target. Turner saved.
After this save though, Turner made a poor pass out and Kulusevski advanced from the right and scored with his right foot. "Deki" (still masked) beat his chest in celebration in front of the away fans.
It wasn't long after that when the referee was called to his monitor to review a challenge by Bissouma on Yates. The red card was inevitable, and Spurs had to defend their two-goal lead with ten men for nearly half an hour when you consider the lengthy added time. Richarlison was sacrificed and replaced by Hojbjerg who played a full part in our success.
Son and Kulusevski were both excellent in the closing stages with good penetrating runs into Forest territory. Son took one for the team too, stopping Yates in his tracks as a Spurs attack broke down.
Skipp did send Kulusevski away with a decent ball and Turner was not convincing with his save low towards his left post. Vicario was busy in the closing stages, demonstrating his elasticity several times. Romero conceded a corner when deflecting a Williams shot, then somehow Vicario kept out Toffolo's close-range effort after the corner.
Elanga fired wide after a cross by substitute Hudson-Odoi. Hojbjerg and Sarr gave us some excellent approach play down the left before Hojbjerg teed up Pedro Porro, whose shot was deflected out by Murillo for a corner.
Vicario had to make another good save, but an offside flag was shown in our favour. Skipp showed uncertainty when he raced clear and could have taken a shot, but instead chose to try and fail with a pass across the area.
At the other end Vicario saved after a Williams shot hit the post. Spurs kept their clean sheet and repeated their Premier League scoreline in the fourth game of last season here.
The celebrations at the Spurs end were prolonged. "Big Ange" joined in with emotional fist clenching and air-punching. Spurs had been singing "Jingle Bells" even before the eight minutes of added time (which was prolonged).
(*)Friday night, Saturday morning. A song by The Specials "I go out on Friday night, and I come home on Saturday morning"
Songwriters: Terry Hall
Friday Night, Saturday Morning lyrics (copyright) Bmg Rights Management (uk) Limited
. Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
. Read the preview for this game.
. All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
Top of page | Index to 2023-24 Match Reports