FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 12TH DECEMBER, 2005
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0) PORTSMOUTH 1 (1)
Mido (pen), 85
Referee: - Uriah Rennie
Attendance: - 36,141
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, King (Capt.), Lee; Jenas, Carrick, Tainio (sub Routledge, 40) (sub Reid, 82), Davids; Mido, Keane (sub Defoe, 68)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Kelly
Portsmouth (4-1-4-1):- Ashdown; Primus, O’Brien, Stefanovic (Capt.), Griffin; Hughes; LuaLua, O’Neil, Viafara, Taylor (sub Robert, 85); Pericard
Subs not used: - Westerveld; Priske, Cisse; Todorov
And so it came to pass that on the 12th day of the 12th month in the year of our Lord, 2005 it was decreed that the team of light should be secure in fourth place in the Premiership table, certain to be above the team of darkness, currently four points and two places below our beloved Spurs. This will be Spurs first Christmas above the “others” for fully 11 years. Long may this situation continue!
Once again, it was not easy for Martin Jol’s men, as they faced a Portsmouth side once again under the manager of that wandering minstrel Harry Redknapp, who had clearly shaken up this bottom three side, who came with a plan to get men behind the ball and take at least a point from The Lane, and who looked as if they might snatch even more until Spurs Captain Ledley King popped up in the 57th minute to head home a Carrick corner and put his team on the way to a much-heralded win. Some say that Uriah Rennie’s award of a penalty against O’Neill with 8 minutes to go was harsh, but there can be no doubting the quality of Jermain Defoe’s 90th minute strike to put the game beyond the reach of Pompey.
Spurs were once again unchanged, as they sought their third consecutive win, but Wayne Routledge was a welcome substitute, having been injured in the first game of the season at Fratton Park. For Portsmouth, Pericard made his first appearance, as lone striker, with LuaLua playing on the right of a 4-man midfield, protected by Richard Hughes in front of the defence. Matthew Taylor played on the left of the midfield, and Linvoy Primus was given a chance at right back by Harry Redknapp, having been out of favour with his predecessor for some of the season.
Spurs dominated the early possession, and Robbie Keane had a great chance after just two minutes, when Lee came inside and put Robbie clear on the left side of the box. Keane had an angle to deal with, but fired weakly at Jamie Ashdown, who gathered the ball with some relief. Edgar Davids was immense for Spurs tonight, and his performance was typified by a determined run after 11 minutes, giving Mido a chance on the turn with a left foot shot, again held by the keeper. Five minutes later Davids started an attack with a great tackle, sending Jenas away, who flicked to Keane, trying a shot from the left which was cleared for a throw.
Hence it came as a great surprise when the visitors took the lead with their first attempt in the 24th minute.LuaLua won a challenge for a long ball from the left and hit a first time volley across Robinson who was beaten by the speed of the decision to shoot, and a bounce across his path. It wasn’t long before a little panic at the back for Spurs, as Pericard won the ball off Ledley King, who quickly redeemed himself with a great win back and clearance. Tainio had a shot from the left side of goal, as the ball was crossed from deep on the right, but the effort went over the bar, and Teemu was to be replaced by Routledge before the break, due to injury.
From the restart, Edgar Davids was fouled outside the box, and whilst the ball was cleared it was soon back at the feet of the inspirational midfielder, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Routledge, presumably playing to instructions, was not playing in the wide position we all wanted, and as a result sometimes was found wanting in his efforts to keep possession. Portsmouth broke from one such loss in the middle, and Pericard forced a good save from Paul Robinson at the foot of his right hand post. Routledge did however win the corner that led to the equaliser, taken by Carrick in the North-East corner, and headed home by Ledley King from just inside the 6 yard area.
The fight back was on, but not before Pericard played the ball back to Taylor, whose shot needed a great save from Robinson diving to his left. Robbie Keane was replaced by Defoe, but Portsmouth had the next chance, when a header was cleared in front of the goal-line after a corner. Then came a sequence of intrigue and controversy. Defoe was awarded a free kick just outside the box, much to the disdain of Stefanovic. Routledge was called off by Martin Jol, replaced by Andy Reid, whose first task was to take the free kick. Had he perhaps been instructed to aim a not particularly strong kick into the wall? In any event the ball was handled by O’Neill, although those of a Pompey persuasion are convinced it was ball to hand. Uriah Rennie (not usually a friend of Spurs fans) pointed to the spot, and then there seemed to be some debate between Mido, Davids and Defoe as to who would take the kick. Mido got the job, and fired home confidently to the left of Ashdown, who did dive the right way.
As injury time loomed, Defoe put the game out of reach, when he raced to the back of the area to retrieve a long ball from the left. Jermain turned and raced goalward, firing a low shot through the goalie’s legs for a great finish from a sharp angle. Cue great joy, not to be diminished by the fact that Paul Robinson had to punch out a late free kick by Portsmouth.
Spurs fans are already assured a Christmas above the gooners, who next face Chelsea at home whilst Spurs travel to Middlesbrough this Sunday. If Santa gives me a 7 point lead this week-end, I’ll want for nothing more on December 25th!
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