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Fulham v Spurs, 16.10.10

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 16TH OCTOBER, 2010
FULHAM 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)

Fulham scorer:-
Kamara, 30

Spurs scorers:-
Pavlyuchenko, 31
Huddlestone, 63

Attendance:- 25,615

Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Mr. S. Beck & Mr. M. Yerby
Fourth official:- Mr. A. Marriner

Teams:-
Fulham (4-4-2):- Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido; Davies, Greening (sub E. Johnson, 84), Murphy (Capt.) (sub Kelly, 52), Dempsey; Kamara, Dembele (sub Gera, 75)
(Armband to Hughes)

Subs not used;- Stockdale; Pantsil; Halliche, Riise

Booked:- Dempsey (Dissent)

Spurs(4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, King (Capt.) (sub Bassong, 44), Ekotto; Modric, Huddlestone, Sandro (sub Lennon, 46), Bale; Van der Vaart; Pavlyuchenko (sub Crouch, 70)
(Armband to Huddlestone)

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Jenas, Kranjcar; Keane

Booked:- Sandro (foul on Davies)

Huddlestone winner causes controversy.

Spurs gained their first league win at Fulham for eight and a half years, and Tom Huddlestone scored his first goal of the season. However, the Spurs midfielder, who by this time was wearing the Captain’s armband, had to wait for a consultation between referee Mike Dean and assistant Mr. Yerby, after the assistant had flagged an offside which Mr. Dean over-ruled. The Spurs celebrations were resumed and with their second away win in four games, they maintained the pressure on the top four places in the league.

Manager Harry Redknapp’s team selection caused one or two raised eyebrows, with Luka Modric playing in an unfamiliar role on the right of midfield, and Sandro making his league debut in the midfield. Ledley King returned alongside Gallas and Hutton retained his place at right back. Unfortunately, Ledley did not quite make it to half-time, pulling up with his groin injury and being replaced by Sebastien Bassong.

Sandro made a good impression, adding some bite to a flair-filled Spurs side, and spraying some good early passes around as well as Tom Huddlestone, as Spurs started really brightly. Fulham played a full part in an open and entertaining game, taking a while to find their rhythm but testing the Spurs defence to the full, with their switching passing movements left and right across the field. Simon Davies, Clint Dempsey and Jonathan Greening were key to this success, but Greening and Davies were also part of the disciplined defensive work that kept Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart relatively subdued for a lot of the game.

Within the first 6 minutes, Roman Pavlyuchenko had two good chances to give Spurs a lead. Following excellent passing moves fired by Huddlestone, aided by Bale’s crossing, Pavlyuchenko first won a corner when challenging for a header, then fired low just wide across Schwarzer’s left post with an angled shot. After 10 minutes and a bit of skill by Van der Vaart, Sandro was in possession and tried a curling shot from distance which passed just outside the same post. Incidentally, Ledley had won the toss and chosen to kick towards his own fans in the first half, so we saw this action at close range.

Simon Davies was having a good time, and left Huddlestone standing on one occasion with a neat ball round the midfielder. Having got into the Spurs area, Davies was thwarted by a great saving tackle by Ledley King. Pavlyuchenko had another effort on goal go wide before Fulham started to get into the game, and worryingly dominated possession at times. A corner by Davies after 13 minutes was headed over by Diomansy Kamara (who is nicknamed “Joe”) from close range.

Sandro saw yellow after two tackles. Referee Mike Dean firstly had “words” with the Brazilian, but then had no choice but to show the card when Sandro committed another somewhat reckless tackle. His replacement at half-time was a good measure by Redknapp, who by inserting Lennon gave more balance to the side in the second half. After Murphy’s free kick, Fulham had another header over the target. Fulham’s Mexican left back, Salcido, hit a good long shot which hit Gomes’ side netting without ever threatening the goal.

Having started to dominate possession it came as no surprise when Fulham took the lead in front of their delighted fans. Dempsey received the ball on the edge of the box in a central position an cleverly turned the defence one way before sending a reversed pass back across the area where Gallas had left Kamara too much room for an easy finish and a lead. That lead was all too brief for Fulham, as Spurs pulled back immediately. Van der Vaart received a cross from the left, and after a clever touch lifted the ball over the keeper. Now I have to confess that at this point my head was in my hands, as I thought Van der Vaart had fluffed an easy scoring chance by putting the ball over. Therefore, I actually did not see at first hand how the ball actually dropped onto the bar and down for Pavlyuchenko to tap in for an even easier finish than that of Kamara!

After 42 minutes, a Gareth Bale attempted clearance was returned straight away by Fulham and Kamara hit a drive which Gomes touched around for a corner with a great save. It was in this move that Ledley suffered his aggravation to his groin strain and had to be replaced.

With the arrival of Lennon, and the move of Modric to the middle, Spurs controlled a lot of the play in the second half. After a shot by Dempsey which was easy for Gomes, the home side were on the back foot against a Spurs side that defended more tightly and a little higher up the field. In particular Bassong marked tightly, and both full backs covered well. Gallas played the more withdrawn defensive role, and it all worked well for Spurs. At the time of writing, Huddlestone and Van der Vaart seem to be winning the fans ratings on the “Spursometer”, but I thought Ekotto was excellent today. He made one error which was spotted by Match of the Day cameras, but otherwise he was defending well, and playing a full part in various attacking moves. Ekotto is in his fifth season now with Tottenham and of those who appeared today, only Huddlestone, King and Lennon have more Spurs appearances to their name. Ekotto does not receive all the praise he deserves.

Modric had been out of sorts in the first half, but was back to his best in the second half, playing in a more natural role. After a Modric corner on 48 minutes and a Lennon return across the box, Van der Vaart’s shot was saved by the feet of Schwarzer before being cleared. Fulham skipper Danny Murphy did not last much longer and was replaced by ex-Spur Stephen Kelly, who took up right back duties. This gave Gareth Bale more opportunities to shine as he had been effectively double marked for much of the game so far.

Bassong did concede a corner after 55 minutes, and after Davies’ kick Baird had a header well saved by Gomes. A slick move featuring Ekotto and Pavlyuchenko led to a run by Lennon from the left and a shot which was saved. Huddlestone's goal came after a Spurs corner reached him about 25 yards out. Tom hit a low pile-driver a of a shot that seemed to pass through the melee of legs and beat Schwarzer just inside his right post. Spurs celebrated but the linesman had his flag raised. It would seem that he had seen Gallas in an offside position, but the referee over-ruled his assistant and signalled a goal, which meant the Spurs team and fans could resume their celebrations. The debate on Match of the Day later was very technical about "active" and "inactive", but even Alan Shearer came down on the side of the referee. Of course, Fulham manager Mark Hughes was not best pleased and ultimately the goal led to Fulham losing their unbeaten record in the Premier League this season.

Fulham did try to put some pressure on Spurs, but despite two or three decent chances, they never threatened Gomes' goal. Crouch replaced Pavlyuchenko, and Spurs had to see out the last 20 minutes, with all three substitutes used. A Bale, Crouch and Van der Vaart combination led to a shot by Van der Vaart and a Spurs corner, and from that corner Alan Hutton had a good shot pass just wide. Spurs played out the 4 minutes of added time by working the ball successfully around the corner flags to send Fulham and their fans home frustrated, whilst the packed away stand chanted with glee!

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