|With a little bit of
assistance from the woodwork, Spurs travelled home with all three points
as Toffees manager David Moyes felt mugged and a couple of his players
might be feeling that way in the morning.
For so much of the game, the home side
were the ones looking most likely to take the game, but it was Spurs who
got their noses in front and then held out with consummate composure
that it looked like they might add to their lead. There were some
fiery flashpoints though with captain Jamie Redknapp lucky not to see
red for a bad tackle on Cahill and a bust-up between Weir and Atouba as
the players departed for half-time oranges.
It could have all started so badly for
Spurs with Bent falling under challenge from Edman, but the theatrical
effect may have persuaded ref Poll to waive the appeals and wave play
on. With eight minutes passed, a Keane corner produced Tottenham's
first effort, with Pamarot unusually popping up to meet it with his
head, but the ball was not going to hit the target ... on this occasion.
With the woodwork becoming an
increasingly important player for Spurs (who wanted to cut out the
deadwood ??), it cleared a dangerous effort from Cahill, who's header to
Gravesen's long throw beat everyone, but not the upright.
With the goal doing it's bit, Paul Robinson decided he should do his and
produced a fine save by staying big and blocking Leon Osman's goal-bound
headed attempt. Paul's presence in goal must be a great boost for
the defence, as if they are by-passed, they can rely on him to provide a
difficult obstacle to get beyond.
The French full back was having a tough
time against Kilbane, who was having a day when he decided to get
involved, rather than flit around the periphery of the match. He
showed a turn of pace to leave Pamarot trailing, but the Spurs man stuck
to his task and produced a good, dogged defensive showing.
However, when the Irish winger did get past him he flashed a low drive
across the face of goal and it missed the far post by eighteen
inches. The same player also brought cries of "Penalty"
from the Goodison faithful when he went into a challenge with Pamarot
and they both ended up on the floor. Once more Poll drew the right
The way Spurs have been playing, there
has been little supply for the two forwards, who were Defoe and Keane
today. Once more out-jumped in the air, it was difficult in a
first half when Spurs turned the ball over on a number of occasions to
keep a supply of good balls to them. The frustration showed in
their finishing. Defoe hit a curling shot wide from 25 yards,
while at the death, Robbie wriggled into a good position and then fired
his shot way over the top when he should have been thinking about
hitting the target.
Ledley was again outstanding, producing
moments like the one where a little touch that took a Kilbane header
wide when no-one else was claiming the responsibility of dealing with
the ball into the box. He also brought the ball out with a calm
authority that has been his trademark this season and used it
well. The grip Spurs were getting on the game as the match headed
towards half-time was evident with a more accurate passing passage of
play, which carved a ball into Jermain in the box, but he got closed
down very quickly before he could get his shot away. As with the
early cry for a penalty, there might also have been one here, as Pistone
stuck out a leg that touched Defoe and took him down. The ball
fell to Davies, who ran in and had a shot that was saved, but he was
ruled to be offside. This was followed by Redknapp's shot spinning
loose and Keano seized on it to put it away, but a linesman's flag ruled
it out for offside. Then right on the stroke of half-time, A
free-kick routine saw Atouba steal in to win a header, but it slipped
wide when he was well placed.
Whatever had gone on in the half, Hibbert
sparked a flare-up involving Weir and Atouba, who had to be separated as
they went down the tunnel, trading blows at each other ... followed by
two of the Merseyside Constabulary.
When the match restarted, it was Spurs
who took the bows eight minutes in. A corner was played short by
Davies to Keane and his ball in found Pamarot bursting onto it and
powering a header back from where Martyn had just come and into the net
from 12 yards out. It was a terrific effort by Pamarot, who had to
crane his neck backwards to get it around the ball and it was done so
with some power.
Almost immediately, Everton nearly got
back on terms, with Osman firing in a low shot from some 20 yards and he
was unlucky to see it bounce out off the foot of the post and Pamarot
was on hand, at his more usual end of the pitch, to get there just
before Kilbane touched the rebound into the net. Everton were keen
to capitalise on the uncertainty in the air in the Tottenham defence, so
brought on Duncan Ferguson to provide an aerial threat, taking Carsley
out of the midfield.
They soon had to replace Cahill after a
very bad high tackle by Redknapp left him unable to carry on.
While Jamie might not be the most vindictive player in the Premiership,
he does have a habit of taking players late and earning a number of
yellow cards for such tackles. He now has five and might face a
ban. The hangover of the Atouba half-time incident might still
have been in the air, as Defoe was carded for a two-footed lunge, which
did get the ball, but looked bad and the ref decided that he should
enter the book.
Substitutions were becoming very
influential in the game and McFadden's entrance saw him embark on
a great run, but his final touch, as he entered the area, took the
ball too close to Robinson, who came out to take the ball. Defoe's
frustration had got the better of him, so Santini decided to take him
off and shore up the side by putting Reto Ziegler on for his first taste
of the Premier League. He did quite well in the few minutes left
and showed a maturity that might yet see him get more exposure in the
Gravesen had hit Pamarot twice very early
in the match after the ball had gone, but Poll waited until the final
minute to book the Dane, as he ploughed into Ziegler ... late
again. It was interesting that Spurs found things easier when
Carsley had gone off and the home side expected more to go through
Gravesen and Spurs found it easier to play around him. Pamarot was
on had a couple of times to clear away balls bouncing into the box and
after his initial troubles with Kilbane, he stuck to his task and had a
very good all-round game.
As Everton became more desperate, their
attacks became more fevered and less accurate, leaving the Tottenham
players a more comfortable existence in picking up their loose
passes. It was always going to be a tight affair, but with Spurs
having got the goal and then basically trying to defend that, it was
once more satisfying to see that we can do it ... at last !! Some
more attacking might not have gone amiss, but Jacques' "young
teem" will blossom as the autumn moves into winter and the
flowering of the side will be one worth waiting for.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - NOE PAMAROT