A display that took fans back a few months left Everton with the three
points, courtesy of a deflected drive that was the only thing to
separate the two sides, other than Tottenham's slow approach to the
Lacking the involvement of
Aaron Lennon, made difficult by Everton's doubling up on him, this
should have left space for others to make use of, but every time Spurs
did create shooting chances, they generally failed to hit the target and
test Tim Howard.
In truth, Everton were not much better
than Spurs and turned over possession as often in the early stages, but
with a five man midfield, David Moyes made it hard to break through and
with Tom Huddlestone having a game where he failed to impose his passing
ability and lacked movement from team-mates to have a target to find
with them, Tottenham came up short and remain just out of the relegation
places. Shots from Lennon, Bent, Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko, Bale
and Bentley all missed the goal and too often, set-pieces failed to find
the intended white-shirted player or to result in an effort on goal.
It must have been hard to take for
Heurelho Gomes, as he played very well, making some good saves, but the
one that beat him taking a wicked deflection off Corluka leaving the
keeper helpless to stop it.
Everton started brightly, with some moves
ending up in the Spurs penalty area, but Huddlestone had the first shot
after Woodgate found him on the right side of the box, although Tom
could only drag his shot weakly across goal. Everton had to
reshuffle, when Yakubu (who Harry had been talking up all week) had to
leave the field after going down in a heap when trying to muscle Ledley
King off the ball, using his arms. It is hard to have sympathy
with one player who gets injured trying to flout the rules, but he
looked to have something serious and you wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Despite the criticism heaped on him
recently, Gomes' decision making was good today and his rush from goal
to get to a through pass saw him pat the ball away from Osman as he went
into the area. Benoit Assou-Ekotto got booked for his first foul
,which admittedly was studs up and a little high, but Steve Bennett's
refereeing left a lot to be desired in terms of consistency, with Arteta,
Osman and Pienaar committing a series of fouls without being shown a
card. But more to come of his work later.
Gomes had to come through two Everton
players and two Spurs defenders to palm away a dangerous cross and then
made a double save as Fellaini hit a 30-yarder that the keeper pushed
high into the sky and when it came down, it fell for the Belgian
midfielder again and this time he hit it low and Gomes managed to get
his body behind the ball to stop the shot. In between the
Brazilian's involvements in the game, Zokora's speedy burst through the
middle of the pitch gave Aaron Lennon a shooting chance, as he slipped
the ball to him just inside the right side of the area. The moment
got to the winger, who fired powerfully, but way over the bar.
Then, a pacy free-kick from Bentley caused concern, with Jagielka
getting a flick on the ball and taking it just wide for a corner.
Assou-Ekotto was getting more balls into
the box from the left than Bentley and one, which was played into Bent
on the right side of the D saw the striker side-foot a shot with little
power to leave Howard with a straightforward save. The final
action of the half was at the Tottenham end, when Ledley King got
underneath a Cahill cross and Saha ghosted in behind him to head at
goal. The ball was headed down, but luckily straight at Gomes, who
took it gratefully.
The temperature dropped as the teams came
out for the second half, but a piece of dogged play by Pavlyuchenko kept
the ball alive as he moved across the face of the Everton penalty area
and nudged the ball wide to the left, where Assou-Ekotto hit it first
time, but it was always rising over the crossbar.
While Bennett had been letting things go,
he seemed to decide that the opposite would be the case for Tottenham
and punished a minor coming together of Lennon on Pienaar, while having
just let Lescott's pull on Huddlestone's shirt in the box from a
free-kick go un-noticed. There was s similar baulk on Hud in the
pre-amble to the free-kick that was no different in content or intent.
While every free-kick up until now had been meticulously over-seen by
the ref, this time, he let Arteta push it forward a few yards to Pienaar
on the left side of the area and his low shot came off Corluka's leg and
take it into the other side of the goal it was intended for. It
was a blow and although the Toffees had been attacking, their was little
threat of a deadly finish.
Spurs came back with a free-kick routine
on the East Stand side, where Bentley pulled the ball back on the ground
to Roman, but he could not keep his shot down and it found the upper
tier of the Paxton. Pineaar tested Gomes again on the hour, but
the keeper dived low to keep the ball out, before Spurs made a coupe of
tactical substitutions and Everton had to sub their sub, with Saha going
down with nobody around him and being carried off to be replaced by the
more muscular Anichebe.
With 18 minutes left on the clock,
Bentley's switch to the right produced a low cross into the near post
and Pavlyuchenko got in ahead of Jagielka, but could not get his shot
past Howard, who made a very good save. Gomes had to rush out at
Pienaar's feet to thwart his run into the area and then the Russian
striker was again on target, but his shot was blocked away for a corner.
Shortly afterwards, Howard came for a ball, when Gareth Bale's shot was
half-blocked and went high into the air, but he failed to gather, but
the luck was on the Blues side, as their defenders managed to scramble
the ball clear.
As Tottenham pressed for the equaliser,
it was likely that Everton would use Anichebe and the supporting
midfielders to break on them and the substitute forward should have done
better when put away by Felliani in the last minute of normal time.
With the time-wasting by Everton and injuries to their players, there
was six minutes of time to be played for stoppages and it was Spurs who
used it to their advantage, but apart form Pavlyuchenko's weak volley
straight at Howard there was no decent effort on goal. Even when
Campbell was picked out on the right of the box with Bale's fine pass in
the last minute, he opted to lob a hopeful ball to the far post where
Howard collected, rather than try a shot to beat the keeper at his near
post or to blast it low across the face of goal.
So, another home defeat that was brought
about by some lethargic build-up play and the obvious influence of the
absence of Jermaine Jenas and Luka Modric. Hopefully, they might
be back for our next league game at West Ham, which sees us play the
team just above us in the table. It might be another crunch game,
but it seems that many of them are these days.