|What could have been an
entertaining second half to this match was snatched away in an instant
just four minutes into the second forty five, with the game effectively
being ended then. The sending off of Rodrigo Defendi and the
scoring of the resultant penalty left Spurs a hopeless task and Charlton
strolled to victory.
It all looked so different early
on. After a volley from Charlton's Alex Varney that cleared the
stand, Spurs started to build some moves with good, pin-point
passing. Philip Ifil was getting a lot of space on the right and
his crosses into the area were causing a lot of problems. It was
my first view of Michael Carrick in a Spurs shirt and he seemed to be
the centre of play, with almost everything passing through him, before
he passed the ball off his left or right foot, finding his targets with
accuracy for the first hour. It seemed as though he tired after
then and his passes got picked off a bit, as the extra body helped crowd
Marcel McKie was having a tough time
against the speedy Lloyd Sam and got an early yellow card in the 13th
minute for pulling the winger back by the shirt. But just five
minutes later, Spurs took the lead. Carrick was in the centre
circle and pinged a great pass out to Ifil, who took the ball down, beat
his marker (former Gooner Jerome Thomas) and put in a firmly hit cross
to find Defendi racing in to power a header into the middle of the
goal. Simon Royce seemed to have it covered, but it squirmed
through him and into the net for a goal.
Spurs tried to drill home the advantage
in the 21st minute when Dean Marney hit a low free-kick that went
through the wall and as Royce tried to gather it, he let it bounce off
his chest but recovered just in time to beat Sousa to the ball and knock
it out for a corner.
As the game approached the half hour
mark, Charlton started to come into it more. Paul Konchesky, the
former loanee at White Hart Lane, hit a free-kick that Fulop saved and
the Hungarian keeper was beaten when Sam raced along the right wing and
nudged the ball past the Spurs goalie, but it went across the goal and
wide. Spurs were also pressing forward and Dean Richards, who
played well tonight, hit a very good pass to Ifil on the right
wing. The young full back took the ball down on his chest, cut
inside and hit a swerving shot that cleared the bar by about a foot.
In the ten minutes remaining the game
turned around. With 37 minutes gone, a left wing cross flicked
Defendi's head and fell kindly for Sam to smash home a powerful volley
for the equaliser. Not content with that, a minute before the
break, a long ball found Defendi isolated with two Charlton attackers
and one flicked it on for the other, Thomas, to get in behind and round
Fulop, just getting to the ball before McKie to knock it into an empty
net. At 1-2, it seemed unreal that Spurs had let two in without
being seriously troubled before that point.
Tottenham tried to hit straight back and
a good run by Michael Brown on the left ended with a shot that was
deflected into the side netting in injury time at the end of the first
Clive Allen took Richards off and
replaced him with Paul O'Donoghue, with the captain's armband passing to
Michael Brown. Spurs went forward from the kick off and a speedy
cross into the six yard box by Lee Barnard was not attacked by Sousa or
any other white shirt, leaving an inviting ball going begging.
Two minutes later and the game was
sealed. Varney raced through into the Spurs box onto a long
through ball and Defendi chased after him, with both players going down
in a heap. When they got up, the ref raised the red card and when
Konchesky beat Fulop from the spot, there was little doubt that Charlton
would travel South with the points.
Spase Dilevski moved back to left back
and Marcel McKie moved into the middle, where he looked a lot more
comfortable. But this left three in midfield to do all the running
and two up front to close down the back four of the Addicks.
Spurs had their chances. Michael
Brown hit a snap-shot half-volley from 25 yards that Royce held well on
54 minutes and on 67, substitute Mark Yeates twisted and turned the
defender to hit a shot that just missed to the left.
The remainder of the time, Charlton tired
to showboat and messed things up, while Marton Fulop had ample
opportunity to show how good a goalkeeper he was with a string of
saves. He particularly frustrated Varney with three saves in quick
succession coming up to an hour having gone. His best was almost
saved for last when he dived full length to keep out a powerful drive
from Sam from the edge of the area and he had a bit of luck, when the
ball finally did beat him, he saw it bounce over off the crossbar from
Walker's 86th minute effort.
With just ten men, Spurs struggled to
challenge in midfield and Athletic passed the ball well making Tottenham
run themselves into the ground after it. Clive Allen was furious
at the referee (but then he usually is !) and he had reason to be when
substitute Wilson took McKie's legs from under him with the ball long
gone. Clive pointed out to the ref and the fourth official that it
was a dangerous challenge and that he had sent a player off for getting
his legs tangled up with an opponent's.
Despite the scoreline, Spurs were happy
enough to keep possession for long periods and Carrick linked the back
and the front well. The only problem was, Spurs tried to play
passes in too tight an area - especially when they only had ten
men. Sousa looked a bit better tonight, but still needs to retain
possession better and Defendi looked more at home in the centre of
defence, even though he had a hand (or head or foot) in all three
Charlton goals. As far as Clive is concerned, he will be
disappointed with the result, but perhaps more disappointed by some
aspects of the performance.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MARTON FULOP