early goals settled this match, which looked likely to see Portsmouth
steam-rollered after a pacy start to the game.
ran out of steam in the second half and Pompey fought a bit harder to deny
them space, but failed to create anything of note of their own.
Unfortunately, it was the referee - Rubery - who stole the limelight with
his insistence on clamping down on almost every foul that Tottenham
committed in the second half with a yellow card. Why he booked
Hirschfeld for time-wasting when 2-0 up and he had virtually had only two
tame efforts all night will remain one of life's mysteries. His lack
of adventure in reaching the final third saw the match official be behind
play a lot of the time and he was unlucky to stay within ear-shot of Clive
Allen, back in charge of the reserves ... and not a lover of the
card-happy arbiter. The fourth official told Allen off for
questioning him about the ref's decisions in no uncertain terms, saying
"there are kids around", but surely, the referee hardly set a
good example to anyone.
The game had barely begun,
when Philip Ifil knocked a neat ball in to Lee Barnard on the edge of the
box and his control and turn saw him take the ball across the area, where
he was bundled over by two Portsmouth defenders. On this occasion
Mr. Rubery had a good sight of what happened and pointed to the
spot. Bobby Zamora took the responsibility and planted the penalty
kick past Tardif.
Barnard had a good game
leading the line, with Zamora playing off him. He was a thorn in the
Portsmouth defence all night and had a few chances to grab a goal of his
own, but was twice denied by the keeper's dive. Zamora did well and
showed some good link up play before departing early as he was probably
being saved for the weekend's first team fixture.
Mark Hughes had a very
influential first half and when he swept the ball out from left to right
for Mark Yeates, he could not have known what was to come. With
players waiting in the middle, the Irishman took the ball on to the line,
then cut back inside and whipped a fierce drive that swerved past the
keeper and in at the far post. It was a cracking goal and showed the
lively invention of the sprightly forward.
Ziege had a steady game
without putting too much into it, but he exchanged passes with Yeates at a
short corner routine and nearly repeated the forward's goal, but his
effort curled just over in the 26th minute, then five minutes later,
Hughes knocked in a well placed cross to find the head of Barnard, but his
header was low, but lacked power.
Hirschfeld had only two
saves to make in the first half, a tame header and a shot straight
at him, but his nerviest moment came when he had to kick out a back-pass
and it went a foot along the floor straight to a Portsmouth
midfielder. Luckily, he mis-controlled it !! And that was a
feature of the Pompey play. The number of unforced errors was huge
and they gave possession away like it was going out of fashion. This
made things easy for Tottenham, but they failed to capitalise on it during
the second period.
The second half started
with a yellow card for Mark Hughes for, what is becoming a trademark high
tackle. Better things were to come and five minutes in a Zamora
knock on found Barnard, who set himself up for a shot on goal from eight
yards, but it was straight at the keeper.
Yellow cards followed for
Yeates for shirt-pulling and Bunjy for a foul from behind and then
Hirschfeld. The ref was obviously trying to keep his cold fingers
working with his pencil-work !!
On the hour, a double miss
stopped Spurs going further ahead. Ziege's free-kick found Zamora on
the right of the box. His chest down in space was followed by s hot
that was bundled off the line and from the resulting Ifil cross, the
keeper missed the ball and it was smuggled away at the far post before a
Spurs player could latch onto it.
Blondel had two late
chances to finish it, with the ball being presented to him by Hunt before
exchanging passes with Yeates and hitting a low shot that the keeper dived
to stop twenty minutes from the end and then with eight minutes left, Ifil
put another low cross into the box, Barnard stumbled on the ball and it
fell invitingly for Jonathan to score the third from four yards out.
Unfortunately, it came quickly to him and he blasted it over the top, when
it seemed easier to score.
That was the last attack
Tottenham made with eleven men, as Yeates was booked for a foot up tackle
as the ball ran away from his control. It deserved a booking, but
his first card for shirt-pulling looked soft and especially when there
were instances of Blondel having his shirt pulled half-off him, without
the Portsmouth player suffering the same fate. As always, inconsistency
is what annoys fans and players most !!
With minutes left Ricketts
produced a good run and finished with a shot that was saved low down,
while Portsmouth's best effort was saved for last, with a shot that flew
over the bar ... with Hirschfeld's assistance according to the ref, even
though the Canadian keeper was nowhere near it.
A good performance that ran
out of energy in the second half, but hardly surprising as the first 45
minutes flew by in a pacy, high-tempo display. Kelly and Ifil played
confidently at the back, while Yeates was lively and full of running and
despite getting sent off got my man of the match vote.
All in all, the fare laid
before Pat Jennings, Chris Hughton, Pat Holland, Hans Segers and David
Pleat, must have been well digested and put away for future reference.