Saturday 5th March 2005
Spurs head down to the South Coast after the trip to Nottingham in the FA Cup and the quest for more League points is back on the agenda. Being pinned among the bottom four for much of the season, the SCBC struggle to pull themselves away from the relegation vortex, with the odd point picked up away from home, but they are netter at home, having draw with Arsenal last week and beaten Liverpool in the previous home match.
Harry Redknapp will get the team stoked up before they face Tottenham and with Jamie Redknapp in the SCBC midfield, he will have something to prove, as might Calum Davenport if he plays. Having had a 3-1 away win at Brentford in midweek, the home team will be confident despite their recent troubles.
At the back, Antti Niemi has had a knee and a back problem (and I don't mean the defence in front of him ... although he might !!) and this has left former Brentford keeper Paul Smith in goal. His performance against Arsenal gathered rave reviews, so the big lad might make a difficult obstacle to get past. He was one of the goalies that Spurs looked at before settling on Paul Robinson, so he must have been worthy of a trial at least.
The defence has been leaky to say the least this season. Old timer Jason Dodd has been a peripheral figure in the team, while Spurs loanee Calum Davenport seems to have become a veritable regular with nine appearances and some good press about his abilities since he went on to get experience. Claus Lundekvam is an experienced player who has had a good career at SCBC, with over 275 appearances. His height is his greatest asset, but he can pass the ball out from defence too. Graeme Le Saux is a player I have little time for. For a supposedly intelligent player, he can belie that description on the pitch with a series of tempestuous outbursts and spat with various players throughout his time in football. having been out for a long time injured, he is now back, although got a nasty tackle from van Persie last week. Former Man U and Derby County defender Danny Higginbotham is another big lad, but he has not impressed when I have seen him and he might be a player that Spurs isolate when breaking forward. Andreas Jakobsson is a rugged Swedish international, who will be first up for headers, but, like Higginbotham, he can be vulnerable on the floor. New signing from Newcastle United Olivier Bernard likes to get forward and can be caught out of his right back position. For Andy Reid, this might leave him space to move into on our left wing and from there provide the ammo for our strikers. The Saints side will be without Darren Kenton, who has gone on loan to Leicester City.
David Prutton will be missing for the rest of the season after his confrontation with the officials in last weeks match against the Gooners, but Jamie Redknapp will feature now he is enjoying regular football in his Dad's team. Always a good passer, although now limited by his lack of mobility, Jamie can still operate at a high level, but he needs legs around him to cover and win the ball. He can tackle, but often does so in a rash manner, drawing yellow cards as he goes. Former Rangers winger Neil McCann has not been the hit he was expected to be when he was brought down from Scotland and Rory Delap has scored some spectacular goals (mainly against us), but his overall impression has been less than that he gave as a Derby County player. He works hard to get forward, but sometimes his defensive frailties let him down. Swede Anders Svensson looks set to leave in the summer, because he has not been a first pick under Redknapp and while he can galvanise the midfield and add to the attack, he lacks the presence to make a serious nuisance of himself on a regular basis. That is why Hangdog Harry brought Nigel Quashie from Portsmouth with him to add some steel to the middle of the park, where formerly that was the job of Paul Telfer. Both work the areas between the boxes and like to get into positions where they can exercise their shooting boots, so the battling midfielders amongst the Tottenham side will need to buzz around them to keep them out of harm's way.
Former Spurs reserve Peter Crouch scored at White Hart Lane, as you would expect from a former player, but Kevin Phillips has had a hard time lately. The tall and short partnership worked at Sunderland for Phillips when he played with Niall Quinn, but they haven't quite hit it off at the New Dell. The manger moved quickly to bring in someone who could score goals and he plumped for Celtic's loan player from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Henri Camara. The Senegalese striker has paid back a big chunk of that faith with some goals already and his pace will take him into goalscoring positions with ease. Whoever is fit to play in the centre of the Spurs defence will need to be quick enough to ease him out side and away from goal. With the talented forward Dexter Blackstock on loan at Plymouth Argyle and Leon best not yet a regular, this leaves Brett Ormerod as their only option, with Latvian striker Marian Parhars being injured seemingly for about the last two years.
Having waited patiently with a shadow side out on Wednesday, Spurs might step things up a bit at the New Dell. The home side will have to come out to attack, as they need the points desperately, so Spurs might hit back on the break or might go for the throat from the start. In my view, it will be a cagey opening, but once Spurs settle, they will open up the Saints defence, leaving them to run out winners ...
PREDICTION : - SCBC 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
SCBC : Darren Kenton (on loan); Marian Parhars (ankle); Mattias Svensson (knee); Antti Niemi (knee); Anders Svensson (virus); David Prutton (suspended);
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (not match fit); Dean Richards (Achilles); Pedro Mendes (broken toe); Thimothee Atouba (hamstring); Michael Dawson (shin); Noureddine Naybet (groin); (-);
|SCBC 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : The New Dell|
|Saturday 5th March 2005||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 31,903||Referee : Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)|
|Weather : Bright, then rain, then blustery|
|Teams : -|
Le Saux (c) (A. Svensson 88)
Kelly (Zeigler 69)
Mido (Kanoute 58)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
Quashie (foul) 86
Edman (foul) 72
|Match Report : -|
|Why is it that when we are
ready to make a great leap forward, we always fall back ???
Middlesbrough losing left the sixth place in the Premier League up for
grabs, but Spurs let it slip through their grasp, like so many chances
that slipped away in this match, leaving them 0-1 losers at the end.
Spurs enjoyed equally as many chances as SCBC and while the home side also spurned the opportunities they created, the game could easily have ended up 4-4. Spurs were left wondering how Kanoute, Kelly, Defoe and Mido all failed to beat the keeper Paul Smith, who put in a very good display of shot-stopping, but he should not have been allowed to get near them.
Spurs started like a train and when the ball fell to Mido on the edge of the box, his shot was kicked out by Smith's right foot. Then the keeper was in the right place to save Defoe's straight shot after he was set up by Mido's chest down.
SCBC had the lively loan player Henri Camara up front and he gave trouble to our back line all afternoon with his pace. King has to ease him out in the early stages as he looked in on goal, forcing his to put too much air under his effort, but the next time he got forward, he nearly created a goal for Crouch and then, when the ball came back in from Telfer, it was Ledley who was there to get in the way of his goal-bound shot. In fact, the Spurs captain was blocking a lot, with Crouch being denied when seizing on a long Smith punt downfield.
However, having seen his shot crash back off the bar at the end of the Forest match, Michael Brown was in the mood for a goal. He had a shot blocked by Higginbotham, before failing to get on the end of a Carrick corner when unmarked. The closest Spurs came was in the 25th minute and it contained a hint of controversy. A ball into the Spurs box left Lundekvam flat out, while Robinson cleared the ball upfield. The crowd felt that the England keeper should have put the ball out for the central defender to get treatment, but it flew up to Defoe, who ran through with Higginbotham half-stopping because he thought the ref was going to blow. Jermain went on, but could only blast his shot over the bar, but this did not stop the home crowd giving him the bird every time he got on the ball thereafter.
Kelly followed the striker's lead, when put in by Davies on the right and then Steo got caught out when Le Saux's dink over him let Camara run through, but Spurs were saved by Robinson, who touched the intended lob and caught it on the way down.
Mido has great confidence in his scoring ability and sometimes, this is at the expense fo the team, as in the 35th minute he broke away and should have looked up to find Defoe or Reid in better positions, but decided to try and burst the net from the narrowest of angles, resulting in a ball across the face of goal that was neither one thing nor the other.
A dodgy moment for Spurs came when the home fans howled for a penalty, as our auld enemy Le Saux hit the turf after being tackled by Kelly, but the ball was cleanly won and even got a nick off the SCBC defender to earn a goal-kick. However, they should have been in front at the break, as right on half-time, Camara got past Gardner and pulled the ball back to Crouch, who was just a few yards out and struck his shot wide of the goal, when it yawned in front of him.
Although the finishing was particularly poor, it was not a boring affair, with chances at both ends, but the play in between was a little lacking in class. We hoped for something more delectable in the second half.
Brown's early shot brought Smith into action and then Mido was on the end of a ball that came to him from King's blocked shot, but he couldn't get sufficient power or direction on it and it got scuffed wide. Delap had got a foot injury before the scramble and went off for treatment, but could not resume and Nilsson came on and the home fans were probably soon singing to him as they wondered how they had managed "Without You."
His first touch saw him cross in to the Spurs area, where Quashie rose to head home his right wing cross. It was a goal that should have been prevented and one that was to prove vital to the SCBC survival quest, with Spurs being unable to breach their defence. Even though Defoe drilled in a low shot straight after the restart, Smith was equal to it. Spurs' keeper also was in inspired form and his save from Crouch's downward header was reminiscent of Banks' World Cup 1970 save against Brazil.
Spurs then laid siege to the home goal. Defoe drew another save from Smith at his near post and substitute Kanoute (on for Mido) put the ball over Telfer and Reid came in from the wing to pop the ball up over Smith, but it did not fall kindly for Defoe. This didn't deter the England striker who hit Lundekvam with a shot shortly after.
Camara still lead the SCBC breaks and hit a shot wide with ten minutes left, but he was being isolated as SCBC withdrew to protect their own goal. All their defending was almost in vain, as Ziegler picked out a ball that freed Fredi, but as he approached goal, he lost his way and Smith was able to block it with his legs, when the Mali man might have been better trying to take it around the goalie, as Keano did last week. By now, Ledley King had been thrown forward to join the three forwards already on the pitch and with only a couple of minutes left, it was not a bad tactic, but the quality of the ball to them was lacking again.
With Davies drawn infield and with Carrick and Reid not getting into the game enough, Spurs lacked a little in midfield. They were OK in the first half, but during the second, the extra man pulled back by SCBC left Spurs struggling to cope.
All round a disappointing day. Some lousy weather, Charlton winning meaning our game against them next Wednesday takes on even more significance. The European dream ebbs out a bit after today's match, but it might flow back into reach the next time league points are up for grabs.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING
|DOWN AT THE DELL|
|What is it with our arch enemies
from the New Dell ? Why do we always manage to hand them a result
at their place after thrashing them at home ? And why is it when
all the omens are with us, we turn into the side who pass up
opportunities like they were going out of fashion ?
The number of chances each team had were pretty even, although Spurs probably had the balance of the possession, but as it has been said previously, it is not what you have but what you do with it that counts. Martin Jol was very kind in his praise of SCBC, but that is not what we really want to hear when we travel to relegation haunted clubs. We should be scaring them witless and they should be shaking in their boots, especially when we have already trounced them 5-1 this season.
But SCBC came out with a plan and that was to fight in midfield and hit the ball long. Either to the head of Crouch or to the space in behind the Tottenham defenders for Camara to run onto (or short to him to give him a chance to use his pace). It worked to a limited extent, but with Ledley King in fine form against Camara, they found little joy.
Spurs on the other hand had a variety of options available and opened up the Saints defence with Kelly, Defoe and Mido all firing shots in on goal, but none were good enough to beat Smith in their goal, who was the difference between the two teams on the day.
It was frustrating when the opposition contain old codgers like Le Saux, Telfer and Redknapp, that we failed to make the most of the lack of defensive nous, but Harry Redknapp pumped his troops up for a battle royale and that was what Tottenham got.
Even then, the chances that came our way after SCBC had scored would have been enough to win about three other games. Unfortunately, they were not enough to win this one.
Back to the drawing board for Jol and Hughton ahead of next Sunday's FA Cup tie at Newcastle. Perhaps a thought or two about who is available might influence their selections. Reid will be out again, Mendes missing with his broken toe (I think we really missed him here) and Davis still not fully fit. Midfield will more or less choose itself, but will Atouba return ?? Will Marty risk him or will he view it as a problem for the Magpies rather than us ?
Whatever decision he comes to and whoever he chooses, the side will have to perform a lot better than this to get through at St. James'.
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Crystal Palace||0||Manchester United||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||2||Birmingham City||0||Sunday|
|Manchester City||0||Bolton Wanderers||1||Monday|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||28||3||12||13||25||49||21||-24|
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