After three games of domination, this
flat performance was won by a late Robbie Keane goal that left
Manchester City's new manager tasting defeat in his first game in
charge. For Spurs, it was an ugly win that earned three points
where previous numerous more attractive efforts had fallen on stony
It all nearly started so badly.
Atouba decided to take a throw-in back to Robinson, who had to kick it
out as it bounced up waist high and he only succeeded in slicing it
straight up in the air. As it came down, the Spurs keeper
realised that he could not pick the ball out of the air, so had to
tower over Fowler to head it and the ball fell to Reyna, who's shot
into the ground was headed out from in front of goal by Ledley
King. The aftermath saw a furious "debate" between
Robinson and Atouba, who would not let go of it and continued the
argument with Robbo as the corner was being prepared to be taken.
It was not to be the last incident that
involved Thimothee and the other members of our team.
had tested James with a low shot in the 14th minute, before he scored
a minute later. James threw the ball out to right back Onouha,
who was robbed by Reid and his cross in was missed by Defoe in the six
yard box, but Simon Davies latched onto the ball at the far side of
the penalty area and lashed in a shot from the right. His shot
seemed to be heading wide, when Jermain headed it in at the left hand
post, where he had ended up after missing the initial
opportunity. It was an opportunist goal and one which we have
scored all too few of this season. For all the build up play in
the last few games, it was a misdirected shot that resulted in a goal.
enough, after this, Tottenham withdrew into their shell and let
Manchester City play the ball around a bit. Their passing was
crisp and to feet and they created work for Robinson, who dived at
Barton's feet, saved Sibierski's volley and then kept out Barton's
shot at the end of a run past three Spurs players with his legs.
Brown fired in a low shot that James had to grab on the ground, after
Mido had set up the midfielder, but his next action was at the other
end, where he first fouled Barton and then rushed from the wall to
block the drive from the fouled City man. Just as half-time was
approaching, City equalised.
move started in their won half and they played a succession of passes
that took them into the Tottenham area and Reyna hit a half-volley
past Robbo from 12 yards out. Fingers of recrimination were
pointed and most pointed at Atouba, who had left his marker to run
through and score. It was a deflating end to an uninspiring
half, with Jol needing to gee the team up again for the second half.
team came out to attack the Paxton Road end in the second 45, but
Reyna almost broke through when Robinson rushed from his line to
smother the ball at the American's feet. Stephen Kelly was
having a good game and his run in behind the City left back Jordan was
picked out by an astute ball from Simon Davies. The Irish
youngster chested it down and it got away from him, but James could
not cleanly gather the ball, but alas, there was no Spurs player on
hand to convert it.
struggled to get much out of Distin and Dunne, so Kanoute came on and
when the ball was cleared out by Robinson, Fredi won a header and when
a defensive header it fell to Reid and his fierce shot was well tipped
over by the Manchester City keeper. James also had to be aware
when Michael Brown drove in a shot and Defoe deflected it off the
outside of his foot, making it pop up in front of him and causing him
to flop on the rebound off his chest. Carrick was having a quiet
game, but he won a tackle in midfield and slid a ball through to
Defoe, but it was just too firm for the Tottenham forward.
looked like it would end a draw, when Jol brought on Keane to play the
three forwards together. Before they got a chance to link
together, Fowler drilled in a low free-kick from the right, which
Robinson did well to hold as the ball pitched right in front of him in
the 81st minute and then came the goal that won it for Spurs.
did well when tight to the right touchline and passed inside to Simon
Davies, just inside the box. Fancying his chances, he hit
another shot, which hit Dunne and flicked up, over the diving James,
to the far post, where Robbie Keane was on hand to knock the ball over
the line, with what must have been his first touch after coming on.
behind play as the goal was scored, Joey Barton dropped to the floor
and there was a cut above his eye. Atouba had been in the
vicinity when this happened, with many of the City players whingeing
to the ref after the goal, but he had not seen it, much as he had not
seen Jordan put his head into Jermain Defoe's earlier in the
half. This set the tone for the last few minutes, as it all
kicked off. After viewing the blown-up pictures on Match fo the
Day, it looked as though Barton stuck out a leg to kick Atouba as he
went past him and Atouba then flung an elbow at him. Neither
player is blameless and later when Atouba was on the floor, Barton
looked perilously close to stepping on him.
a Man City free-kick was about to be taken, Dunne obviously said
something to Atouba and a stand-off occurred between them, until
everyone else piled in and Atouba had to be dragged away with the
other players hauling Dunne in the opposite direction. At the
end of it and after the ref had consulted with his linesman, both the
protagonists got yellow cards and Robbie Fowler also was cautioned.
ref had a shocking game. He allowed fouls to go unpunished,
while not being able to get goal kicks and corners right (this is
getting to be a recurring theme). One goal kick was given to Man
City and was so obviously a corner that flicked off a City defender's
head, even Robinson at the other end of the pitch was asking the ref
how he had given it.
things worse for himself when he booked Defoe for kicking the ball
away, when similar incidents by City players when they were wasting
time went unpunished. Then Barton entered the book for a hack on
Keane as he took the ball upfield and ran past him. While
Tottenham hoped to hold the ball up in the blue half of the pitch, it
got quickly transferred to the Spurs end and there was some defending
Substitute Jonathan Macken
joined the action and with his impact on last season's FA Cup tie, it
was a worrying introduction. He almost did the trick again, when
he got a toe to a through ball and the ball was lifted towards the
goal, Robbo was pleased to see it going wide. A Mills free-kick
fell to Musampa and his rising shot was helped over by Robinson's hand
and then from the corner, the ball came to Mills who hit a shot across
the face of goal and Dunne was just unable to get a touch on it at the
It was a spirited rally
by City at the end, but they produced as few efforts on goal as Spurs
and the controversy surrounding the alleged Atouba elbow has shrouded
the win for Tottenham that keeps them in touch with the top six.
Europe is a long shot, but if the team can show some consistency over
the latter stages of the season, it may be possible.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN KELLY