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Premiership
Sunday, 22nd October 2006

Tottenham Hotspur 1
West Ham United 0

by Gordon Thrower


Cold wet damp fed up. What started as a pleasant day in the company of Upton Girlie, young Tomas and various members of the Upton family ended up with us getting drenched and losing to another very ordinary side.

A very pleasant spot of luncheon was followed up by receipt of the team news that the changes were being rung yet again, most notably in goal where the real England no.1 Robert Green was fit to belatedly commence his Hammers career between the sticks leaving us with a starting line-up of Green, Pantsil, Konchesky, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Benayoun, Mascherano, Mullins, Reo-Coker, Harewood, Zamora.

Reo-Coker started us brightly early doors with a run through the middle that was ended with a cynical hack from behind. Ref Bennett failed to produce the yellow card which is statutory for such offences thus proving once more the first theory of refereeing which is that bald referees are useless. The wall dealt with the free-kick and the corner came to naught. The home side’s earliest chance came from the impressive Lennon who dipped his shoulder but pulled his shot wide. Lennon then set up Defoe whose shot was turned over by Green.

The match settled down a bit then. Basically it was a midfield battle with us more than holding our own. There were numerous quiet periods though and, during an injury stoppage, much hilarity was directed at the thick Spurs supporter who informed a Hammer that he was going to “do your missus after the game”. The response was instant, snappy and very funny: “Feel free mate – it’ll make a pleasant change for you after years of only having your sister to play with”. The Spud looked very confused and is still either trying to work it out or trying to find someone to explain it to him bless him.

Reo- Coker then set up Harewood who found Robinson in good form to turn it past the post and a foot over the goal line before it was cleared not for the corner that should have been given but for a throw in.

Konchesky then took out Lennon to get a yellow though an identical foul on Konch a few minutes later by Chimbonda seemed mysteriously unworthy of similar punishment. The free kick was flapped at by Robinson but Mascherano in nose-bleed territory could only volley well over.

Then all hell broke loose. Mascherano got a bit of the ball but not enough for Bennett. Defoe appeared to have a bite at the Argentinian who made the most of it. Lots of pushing lots of shoving and two yellows. Having moved the wall back at least twelve yards Bennett then booked Harewood for encroaching to about ten. Even given another pop at the free-kick – with a wall now about 14 yards back nothing came of it.

Then two and a half minutes into the one minute added on Pantsil failed to get close enough to Davids. Anton failed to get close enough to Mido who turned and bobbled in a shot off the post. The fairly silent home crowd nearly sung (though the guy near us was still muttering “sister? What does he mean about my sister?”) and we went in 1-0 down which I felt was a bit harsh to be honest. Still at half time much entertainment was gained playing “spot the brain cell” in the home support (competition now in its 20th year – we’ll find one eventually).

Second half we sat back far too much and gave the ball away far too often. Lennon skipped past a non-challenge from Benayoun but was thwarted by Konchesky and Green. Huddlestone won the ball with a two-footer that had been worth a yellow earlier and played a ball in behind the defence but Mido missed out. On 54 minutes something strange happened. 54 minutes into their cup final the home side sang!

It was a poor second half really. Neither side really got a grip. A Harewood shot took a deflection wide. Benayoun scooped a difficult shot over before Tevez replaced Mascherano

Things livened up for a bit. Defoe went down far too easily leaving the home support baying for a red card (with the notable exception of the bloke muttering “sister??”). Defoe then stayed on his feet for once but his shot was easily dealt with by Green – the greedy (in every sense) short Judas totally ignoring the better-placed Lennon before being replaced by Keane.

Cole and Dailly then replaced Harewood and Benayoun. Gabbidon’s perfectly-timed challenge denied Keane before a Dailly header was cleared from a corner. Zamora for reasons I’ll never understand, then took two poor corners before Bennett put us out of our misery and gave Spurs three points – a major triumph for them really in what is now their biggest match of the season (since Arsenal no longer bother with them).

We’ve played much worse on occasion this season than we did in the first half and I was encouraged up to the point we conceded. After that the heads were down a bit. The passing has gone, we’re dwelling on the ball too much and we’re afraid to shoot. We need a confidence boost and quickly please. Spurs? – well they were nothing after the excellent Lennon went off. He was without doubt the best player on the pitch and seeing him play was like seeing a Rolls Royce used for muckspreading. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go somewhere better next year where his talents will gain greater reward. The Boleyn perhaps?

Thanks again to Upton Girlie for the transport and the lunch – my treat next time!



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Player Ratings

Robert Green
A good confident start with a couple of fine saves. I feel happier with him already.


John Paintsil
Good to see him back though he should have been a lot tighter on Mido for the goal.


Paul Konchesky
Given a torrid time by Lennon but battled well and made a few well-timed challenges later on.


Anton Ferdinand
The best of the back 4 though might have got a bit closer to Mido for the goal.


Danny Gabbidon
The timing of the challenge on Keane was superb. A bit more solid than of late.


Hayden Mullins
Solid enough but still lacks quality in distribution.


Nigel Reo-Coker
One run ended up by a hack and that was it. Failed to get the pace of the game and was caught in possession time and time again. Traditionally League Cup matches are used to give players a break and give squad players a run out. This could be the opportunity to try something different in the middle because he’s giving us nothing at the moment.


Javier Mascherano
Dwelt on the ball far too much and misplaced pass after pass.


Yossi Benayoun
A few twists and turns here and there early on but failed to influence proceedings at all.


Marlon Harewood
Worked hard but his touch lacked conviction.


Bobby Zamora
Worked hard but what the hell was our centre-forward doing taking corners late on?


Substitutes


Carlos Tevez
(Replaced Mascherano, 68) Looked lively. I’d like to see him given a free role behind a front two sometime – but the way things are we may have to wait.


Carlton Cole
(Replaced Benayoun, 78) Won one header after which his touch was awful.


Christian Dailly
(Replaced Harewood, 82) A bit unfortunate to see his header cleared otherwise little to note.


Roy Carroll
Did not play.


Teddy Sheringham
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: S.Bennett.

Attendance: 36,132.

Man of the Match: Robert Green.

West Ham United

Robert Green, John Paintsil, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Javier Mascherano, Yossi Benayoun, Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora.

Goals: None.

Booked: Paul Konchesky 32 Javier Mascherano 43 Marlon Harewood 45 John Paintsil 90    .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Tottenham Hotspur

Robinson, Chimbonda, Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, King, Huddlestone, Jenas, Lennon, Davids, Mido, Defoe..

Substitutes: Keane (Defoe 77), Ghaly (Lennon 78)..

Subs not used: Cerny, Gardner, Murphy..

Goals: Mido (45)..

Booked: Defoe (44), Mido (49), Davids (86)..

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Gordon Thrower's Man of the Match: Robert Green