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Premier League
Sunday, 23rd August 2009

West Ham United 1
Tottenham Hotspur 2

by Gordon Thrower


Cracking game. Wrong result.

Bill Shankly is accredited with the old comment relating to football being more important than life and death. Like most of the comments attributed to him it was a) nicked from someone cleverer than he was and presented as if it were his own, and b) total rubbish. Anyone stupid enough to give credence to such tosh would do well to reflect on the horrific events of the weekend at the Davenport household and our thoughts are with Calum and his family at this time.

My arrival at the watering hole was delayed by the antics of a few nose-picking Spurs supporters giving it large near the tube station. One greasy haired acne-ridden specimen managed to shout some semi-coherent abuse at a few women and children before diving for safety behind the nearest WPC. Clearly the yellow streak that Spurs have introduced into their kits this season is there for a reason.

Team news was that Ilunga’s jaw was still broken and Dyer wasn’t fit enough to even make the squad. Tomkins had recovered from the knock that had kept him out of the squad for Molineux and made the bench, otherwise it was largely as you were with a starting XI of Green, Faubert, Spector, Upson, Collins, Parker, Noble, Collison, Stanislas, Jiminez, Cole.

It was an ebb and flow first few minutes in which both sides set out their stall. Unfortunately however, whatever ref Clattenburg spent his year on suspension doing, it clearly didn’t involve reading the laws of the game. Playing advantage five seconds after the incident isn’t on and it prompted a rash of falling over off the ball from the visitors. Clattenburg was having a complete mare as Jiminez clever dummy resulted in a blatant body check that any other referee in the country would have deemed worthy of a yellow.

We were the first to have the ball over the line. A long clearance saw Cole evade the attentions of King and Bassong who somehow managed to smuggle the ball back to Cuducini. Cole continued his run and bundled the ‘keeper over the line. I know ‘keepers are over-protected these days but that was just silly and it would have taken a change of name to Nat Lofthouse and a ref even worse than Clattenburg to allow that one.

Cole was wreaking havoc up the middle and got underneath another shot. He then held the ball up and fed Collison whose side-footed effort was well blocked. Tottenham had a few efforts from distance, the most notable being Huddlestone’s effort which was well saved by Green down to his left. Defoe then endeared himself to nobody in particular with a late and nasty challenge on Spector of the sort that always got him booked when he played for us. However no yellow was forthcoming. Cole then got himself in down the left but his cross failed to clear the defender. The ball ended up with Parker whose dipping effort saw the ‘keeper scrambling. Spector then played Cole in but the forward appeared to have one eye on the ‘keeper and made a right mess of the shot.

The visitors’ best effort came on the half hour. The untrustworthy Clattenburg, fell for another con-trick as Assou-Ekottu ran into the back of Jiminez and threw himself to the floor. Given that the earlier body check on Jiminez and Defoe’s foul on Spector had been deemed to be ok, Jim’s yellow was a bit off. King got on the end of the free-kick and the defender’s header looped back off the bar.

Jim then did some twisting and turning on the by-line only to misplace his cross. King headed back towards his own goal and Jiminez was promptly flagged offside, I know offside is a bit complicated but calling a player offside from a ball played by an opponent really is basic stuff that no referee should get wrong.

Then came the move of the half. Collins played a superb cross field pass to Stanislas who left Corluka for dead. The ball was inviting but Cole failed to take the gamble and missed out when a tap in was there for the taking.

That was the last meaningful action of the half. It had been a decent game of football to that point but nothing could have prepared us for the start of the second. Four minutes in a Green clearance was nodded back by Jiminez to Cole who flicked the ball up turned and powered an unstoppable piledriver into the top right corner. It was a superb goal and one that he’ll do well to beat if he plays for another 20 years.

Sadly the lead lasted barely five minutes and Cole was at the centre of things again. A ball out from the back found the forward who, inexplicably, played the ball straight back into his own box where Defoe dispatched the ball past Green with glee. Cole will get into that position a thousand more times and play it square so why he chose to do what he did only he will ever know. If only Clattenburg had chosen that pass to give offside!

Modric then put a free header wide – though Green was well placed anyway before Clattenburg got involved in the proceedings once more. Or to put it more accurately he didn’t get involved when he ought to have done. Jiminez got away from Assou-Ekottu whose tug and clip of the heels sent Jiminez tumbling. The only decision to make should have been whether the foul had occurred inside or outside of the box. Despite having the best of views Clattenburg waved play on. If Clattenburg genuinely thought it was no foul he should have booked Jiminez. However, the ref showed all the body language of someone who knew what he had done but wasn’t going to admit it.

Cole spent the rest of the match trying to make amends for his earlier error and won a corner. Jiminez’s header from Noble’s corner was goal-bound but was cleared by the post by a combination of ‘keeper and defender. Spector then found Cole whose shot just lacked the right amount of curl to put it inside the far post.

The tiring Jiminez was replaced Kovac on 77 minutes and a couple of moments later we were behind. Lennon, who apparently some think is England quality, finally got a bit of change from Spector. Spector got back only to stumble at the vital moment and Lennon’s shot powered into the far corner past Green.

Hines replaced Parker and Nouble came on for Collison but it was all too little too late. There was just time for Clattenburg to make a final mug of himself. A long ball from the back saw Defoe firstly jump into Faubert and then have a sly kick out at him. Faubert turned sharply at Defoe and looked at him with such power that the striker fell over. Clattenburg got just about everything wrong with the decision, booking Faubert and awarding Spurs a free-kick in the process. Just to make things even worse, another Defoe’s kick out at Faubert was spotted but unpunished by anything more than a free-kick. Clattenburg’s ‘mare was complete and, frankly, the next time the bailiffs turn up at his front door I hope they trample all over his flower beds and leave muddy footprints all over his carpet.

The final whistle went and we’d lost a match that we really deserved a point out of. Oh and then the away support started singing.

Two daft errors had cost us this one. As well as Cole played however we need support for him. It’s all very well him giving opposition defenders a hard time but if there is nobody near him to pick up the flick-ons then most of the effort is wasted. Though in that respect, it would be a help if Jiminez and (this week) Stanislas showed a little anticipation. Time after time they would watch as Cole won the ball in the air, before embarking on the chase almost as an afterthought. We only have a week or so left before the window shuts – fingers out time I’d suggest.

Spurs? Well their luck will run out sooner or later – Clattenburg was especially kind to them this weekend - and the bloke on Sky the other day had better hope that they either buy a no.4 called Top before the window closes or that shirt he bought is going to look pretty stupid by Christmas.

Meanwhile we have more important clubs to worry about, starting on Tuesday.



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Player Ratings

Robert Green
No chance with either goal.


Julien Faubert
Continues to improve but needs to tighten up defensively.


Jonathan Spector
Kept Lennon very quiet until he fell over.


James Collins
Another decent showing for the hopefully staying Welshman.


Matthew Upson
Might have had a clean sheet against Defoe and Keane but for Carlton’s aberration.


Mark Noble
Quieter than last week. Still got through a fair bit of running.


Scott Parker
Outstanding. Cropped up on just about every part of the pitch.


Jack Collison
A quiet one.


Junior Stanislas
The run in the first half where he did Corluka gave him a hint he failed to take. Needs to show more anticipation in support of Cole.


Luis Jimenez
Continues to improve as he adapts to the English game but, like Stanislas, needs to take a punt on Cole winning the ball occasionally.


Carlton Cole
The goal was every bit as good as the backpass wasn’t. Appeared as gutted as we were at the end.


Substitutes


Radoslav Kovac
(Replaced Jimenez, 78 mins) Kept wasting possession.


Zavon Hines
(Replaced Parker, 85 mins) Too little too late.


Frank Nouble
(Replaced Cole, 89 mins) Should have been on earlier.


Peter Kurucz
Did not play.


Danny Gabbidon
Did not play.


James Tomkins
Did not play.


Josh Payne
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

Attendance: 33,095.

Man of the Match: Scott Parker.

West Ham United

Robert Green, Julien Faubert, Jonathan Spector, James Collins, Matthew Upson, Mark Noble, Scott Parker, Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas, Luis Jimenez, Carlton Cole.

Goals: Carlton Cole 49                  .

Booked: Luis Jimenez 30 Julien Faubert 90        .

Sent off: None.

Tottenham Hotspur

Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Keane, Defoe.

Substitutes: Crouch (Keane 81), O'Hara (Modric 86), Naughton (Defoe 90+4).

Subs not used: Button, Hutton, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko.

Goals: Defoe (54), Lennon (79).

Booked: Huddlestone (64).

Sent Off: None.

 
Gordon Thrower's Man of the Match: Scott Parker