FA Premiership
Tottenham Hotspur 1 West Ham United 1

Sunday, 20th November 2005
by Gordon Thrower

Time for a small confession. I arrived late for this one. A Sunday early kick-off prompted by the Metropolitan Police’s desire to rack-up some overtime before the festive season meant an early start. Prompt arrival at the match depended on a) getting up on time and b) the good people at South East Trains and the strangely-named One Trains getting their act together. Needless to say I overslept and the trains were down to their usual standard.

The announcements on the "One" service that crawled its way through North London sounded like the driver had been on the Stella all morning so I suppose I ought to be grateful that he went at a safe speed of about five mph to compensate for his apparent inebriation. As a result, I ended up arriving about five minutes into the match. Having checked the team news on the mobile phone en route I was pleased to note that Mark Noble had been preferred to the likes of Christian Dailly in place of the injured Nigel Reo-Coker to give a starting line-up of Hislop, Repka, Konchesky, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Mullins, Benayoun, Noble, Etherington, Sheringham, Harewood.

Having missed the first few minutes I expect they were incident packed and full of goalmouth action. The first incident I saw involved Etherington who fed Mullins. Mullins half-volley from distance was excellent but wide. Another cross from the left appeared overhit but found Benayoun in space deep on the right. Yossi's effort had Robinson worried but again was wide.

The game had been fairly even up to that point with the home side limited to fairly weak efforts from distance, though Shaka's handling was a tad worrying - the ball apparently having taken on the consistency of wet soap. However, the wheels came off big time on the quarter hour. A long hopeful punt from Dawson was left by Ferdinand who, realizing his error raised a hand in an attempt to claim offside. Mido however was onside. Shaka thought about coming, went half way then stopped and, with the 'keeper in no man's land Mido had a fairly easy task to head the ball over the 'keeper into the empty net. This prompted, well, not much from the home crowd who needed prompting by an idiot with a drum to show even the most perfunctory of enthusiasm for the proceedings.

Things were a little more heated on the pitch. King chopped off Repka with a waist-high challenge that merited more punishment than the simple free-kick that was awarded. Indeed had Repka been the perpetrator rather than the victim of the challenge I've no doubt that the yellow it merited would have been issued with indecent haste. Konchesky was similarly lucky to escape sanction from the often-baffling Wiley when his sly nudge on a home player - I think it was Keane - ended up with the player vaulting the advertising hoardings. The biggest flashpoint came between Sheringham and Davids. Davids seems to think that he is some sort of protected species so that, whilst he was quite happy to leave the studs in now and again, every challenge from an opponent produced a whine to the ref. In truth the challenge from Sheringham was totally and utterly fair so quite what Davids' problem was only he will ever know. It prompted a spell of what football pundits like to refer to as "handbags" that resulted in a yellow each for Sheringham & Davids.

Young Edward was also involved in the move that almost led to an equalizer. Some good play down the left saw the ball played into Sheringham who cushioned the ball off for Harewood who unfortunately cut across the ball too much and his powerful effort went wide.

The match settled into a battle of the midfields with neither side really getting the upper hand though we did have the ball in the back of the net shortly before the interval. Noble's effort was ruled out for offside. Unusually the incident was shown on the big screen during the half time interval despite the normal embargo on showing replays of "controversial" incidents. However perhaps they felt they could get away with it in view of the fact that the sun shining straight on the screen meant that nobody could see it properly!

The half-time entertainment consisted of a supporter from either side taking on a couple of deckchairs and a mascot in a time trial to score a goal. Somewhat unsportingly they seemed to have selected a Hammer who, in the words of the announcer, appeared to be "carrying a bit" as opposed to the somewhat more svelte home supporter whose goal in just under 9 seconds was a full second quicker than our lad's effort. Rumours to the effect that the home side nearly signed the deckchairs turned out to be merely a piece of scurrilous gossip.

The home side had the better of the early part of the second half. Mido headed Carrick's cross wide and Shaka was called into action to make what turned out to be about the only save he had to make when blocking Keane's overhead kick at the far post. We were defending deep but despite the home side's possession they failed to make it count and Mullins and Noble were in good form with the back four also looking fairly solid. We started to produce a few moves on the break though the passing that's served us well over most of the season wasn't quite there, enabling a stubborn home defence to snuff out most of the threats.

The best chance of the match from our point of view came when an Etherington corner found Young Edward in the box. The ball was an awkward one to deal with but Teddy managed to get a stab on the ball only to be thwarted by a wonderful save from Robinson. Damn him!

This seemed to prompt a bit of a push from the hammers and, whereas for the early part we had defended deep we started to get more of a hold on the midfield as we pushed forward. With about 10 minutes left AP rang the changes. In an attempt to take something from the match Repka was replaced by Newton whilst Zamora came on for Harewood.

Yossi had a shot on the turn from the edge of the box and Zamora nearly played in Teddy but, in an unusual reversal of the norm it was Youn Edward's touch that deserted him at the vital moment and he was unable to get a shot in. IT was now the home side's turn to be looking for stuff on the break and Mido, who it must be said does like a dive, managed for once to stay on his feet long enough to curl a shot worryingly close to Shaka's right hand post. With about 5 left on the clock Bellion came on for Etherington.

Defoe had earlier been introduced for Keane and, hilariously, we can thank him for playing a significant part in our equaliser - though somehow I doubt it will occur to him that he did so. Having received the information that two minutes would be added on for stoppages Defoe was caught offside in injury time. Despite this he continued to run in on goal and shot wide. The ball took an age to return to the spot where the free-kick was due to be taken. Ref Wiley, whilst deciding that a yellow card for delaying the restart wasn't merited (as he had earlier decided in a similar situation with Keane), made it clear to Defoe that his time wasting would be taken into account at the end.

A long punt from the back caused a bit of consternation in the home defence and King cleared the ball for a corner. Everyone went up for it, including Shaka who looked as if he'd absent-mindedly wandered onto the wrong pitch. However, the 'keeper had the desired effect. Seemingly distracted by Shaka's nice yellow jersey the home defence were at sixes and sevens as Konchesky's corner found Ferdinand who gleefully buried the header to make us jolly pleased actually. It was especially sweet that the goal had occurred in the time added on thanks to Defoe! The goal also had the added bonus of shutting up the idiot with the drum who must be a considerable embarrassment to the home support. There was barely time to kick-off again before the final whistle went and Anton's celebrations continued long afterwards in front of the travelling support.

The draw was enough to lift us up two places to 8th position. Apart from the sweetness of nicking a point at the death there were other pleasing aspects about the performance. One of my big worries about the start to the season has related to our strength in depth - would there be enough on the bench if certain key players were injured or suspended? Reo-Coker's Form to date has been a major part of our good start to the season so I was concerned as to whether Noble would have what it takes to show what he can do at premiership level. How stupid of me. In future I promise to worry about more important things. Like waking up in time to get to matches in time for kick-off!

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Player Ratings

Shaka Hislop
Some of his early handling looked a bit suspect and his indecision was costly over the goal but he made a fine save blocking Keane's overhead kick in the second half.

Tomas Repka
Given a hard time in the first half when Yossi gave him little protection. However looked solid in the second half and put in two thundering tackles in quick succession to end a Sp*rs break.

Paul Konchesky
Another solid match which ought to cement his place in the national squad, unless Sven can find another left back who's been out injured for a couple of years to pick in front him. No doubt he's looking as we speak.

Danny Gabbidon
Recovered from a slightly shaky start - including getting flattened by a dodgy Mido challenge - to have a fine second half.

Anton Ferdinand
Good in defence and his goal - if not his celebration - will probably go into Hammers folklore alongside Jimmy Walker's penalty save at Chelsea last year.

Hayden Mullins
Excellent stuff and was a mite unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet with his early effort went wide. Quietly effective for most of the match, he is almost becoming something of an unsung hero.

Mark Noble
His battle with Davids was the highlight of the maych for me. He gave the Dutchman no respect whatsoever, got stuck in and distributed the ball well. Can he do it at premiership level? What a daft question!

Yossi Benayoun
Failed to stamp his authority on the match though he did get in a couple of shots. Made things difficult for Repka by losing his man too much in the first half though he tightened things up in the second half.

Teddy Sheringham
The shot that Robinson saved apart he didn't get any meaningful efforts in on goal though he did do a fair job defensively from time to time by coming deeper to break up the odd home attack.

Matthew Etherington
This match summed up Etherington's season in a nutshell. There were times he harried and hassled and looked good going forward. Then there were other spells when he looked almost disinterested. Thankfully on this occasion the good spells narrowly outnumbered the poor.

Teddy Sheringham
The shot that Robinson saved apart he didn't get any meaningful efforts in on goal though he did do a fair job defensively from time to time by coming deeper to break up the odd home attack.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Harewood, 77) Displayed the usual mix of good and poor touches.

Shaun Newton
(Replaced Repka, 77) Came on and was his usual reliable self in the ten minutes or so he was given.

David Bellion
(Replaced Etherington, 86) Didn't really register in the four minutes plus stoppage that he was given in place of Etherington.

Stephen Bywater
Did not play.

Christian Dailly
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Tomas Repka, Paul Konchesky, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Hayden Mullins, Mark Noble, Yossi Benayoun, Teddy Sheringham, Matthew Etherington, Teddy Sheringham.

Goals: Anton Ferdinand 90                  .

Booked: Teddy Sheringham 22          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Tottenham Hotspur: Robinson, Staltieri, Lee, King, Dawson, Carrick, Davids, Jenas, Tainio, Keane, Mido.

Subs not used: Cerny, Kelly, Rasiak.

Goals: Mido (16).

Booked: Davids (22), Staltieri (29), Mido (84).

Sent off: None.

Referee: A.Wiley.

Attendance: 36,154.

Man of the Match: Hayden Mullins.