An exciting new service from TOMM to you, dear reader! Choose a match report from the two options available! No need to argue or comment, just read the one you agree with and carry on with your day happy in the knowledge that you were right all along!!!
Option 1 Gritty Spurs Rearguard Action Sees Us Through
In the old days, stretching back as far as, oh, 6 or even 7 months ago, Spurs would have let this one slip. Emerging from the half-time break two goals to the good, we were forced back on our heels, partly by surrendering the initiative but mainly because of a determined comeback effort by our opponents Fulham that would have shaken any team in the league. Under intense bombardment, we bent but refused to buckle. Inspired by an heroic performance by our keeper Friedel, we held out and stole away for a last kick of the game breakaway goal to seal a fine victory. Umpteen games unbeaten, the top four are looking over their shoulders: they are worried and they have every right to be.
Acting manager Kevin Bond was worried about the effect Fulham’s intense pressure had on Harry Redknapp, convalescing in front of the television after his heart operation. However, he had few doubts about his team, praising them for a resilience that has developed over the past year or so that saw us through some frantic moments.
The first half saw us start brightly. Although we had less of the possession, we were sharp and clinical in front of goal and took the few chances that presented themselves. Bale forced an own goal by attacking at pace and hammering a low cross that Baird, with only a fraction of a second to react, kneed into his own net. Lennon, who had a good first period, showing an intelligent use of the ball and decent workrate, made the second for himself and took it superbly, a well-placed left-footer (left foot!!) into the far corner after his trickery made space.
Fulham emerged transformed for the second half but couldn’t find a way through. Friedel was superb throughout and the only way he was beaten was via a fluke, an own goal after King headed the ball onto Kaboul’s shoulder. As they desperately sought an injury-time equaliser, Spurs bravely threw their bodies between the ball and our goal, a ‘they shall not pass’ attitude that will serve us well during the rest of the season as we march onwards and upwards.
Option 2 Lucky Spurs Get Away With Daylight Robbery
In the old days, stretching back as far as, oh, 6 or even 7 months ago, Spurs would have let this one slip. Emerging from the half-time break two goals to the good, we were forced back on our heels, partly because of a determined comeback effort by our opponents Fulham but mainly because we surrendered the initiative far too easily. Under intense bombardment, we were buckling but have an heroic performance by our keeper Friedel and a generous helping of luck to thank for the win that was sealed by a volleyed but totally undeserved third by Defoe. Umpteen games unbeaten, the top four are looking over their shoulders but have nothing to fear.
Acting manager Kevin Bond praised the team for their resilience but good old Martin Jol had a far more accurate assessment of the match when he said Fulham deserved at least a point.
The first half saw us start brightly. We had less of the possession, denied by a hard-working and well drilled Fulham side. We took the few chances that presented themselves. Bale forced an own goal by attacking at pace and hammering a low cross that Baird, with only a fraction of a second to react, kneed into his own net. A shame that once again we couldn’t get any of our own men to the near post, where they should be. Lennon, who had a quiet first period, unable to make headway, came to the left and made the second for himself, taken superbly, a well-placed left-footer (left foot!!) into the far corner after his trickery made space.
Fulham emerged transformed for the second half but couldn’t find a way through, despite the fact that we unable to prevent a steady stream of shots and chances. Friedel was superb throughout but once he was beaten via a fluke, an own goal after King headed the ball onto Kaboul’s shoulder, it seemed to be only a matter of time until Fulham scored. We were constantly giving the ball away, a crime for a team as skilful as ours. Even after Sandro came on and their threat diminished, we contrived to let them back into the game for one last effort. As they desperately sought an injury-time equaliser, Spurs used up a large portion of the season’s good fortune. Scrambles, goal-line clearances and a blatant penalty, all of these and more conspired to deny Fulham who were terribly unlucky.
In reality, both and neither are true. If luck balances itself out over the season, we are due a cataclysm sometime soon. No doubt against Chelsea we’ll lose 5-0, two own goals and an earthquake will shatter N17. I swear I didn’t draw breath for most of the last 10 minutes.
Yet this imponderable characteristic ‘resilience’, I can’t figure it out and as you know, I certainly like a ponder. It’s real but you can’t touch it, feel it or know how it got there. At the start of the season, I hoped that our European experience would forge a greater strength, both mental and physical, and there’s no doubt something lasting has affected the team for the better. Young men like Walker have picked up the feeling from the others. Trying to put my finger on it, although we were pulled all over the place by Fulham, especially by Zamora’s movement in the second half, our shape never fully disintegrated and our workrate was mostly pretty good. Motivation is good – Walker, Kaboul and Parker all different players but determined in their own way, and that attitude not only spreads to others, it leads to tired legs making one final effort and packing bodies in a human goal-line barrier.
Friedel has made a huge improvement. He makes the saves he should make, alert to come off his line and sweep up the through-balls, thus negating Murphy’s clever angled efforts for Zamora and the others, or quick to get down low. As a result, a sense of assuredness spreads through the defence. A highly accomplished performance yesterday and full credit to Harry for not only getting him on a free but fearlessly playing him as first choice from the beginning.
A word of praise for King too. He was lax with a couple of clearances and frankly should have done better with his clearing header for the goal. However, several times he pushed Zamora wide, he and Freidel sorting out the angle so there was no way through, plus a couple of great blocks. Of the 15 goals we have conceded this season, only four have gone in when Ledley was on the pitch.
The first half was pretty dull in all honesty, fine by me as we were two up for most of it. Fulham could close us down but at the expense of diluting their own attacking power. Most of their efforts were looping crosses from deep, easy enough to handle.
Bale had a good first 45. He benefits from receiving those sweeping cross field passes. Good tactics – knock it around on one side then if there is no way through, pass out wide where Bale has some space and is not double marked. Clever tactics – who says the coaches don’t do anything at Spurs? He popped up all over the place and doubling up with Lennon on the left for the second was a masterstroke.
Fulham were good in the second and old habits die hard – I found myself hoping Jol would have a smile on his face at the same time as I released this would mean we would not win. I pulled myself together quickly, mind.
We gave the ball away far too easily in the second half especially, even when not under pressure. Their threat subsided after about 70 minutes – Sandro helped – but we let them back into it when we should have closed it down tight. Walker’s attempted touchdown at the end was a certain penalty, although Parker should have had a free kick a few moments earlier. Adebayor was too isolated from the midfield. This has to improve if we are to maintain the challenge for the top four.
To be realistic, luck will indeed even itself out but holding the ball is something under our control. Better teams will slaughter us if we make that easy for them. This isn’t about a jammy win, it’s about handling the pressure of being at the top of the league. We cannot lose two goal leads if we are to stay competitive. We can afford to smile, especially after Defoe’s volley, but the reality is, the pressure’s on and it’s going to be this way for the rest of the season. next time we might not be so fortunate.