MF’s Report: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Portsmouth

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Peter Crouch - Header

If it’s hard to put the disappointment at Sunday’s result into words then the picture of swathes of empty seats left as the Spurs fans departed in droves after Boateng’s penalty probably says it all. A failure to turn large amounts of possession into goals is what cost us & if you don’t score in two hours worth of football against the team at the bottom of the league then you probably get what’s coming to you.

We started brightly enough, moving the ball around nicely and looking confident thus giving hope that those names on the team sheet who’d just departed the treatment couch hadn’t suffered too much due to their time out. But Dawson excepted (despite his tragic role in deciding the eventual outcome) it was a con. Huddlestone was generally awful, Corluka struggled and Defoe was anonymous.

The string of Bentley clipped in corners and the jinking of Luka Modric were our main hope in the first half as Bale was crowded out down the left. Portsmouth though had the best chances as their pace on the break led to a couple of chances for Piquionne.

There was more of the same in the second forty-five until Redknapp swapped Defoe for Pavlyuchenko after an hour when all of a sudden we looked more mobile up front and took charge. We couldn’t though make the breakthrough. The chances close to goal that Pav has been gobbling up in recent weeks fell to Crouch instead of the Russian whose shoot on sight from 30 yards policy betrayed a lack of composure & technique you never see in him when he gets a sniff 10 yards out.

Pompey were just hanging on as we got to the end of normal time, but when Crouch’s effort after Modric had set up Bale was deflected wide by James’s legs with just seconds left, you really wondered whether this was going to be our day after all.

Extra time was a nightmare. Dawson’s slip, the disallowed goal, the penalty and finally the booking for Palacios. Our season may well have been done in by a sod and a referee.

I keep hearing people say that ‘we didn’t turn up’ but to me the performance was very similar to those we were turning in at the start of the year when we were struggling for goals before the resurrection of Pav. The selection of Crouch confirmed that image. Pavlyuchenko & Defoe do have an understanding but they weren’t to feature together in this game. Pav & Crouch definitely do not have an understanding.

Whilst our fans definitely did turn up (the virtually empty club wembley seats at the end show how we’d taken most of those as well as sold out our allocation), the ground only rocked a couple of times to the strains of “Oh When The Spurs”; there’s definitely an advantage in having only one song, especially when there are only three words in it.

The pitch was a shocker of course and decided the game. Players were slipping all over the shop. Pav went down within seconds of running onto the field. Wiley’s booking of Huddlestone in the first half was laughable when he lost his feet from under him whilst making a challenge. It’s true it was the same for both sides, as Harry said, but the fact is that only one side conceded a goal because of it. Turf aside, we lost because of the good form and organisation of the opposition plus the complete lack of a bit of magic, for want of a better term on our side. Modric and Bale came closest to providing it, though sneaking anything to our advantage past that ref might have needed more than a touch of the Derren Brown’s.

So six games to go now, four of them against the current top four. Great. It’ll need something special now to end our season with a bang rather than a whimper.

By MF

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