MF’s Report: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham

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Roman Pavlyuchenko - Header

In the end this was a fine and deserved win in front of an exultant and overjoyed White Hart Lane, but for a long time it was a struggle against a Fulham side strong on running and ‘keeping their shape’ but ultimately short on creativity and finishing power. They had the best of a first half that we struggled to impose ourselves on but in the second were completely blown away by 20 minutes of attacking play that not only won this game but gave much cause for optimism for what remains of the season.  With much of our attack & midfield either missing, half fit or playing out of position we swatted aside a team that prides itself, with some justification, on sound organisation & being ‘hard to beat’ and only last week had ‘the best night in their history’.

Fulham didn’t ask for their full allocation and they didn’t fill what they did take. Their fans made more noise in the first half an hour than I’ve ever heard from a bunch of Cottagers, the second half completely knocked the stuffing out of them though and they started drifting away with quarter of an hour to go, almost as though Al Fayed had only forked out for only 75 minutes worth from Rent-A-Mob.

Fulham’s midfield was the dominant influence in the first half, Damien Duff tormented Assou-Ekotto, Gera drifted around finding space between the centre and full backs and Murphy and Davies tippy-tapped it around between them. All they had to show for it was a fine first time finish from Zamora after Duff put him in. Gomes dealt with shots from Murphy and Davies and Zamora headed over from a difficult angle just before half time. In turn we’d got behind their back line a few times through Modric and Gudjohnsen but failed to make the most of it. We’d had a couple of pot shots but Bale wasn’t in the game at all and Kranjcar and Modric were struggling. The best thing was that, despite the goal, Bassong was coping better with Zamora than in previous games.

Redknapp’s half time subs turned out to be inspired, beefing up the midfield with big Tom and providing proper width in Bentley. Schwarzer has a history of making gaffes in front of the Paxton End (for Boro’) and he added to his collection less than two minutes after the break. Bale was flattened and Bentley’s swinging free kick from near the touchline went straight in. (How Corluka didn’t get a touch to it I’ve absolutely no idea but I’m glad he didn’t.)

Huddlestone was making a huge difference in midfield and with the crowd in full voice we were pushing them back. When Corluka fell over Davies and limped off, Harry’s turning to Pavlyuchenko as the replacement had everyone wondering but again, it proved to be inspired – there’s no other word for it. Bentley was put away down the right by some good work from Gudjohnsen and big Tom. After the regulation number of dummies and twists Bentley’s cross was turned into a good one by a deflection off Konchesky. Beyond the far post Super Pav had a defender and the keeper to beat but fired a left foot volley past Schwarzer sending WHL into raptures.

Five minutes later Gudjohnsen started and finished a move that was also helped by a deflection of the final ball. Fulham were crushed now and there was no way back – except that this is Spurs so the final whistle still couldn’t come soon enough.  We went from initially trying to see if we could match the Wigan scoreline to in the end, camping in our own final third whilst Fulham prodded us, mostly ineffectively. When Duff hit a close range volley straight at Gomes with about 10 minutes to go you knew it was our day.  A triffic second half display, mostly from the manager. Wembley here we come.

By MF

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1 COMMENT

  1. What nobody has picked up on is that the third goal came after a 24 pass move with the ball going across the width of the pitch twice before Luka's sublime ball to Gudjohnsen.

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