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Premier League
Monday, 25th February 2013

West Ham United 2
Tottenham Hotspur 3

by Gordon Thrower


Eventful match this one so please try and keep up. There’ll be questions later.

Team news for this was a bit mixed. The big blow was the absence of Mark Noble who had picked up an arm injury. Gary O’Neil stepped in to replace. James Collins was back to accompany Reid in the heart of the defence whilst Tomkins, who Ginge replaced, didn’t even make the bench.

Line up: Jaaskaleinen, Demel. O’Brien, Reid, Collins, Diame, O’Neil, Jarvis, Cole (J), Nolan, Carroll.

The match was preceded by a minute’s applause in appreciation of the career of Bobby Moore, which was accompanied by a mosaic thing displayed in the stand that bears his name. Not sure where those 20 years went.

Early doors was pretty even, though notably Jarvis seemed to be looking in dangerous form on the left. However, we received a warning of what was to come on 5 minutes when Bale was allowed to run diagonally across the midfield before letting fly a sliced shot from just outside the box. It was a warning that wasn’t heeded.

Shortly after that let-off the chant of Bobby Moore’s Claret & Blue Army echoed round the ground in celebration of the 6th minute. Actually since it started on 6 minutes it technically occupied the 7th minute but you can see why it’s done then. You know how much of a pedant I am and you’d be disappointed if I didn’t mention it wouldn’t you.

One person from whom a bit of pedantry wouldn’t have gone amiss was the ever unreliable Howard Webb. Dembele, seemingly annoyed at Webb’s failure to give a free-kick for a perfectly fair challenge decided to take it out on Nolan with an ugly stamp. This in itself was worthy of a red but, as we’ve come to expect from Webb with top half sides he bottled it and gave only a yellow. Poor refereeing again from one of Riley’s favourites. Unfortunately it didn’t get any better.

From the free-kick Reid was hauled over with a challenge that had the misfortune from our point of view of occurring inside the box. Outside it’s a free-kick. Inside it’s not. Go figure.

We continued to press. A demel cross eluded everyone but the visitors’ attempted clearance was nipped in the bud and Diame made room for the shot but the effort didn’t really trouble Lloris in goal. However, shortly after Lloris had to be much more alert. Some smart defensive work from Nolan saw Carroll feed Cole who played the ball through to Jarvis. The winger cut in and Lloris was down late but effectively to keep out the surprise snap shot at the near post.

At this point it became noticeable that Parker was being bood by a vociferous minority. Not sure I agree with that one. After all he surely is to be more pitied than hated.

So there we are, beginning to look the better side and what happens? We forget what Bale did early on and allow him another diagonal run and shot from the edge of the box. The shot was angled low across the box and gave JJ no chance as it went in at the far post. 13 minutes played and an undeserved lead but we can’t say we weren’t warned.

This prompted the gypsies to start singing, having shrugged off the obvious shame one would feel about Supporting spurs – a bit like admitting you watch and vote in X Factor type of programmes it’s a sign of little intelligence that you’d want to keep quiet about.

After a slight uneasy spell we bagan to settle. A Cole (J) corner was a whisker away from being converted by Carroll. However we were still allowing Bale to run at us – how much would we have given for someone capable of the odd Moore v Jairzinho tackle. Thankfully Bale’s shooting was weak but the signs were there.

The look of the game took on a more realistic air on 24 minutes. O’Neil’s cross was nodded back by Carroll. Nolan couldn’t quite get the turn on it and as Carroll went to play the loose ball Parker went right through him. Quite what Spurs were complaining about lord knows. Carroll picked himself up, dusted himself down and thumped the spot kick home to level the scores. Carroll waved two fingers at the crowd in a non-v-sign way to point out that he always scores against them. The Spurs fans returned to their slumber.

We ought to have had another spot kick on 34 minutes when Carroll was hauled out of the way by Vertonghen. Again, outside the box it’s one decision, inside another. Another bottle job.

Shortly after we were forced into our first change in personnel. Nolan had failed to recover from the disgusting stamp on him by Dembele and hobbled off to be replaced by Taylor. Dembele, on the other hand, remained on the pitch to continue giving away niggly little fouls designed to break up play as exemplified by the cynical drag back on Diame as the player got away from him which was worth a yellow all of its own, notwithstanding the persistent foul play angle.

We continued to press forward and Cole (J’s) clever lob played in the busy Jarvis whose goal-bound shot was blocked by a last ditch challenge from Walker. It was then the visitors’ turn to come forward and Dembele, who was somehow still on the pitch, fed Holtby whose shot was wayward though Collins was adjudged to have got a touch. Caulker’s header from the resulting corner was turned away by JJ, with O’Neil behind him just in case. Another couple of corners came to naught.

Our turn and Cole (J’s) crossfield pass found Demel in space. Demel fed Diame whose cross seemed to flick a defender and the ‘keeper scrambled the ball out with Cole (J) looming menacingly, poised to finish off the move he’d started.

It hasn’t taken Holtby too long to work out the visitors’ tactic of “if you can’t give it to Bale fall over within shooting distance” and when Collins gave the half-scouse half-German (there can’t be many worse combinations surely) a hard look that was enough to see the recent import throw himself to the ground in shooting distance. Thankfully Bale’s shot was bloody awful and that brought proceedings to a close for the half.

Half time: West Ham United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1


The second half started in the same vein as the first had ended with both sides pushing forward. The visitors hat the best early chance. Winning a slightly fortuitous corner after a rotten cross took a deflection, Bale’s cross was met by Caulker with JJ saving well.

If ever you needed an example of how spineless Webb has become in recent years you only need look at the 49th minute of this match. Cole (J) got into a decent spot on the right wing only to be hauled down by Dembele for what was his third yellow card offence – if we’re charitable and say the first was a yellow and not a red. It’s not as if Webb missed the challenge – he gave the free kick – so why Dembele stayed on the pitch will remain a mystery. I can only presume that Dembele has photographs of Webb in a compromising position stashed away somewhere. Disgusting – and remember this is the idiot who, along with Mike “What Mood Am I In Today” Dean, is considered to be our best ref by his peers in officialdom. I appreciate it’s a tough job but if you’ve no intention of doing it properly, you really ought to start handing back some of that salary you’re fraudulently claiming Mr Webb. The Bobby Moore Fund would be a good start.

Cole (J’s) free-kick was too close to Lloris in the end but Webb’s antics left a nasty taste in the mouth as did Holtby’s dive shortly after – again noted by Webb but unpunished for some unknown reason. It was clear that nothing short of a murder was going to earn a white shirt a yellow card. It was pretty much Holtby’s last action of the match as he was replaced on 55 mins by Sigurdsson.

We should have gone behind shortly after the substitution. Sigurdsson’s shot from just outside the box was turned – not entirely convincingly it has to be said – onto the post by JJ. Adebayor had the easiest task in the world to head home but weakly headed at JJ who had recovered superbly and was able to gather the result of his own parry whils Adebayor was busy feeling sorry for himself.

Dembele got away with a deliberate handball as we broke free but Carroll’s through ball just had enough to be in Lloris’ favour and the ‘keeper found touch. However, a goal was not far away. O’Brien’s throw was returned to him and the left-back chipped the ball over the top to Cole (J) with the visitors looking in vain for a non-existent offside. Joey brought the ball down well, turned and shot low into the ground the ball eluding the backwards fall of the ‘keeper to send us 2-1 up. Howard Webb kept the assessors happy by brandishing the yellow card for Cole’s removal of his shirt thus ensuring that Cole ended up the match on the same punishment level as Dembele, which will tell you all you need to know about how good a game Webb had. Good to see the officials making sure they uphold the laws of the game. Except the ones that they can’t be bothered with of course.

So an hour gone and 2-1 up. We could expect an onslaught. Bale went down from a shove from Diame that saw Mo booked. Dembele just smiled knowingly. Bale stuck the ball into the crowd. Caulker then resumed his battle with JJ, JJ prevailing again putting the defender’s header wide from a corner. Bale then was, once more given too much space and attempted a curler which, for his best save of the night turned over with his fingertips.

O’Neil was next into the book. His despairing lunge at Bale didn’t appear to connect but, as ever, Bale went down anyway in dangerous territory. The lower tier of the STB got more catching practice.

On 70 Pogatetz replaced Demel who had appeared to have been struggling with a knock. JOB swapped sides to right-back to accommodate the Austrian and shortly after came the game’s turning point. Cole (J’s) fine through ball found Taylor in one on one with the ‘keeper. Taylor bore down on goal and shot only to see the ‘keeper save accidentally with his face. When your luck’s out…….

Bale got waway with murder pulling Pogatetz back then acting all wounded as if he’d been the injured party. Webb fell for it. At which point Dembele was finally off. After all he was only another six challenges away from a second yellow. Bale’s free-kick played pinball, Adebayor’s foul on Collins was ignored and Sigurdsson stabbed home. Played ref.

Having been handed the lifeline by the officials Spurs went for it. JJ denied Bale once more before. Webb made a mockery of the yellow card count by booking Collins for a nothing challenge of the sort that Dembele had been making all night.

With seven left Collison came on for Diame who’d been missing in action for a while. A Collins free kick caused consternation in the visiting defence but nobody could quite get the shot in. Sigurdsson’s high foot on Cole (J) looked identical to that which had seen Collins booked. I’ll leave you to guess whether the card was forthcoming. Dawson’s body check on Taylor was also unpunished as Carroll’s attempted bicycle kick went into the Bobby Moore.

Parker was replaced late on as the minority of boos were drowned out by applause from the more fair-minded of us. As the 90th minute loomed Bale laid the ball off and threw himself up in the air to avoid a challenge that never came. Seeing that his dive hadn’t worked he got back up received the ball and stuck it in the top corner for a fine but sickening winner that his side scarcely deserved. The Spurs fans woke up for the first time in the second half bless their tarmac-laying caravan dwelling little hearts. Bale’s celebration merited a caution but hey, guess what.

That was it. This was a cracking match marred only by a referee whose inconsistent and lop-sided application of the laws had more of an effect than Spurs would like to admit. Sales of lucky white heather must have been particularly good on the Seven Sisters Road last week. And at least we can console ourselves in the knowledge that when Bale goes off to somewhere better (ie anywhere) that’s Spurs gone as a top 4 side.

Meanwhile if anyone has got copies of those Howard Webb photos I’d be happy to print them!



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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
Best game for us by far. Reminded me of how well he always played against us.


Guy Demel
Stuck to his task well throughout but he never seems to convince going forward.


Joey O Brien
Lennon didn’t get a kick until he swapped sides.


James Collins
Not sure if it was a good game for Ginge or whether it was Adabeyor making him look good. A bit of both perhaps. Booked while Dembele got away with murder.


Winston Reid
Got the captain’s armband when Nolan went off. Decent match.


Mo Diame
Decent first half. Faded second.


Gary O Neil
A lot of snapping and harrying but went missing a couple of times at crucial moments.


Joe Cole
Well taken goal and got through a lot of running. Booked while Dembele got away with murder.


Matt Jarvis
Looked dangerous in the first half. Less influential after the interval.


Kevin Nolan
Was looking sharp until Dembele’s awful stamp put him out of the game.


Andy Carroll
Caused problems for the opposition throughout.


Substitutes


Matt Taylor
(Replaced Nolan, 35)
If only...


Emanuel Pogatetz
(Replaced Demel, 72)
Lennon hadn’t had a kick all day. Until he took over at left back. Conned by Bale for the equaliser.


Jack Collison
(Replaced Diame, 84)
No real contribution.


Raphael Spiegel
Did not play.


Ricardo Vaz Te
Did not play.


Marouane Chamakh
Did not play.


Carlton Cole
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Howard Webb.

Attendance: 35,005.

Man of the Match: Jussi Jaaskelainen.

West Ham United

Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Joey O Brien, James Collins, Winston Reid, Mo Diame, Gary O Neil, Joe Cole, Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll.

Goals: Andy Carroll 77 Joe Cole 60                .

Booked: Joe Cole 60 Momo Diame 62 Gary O Neil 71 James Collins 82    .

Sent off: None.

Tottenham Hotspur

Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Steven Caulker ,Jan Vertonghen, Scott Parker, Mousa Dembele, Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Lewis Holtby, Emmanuel Adebayor.

Substitutes: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Lewis Holtby 56), Tom Carroll (Mousa Dembele 75), Jake Livermore (Scott Parker 88).

Subs not used: Brad Friedel, William Gallas, Kyle Naughton, Benoit Assou.

Goals: Bale (13, 90), Sigurdsson (76).

Booked: Dembele (7).

Sent Off: None.

 
Gordon Thrower's Man of the Match: Jussi Jaaskelainen


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