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+Big Match Verdict

Posted on 2 February 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

The North West of England has been a happy hunting ground for the boys this season in both league and cup competitions - in fact, unbeaten until Tuesday night's Premiership encounter at the Reebok Stadium.

It was our second visit to the futuristic arena of the campaign, having won a 4-3 thriller in the Carling Cup back in October. Other rewardings trips to this pocket of the country have been Oldham, Burnley, Everton, Blackburn, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Michael Brown well remembers our October trip here as, after coming on as substitute, he headed his opening goal of the season in what was a barnstorming cameo appearance.

"It was my first goal this season, it was a good result for us and we've been doing well around the north west. Hopefully that can keep going, we've had some games up there which is nice for me having lived in Manchester."

It is for this reason that the midfielder admits he has kept a mental note of our progress in the region.

"You do work it out, I think about it because I like going up there and I've got the house in Manchester. It is a good omen."

Unfortunately, the omen did not prove profitable points-wise this time around. Michael did say that he expected a tough game and we definitely got one from Sam Allardyce's gritty yet occasionally gifted side.

Referee Mike Dean played a large part in proceedings, awarding a hugely debatable penalty against Erik Edman, then not giving us one for a blatant hand at the other end before booking Ledley King and Fredi Kanoute for their protests. The card proved particularly costly in Kanoute's case as he picked up a second yellow for a foul on Anthony Barness.

Spurs Lodge has been a bit like the arrivals hall at Heathrow in the last few days, but just two of the newcomers were in the 16 at the Reebok - and both on the bench. Striker Mido and goalkeeper Radek Cerny were added to the group from last time at West Brom and we will have to wait a little longer for a glimpse of Mounir El Hamdaoui, Andy Reid and Michael Dawson. That is without considering the probably longer-term challenge of David Limbersky and Emil Hallfredsson.

There was also a little bit of breaking news that came through at 7pm - the capture for next season of Derby starlet Tom Huddlestone. Frank Arnesen and Martin Jol are clearly leaving no stone unturned in attempting to lure the best youngsters to the club and it is a policy that has served us well in the recent past.

Meanwhile, Robbie Keane was recalled to the starting X1 in place of Jermain Defoe in the only change from Saturday. Simon Davies got another opportunity to put some fuel in the tank as he seeks to recover full match fitness, while Stephen Kelly continued at right-back.

It was Kanoute who got the first shot away on 4 minutes, seizing on loose ball on the edge of the home area and firing low past Jussi Jaaskelainen's right-hand post. Ten minutes later Kanoute beat Jaaskelainen to a Michael Carrick corner but his header also cleared the crossbar.

The game suffered a lull from then until approaching the half-hour mark and nothing really happened until Anthony Gardner suffered an facial - a broken nose - injury following a melee in the area. It was not clear exactly what occurred and it was only after a lengthy spell of treatment and much deliberation on the bench that he carried on.

With the temperature seemingly dropping a notch every minute the second half got underway and within two minutes a penalty was awarded, apparently for a handball against Edman. Ref Mr Dean was adament, despite the protests, and El Hadji Diouf sent Paul Robinson the wrong way from the spot.

Kanoute had a claim for handball turned down by Dean five minutes later as tempers frayed and the striker and King were booked by the official for complaining. On 35 minutes Brown nearly levelled, letting fly from 25 yards and leaving Jaaskelainen grasping thin air as it ended up only inches over the bar.

The pressure was now being firmly applied and the best chance fell to Kelly when played in by Davies to the right of the area. The young Irishman went for the jugular and blasted in, but Jaaskelainen was equal to the effort and parried away.

It was time for the little fella and he duly arrived on 65 minutes in an attempt to turn the tide, Edman made way with Thimothee Atouba switching to left back. On 68 minutes it was all level and it was that man Defoe who slotted the ball home.

A quick throw from Robinson set Keane away on a brilliant run down the left flank from where he located Defoe on the edge of the area. The leading scorer slipped his marker and fired in a shot that wrong-footed Jaaskelainen and drifted happily into the net.

Bad news followed good, a Kanoute foul on Barness was deemed worthy of a booking by ref Dean and our No.9 was off down the tunnel. Very harsh, two offences, two bookings and off.

Nolan could have restored Bolton's lead 13 minutes from the end when he found a gap in our defences but, thankfully, fired across goal rather than into it. Diouf then had more space in the area than he realised and misdirected his effort on the turn five minutes later.

It was the home side who claimed the points in the end, a Stelios corner was nodded in by Tal Ben Haim before Atouba surrendered possession to Fadiga who set Diouf away down the right. He squared with precision to Kevin Davies, who steered an unlikely third past Robinson.