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+Big match verdict

Posted on 5 January 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 story of the game - and long after - was all about the goal that never was. Well, actually it was, only not in the all-important eyes of the referee and his assistant.

Following some off his line indecision from United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, Pedro Mendes tried his luck with some precision from nigh on 50 yards and had the Northern Irishman in a retreating panic. He did make it back to field Pedro's looping lob, but let the ball slip over his shoulder and over the line. He did launch himself in an effort to make out the ball hadn't crossed and managed to convince the officials - and the game finished goalless.

Building on our recent unbeaten record and Saturday's 5-2 trouncing of Everton was always going to be a tall order against the former champions and FA Cup holders. Especially when we learned that Fredi Kanoute's hamstring problem would prevent him partnering Robbie Keane in attack, with Jermain Defoe still absent.

It was easy to suspect that Keane would have his work cut out ploughing a lone furrow up top. Rohan Ricketts was assigned the task of stepping into Kanoute's boots, with the substitute option being Mark Yeates - who has been knocking on the first team door for a little while now since taking his bow at Wolves in the final game of last season.

United too have offensive injuries with the absence of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Louis Saha and the suspended Wayne Rooney, but the missing list did allow for the creative and pacy alternatives of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to support Alan Smith.

Dean Marney kept his place and attempted to carry on where he left off on Saturday, but his early effort on Roy Carroll's goal was speculative to say the least. A teasing low cross from Giggs nearly opened the door for Smith on eight minutes with the former Leeds striker just failing to make a connection under pressure from old teammate Paul Robinson.

Keane then attempted to outfox Rio Ferdinand - another Leeds reunion - and managed to get his shot away and force Carroll to smother after clever play from Pedro Mendes is midfield.

It took a brilliant save by Robinson to deny Smith an opener on 13 minutes, clawing away the ball after the England man latched on to Giggs' probing throughball. On 28 minutes Roy Keane had Robinson scampering across goal following a rasping drive from the Irishman. Smith really then should have put United in the lead as a result of a Noe Pamarot slip and the legs of Robinson came to the rescue.

Giggs was replaced by Bellion shortly before the break and it was Mendes who next came closest to scoring after Keane pounced on a Carroll slip while gathering, pinched the ball and played it back in direction of Mendes who curled his shot just too high.

Spurs earned a few words of half-time praise from former United favourite Mickey Thomas, who said in the press room that he felt we were doing well and it was clear the team is playing with confidence.

It was sub Bellion who began Robinson's second half work when his pace took him clear on goal but England's No.1 closed him down quickly and managed to avert the danger.

Pamarot almost inexplicably nearly shinned United in the lead on the hour mark, a cross from Bellion appeared to be heading to safety when the Frenchman intercepted and knocked the ball past Robinson and onto the inside of the post before it was scooped off the line.

The boys began to edge their way into the game and had United pressed back for a spell in the second half, not much in the way of direct chances, but a definite increase in possession and territory.

Then there was the Mendes moment - nuff said...