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Canaries earn<br>their Spurs

Posted on 13 September 2004  - 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).

Continuing our, hopefully, considered and occasionally offbeat look at our games with reflections on the visit of Norwich City to the Lane on Sunday...


THE BURNING QUESTION of the day was, with three points and third place up for grabs, would the initiative be seized, just gratefully accepted or left for another day? The answer to which is, as it turned out, the latter.


The sun shone on White Hart Lane and well it might at the moment, with an unbeaten beginning to the season along with positive coverage and a hint of expectation filtering through from a packed crowd - despite the presence of the live television cameras. In fact, the highest ever League crowd against Norwich - home or away.


It was a timely day for the Sky people to be visiting the Lane, what with it coming a just a few days after Spurs provided what a few pundits have described as the 'spine' of the England team against Poland. Jermain Defoe was the name on the lips of most people, so would the man of the moment deliver? That he didn't score was not for the want of trying.


The aforementioned striker has hardly been able to shake the endearing smile off his face since returning to the training ground on Thursday - and why not? The boy is clearly has that stamp of quality and the priceless ability to take even the most difficult of chances when they present themselves.


It was also reassuring to see that Simon Davies was ready to take the plunge again after such a frustrating period of absence. Any team would miss the verve and energy he brings to the side when in full fitness and flight. Simon started on the bench against a Norwich side featuring not so long former Spur Gary Doc in attack, although I seem to recall that he stated a preference to make a name for himself at the back.


Brian Alexander continued with his pre-match show, chatting to Ralph Coates about his 1973 League Cup winning goal against Norwich followed by Henry Kelly of Game for a Laugh fame - wasn't quite sure of the connection at first - soon discovered he is a Spurs fan - but hoped we would have the last chuckle on the day.


Sean Davis was missing with a knee problem, as was Michael Carrick, but there was a return for Thimothee Atouba on the left of midfield, with Johnnie Jackson reverting to the bench along with Robbie Keane - Fredi Kanoute starting up top alongside Defoe.


There was a good following from Norwich in attendance although they were more parrot than canary with some particularly repetitive chants in the opening stages as Spurs pressed forward towards the Park Lane with some intent. Erik Edman displayed his set piece threat from the left after three minutes, one just clearing the head of Kanoute. The Swedish international is known for his attacking thrust and free-kick danger in Holland, but hasn't had much of a chance to show it over here yet. Something else to look forward to, what with Naybet claiming to be an attack-minded player in a couple of interviews this week.


As attacking goes though, the real thing is Defoe and he so nearly shot us into the lead on 17 minutes when, after a customary little jink and turn, unleashed a fierce low drive that slammed into the foot of Robert Green's right-hand post. He then turned provider for Kanoute with low cross in from the left that Fredi just failed to get enough on in front of goal under a challenge from Adam Drury.


On 23 minutes a vicious volley from Defoe was cleared off the line by Youssef Safri following a defensive muddle that saw the ball spin up in the air inviting considerable danger. Some 12 minutes later it was Redknapp who nearly made a deposit in our 'goals for' column when he latched onto a header from Atouba in the area, stole forward and prodded just wide of goal.


To say the boys were dominating would be to use a hint of understatement and four minutes from the break a Kanoute burst down the left resulted in a drive that flashed just across the face of the goal.


The second half began in much the same manner as the first ended - Spurs pushing and probing for that so far elusive breakthrough. The boys weren't exactly kicking the door down, so to speak, it was pretty measured and controlled rather than frenetic. That would probably come later if the score remained the same.


Redknapp began to exert more influence in the middle, appearing to have pushed up ten yards to dictate proceedings in more threatening areas. But it was Darren Huckerby who made the next forceful move of the game with a determined run that took Ledley to stop in its tracks on the edge of the six yard box.


Defoe then let fly from 20 yards with England hopeful Green saving at full stretch. On 62 minutes, the increasingly dangerous Huckerby stretched his legs again, running at Naybet and is was left to Paul Robinson to block his effort.


Simon Davies joined the fray on 65 minutes to the great delight of the crowd, replacing Michael Brown. He got his first touch a minute later and dispatched a superb cross that was volleyed goalwards by Atouba and Green pulled off a superb save at his near post.


The crowd rose again on 70 minutes when Keane shed his training top and stepped forward towards the touchline to replace Kanoute. Robbie generally follows an international goal with one at club level so the omens were looking good, but it was not to be on this occasion.


But step forward again the King on 74 minutes with a heroic tackle to deny Huckerby a goal after the speed merchant slipped past Robinson and ran on for the glory touch - it did not happen thanks to the awesome presence of, as was pointed out before the game, our longest serving player.


The game was getting stretched and Norwich were growing in confidence, confidence in the counter - a smash and grab raid against the odds.


Keane came so close to dampening such hopes with ten minutes remaining, but the alert Green got down well to his left to make smart save. Johnnie Jackson came on for Atouba - who looked to be struggling - on 82 minutes, while Gary Doherty made way for Leon McKenzie.


Defoe then let go a raking drive from the left edge of the penalty area that must have been only inches wide as authority was reasserted in the game, he was then unlucky from a free-kick that clipped the wall and went over the bar.


It was so nearly a party at the Lane, it's just that Norwich were not so much gatecrashers as awkward guests.