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Case for defence

Posted on 14 December 2008  - 12:00

Hary Redknapp paid tribute to his reshuffled defence after we lost key players but did more than enough to deserve a 0-0 draw against reigning champions Manchester United at the Lane on Saturday.

Case for defence

Hary Redknapp paid tribute to his reshuffled defence after we lost key players but did more than enough to deserve a 0-0 draw against reigning champions Manchester United at the Lane on Saturday.

Ledley King failed a fitness test before the match and the problems mounted just 10 minutes into the game when Jonathan Woodgate was forced off with a back problem.

Michael Dawson was outstanding in place of Ledley and was joined by Vedran Corluka, who started at right-back, in central defence following Woody's departure.

Didier Zokora switched from midfield to right-back and was largely untroubled by United's dangerman Ronaldo as an exciting game played in constant rain ended goalless.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto was also solid at left-back and a fine night's work all-round defensively was completed by Heurelho Gomes, who made sure the clean sheet was kept intact with two excellent late saves from Ji-Sung Park and Ryan Giggs.

It wasn't just about defending though.

We created the better chances in the first half as Edwin Van der Sar was forced to save from David Bentley and Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric headed just wide. Van der Sar was tested again by Bentley after the break and another Modric effort grazed the of of the net.

"Any time you take a point off United it's always a good result," reflected Harry afterwards. "You want to win your home games but we started without Ledley, who failed a fitness test before the game and then we lost Jonathan Woodgate.

"You lose your two main central defenders and you think it's going to be a tough night, but to come through as we did was fantastic.

"Michael Dawson did excellently, Corluka went into the centre from right-back and Zokora went to right-back and did a great job on Ronaldo. It was a great performance and a hard-working performance.

"You have to be at your best to get anything out of United and we worked our socks off and showed a fantastic attitude. The lads have done that ever since I've been here."

As for Gomes, Harry added: "It was a great save at the end, that's what he's there to do and that's what he did. His confidence couldn't have been any lower a few weeks ago. He's improved. Tony Parks (goalkeeping coach) has been a big influence, he's a bubbly character and he's got into him and given him a lot of confidence."

The only down side for Harry was the injuries to both Woody and Jermaine Jenas. "JJ's torn a calf muscle," he reported.