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+The Bank Holiday Verdict

Posted on 29 December 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).

It was just under a year ago that we last met Palace at the Lane, ending a barren run with a 3-0 victory - courtesy of a Fredi Kanoute hat-trick - in the FA Cup 3rd round. The Selhurst Park outfit were just starting out under new boss Iain Dowie and few people would have tipped them for a return to the Premiership at that stage.

But step up a floor they duly did, via the play-off, and apart from a recent points failure have done pretty well so far and could flourish should survival be secured. Dowie points to the fact that the infrastructure of the club needs to catch up with the progress of the team. However, it is the current progress of our own team occupying our minds at the moment and six wins is the best run strung together since 1990 - nearly 15 years ago!

Team changes saw Reto Ziegler and Rohan Ricketts return to the side in place of Thimothee Atouba and Pedro Mendes as Martin Jol sought to add some more natural width to the starting X1. Anthony Gardner was also included for Noureddine Naybet, with Jermain Defoe back up top at the expense of Robbie Keane.

Before kick-off Jermain Defoe was presented with the Members Club Player of the Year award which, it is to be imagined, he won by something of a landslide. Frank Arnesen made the presentation and Jermain told the crowd: "I love it here and I'm not going anywhere." So there you have it.

Palace began the game with bristling intent and a Danny Butterfield cross had Paul Robinson rocking in the first minute. Reto Zieger constructed and executed our first meaningful attack on six minutes with a deflected drive from 20 yards. Two minutes later Andy Johnson had the ball in the net after Robinson could only parry a Vassilis Lakis drive but, thankfully, the 'goal' was struck off for offside. Palace, however, were definitely bossing it at this point.

As the half entered then passed the midway point, Palace still looked the more likely to score as the boys were struggling to get into gear, let alone ease through them. Kanoute lifted the crowd with a shot saved by Gabor Kiraly, before a Defoe effort suffered a similar outcome.

There then followed a brilliant piece of improvisation from Kanoute who, after taking the ball from a clearance on his chest, turned and advanced before stinging the hands of Kiraly from the edge of the area. Ten minutes before the break there was a glorious chance for Lakis to strike Palace into the lead. The ball was swept forward, Pamarot missed his challenge and Lakis was poised to shoot when Gardner lunged across to block and make a vital interception.

It was Robinson to the rescue on 40 minutes when Lakis located Johnson right in front of goal under six yards, the striker took a touch, a goal looked certain, but the England No.1 stuck out an arm and made an unlikely save.

We were hoping Martin Jol would have a cunning plan to spark the team into life after the break and his first move was to replace the ineffective Ricketts with Mendes.

Brown had the first chance of the second period, stretching Kiraly from 20 yards before Defoe rapped the post with a low drive on 53 minutes. He tried his luck again seconds later, aiming for the other post and, this time, the ball hit the inside and ended up in the back of the net.

It was the 15th goal of the season for the brilliant marksman, who chose to run the length of the pitch to celebrate with Robinson at the other end - teammates in hot pursuit.

The goal seemed to release the shackles from the players and all of a sudden they played with a degree of freedom and expressed themselves as a team. Kanoute then had a goal disallowed in what looked a harsh decision to most of the 36,100 in attendance.

We perhaps got a little bit fortunate when Gardner felled Johnson on the edge of the area on 68 minutes and Dowie's touchline ire in the direction of referee Mr Rennie was understandable. A second goal was needed and quick.

This proved unerringly true on 78 minutes when Johnson spun with the ball some 25-30 yards and unleashed a low, hopeful drive that seemed to pick up pace from the pitch and beat Robinson inside his right-hand post.

With eight minutes to go Robbie Keane entered the fray for Kanoute but could not quite unlock the Palace gates one more time.