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The Ex factor

Posted on 15 July 2009  - 12:00

It was not only a game of two halves, but also two Spurs teams at St James Park and the combined effort resulted in a 3-0 victory over Exeter City.

The Ex factor

It was not only a game of two halves, but also two Spurs teams at St James Park and the combined effort resulted in a 3-0 victory over Exeter City.

A first half goal from Jamie O'Hara was added to in the second period by Aaron Lennon and Darren Bent, but the key figure in the second 45 was home goalkeeper Paul Jones who produced a string of fine saves.

David Bentley carved out the opening chance on a bright warm evening in Devon, whipping in a precision cross from the right after linking up with Alan Hutton, the ball being met by the head of Jermain Defoe. The little striker, partnering Robbie Keane in the first half, stole in and his effort forced Jones in the Exeter goal into a double take before he was able to gather safely.

A Pascal Chimbonda cross was just missed by Defoe on 17 minutes following a fairly fallow period of the half as players of both sides met the objective of picking up fitness and regaining touch.

After a spell of pressure and a couple of corners in quick succession, Tom Huddlestone decided to employ his shooting boots with a rasping drive that flashed narrrowly over the bar.

The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute, a Hutton cross falling for Keane to drive and test the reflexes of Jones. The ball ran loose and O'Hara was alive to the opening and drilled in low to the keeper's left.

Defoe then spun in the box and forced another save from Jones, but a more challenging one came when Huddlestone brilliantly chipped into the area and Keane was there to connect. The second goal looked very much on the cards until a last-ditch divert from the goalkeeper.

The second half team got off to a lively start with Michael Dawson striking an upright and Kevin Prince Boateng trying his luck from all of 40 yards. Jones then made a smart save to deny Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Jones, moments later, was called on to scoop away athletically what initially appeared to be a cross from Luka Modric, but quickly became clear that it was sailing into the top corner. Next it was a thwarting of Boateng, who took aim and arrowed towards the top right, before Lennon threaded Bent through on goal and the keeper somehow kept the score at 1-0.

At the other end Richard Logan hit one out of the blue after the hour that forced debutant David Button into a fine tip over.

In the 69th minute the advantage was finally doubled after first Pavlyuchenko struck a post, but the ball eventually fell to Lennon - after clever play from Modric - and the England man made no mistake from around 10 yards out.

The second half team quickly achieved a fluency to their play and absolutely dominated the home side with incisive passing and smart running.

Modric was a key component and cleverly created a chance for Bent on the run 15 minutes from time - Bent's speed enabling him to ease onto the ball, but his shot on the run from an angle was just off target.

He was no such thing on 81 minutes, as he pounced and finished after a Pavlyuchenko shot from distance was not gathered by Jones. The ball was only spilt a couple of feet away, but Bent was so quick in seizing on the opportunity to make it 3-0. Wilson Palacios later had an effort cleared off the line.

It was no surprise when Paul Jones was named Man of the Match - he certainly had his hands kept warm, especially in the second half.

1st half team: Cudicini, Hutton, Chimbonda, Dervite, Corluka, Bentley, O'Hara, Huddlestone, Rose, Keane, Defoe.

2nd half team: Button, Gunter, Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, Livermore, Lennon, Boateng, Palacios, Modric, Bent, Pavlyuchenko.