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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 29 November 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).

What a difference a win makes. It may sound a pretty obvious statement to make but it rings so true. It was a packed press box most likely in anticipation of a record equalling seven straight defeats in the Premiership, but it didn't happen and we can now bounce happily into Wednesday's Carling Cup quarter-final against Liverpool at the Lane.

Instead, the probable talking point was the sending off of Franck Queudrue for his careless lunge at Noe Pamarot. It did change the game - no point in disputing that - and was a welcome stroke of luck that has been missing in recent times.

What was impressive was the way the team picked away at the ten men of Boro in the second half. Often a sending off kills the game as the team with reduced numbers goes into negative mode and settles for a point. There was little chance of that with the way Martin Jol sent out his team to dissect the Boro barricades.

Martin chose to shuffle his pack slightly following the narrow defeat to Aston Villa on Monday night, with Reto Ziegler returning in place of the injured Erik Edman and Thimothee Atouba featuring at left-back where he played the second half at Villa Park.

Robbie Keane started in attack in preference to Fredi Kanoute while, in perhaps the most unexpected change, Rohan Ricketts came in to replace Michael Brown. It was Rohan's first game of the season in the Barclays Premiership, coming quickly after his return from a loan stint at Coventry City.

There was some slick early interchange between Ricketts, Keane and Defoe that set the latter scampering away towards goal on six minutes but, for once, the sharp shooter was unable to pull the trigger and trouble Mark Schwarzer in the Boro goal.

Stuart Downing was beginning to show more than glimpses of why many consider him to be more than just a prospect for England left-side consideration. It was his run at speed and pinpoint cross that found the head of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on 15 minutes, the Dutchman's nod fell nicely for Ray Parlour who powerful shot thankfully flashed across goal.

Defoe had two bites at a free-kick three minutes later, his first not clearing the wall, but he was only inches wide with the rebound.

The game meandered slightly for the next 15 minutes, possession was fairly equal with no team managing a spell of sustained pressure. The warning signal was that Downing appeared to have the beating of Pamarot with his pace and the Frenchman resorted to fouls twice within quick succession.

Ten minutes before the break an excellent link up between Keane and Ziegler set Defoe speeding away down the left channel but his shot on goal could be described as upwardly mobile.

Five minutes later Boro were down to ten men, Queudrue overcooked his touch and the ball ran forward into the feet of Pamarot. Queudrue then lunged into a challenge on his countryman that left Pamarot in a fair degree of agony.

Referee Mr Dowd reached straight for the red and a few minutes of mayhem followed although, to be fair, Queudrue's first concern was Pamarot's well being. On the whistle, Steve McClaren came down to pitchside, marched on, berated the official and continued to do so as they disappeared down the tunnel.

Boro looked like they were adopting a three man defence in reaction to our numerical advantage with Southgate, Riggott and McMarhon manning the lines. It was a positive response by McClaren and the challenge for us was to make extra man count.

Defoe certainly made it count three minutes into the half, Mendes made a dart to thr right of the area, zipped over a low cross and the striker eluded his man and slotted past Schwarzer.

Just before the hour Defoe got the run on McMahon following great work by Ziegler, but the young full-back did well to force him wide and his dinked cross just cleared the head of Keane.

The team were very much on top with several subtle tactical changes seeing to it that Boro were unable to simply sit in and defend. Ziegler was given more of a roving role with Atouba being handed the licence to maraud forward at will down the left. Only Naybet, it seemed, was nominated to stay back.

Defoe then skipped past a couple of challenges after being found in the area by Mendes and , to be truthful, should have done better than blaze over the bar given his such high standards.

Keane made way for Kanoute on 68 minutes in order to offer greater physical presence up front - a number of crosses had gone in that went unchallenged for.

15 minutes from time, Kanoute chanced his arm and chased down Schwarzer following a Parlour back pass. The Australian booted, Fredi launched and the ball was in the back of the net with advantage doubled.

Another poor clearance by Schwarzer saw Carrick bearing down on goal with four minutes left but his drive angled across goal rather than in it.

The vast majority of a 35,772 crowd departed happy in the end, an unwanted sequence over and the small matter of Liverpool on Wednesday looming large.