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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 8 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).

The post-Santini era was ushered in pre-match at the Lane by, of all people, Ray Liotta of Goodfellas fame. He may have played a smooth, smartly dressed gangster but our own Martin Jol was cutting something of a dash when he emerged from the tunnel in a nice pinstripe to face a battery of camera flashes.

Media interest was obviously huge following Friday evening's announcement that Jacques was heading home for personal reasons. Liotta was followed on the pre-match programme by Sporting Director Frank Arnesen, who assured supporters that disruption to this season's plans would be kept to a minimum, while wishing our now former Head Coach well.

Jol, who has been a big character around the club since his arrival from Holland in the summer, made a few changes to the starting line-up to the one that began at Fulham last time out. Fredi Kanoute returned to the side up top alongside Jermain Defoe, with Robbie Keane switching to left midfield. Jamie Redknapp returned from suspension and took the place of Michael Brown in the middle, while Simon Davies was in for Reto Ziegler.

The mood around the ground ahead of kick-off was positive and very supportive in what was another packed out matchday at White Hart Lane.

The opening minutes bought some early jostling to authority and sparring, in boxing parlance both teams were testing out the jab rather than seeking the knockout punch. We very much hoped this would come from the white corner.

It was not to be, however, when Jerome Thomas dispatched a clever dink into the area on 16 minutes that was pounced on by Shaun Bartlett on the stretch for a clever finish that was beyond the reach of Paul Robinson.

It was Chris Hughton who had been the proverbial Jack-in-the-Box from the dug-out area up to this point - now Jol was becoming noticably more animated. The goal was a blow not just for obvious reasons, as the team were stringing some good moves together and the passing was sharp.

On 34 minutes Keane switched sides and arrowed an inviting floating cross into the area that found the head of Ledley King, but his nodded effort drifted wide as the crowd increased the volume of support.

That support was needed even more after 38 minutes when a raking cross from the right from former Spur Luke Young was met by Bartlett to the left of the six yard box, who planted his header back across Robinson and into the net to double the advantage.

Reto Ziegler was introduced after half-time in place of Davies, slotting in on the left of what looked a three-man midfield with Keane joining Defoe and Kanoute up front.

Events took a further turn for the worse four minutes into the second half when Thomas embarked on a mazy run and, via a neat return pass from Bartlett, fired in a shot that deflected off King and wrongfooted Robinson on its way into the net.

Keane nearly reduced the deficit after determined work from Ziegler but aimed his effort too close to Dean Kiely in the Charlton goal. Kanoute the slammed the ball against the foot of Kiely's right-hand post as urgency kicked in big time.

Michael Carrick was summoned from the bench just before the hour and sent on in place of Redknapp. He almost made an instant impact with a surging run from midfield that opened the gate from a Defoe strike at goal that flew just over.

Carrick was proving to be something of an inspiration and seemed to galvansise the team. The fightback began on 68 minutes when a deep cross into the area was spilt by Kiely and met by Ziegler who, on his second attempt, managed to get a shot in on goal that Bartlett handled on the line.

He was duly dismissed and Keane did the honours from the penalty spot. The atmosphere in a crowd of 35,423 cranked up another couple of notches.

Naybet went close with a header from Keane's corner before a Mendes blaster was too high as the boys sought desperately to chip further away at the deficit.

On 78 minutes Defoe knocked a big chip out of the Charlton defences when he accepted Keane's pass with his back to goal, spun and rocketed a shot past Kiely. It really was game on.

Charlton could have sealed it when Jason Euell broke clear before former loan favourite Paul Konchesky made his entrance for Thomas.

It was like the alamo in the closing minutes and Defoe looked set to level but his shot clipped the knee of Holland.

It was just not to be in the end and we now get ready to head off to Burnley on Tuesday.