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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 28 February 2005  - 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).

So that's that then, hopefully! Victory in a London derby recorded and we didn't even have to wait for the trip to Charlton to secure it...

That we put this one to bed has much to do with the wonderful options available now to Martin Jol. To be able to turn round from the technical area, when the team is labouring a bit, and see the likes of Robbie Keane and Fredi Kanoute desperate to get among the action must be a huge and welcome boost.

On this occasion it was the sub strikers who did the business, proving - as Chris Hughton recently explained - that you don't have to start a game to have a major effect on it.

Team changes saw Erik Edman return at left back in place of Thimothee Atouba and the previously cup-tied Andy Reid slotted in in front of him, with Reto Ziegler reverting to the bench. Mido started up top for Kanoute, who started in reserve alongside Keane.

Clear cut chances were certainly at a premium in the opening ten minutes or, more accurately, there were not at all. From our side the approach play was positive, with Simon Davies and Mido very much to the fore, but the visitors stood firm at this point as a light shower wafted across the Lane.

Even though his debut will take some topping, you suspect there is much more to come from Mido once he gets into the big match groove again. The Egyptian barely played for Roma so match sharpness is bound to be lacking for a little while. Even without he looks an exciting prospect and he should only get better with a spot of tuning.

A Carrick corner on 22 minutes was so nearly steered into the net by the head of Michael Brown before, three minutes later, Mido was clattered by Alain Goma and awarded a free-kick when Jermain Defoe was pretty much through on goal from the looose ball. Reid then found the top corner with a clever dink, but the imposing figure of Edwin van der Sar strode across to clutch the ball into safety.

Another Carrick corner was so close to leading to a goal just before the half hour mark, with Ledley King diving in to plant a header downwards and goalwards - the slightest deflection took the ball the wrong side of van der Sar's right hand post.

Fulham were under the cosh and the pressure just required fitting punishment. It wasn't administered in the remainder of the first half and we hoped that our edge would begin to cut into the Fulham defences in the second.

The boys continued to press in the opening minutes of the second period, but the decisive pass was lacking and attacking intent was thwarted generally around the edge of the area.

Waves and waves of attacks headed in Fulham's direction and the possession count must have been somewhat lopsided. Stats will also show, however, that van der Sar was not tested. The crowd were doing their bit and roaring on the team, the team could not be faulted for effort or application - it just needed a goal.

Martin Jol attempted to address this with the introduction of Kanoute for Defoe on 73 minutes, the first chance for Fredi to link up with Mido on the pitch - two tall strikers to finally try and get the better of Zat Knight and Goma. Before his arrival it was nearly one of the smallest players on the park - Reid - who was very close to nodding in Stephen Kelly's raking centre from the right.

A cynical trip by Lee Clark on Reid after 77 minutes led to a booking and a free-kick to the left of the area. Sub Kanoute fancied it and executed it with stunning precision, bending the ball low round the wall into the left hand corner, leaving van der Sar rooted to his starting spot.

A Reid blast two minutes later was parried away by the Dutch keeper, with another sub - Keane - failing to make a decent connection with the rebound. With six minute remaining, a Reid cross was nodded down by Kanoute into the direction of Keane for a clear shooting chance, but the ball was blasted over the bar.

Bouba Diop nearly struck back for the visitors with a volley from a Clark free-kick, but injustice wouldn't have quite covered it had it gone in. Kanoute then turned provider with a superb low cross following a dash down the right but Keane scuffed his attempt in front of goal.

He made amends in the final seconds when, chasing a hopeful punt over the top, got the better of his marker before leaving van der Sar on his backside and rolling the ball into an empty net.

London derbies? Bring em on!