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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 14 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).

There is always a bit of pressure involved when your game is screened live on the Beeb. While Sky now have a sizeable subscriber base, a big chunk of the nation tunes in for any live football Auntie serves up. It is something of a showcase, the chance to show the widest possible audiance how you are shaping up as a team - or not, as the case may be.

A live third round date away to Southampton a couple of seasons back laid bare all the deficiences in that particular side and it was a humiliating evening on the South Coast in front of the cameras.

This time around it was a bit different, although the watching millions would not have been too impressed with what they saw from our team in the first 45 minutes.

A penalty - following Russell Hoult's desperate dash off his line to deny the flying Stephen Kelley - a tactical reshuffle at the break and two clinical finishes from Jermain Defoe altered the complexion of the tie and secured a passage to a 5th round encounter with Nottingham Forest at the Lane on Sunday.

Martin Jol was clearly thinking in attacking mode when considering his line-up to take on the Baggies. Mido and Andy Reid were missing from last week's starting X1 - one ineligible, one cup-tied - and the Head Coach compensated for their absence by including Fredi Kanoute, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane in the side.

There was a welcome return for Reto Ziegler on the left, while Anthony Gardner replaced Noureddine Naybet, who was on the bench. Thankfully, Ledley King's groin problems did not stop him taking his place and long may this continue.

West Brom began with some purpose and you suspected they adopted a 'nothing to lose' attitude towards the game bearing in mind their Premiership predicament.

Their relaxed, free-flowing football was rewarded on 11 minutes when a measured Zoltan Gera cross from the right was almost effortlessly nodded into the net by Kanu. For the third time this season we fell behind against the Hawthorns outfit. Could Defoe respond as he has twice before?

Three minutes later Paul Robinson had to be at his alert best to deny first Kanu and then his West Brom namesake Paul Robinson.

Our boys were simply not in tune and couldn't get to grips with the game - or maybe the unfamiliar kick-off time.

A foothold in the game was established after 20 minutes and the attacking play carried a lot more snap than it did in the first 20. Unfortunately, attacking bursts seemed to keep being thwarted by the decisions of the referee and his assistant - with a couple of slighty dubious offside calls.

A brilliant chest down by Kanoute on 32 minutes so nearly set Keane through on goal, but the Irishman was denied by a timely tackle from Neil Clement.

It looked a stick on 2-0 a couple of minutes later when Gera dissected our defence in playing Campbell in, but the recruit from Everton fired wide with a little help from Robinson. At the other end, a Kanoute cross teed up Defoe perfectly for a volley on goal that ended up heading skywards.

Five minutes before the break the visionary Michael Carrick found gap with a ball for the pacy Kelly to run on to, he got their before Hoult and the keeper chopped him down - injuring himself in the process with what appeared to be an eye problem.

On came sub keeper Tomasz Kuszczak and his first job was to face the penalty - cooly slotted to his right by Keane four minutes after the original incident.

Despite achieving parity in the game, Martin elected for change at the break and introduced Simon Davies for Keane in order to balance the team off. It had a much more orthodox look to it, with Davies on the right, Ziegler left and Kanoute and Defoe up top.

On 49 minutes a glorious free-kick routine saw Carrick shape to shoot before simply rolling the ball into the path of Defoe in the area. The little fella swivelled and thumped the ball past Kuszczak - the lead duly secured.

The lead was increased on 54 when a shuffle from Kanoute to the left of the West Brom penalty area led to him firing over a low cross that Defoe bought under control before steering past Kuszczak for number three.

Carrick landed a cross plonk on the head of Brown in front of goal but the midfielder did not add any direction with his header and it landed in the grateful arms of Kuszczak.

Bryan Robson added Robert Earnshaw to the mix just after the hour, taking off the diminishing impact of Kanu. The little Welshman would try and see to it that the last half hour would not pass without some anxiety. It was Kelly and Defoe though, who were halted in there tracks when through on goal by the assistant's flag.

The game lost its competitive edge a bit with the two-goal advantage banked, West Brom seemed to accept their fate and were probably turning their minds to matters of Premiership survival.

Defoe and Kanoute combined to tee up Davies for a last-minute blast on goal, but his effort was tipped away by Kuszczak and 3-1 it remained.