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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 3 January 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).

It was an incredible day of firsts at White Hart Lane as Everton came a calling on what was, of course, the first day of 2005. This particular 1st was added to in considerable style by Dean Marney scoring his first goals for the club on his first senior start at the Lane. To continue the theme, Reto Ziegler found the scoresheet for the first time - as did Pedro Mendes.

Who says we don't score enough goals from midfield?? Robbie Keane was just as sharp off the pitch as on it when this question was posed to him in the tunnel after the game. "We do now!" pointed out the waspish striker, who was equally to the point when asked if he had witnessed a finer debut than that of Marney. "Not since mine..." he quipped.

It can be a bit of a strange atmosphere in the lead up to a New Year's Day encounter - not the usual buzz about the place and people are much slower filing into the vicinity. Of course, the players are not permitted the luxury of a lie in, let alone a hangover. Let them go at it hammer and tongs while we gently allow the new year to slip into our consciousness.

There were a few changes to the team for this game 21 of the Barclays Premiership campaign - the main news being the absence of Jermain Defoe, the striker having suffered a knee injury against Crystal Palace last time out. Michael Brown picked up a groin problem in training and was replaced in the middle by Mendes, while Marney was handed his start with Rohan Ricketts reverting to the bench. Noureddine Naybet was recalled in central defence, with Anthony Gardner making way.

The general hush around the ground became perfect silence before the game as we paid respects to the victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake disaster.

The aforementioned hush was well and truly shattered on 15 minutes when Mendes dinked the ball towards the edge of the area and Keane flicked on in the direction of Marney. The young midfielder remained composed, took charge of the bouncing ball and steered high past Richard Wright in the Everton goal to break the deadlock.

Now Marney is Spurs through and through and, as part of his celebrations, submerged himself in the fans at the Park Lane end before being clambered upon by his jubilant teammates.

There was soon a scare at the other end when a Tony Hibbert cross was redirected by Naybet, redirected in the sence that Robinson was compelled to scamper across his goal as the ball cleared his post by only inches.

There was another 1st on 26 minutes when an Edman throw was brilliantly diverted onto Ziegler by Fredi Kanoute and the Swiss took the ball on his chest and under control before firing left-footed past the despairing dive of Wright.

There was so nearly a glorious third on 30 minutes when Carrick played in Keane over the top, Keane jostled with his marker before lifting the ball cooly over Wright, but hit the bar and came out.

The spirits were dampened slightly six minutes before the break when a clump upfield was won in the air by Marcus Bent and the un-rushing Tim Cahill timed his run to perfection to capitalise and drill the ball past Robinson and into the bottom left hand corner.

It was time to show character and produce a good response and, in the minutes before half time, the boys looked far more likely to add rather than concede.

Early in the second period referee Mr Dunn twice turned a blind eye when Keane was roughed up in and around the area before, finally, Carrick was awarded a free-kick after being felled by Carsley - one half of a midfield pairing that resembles the Mitchell brothers of soap fame. The other half Gravesen then popped over to the touchline to have his finger popped back into its socket by the physio - nearly without flinching!

The first few minutes might have been subdued but, from then on, it was certainly not lacking in snap, crackle and pop with fascinating contests taking place all over the field.

We just needed another first - from any of Edman, Carrick or Mendes - and it was the Portuguese who stepped up to take centre stage. Marney fizzed a low ball over from the right, Kanoute intercepted and rolled into the path of Pedro - who duly delivered, taking a touch before smashing into the top left hand corner of the net.

With 67 minutes on the clock and Marney was at it again, nutmegging Pistone on a dash down the right before zipping the ball across the six yard box - an open invitation for Keane to tap home, which he accepted with some glee.

Kanoute could have made it five with 15 minutes remaining but the legs of Wright denied a deserved goal for the selfless front man. Ledley King also went close with only a feint deflection sending his effort over the bar - he wasn't far off either with his header from the resulting corner.

Marney well and truly made sure it was his day on 80 minutes, picking the ball up from half way from Carrick before advancing 25-odd yards in a central position and curling the ball, out and in, past Wright in the Everton goal.

Keane nearly added a second with another audacious lob but Everton then hit back at the other end when James McFadden dispatched a low drive past Robinson from the left-hand side of the area after being found by Cahill. There was barely a murmur of celebration from the Everton ranks.

Happy New Year!