Sunday, February 22

It almost happened again…

Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Ham United 2

It’s an early meeting at Finsbury Park with Nigel (who was planning to arrive for a 12.45 kick-off), Fraser and Lisa for a tube to Seven Sisters and a packed overground train to White Hart Lane. We can do without some of the songs from the West Ham fans though.

There’s a better atmosphere in the away end, as some Italian Hammers unfurl a flag in the Upper Tier. It looks like we’ll do well to hold out in the first ten minutes as Bentaleb has two shots saved and Harry Kane gets behind Tomkins to prod the ball against the post. But the Hammers come into it more as Noble and Kouyate impose themselves in midfield, Valencia causes problems out wide and we win a couple of corners.

We take the lead on 22 minutes as Dembele loses possession, Creswell gets away down the left and crosses from the goalline for Cheikh Kouyate to thump home an emphatic header. Suddenly we have lots of new friends, as there’s a bout of mass hugging and crowd surfing as the South Stand turns into a moshpit. Goals in the East Stand are never greeted like this. Reid and Tomkins stand firm for the rest of the half and Noble is immense sweeping up in front of the defence. It all looks good as we watch a still squeaky-voiced Paul Allen interviewed on the big screen at half-time.

West Ham have a great spell for 20 at the start of the second half as Song dominates and we pass the ball across the midfield and Spurs look jaded after their Europa League game. Sakho gets through on the right but is thwarted by Llloris when he should probably score.

Then, on 62 minutes, the hard working Sakho gets in a cross from the right that flashes across the box. Noble retrieves it on the edge of the box and plays the ball back in, over Valencia and into the path of Sakho at the back post who scores with a great rising finish. Cue more mayhem. “It’s happening again!” rings around the away end. Followed by “My Name is Ludek Miklosko…”, “Oh Christian Dailly you are the Love of my Life!” and Twist and Shout. We almost make it three when Lloris saves from Valencia. "Can we play you every week?" request the Hammers' fans.

Then comes a very strange substitution. Noble has been booked for shirt-pulling and been close to getting sent-off for a second bookable offence, but it still seems be very risky to take him off after 68 minutes and replace him with Carlton Cole. Nolan is injured and Amalfitano is suspended, so we have no midfielders to replace him with. Perhaps Big Sam is worried about a red card for Nobes, but surely this a risk worth taking for anther ten minutes at least. Now we’ve got three strikers up when for once we want Allardyce to be more defensive. Jarvis for Valencia after 75 minutes doesn’t add much to the team either.

It’s been a great performance after West Brom, but there’s a warning when Kane has a goal disallowed for offside and Adrian makes a good save from an Eriksen free kick. Spurs then pull a fluky goal back after 81 minutes as Adrian punches away and on the edge of the box Danny Rose mishits his shot into the ground causing it to bobble up table football style and bounce into the top corner. Bugger.

The minutes start to go very slowly. Winston Reid is heroic and we agree with Lisa’s verdict that we should offer him whatever money he wants. Adrian pulls off a fantastic save. Carlton Cole pulls a hamstring and is replaced by James Collins with three minutes left. This is worrying. It’s five added minutes of time. Fraser has ice in his veins and looks cool. One last push Hammers for another famous victory.

Nigel starts to count down the added time. He’s just got to “20 seconds left” when, on Oscars day, Harry Kane falls in the box like he’s been hit by an American Sniper under a challenge from Alex Song. Silly of Song to have gone in though, as it wasn't a scoring situation. Referee Jonathan Moss points straight to the spot. Kane strides up to the spot, Adrian saves! But then Harry taps home the rebound and runs to the legions of Chas and Dave lovers. Another piece of luck for Spurs. The whistle blows as soon as we kick-off and the Spurs fans gleefully sing “Two-nil and you fucked it up!” Still, it’s not as if the skies will open and deposit a deluge of rain on us down the Tottenham High Road all the way to Seven Sisters tube — oh, they have.

We retreat to the Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park for a mournful pint of London Pride as we try to console ourselves that we’d have been happy with a point at the start. The proverbial draw that feels like a loss, particularly after a dodgy substitution from Big Sam. But let’s be clear, this was a fine performance overall, everyone got struck in, we should have won and we have the makings of a good team here. Play like this and the wins will come. COYI.

TEAM RATINGS: Adrian 7; Jenkinson 7, Reid 8, Tomkins 7, Cresswell 8; Noble 8 (Cole 5, Collins 5), Kouyate 8, Song 7, Downing 6; Sakho 8, Valencia 7 (Jarvis 5).


mj said...

Without stirring anything up, Sam was spot on with his tactics and we would have won if proper time was kept, which says to me that he should stay...I can't see anyone doing better

Pete May said...

Agreed MJ. We've won twice and drawn at Sours under BFS in the last two seasons. Couldn't agree with taking Noble off though, I would have given him another ten minutes or so even if there was a risk of a red card. Shame we couldn't get another midfielder as no options on the bench beyond Carlton. But still a good point we used to lose 4-0 every time we played at Spurs.