An open game saw plenty of chances, but it was one chance too many that
will be talked about concerning this game for years to come ... and it
was the chance to make a firm decision, which Mike Dean had failed to do
up to the 63rd minute of the match. That was when Tom Huddlestone
hit the net with a shot to make it 2-1, but the assistant referee raised
a flag to signal William Gallas was in an offside position. After
a discussion over the issue, Dean pointed to the centre spot and pointed
the way to three points for Spurs.
Playing with just Roman Pavlyuchenko up front, it looked like it would
rely on the midfield supporting the lone striker to keep the bal away
from the Tottenham goal, but in the early phases of play the team showed
that the new found confidence in their ability to hold onto the ball
ensured that the play was towards Mark Schwarzer's goal.
Three corners in the first five minutes
came to little and some crosses flew in, before Sandro moved to the edge
of the D in the 10th minute, but pulled his shot a way wide. Pav
took a shot after a volleyed Bale cross found him and the low effort
went across the goal and missed the far post by about a foot. Then
Fulham started to threaten Heurelho Gomes' goal and the efforts mainly
came from dead ball situations. Kamara snuck ahead of the defence
to meet a corner at the near post, but the header went wide, then after
his third foul in quick succession, Sandro went into the book.
That was before a ball was played into the Tottenham box and when it was
headed out, Luka Modric had an air shot and when the ball was played
back in, Aaron Hughes got a free header on the ball, but put it wide.
About 27 minutes in and Fulham started to
push on and a couple of crosses were knocked away and Mexican wide
midfielder Salcido had a shot go wide when he cut inside and let fly
from 25 yards. Then on the half hour, a break down of a move saw
Fulham's Simon Davies thread the ball through to Dempsey, who, up until
that point, was having a mare and couldn't do anything right.
However, this time he took the ball on his chest turned away to the
right of the box from a central position and played the ball back low
across the box to Diamansy Kamara, who had been left by William Gallas
and the Senegal striker knocked home the ball with little to stop him
scoring. It was not entirely against the run of play, but
Tottenham had looked in control of the game.
It didn't matter much in the short term,
as from the kick off, Gareth Bale got the ball from Huddlestone and his
pass into the area found Rafael van der Vaart. With a touch to
control the ball and a left footed chip over Schwarzer from close in,
the Dutchman's shot came back off the crossbar and Pav was on hand to
touch the ball over the line from a yard out to make it 1-1 within less
than sixty seconds of going behind. Once more the new signing had
made a difference.
Three minutes before the break, a Dempsey
cross from the left was cut out by Ledley King, but it came at a cost,
with the Spurs skipper staying down after Kamara had hit a shot that
Gomes had to dive to keep out in the follow-up phase of play, making a
very good one handed stop.
Ledley had to be replaced with a couple of minutes of the first half
remaining and Sebastien Bassong came on for him.
At the break, Harry Redknapp made another
change, taking off Sandro, who had the yellow card to his name and
bringing on Aaron Lennon to counter-act the progress that Salcido was
making up the left. It was a change that almost paid immediate
dividends with the little winger's right wing cross picking out van der
Vaart. Taking the ball early and from an acute angle, his volley
was awkwardly kept out by Schwarzer's left foot.
That was just before Baird got up highest
to head a corner at goal, but Gomes took no chances and tipped it over
the top. Then it was another Tottenham attack, with Bale and
Pavlyuchenko linking to play Lennon in, but just on the edge of the box,
he got into a shooting position, but his effort lacked conviction and
the ball ended up straight at the keeper.
In the 62nd minute, Spurs had a corner,
taken by Lennon on the Spurs left. The ball was pulled back to Tom
Huddlestone, standing almost on the far side of the penalty box, but
some 30 yards out. A defender got a touch on the ball, but Tom
pulled the ball down and struck a low shot that flew past Schwarzer,
with Gallas in there as the ball went through. The linesman raised
a flag and referee Dean initially ruled out the goal. However, he
ran over to talk about what had happened and as players began to close
around him, he gave the goal, even though it had been deemed that the
French defender had been in an offside position, but not interfering
with play. The Fulham players and bench were raging, but Tottenham
were ahead for the first time in the game.
The home team were keen to get back on
terms and Kamara had two golden chances to equalise. Firstly, a
ball into the box, with Dembele looking offside, saw the Senegal forward
miss a volley with only Gomes to beat. Then he was played in after
a nice bit of passing play on the right wing, but with the goal in front
of him and just twelve yards out, he lost all composure and blasted the
ball for all he was worth, but it flew rising into the supporters behind
There were chances at each end, with van
der Vaart hitting a shot into the ground and the ball went wide, Lennon
shot over, Tommy struck another measured shot from outside the box, but
curled it wide and Bale set up Rafael with a shooting chance, but
Salcido and Kelly combined to block the effort and it went over the top.
The Mexican also had a great chance with
twelve minutes left, when Gomes came for a cross, crashed into Alan
Hutton, Luka Modric clipped and Salcido lashed his effort well wide
on the other side of the goal, when he might have made a more telling
contribution by making sure his effort hit the target.
Spurs had the last decent chance of the
game with about ten minutes left, when Modric pulled a low ball back
into the path of Alan Hutton and his low, first-time shot nearly caught
out Schwarzer at his near post, but the Australian goalie got down to it
to push it out for a corner.
Following the international break, the
win over Villa, after going a goal behind might not have been fresh in
the players' memory, but this was almost an action replay. With
the defence having to re-shape, they did well and the midfield worked
hard going up and back, with the goals justifying Redknapp's decisions.
Craven Cottage is not a very happy
hunting ground for Spurs, so three points is most welcome and it keeps
Spurs up there, with the Champions League match to come in midweek
against Inter Milan.