While not quite the drab 1-1 the preview
suggested, it was none the less, an important, but once more a
disappointing point brought back from West London in a game that only
came alive in the last ten minutes.
Spurs had barely threatened in the first
half, when the only notable chance was Anthony Gardner's header from Huddlestone's corner that failed to hit the target. Perhaps the
early change of Zokora for Tainio might have disrupted the pattern, but
this was another away day that saw Spurs second best for most of the
game. Any serious hope of making a challenge for a top six placing
must be put off for yet another season while the team continue to play
in such a withdrawn fashion.
The atmosphere for Steed Malbranque had
been hyped up by Chris Coleman and members of the playing staff, while
the normally flaccid fans finally had something to get excited about.
Other than that, they found their voice to cheer when ex-Spur Michael
Brown struck a volley which Chimbonda managed to get in the way of and
they thought they had scored when McBride hit the side-netting from an
While Spurs had the ball for periods of
the first half, they failed to trouble Lastuvka and in comparison, Paul
Robinson was the busier keeper. When Bocanegra put in a low cross,
Helguson showed great invention to try to back-heel it past ENO, but he
reacted well to save from just four yards. The Icelander showed a
little less class when he clattered Malbranque as the feeling spread
from the terraces to the pitch.
Michael Dawson was a tower of strength in
the back four and made many important clearances and when he wasn't
there, Robinson showed good hands behind him. His save just before
the break when Helguson hit the ball well from six yards out, showed
that the doubters comments about his place in the England side are not
worth the newspaper they are written on.
The second half carried on the same as
the first. With the home team keen to pressurise the Tottenham
defence, but the closing down game back-fired on them when Helguson was
given his marching orders for bringing down Huddlestone, just when he
was about to spread the play. But since when has playing against ten men
been much advantage to Tottenham ?
Spurs deemed it safer to move forward a
bit more, but Berbatov, Huddlestone and Zokora had unconvincing efforts
on goal that they dragged wide. With Keane and Lennon on, Spurs
showed a bit more of an attacking ambition, but then Fulham brought on
their new signings Montella and Dempsey to show they wanted to win the
Villain of the piece Malbranque almost
broke the deadlock when he hit a shot that Lastuvka took low down, but
when play moved to the other end, McBride shot and Michael Dawson was
punished for handball as he tried to chest the ball away in the manner
that John Terry regularly gets away with. Mike Dean disagreed and
pointed to the spot and up stepped Montella to send Robinson the wrong
way with shimmy in his run-up and we were 0-1 down with six minutes left
on the clock. At least Daws only picked up a yellow card and thus
avoided being sent off here for the second successive season.
Spurs tried to up the pace of their game
and Berba hit a shot that Pearce blocked and not for the first time.
However, it took one good ball from a Huddlestone free-kick and a good
piece of thinking by Pascal Chimbonda, who stole in on the blind side
around the back of the defence to pop up at the far stick to slightly mis-hit a
low shot that managed to confuse the Fulham goalie and grab a late
It looked as though there would only be
three minutes to hold out, but when three added minutes were shown, it
needed a strong constitution to see them out, especially when Ian Pearce
rose to a corner and met a free header, but it looped up and over the
top and Tottenham had a point much to the dismay of Chris Coleman, who
rushed onto the pitch to confront referee Dean.
We all like to think that the ref is
against our side and not the other way round, but on reflection, it is
usually fair. They got a penalty, but when Pearce did the same
thing at the other end, it is never a pen. Well, that was what the
ref agreed at the time and you just have to take it. If Coleman
was unhappy about the late goal Tottenham scored, he should be look at
how many late goals his side have scored and then look at his defence.
Additionally, he was banging on about the
Tottenham goal being offside but shot down his argument as he admitted
that Queudrue flicked it on last, so it could not be offside. He
said he would apologise if the assistant ref had seen that touch, but
because Coleman thoguht the linesman had not seen it, the decision
should have come their way.
As for Tottenham, grateful for the point
from another stilted display, we need to get some points from our
travels, as we are still not at the 40 point total yet and we have Man
U. and Bolton as our next two home matches. Tough enough at home,
but away we are little more than dogs who roll over to have their
What we need is a bit more bite and not
any more bark.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : MICHAEL DAWSON