All the talk after this match was about penalties and for Spurs, there
were enough opportunities for Mike Riley to have given more than one, as
the game ran out as a 1-1 draw, with Rob Green's last minute save from
Defoe's spot-kick raising issues about whether he should have been on
the pitch at that stage of the game.
Defoe had his shirt tugged and then he was
caught by a stray leg as Lucas Neill closed on him by the dead ball
line. Riley finally pointed to the spot, having ignored two shouts
for penalties in the first half. Against his old club, having been
roundly booed for that reason rather than being part of the England
squad who failed to qualify for Euro 2008. The little Tottenham forward
got up and placed the ball on the spot, with regular taker Robbie Keane
already off the pitch substituted when Defoe came on. Hitting his
shot into the corner, it was just too near the keeper's outstretched
hand as he dived to push it aside, much as he had done at Portsmouth in
the last minute there.
But in the final analysis, a draw was
probably the right result. West Ham created more shots on goal and
with three penalty shouts, Tottenham had to contend with the foul every
three minutes from the home players. I have rarely seen a game
with as many free-kicks conceded by one team. As Spurs got four
yellow cards to West Ham's three, it showed as two of ours came from
incidents of dissent as Riley made gaffe after gaffe.
With long periods of possession
controlling the game, Spurs failed to make too many clear-cut chances.
It was left to Paul Robinson to make three very good stops to keep
Tottenham in it and Jermaine Jenas' good positioning on the far post at
a corner kept the ball out when McCartney headed towards goal.
The early exchanges saw both teams
dwelling on the ball a bit too long. Green's first clearance from
the floor was charged down by Robbie Keane and Younes Kaboul had the
same happen to him. It was something he failed to learn from.
Tottenham could have taken an early lead
has Aaron Lennon been half a yard further back when he tucked away
Green's save from a 25 yard Jermaine Jenas drive. It was close,
but the Spurs winger just strayed offside. Then seven minutes in,
Berbatov took on three players as he made tracks into the area and Upson
took him down, with some contact (not much), but Riley waved away the
appeals for a pen.
This seemed to start the game hotting up.
Zokora stretched and put his studs into Boa Morte's ankle for a yellow
card and after flattening Dawson with an elbow inside the first five
minutes, Carlton Cole did the same to Gareth Bale and only then did
Riley issue a caution, whereas Zokora's infringement was his first.
Cole's next intervention was more football related, as Kaboul dwelt on
the ball and his clearance was charged down by Boa Morte, who then
slipped a pass through to Solano. who pulled it square across the face
of goal to allow Cole to shoot into a empty net. it was a sloppy
goal to give away and another individual mistake which cost Tottenham,
when it looked as if they were gaining the upper hand.
Moments before the goal, Jenas' free-kick
into the West Ham area saw McCartney slice his clearance a foot wide of
his own goal, but suddenly the traffic was going the other way.
Paul Robinson ignored the boos to keep the Irons out twice in as many
minutes, when he held Hayden Mullins' low shot at the second attempt,
then he blocked Boa Morte's close range shot as he was slipped through
on the left.
Spurs did hit back with a pacy break up
the left with Gareth Bale putting a cross in deep and Mullins got under
it, leaving Berbatov alone at the far post, but the striker could not
get his shot away quick enough and there were five players between him
and the goal when he blazed too high. Dimitar's control was
outstanding today, but when he got the ball, he seemed to slow down the
build-up and allowed the Irons defenders to get back goal-side.
The Spurs defence opened up on our left
to allow Solano to stand up a cross to the far post where Etherington
finished the move with a weak header straight at Robinson. When
Spurs launched their next attack, with 40 minutes gone, Kaboul released
Keane through the middle and as he darted into the box, he lifted the
ball over Green, who kicked him with a trailing leg as he went past.
The ball bounced harmlessly wide and Riley, to the amazement of Spurs
fans, officials and players ran the other way to indicate that he would
not be giving a penalty. it was the most obtuse decision I have
seen for some time and even some West Ham followers were relieved that
no penalty had been awarded.
It was not just the fact that Spurs could
have scored from the spot, but that West Ham would have been reduced to
ten men, as Green was the last man as Keane would have rounded him to
net the ball. But then, we have had previous with Riley, so
perhaps we should not be too surprised.
When it looked like Spurs had been
deprived, they almost conceded when Mullins had a good chance of a free
header, but he put his effort over the top just before the half-time
A cutting run by Jenas allowed him to
play the ball to Malbranque and the midfielder curled his shot just
wide, when he should have hit the target, although it didn't matter, as
he was flagged offside. The yellow cards were piling up as
Chimbonda was done for dissent, Dawson for a foul and Gabbidon for going
through Keane as he tired to go past him.
Just when Spurs seemed to be struggling
with the re-arranged formation, they equalised. A free-kick for
yet another West Ham foul saw Solano not retreat 10 yards back, but
Jenas' delivery had enough height on it to tempt Green to come for it,
but he only succeeded in bumping into Upson, as the amount of pace on
the ball allowed Dawson to glance it over the colliding duo and to see
it go in off the underside of the bar to make it 1-1.
The goal gave Spurs a bit more confidence
in the new system and a rampaging run down the left by Bale saw him get
to the ball right on the dead-ball line before Neill and pull it back
for Malbranque, who hit his effort straight at the West Ham stopper.
Cole was allowed to run inside from the
left wing and let go a low shot that went a couple of feet wide, as West
Ham pushed for the full return of points from the game. Twice in
five minutes, Robinson kept Tottenham in it, with diving saves to his
left as first Parker and then Ashton tried to beat him from inside the
area, but both times, Robbo pushed the ball wide for a corner.
From the latter, Jenas kept his position on the far post as McCartney
headed down, but as the ball bounced up, Jermaine headed it out from in
front of the line and the clearance was completed to avert the danger.
With Green's last minute save
tipping the ball onto the post and then the rebound being cleared, the
chance for all three points had slipped away and a draw sees Spurs stay
in fourteenth position, with some games they need to take full points
from before a tough December comes into view.