With the Shrimpers back in town, it looked like the extra time win in
the Carling Cup quarter final might prove a tough one to repeat, with
Southend hoping to go one better this time. However, an early goal
left Tottenham in charge of their own destiny and today, they kept the
lead to the end.
With a few changes made, including the
resting of Robinson and Chimbonda, the benching of Defoe and Huddlestone
and the injury to Berbatov, it was a fresh side who took to the field in
the white shirts. It helped Spurs that Jermaine Jenas returned
from two months out, giving the team an energy in midfield, alongside
the dynamic Zokora, which he hadn't been on Wednesday. With Gardner on
the bench, it gave new signing Ricardo Rocha the opportunity to get a
taste of English football for the first time.
it was a good start from Spurs, who went
at Southend from the off. Mido flicked a header over from a Jenas
free-kick and Mido linked with Stalteri on the right, but the full back
could not find a Spurs shirt with his ball in. The goal came
shortly after the Stalteri opportunity, with Rocha winning the ball at
the back and Didier Zokora picking it up and running two thirds of the
length of the pitch before laying it off to Keane. The ball was
into the path of the Irish striker and he hit a low shot that deflected
off Hammell to take it past the Southend keeper and give Tottenham the
lead. It was about the same time as Berba scored on Wednesday, but
this time it launched a wave of attacks in the first half that,
worrying, Spurs failed to turn into goals.
United almost got back into it within a
couple of minutes, as Eastwood found space on the right wing and as
Rocha stood off him, the ball in came to Gower at the far post.
Luckily for Tottenham, their former midfielder could not get a clean
contact on it and his mis-hit volley was comfortable for Cerny to cope
with. Playing an rare full game, the Czech keeper put in a sound
performance. With little to cope with, he did it all well and
showed good concentrating, even though he had trouble with responding to
the Park Lane's chants of "Cerny, Cerny, What's the score ?"
Keane had another good opening created by
Ghaly getting to the by-line and dragging the ball back to him, but
Robbie dragged his shot across goal. Then Lennie had a shot
blocked by Barrett, who then denied Keane a scoring chance when he
managed to get to the ball first from Lennon's cross. Mido nearly
back-heeled Stalteri in on the right, but the full back too a little too
long deciding what he was going to do with it and was smothered by
Flahavan. Even though he has little chance to get a game lately,
Stalts had a good game and found a lot of space on the right, linking
well with Lennon in the second half when he switched to that side.
Lee was getting forward on the other
flank and with the crowd urging him to shoot, he did do, pulling a low
save out of Flahavan. The goalie was deemed to have stopped a low
Keane drive after he he tricked his way around Barrett close to the
line, but the shot appeared to have gone straight into the side netting.
It would have been a bit cruel had Spurs scored from the corner and when
Dawson met it at the near post, his flick took the ball to the far
stick, where Rocha came in, but headed at full length back across goal
rather than in.
However, the Portuguese defender started
the move which nearly led to a second goal. Producing a fine
tackle in terms of timing and keeping possession, he wrapped his foot
around the ball as Campbell-Ryce went past two players and prepared to
shoot. Having won the ball, he fed Zokora, who ran the length of
the pitch once more, setting Ghaly free on the right. His low ball
in was flicked goalwards by Keane at the near post and Flahavan did well
to get a hand on the ball to divert it onto the crossbar and over.
Unfortunately, whenever the game
threatened to burst into action, the referee decided to intervene.
Whether that be getting in the way of Lee, when bursting forward in the
second half (and it is quite a journey round Rob Styles), through to
giving a caution to Ghaly for not being 10 yards away when Southend took
a free-kick by kicking it straight at him. When Spurs tried to
take a quick free-kick, he told them to wait for his whistle.
Consistency. Pah !! His second half penalty decisions were
baffling to say the least. But more of that later.
Just before the break Keane wasted a
great chance when he was picked out with great accuracy by Ghaly's pass,
but volleyed over hastily, when he could have taken an extra touch and
kept it down.
1-0 at the break did no really reflect
the balance of play, but it left Southend with a chance of getting back
into the game. 2-0 would have given a better gap and within four
minutes of the restart, that was the score-line. Lennon nicked the
ball off Campbell-Ryce, who was a pale imitation of the England winger,
then ran up the left wing, producing a waist high cross into the area,
where Jenas arrived to get his studs to the ball and it bounced down and
in at the far post. A better contact might have given Flahavan a
better chance to save, but the ball nestling in the back of the net was
just reward for Jermaine's welcome return to the side. He covered
a lot of ground considering he has had not match practice and showed a
great desire to be involved. In fact, there was a funny incident
when Keane was substituted. Taking the captains armband off, he
looked at a loss as to who he should give it to. With Spurs lining
up a free-kick with Jenas, Lennon and Mido standing over it, Jermaine
and Aaron both shaped to sprint towards Keane to take the armband and
Jenas looked as pleased as punch when he made it there first !!
Radek Cerny had to be on his toes as
three minutes after the goal ,he had to produce a fine save from Maher
who took Campbell-Ryce's chest down and hit a fierce shot on goal that
the Czech tipped over the bar with a good fingertip to it. A
minute later, the Shrimpers keeper was producing a similar save to deny
Jenas as he broke forward. Lennon was tearing up the left wing and
the Southend players had no answer to his runs. One ball to Zokora
who supported outside him was a little heavy, but Didi did well to pull
the ball back low for Keane, who got a shot in, but it was blocked away
for a corner.
With 68 minutes gone, a free-kick was
given after Styles had given the advantage to Southend and then dragged
play back for a foul. Eastwood fired the ball in, but the wall did
it's job and the ball ballooned up into the area, where Harrold jumped
for the ball and as it came down it fell against Ghaly's arm. Ball
to arm if anything, but obviously it was a penalty in Styles world.
Mido got booked for dissent in trying to argue his countryman's case,
but Eastwood's job from the spot was done efficiently and it was
suddenly 2-1 and game on.
Within a minute, there was another shout
for a penalty. Keane twisted and turned in the area and as he went
to shoot, Hunt came into him from behind and knocked him off balance
making him shoot well over from ten yards out. Not a penalty in
Luckily, on the day, it wasn't a vital
decision. Jenas let the ball flow out to Lennon who had now
switched to the right wing. Having space and a defender who stood
off him, Aaron produced a fine low ball into the six yard box and Mido
got in front of his marker to glance the ball up and into the net off
the underside of the bar. He turned it in quite well and when he
picked up a back injury late in the game, it was a shame, as he had
shown a bit of hunger and looked a better player for it.
The Egyptian striker had a free-kick
taken low down by Flahavan and then Defoe, on as a sub for Keane got
under a Lennon cross and the ball flew up into the Paxton Road stand.
He looked sharp and had another chance poking at the ball in the area,
but the effort was blocked for another corner, as was Tom Huddlestone's
shot, which was the only one out of about four on target after he
Spurs still did their level best to give
Southend another consolation. Cerny and Dawson were playing
one-twos in the area and Cerny got away with a dribble, but Daws' loss
of control let Hooper in, but luckily Cerny got back to save.
A comprehensive win in the end and one
that will help ease the worries over any potential lack of depth to the
squad. It provided a useful run out for some of the players who
have not played regularly and showed that with Lennon in the side and
with Jenas and Zokora showing good pace and running at players, the
emphasis of the team's ability to attack gives them more opportunity to
keep the ball away from their own goal.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - AARON LENNON