This match had little to commend it as a Spurs fan, while Fulham
fans were jumping for joy that they hadn't had to endure another drawn
match and progress to the Fifth round and a rip-roaring tie against
Bolton Wanderers or Wigan Athletic awaiting them after this match turned
on three first half minutes.
was all it took Tottenham to self-destruct with some sloppy defensive
play and some generous refereeing. Michael Dawson was surprisingly
the culprit, as he is normally quite steady and doesn't get involve din
giving the ball away cheaply. However, today, he chose not to look
when passing the ball out to Alan Hutton on the right and Clint Dempsey
picked off his pass, set for for the penalty box and went down when
Hutton slid in to tackle him. Penalty. Eleven minutes on the
clock and Murphy sent the ball higher than Gomes' dive to his left and
Fulham were in the lead before Tottenham has even built an attack.
Three minutes later, Gomes played a short
goal-kick to Dawson wide on the right of the penalty area. Trying
to turn Dembele, who had closed him down, the Fulham striker got the
ball off the Spurs captain and a tug at his short did not stop him
getting a shot on goal, but Dowd pointed to the spot and then produced a
red card to dismiss Daws for stopping a goal-scoring opportunity.
A little harsh, as the ref allowed play to continue and then pulled play
back to give the penalty, so not one, not two, but three bits of luck in
one incident for the home team. Regardless of the outcome of the
spot-kick, the game was effectively over, with Spurs down to ten men and
a goal down already. The fact that Murphy sent Gomes the wrong way
form the spot to double the lead was academic.
Tottenham were all over the place as they
tried to re-organise, but the loose play had started almost form the
first whistle, with Dawson trying to chest a ball to a team-mate that he
should have been heading and Assou-Ekotto hitting loose passes straight
to Fulham players. Pienaar had a nightmare first half and van der
Vaart was given no time or space, thus turning the ball over too often.
Sandro didn't seem to know where he should be playing (and nor did we),
while Luka Modric was seemingly deployed at the base of a diamond, that
had Lennon on the left and Pienaar on the right ... both on the wrong
Fulham had identified Assou-Ekotto as the
weak link in the defence and as well as closing the Spurs players down
quickly, they were playing passes in behind him to get Johnson or Duff
running down that line. One ball in from that side looked like
goal number three for Dempsey, but Hutton slid into do enough to put him
off and the American hit his shot on the slide over the top.
Luckily the next chance fell to Dempsey too and getting across his
marker at the near post, he could not turn the ball in.
BY this time, Harry Redknapp had taken
Sandro off to replace him with William Gallas in an attempt to get some
organisation in the back four, but it had little effect as halfway
through the half, Spurs went further behind. An aimless ball into
the Tottenham box caused confusion between Assou-Ekotto and Gomes and
the ball squirted away from both of them and in attempting to stop Duff,
Benoit gave away a cheap corner. The Irishman took it and the
smallest Fulham player - Andy Johnson - won the header at the near post
that took the ball across the six yard box for Brede Hangeland to hit
home from half a yard out at the far post.
Things were not going well, as Spurs
could not hold onto the ball and it was half an hour before there was a
shot on goal and even then Modric scuffed his shot well wide. van
der Vaart showed how desperate things were, when he took a 40 yard
free-kick very quickly and his shot at goal had Stockdale pedalling
backwards to ensure he was under it as it went inches over the bar.
Juts as it looked like Spurs might
through to half time with a three goal deficit, Spurs lost the ball near
the centre circle to Dembele and Bassong failed to stop him turning away
from him and he ran at the defence before picking out a shot to Gomes'
right that went in just inside the post to make it 4-0 at the interval.
The walk across the pitch to the dressing
room must have been a long one for Harry and the players, but with
options limited and only ten men, they had only pride to play for and
the limitation of goals against.
The second half saw Spurs hold possession
better, but really failed to threaten the Fulham goal. Defoe
almost got on the end of one ball from van der Vaart in the first half,
but was blocked out by Hughes and that was about as close as they came
to scoring. But Dempsey was denied by a Gomes save and then put a
shot a yard wide, when he really should have scored. It was 72
minutes before a shot fizzed anywhere near the Fulham goal when a headed
clearance dropped to Jermaine Jenas, on as a sub for Rafael and he hit
it first time on the volley, but it went a couple of yards wide.
The game was disappointing for both side
sin the second half, with Fulham failing to add to their total and Spurs
seeing out time and being grateful to the intervention of the crossbar
when Hughes own a free header at a corner, of Gomes who saved low down
to stop Gera after Simon Davies had squared the ball to him and of
Jermaine Jenas, who was on the line to hack away a ball after Hangeland
had headed goal-wards.
A day to forget, but one which might have
a significant bearing on the rest of Tottenham's season. With
Robbie Keane and Jamie O'Hara going out on loan, Younes Kaboul needing
an operation and no sign of any new recruits coming in before tomorrow's
deadline, the infamous depth and quality of the squad will certainly be
put to the test ... starting at Blackburn on Wednesday, when Spurs
really need a win to get back on track.