A pulsating match saw Tottenham equalise three times, but ultimately
fail to gain an important win in their chase for a UEFA Cup place by
conceding cheap goals to the home side.
It all started as soon as 53 seconds into
the match, when a free-kick from the left wing swung in by Danny
Landzaat caused a calamity of errors. A header came in that was
blocked on the line, the ball dropped and Phil Ifil dived low to head it
up, only for the ball to be headed goalwards again, with Emile Heskey
nodding it past Paul Robinson into the net to give the home side a
Having let a goal in on Thursday in
similar circumstances, it was far from an ideal start for Tottenham and
they desperately needed to get back quickly if they were to get anything
from the game. Lennon dispossessed Boyce and when he cleared the
ball eventually, it fell to a Spurs player and some neat close passing
in the box saw Robbie Keane feed Dimitar Berbatov near the penalty spot.
With a skip and a jump, he turned two Wigan defenders and with a quick
prod of his right foot sent the ball into the gaping half of the goal
that John Filan had left unprotected. Berba's taking of the shot
so early left the keeper with no chance to react and put Spurs level 135
seconds after the home side had established their lead.
At times, Tottenham were passing the ball
around with such confidence it could be likened to the way Sevilla did
it to us. At times, we passed the ball like we did in the first
half on Thursday, which was not so good. On a hot day, the
movement was good and the efforts put in by Zokora and Jenas were
impressive as they both covered a lot of ground. From a lofty
position behind the goal, the pitch looked huge with so much space
allowed for both sides, but neither used it to it's fullest extent.
Tottenham failed to get Lennon in the game enough, while Wigan's
reliance on the long ball failed to utilise the width provided by
Kilbane on the left.
Rocha blocked Camara and Landzaat denied
Berbatov, while the Bulgarian had a free header at Jenas' corner, but
failed to get it on target, letting Wigan off with slack marking.
He did better with about twenty minutes in, when he was put away on the
left by Keane and after calmly waiting to pick out the best pass, he set
up Keano about five yards out, but the Irish striker mis-hit his shot
and it was easily blocked.
The continued use of the long ball caused
Tottenham problems in the air at the back. With half an hour gone,
one such ball was nodded away by Dawson, but not far enough away, as it
fell to Leighton Baines about 25 yards out wide on the left. He
waited for it to drop so that he could hit across the ball and it flew
off the side of his boot and into the top corner of Robinson's goal to
put Wigan 2-1 ahead. It was another spectacular goal Spurs have
conceded this season.
The Lactics could have added another
shortly after, when Camara failed to head on target after McCulloch won
a far post header and knocked it back across goal. As it was, it
proved a costly miss, with Tottenham breaking away at speed, with Jenas
taking a return pass from Aaron Lennon on the left and getting to the
ball first when Baines looked favourite and as he went past Filan, the
keeper completed the foul for Graham Poll to point to the spot.
Robbie Keane grabbed the ball and assuming responsibility, placed it on
the spot and stroked it to the keeper's left as Filan crumpled in the
middle of the goal.
Jermaine's runs from deep were causing
Wigan problems as they did not seem to be able to pick them up and
another lung-busting run saw him just denied by Filan as he burst into
the area. However, the best two chances of the remainder of the
first half fell to Wigan. Firstly, a cross into the box by
substitute Taylor looked like Chimbonda, who was the target of the ire
of the home supporters, would clear the danger, but he failed to be
decisive enough and Kilbane darted in front of him, but could not get
his volley on target. The final effort of the half was on target,
as Scharner met Boyce's ball into the area and Robbo made a super reflex
save to keep it out. As he recovered, he saw Kilbane rise to head
the rebound, but with the majority of the goal to aim at, he put it over
the bar in front of the massed ranks of the Tottenham fans.
It was a let-off for Tottenham, but after
the break, they were forced onto the back foot to keep Athletic at bay.
Landzaat had a 20-yarder skim the surface and brought a diving stop from
ENO, while Kilbane once more missed the goal with a glancing header.
Ten minutes into the half, Scharner took a pass from Camara and whacked
it back at goal from 25 yards out, with it shaving the crossbar as it
flew over the top. The Austrian was in on the far post alone, but
Robbo closed him down quickly to put him off so much that he sliced his
shot that went off for a throw-in. But then right on the hour,
Spurs conceded a corner and when it came in from Taylor, Chimbonda lost
Kilbane who rose highest to head powerfully into the top of the net to
give Wigan the lead for the third time.
Straight away, Spurs hit back. A
foul left Jeans with a free-kick 25 yards out and he curled it to the
far post, making Filan back-peddle and just get a good enough hand on it
to take it wide. But they had to wait until 68 minutes had gone
before pulling level for the third time. Paul Robinson kicked a
long ball through the middle of the pitch and while it didn't go in this
time, it was a good enough ball to confuse Matt Jackson, who had a poor
game - heading the ball with a head like a three-penny bit and generally
holding Berbatov in the area and tripping players off the ball, mis-judged
the flight of the ball. With one bounce it was past him and Robbie
Keane was onto it like a flash, noting that Filan was advancing out of
his area. Keano lifted the ball high over the Aussie keeper and
from our position behind the goal, it looked as though his high lob from
30 yards out was going wide, but we were all delighted when it bounced
up near the line and into the roof of the net to bring Spurs even at
De Zeeuw got a well-deserved yellow card
for a heavy challenge on Berbatov, who had been too clever for the
Dutchman and was away from him and later Charner got a caution for three
bad tackles. Defoe replaced Lennon and was nippy around the area,
bursting into the area on the right hand side before trying to find
Berbatov, but only picked out Filan's low dive instead. He was in
a similar position when Jenas' free-kick dropped at the far post to
Chimbonda and the desire to score against his old side overcame him and
he hit the keeper instead of hitting his fellow Spurs striker.
With time running out, Wigan got
desperate and Tottenham began to hold the ball better and keep it at the
other end, but having failed to contest the second phase of play very
well all day, one last example left Tottenham grateful for the
goalkeeper's agility. When it dropped out to Scharner some 40
yards from goal, he hit a high looping effort that was dropping into the
top corner of the net until Robbo leapt to keep it out and collided with
the post, but was sharp enough to get up and reclaim the loose ball
before any Wigan player could react to it.
It was an exciting match, although it
lacked the technical and tactical aspects of Thursday night's draw, but
there was goalmouth action galore and the contrast in styles made for an
interesting spectacle. However, the comments made before the match
about how many goals we concede came to haunt us and although we got
three, we should have defended better to stop three going in.
Rocha had a rocky game today and Chimbonda did OK, but seemed affected
by the booing. Ifil came in at left back, not his natural position
and looked heavy and not as sharp as you would expect. With a lot
of defenders injured, we are stretched to the limit at the moment, but
the games keep on coming, so will need to shape up in time for the
Arsenal match this Saturday.
As for Wigan, they seemed happy with the
point. Maybe it will be enough to keep them up with all around
them faltering, but this physical, lower league approach to football
will not save them in the long run if they continue to play it. In
the past, they have been more inclined to play better football, but
perhaps needs must as Paul Jewell tries to keep them up. It is a
shame that their shiny ground today reflected not glory, but just a lot
of empty plastic seats.
THE FUNKY PHANTOM