Saturday, November 15, 2008

EPL Game 13: Fulham 2-1 Tottenham: Spurs Unbeaten Run Comes to an End

Tottenham Hotspur's recent revival under Harry Redknapp was halted at Craven Cottage today as Fulham won a pulsating match by a score of 2-1.

Ex-Spurs player Simon Davies came back to haunt his old club with an innocuous shot that the error-prone Heurlelho Gomes fumbled into the back of the net. Andy Johnson added a close range second before Fraizer Campbell scored a late goal to give Spurs some hope.

The result sees Spurs fall back into the bottom three while Fulham move into the top half of the table. So far this season Fulham have 17pts, 16 of those were accumulated at Craven Cottage, so today was going to be a stern test for a Spurs side rejuvenated since Redknapp took over.

Fulham started brightly and went close early on as Gomes pulled off some great saves from the other ex-Spurs players in the Fulham line-up, Zamora and Danny Murphy.

With Gomes on such good form and Spurs controlling midfield it only looked a matter of time before Spurs started to test the Fulham rearguard.

Fulham had other ideas though, and as Simon Davies whipped in a cross towards Zamora the ball flicked off Woodgate's head and was directed straight at Gomes, who somehow bundled the ball into the back of the net.

Harry Redknapp has been speaking about Shay Given recently and something has to be done about the goalkeeping situation come January. Newcastle won't want to lose one of their "jewels", but a transfer fee of £5M combined with a wage bill reduction of £60k a week would mean an instant injection of £6.5M for Joe Kinnear (if he's still there).

For the rest of the half Fulham remained in control as the lack of confidence Spurs had under Ramos returned in spades.

Redknapp made two changes at half-time as the ineffectual pairing of Modric and Huddlestone made way for Pavyluchenko and Lennon as Spurs chased the game.

Initially the move paid off as Spurs looked more dangerous in attack, Bent coming into the game for the first time as the presence of Pavyluchenko spread the Fulham defence.

But Spurs have been brittle when it comes to defending set-pieces lately. They have conceded goals from corners in all of their last few games, and against Fulham the trend continued.

Bullard crossed the ball and with the Spurs defence at sixes and sevens as they expected Gomes to come for the ball. Instead he stayed rooted to his line, as this realisation dawned on the Spurs defence they scrambled to recover, but Andy Johnson nipped in to score his fourth goal in a Fulham jersey.

Campbell was brought in for Bent, the recent good form of the ex-Charlton man has seen Capello name him in his latest squad but he was poor against a well marshalled Fulham defence.

Within minutes of his arrival, Campbell had scored to give Spurs a lifeline. Jenas made a great run from his own half, he found Bentley in space who, with a superb piece of vision, found an unmarked Campbell on the edge of the box. He guided his right footed shot around Schwarzer as the ball settled in the bottom corner.

Spurs pushed on in search of an equaliser, but credit to Roy Hodgson. He pushed an extra man forward and Fulham looked increasingly dangerous on the break as the game filtered out.

Hodgson was delighted with the win, which saw Fulham move into the upper reaches of the table, after the match he said: "Over the 90 minutes, the way we played and the amount of pressure we put on the Spurs defence, I don't think we've got any reason to do other than pat ourselves on the back and claim our victory".

A less happy Redknapp now sees his team return to the relegation zone after an unbeaten run that had seen them take points from Arsenal and Liverpool. As an experienced manager he should know that his initial arrival at the club marked an instant improvement, now he'll have to pick these players up for the next match.

Redknapp said: "We started in second gear and looked like we were getting into the game until we gifted them a goal.

"It was a farcical goal, but he's my goalkeeper. He's got to do his job (but) this is the situation I have."

Spurs fans will be hoping that the rumours about Shay Given are a little more substantial come January. Otherwise it will be a long tough season.

twitter / WillieGannon