Not so much a game of two halves as a game of two thirds and a third third. We seemed to be cruising serenely after an hour or so – but then that wouldn’t be the Tottenham way, would it? Cue a wild thump of the self-destruct button, the halving of our lead and a daft sending off. The three points were eventually achieved in slightly nerve-jangling, harum-scarum style. Not for the first time I mused at the final whistle that Tottenham Hotspur ought to come with a health warning.Comedy Gold
The game could have been wrapped up within the first ten minutes, as Defoe might have a had a hat-trick. It rather set the tone, as we were the better team in the first half, and not for the first time the presence of Ledley at the back made a world of difference. A couple of weeks ago away to Bolton, in the absence of Ledley the back-four resembled a bunch of strangers – all of whom were mightily suspicious of the round white thing – but yesterday, particularly in the first half, he had things well under control. There was one scare, when a Corluka mistake left our back-four badly out of position, but let that not distract from the resulting moment of pure comedy gold from the Portsmouth forward Dindane, blasting over an open goal from a yard out, the sort of chance even Sandra Redknapp would have snaffled up.
Other than that, Pompey were reduced to long-range shots in the first half, mainly from Boateng, who seemed determined to have a crack every time he touched the ball, no matter the angle, distance or scientific impossibility. Ledley looked typically regal in rising to head home the opener, and as mentioned, we sailed through the first half pretty serenely.
Hudd and Jenas
Jenas did not run the show as he might have done, but ‘twas notable that on the one occasion on which he burst forward he set up Defoe’s goal. There’s a salutary lesson in there – I would like to see Jenas gamble like that more often. Just take a chance man, break into the opposition area and see what happens.
Complicating The Uncomplicated
Two-nil, and cruising. In a parallel universe there’s a Tottenham team who achieve such positions and proceed to see out the game with minimal fuss and flawless professionalism. Their fortunes are charted on the Spurs blog Generous Amount of Action, Strong Understanding of Plot. Back on planet earth, with half an hour to go we did a fine job of complicating the uncomplicated. Portsmouth scored through Boateng, inevitably (seems a shame to criticise Gomes after he made some awesome saves, but he might have done better with the goal), and where once Defoe might have bitten an opponent’s arm, this time he trod on his leg, and saw red. No real complaints about the sending-off – not the most vicious challenge ever, but daft and petulant, leaving the ref with little option – and ruling Defoe out of the North London derby in a fortnight.
For five minutes thereafter we actually upped a gear, but it soon turned into a bit of an Alamo, with Dawson and Palacios thrown on for security, and the cheery sight of five added minutes of injury time. Gomes produced three top-drawer saves, the first in particular, from Kaboul’s deflected free-kick, looks better on every viewing, while we could also be thankful for another piece of truly comical finishing from the boy Dindane.
In the final analysis it is a strange game to summarise – on balance, when it was eleven against eleven we looked good value for a win, and yet we had to rely on three brilliant saves and two missed open-goals from Portsmouth. Having had the game in the bag at half-time, we almost let it slip through sloppiness and lack of self-discipline. However, despite going down to ten men away from home we didn’t capitulate, and a quarter of the way through the season we remain comfortably ensconced in the top four. Whisper it, but the 2009/10 Tottenham vintage is really rather tasty.
Chris Waddle is the latest player to be featured in the forthcoming book Spurs’ Cult Heroes, and you are invited to share your memories of him here. As ever, all are most welcome to leave memories – and browse those of others – regarding some of the other featured players: Cliff Jones here, Glenn Hoddle here, Ossie and Ricky here, Gary Mabbutt here, Graham Roberts here, Jimmy Greaves here, Clive Allen here, Jurgen Klinsmann here
(If you fancy following the progress of Spurs’ Cult Heroes you can do so on the Facebook fan group just about here)