A convincing 2-0 win was only spoiled by the lack of goals required to set out how convincing it really was. Once again we battered a team visiting White Hart Lane but until 80 minutes had only one goal to show for it and our opponents were having their best period of play.
It took a goal of genuine quality from Jermain Defoe to settle the result having worked cross field to find a shooting chance which Green allowed to canon off his shoulder back to Defoe to return it with a thunderbolt shot into the net.
I like the West Ham derby because there is a lot of banter between the two sets of fans throughout the season and also because it is often winnable. Our record of late has been exemplary but when you hear the away fans spark up their one song each year with about 10 minutes to kick off it can all get a bit nervy. In these games nothing goes with form and it is up to the side wanting to win the most to take the advantage. Today it was Spurs and after Parker and Illunga limped off West Ham, already decimated by injury, had an incredible uphill battle.
To see them coming back into the game in the middle of the second half begged the question why did we not do better with some of the chances first half to put the game to sleep? Our first goal on 11 minutes saw a fabulous break down the right flank in which Defoe and Lennon linked up beautifully to allow the winger to sprint away into space and play a difficult low cross to the near post for Crouch. The ball was half cleared but only to Modric who bounced it into the turf and back across Green into his net.
After that we had a lot of possession and after another swift Lennon break Illunga decided the dressing room was a safer place and Spectre was forced onto the field. Palacios was having a decent game and is starting to look back to his best. In another break he worked space for himself on the right and carried the ball to the danger area before crossing for Crouch whose effort was cleared by Tomkins.
Huddlestone had a couple of decent efforts on goal and Defoe went close from a free kick from some distance late on in the first half. Once again the half time whistle provided a welcome break for the opposition and the opportunity to regroup whereas Harry must have been left wondering “how is this game not safe?”
After the break it was more of the same. West Ham defending for their lives and Spurs missing the final pass or having it blocked as Upson did from a Palacios pile driver. Huddlestone was then in on goal and his short hit the base of the post. Ominous signs as West Ham must play better at some point in the game?
Lennon is then scythed down – not for the first time in the game – and after the resulting action Corluka heads onto the roof of the nest when with more precision he could have beaten Green and scored. There were a number of handball shouts at this point and Corluka ends up booked having not got one for hacking down Diamanti.
It was now getting a bit fractious and the referee was called to flash a few cards to regain control. Some of his decision making was strange today. His decisions for goal kicks and corners particularly unusual – it is normal for a goal kick if the attacking team kicks it off and corner if the defending side does. Mr Foy needs to remind himself of that tonight.
West Ham were using the unruly play to claw themselves back into the game and it looked like they might pressurise us. On a couple of occasions they did so but their shooting was a little wayward though Gomes was called into action and handled his duties well. As space opened up Stanislas came on for West Ham and was immediately allowed to run far too far with the ball but thankfully he chose to stay outside the box before crossing.
It was then down to Defoe to settle the game and take the sting out of West Ham’s fight back and our priority to record another clean sheet – our fourth on the trot and make it 442 minutes since we conceded a goal plus whatever stoppages the officials have added.
The comfortable win we asked for and for West Ham a worrying period to come as injury and a lack of money put additional pressure on their already precarious place in the table. I hope they stay up but it may prove difficult on this showing.