December 12, 2011
Follow me on Twitter – @WindyCOYS.
You can also hear me on The Fighting Cock podcast.
Etherington’s first goal – a deflected Shotton cross loops up, and is helped on by Walters. Crouch controls it (with the help of his hand!), and squeezes the ball back across goal for Etherington to stab home.
Spurs clear the ball from a long throw-in, but Adebayor plays a one-two with Modric, and tries to dribble out with Stoke players converging around him.
He could turn back and play it safe, but he tries to press on, and eventually loses the ball.
Stoke get it wide, and work a two against one, with Shotton eventually getting clear.
Assou-Ekotto makes up ground well, and is able to half-block the cross, causing it to loop up into the air.
The ball is in the air for around three seconds and, personally, I think that Friedel should be coming to punch this away. Instead he leaves it for Gallas to battle it out with Walters – a battle that he struggled with all game.
Walters inevitably wins the flick on, and a better striker than Crouch, who has somehow ghosted into space over Kaboul’s shoulder, would volley this home first time.
Instead,he awkwardly controls it on his arm, before Gallas gets a foot in and pushes him wide of goal.
In fairness to Crouch, he does well to keep the ball alive, and he squeezes it back across goal.
Kaboul and Walker between them should be able to clear this, but Etherington anticipates well.
He gets to the bounce of the ball before both of them, and prods the ball in.
Etherington’s second goal – a Shotton long throw is helped on by Walters, and Etherington is again on hand to finish.
As Shotton prepares to take the throw-in,Spurs have ten players in the penalty area, against Stoke’s City’s four (with three just outside). The eventual goal-scorer, Etherington, is close to the edge of the box, between Modric and Bale.
As the ball is in the air, Walters gets up early (he has that Kevin Davies-like ability to hang), and Etherington makes his move towards the back post, anticipating a flick-on.
Parker has his eye on Etherington, and backs away to mark him.
Walters wins the header, and Parker just doesn’t get close enough to Etherington to stop the ball dropping to him. The finish is quite fortuitous – he hits it into the ground, and it loops up over Friedel.
Overall, the first half was pretty poor from Spurs, but had the first goal been disallowed for handball, we would have gone in at 1-0. Redknapp was very pro-active at half-time, making two substitutions, and moving from a 4-4-1-1 to a 3-5-2. It worked well, with the team creating a number of excellent goal-scoring opportunities and good situations. On another day, the referee would have given us three penalties (the one we got, the hauling down of Kaboul, the handball on the line), and there could easily have been two red cards for Stoke as well – Woodgate committed a second bookable offence on the edge of the penalty area in the first half, and handball on the line is a red card offence too.
These kind of games will always happen, and I think it’s important not to get too down-heated – the team battled back well in the second half, and did enough to get something from the game. Redknapp also deserves praise. I have long-criticised him for his lack of pro-active substitutions and tactical changes, but he made some bold moves yesterday. Bale had a stunning second half, and Modric/van der Vaart schemed behind the two forwards, with Adebayor frequently pulling over to the left and causing havoc with his good close control.