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MATCH REPORT

Southerners should stick to sailing

I nervy win, but a win nevertheless. Three more points in the board to make it five in six games. Anthony Mayatt took time out to review the encounter that saw Spurs holding on for dear life against the South Coast outfit. 

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This was a fixture that beforehand, many Tottenham Hotspur fans had expected to be a walk in the park and the first half certainly proved that. It had a very training ground match feel to it as the visitors were rarely threatened and goalkeeper Brad Friedel had very little to do for the first 45 minutes.

Spurs went into the encounter knowing that they had failed to score at the St. Mary’s Stadium, let alone win away at Southampton. The last time the North London side played the South Coast club on their turf, Harry Redknapp was in charge, but of the home team not the Lilywhites. This was also the first time Gareth Bale had played the team he left to go to Tottenham five-and-a-half years ago and was also his first game back since the birth of his daughter, named Alba Violet Bale, or AVB for short.

The first 45 was dominated by Spurs and had Andre Villas-Boas’ side been more ruthless, they could of put the game out of reach by half time. Jermain Defoe didn’t have one of his best games misfiring on a few occasions. You felt in this game if he has a partner up front, he would have coped a lot better, but having to do all the running in this game proved just too much.

After a few attempts at goal, the deadlock was finally broken when Tom Huddlestone, making his second Premier League start of the season, chipped into the box for Bale to power on to the ball and head a curvaceous effort into the far corner out of reach for Goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

The second came five minutes before half time with a great run from Lennon putting Defoe through to slot past the oncoming Boruc, only for his effort to be cleared off the line by Saints centre-back Jose Fonte. Clint Dempsey, however, was fortuitously following in and put the ball into an empty net from a yard out and the game seemed dead and buried leading into the interval.

The second half started as the first ended, with Spurs feeling a bit too comfortable but as all Spurs fans know; Tottenham can never make any game easy. Against the run of play on the 66th minute, poor defending from a Southampton corner allowed Jay Rodriguez to net his first goal in the Premier League and the game changed from that point.

Saints were pushing for an equaliser and the following saw minutes saw Southampton have have great opportunities through Rodriguez and Lambert to level the scoring as the Spurs defence, traditionally, looked all over the place.

Spurs, however, were able to hold on and produce their third straight away league win to put them into fourth in the table. Southampton can take pleasure from the way they fought back and were probably unlucky not to take anything away from the game in the end. Spurs however showed again that they can struggle when put under pressure, but under new management is still a new learning process.

The win was Spurs’ fifth in six games, the only blip coming at home to Chelsea last week. It is a contrasting change in fortunes from their early season form, which saw the North London outfit take just two points from their opening three games.

While it may not have been the most convincing of victories for Spurs, it was three points nevertheless. The win sets the side up well for the welcome of Wigan Athletic next weekend in time for a tough November, consisting of games against Manchester City, Arsenal and rejuvenated Liverpool. 

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