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Spurs 2, Fulham 1: Controversy and more infirmary

16 October 2010

Well, it wasn’t a draw, although maybe it should have been, as Tom Huddlestone’s controversially allowed second-half goal was the difference in a 2-1 Spurs win at the Cottage which stops Fulham’s meh unbeaten run at seven.

Fulham players are perplexed as to why Mike Dean decided to allow what appeared to be an offside goal.

In fairness to Spurs, Huddlestone’s goal had a lot more to do with the glancing touch off Chris Baird’s foot than William Gallas’ attempted deflection from an offside position. Still, the rule’s the rule and Gallas clearly should have been considered “interfering with play” from his position several yards in front of Mark Schwarzer as the shot laced past both and into the Fulham net. Why referee Mike Dean overruled his linesman, who had signaled for offside, remains a mystery since Deane told Mark Hughes to speak with him after the game, then ducked the media and bolted from the stadium before Hughes could find him.

Despite that and some lengthy runs of solid Spurs possession, Fulham has ample chance to take something from this match and will very ruefully recall at least three gilt-edged chances that they let go begging. In the first half, Diomansy Kamara somehow completely missed the target with a wide-open header from seven yards out and Aaron Hughes went inches over the bar with a header with the goal begging. Kamara topped off a really mediocre effort by blazing wildly over from 10 yards out with ample time and space with about seven minutes left. Throw in a couple of excellent saves from now-annual foil Gomes and the Cottagers came away mostly empty.

If Bobby Zamora’s absence wasn’t very obvious at West Ham, when Fulham carved out numerous chances that went begging due to a lack of cutting edge, today’s performance was screaming for him. There were so many times a nice build-up through the midfield found Kamara posting up in Zamora’s typical spot in the hole, and he couldn’t make a proper decision, either misreading the opportunity or losing the ball with a sloppy touch. Throw in Kamara’s two terrible misses, and his tap-in goal off great work by Clint Dempsey doesn’t come close to making up for it.

Spurs looked the better side for chunks of the second half, but a large part of that was due to injuries picked up by Danny Murphy, who went off just seven minutes into the second half, and Moussa Dembele, who was compromised 30 minutes in and finally gimped off at the three-quarters hour mark of his return. Fulham was found badly wanting for creativity after that and Spurs did a solid job of winding down the match without too many difficult moments.

Injuries are a legitimate excuse for a team with a limited budget like Fulham, but at this point, it’s hard to consider the season to this point to be short of somewhat disappointing. There were a lot of potential points to be had in the first 10 games of the season, and Fulham are 80 percent through that run with just nine points to their name. More worryingly, Fulham already has dropped seven points in four home matches and has not been able to hold leads in either of their last two outings. Guys will need to find their health and form quickly, or Fulham could be staring at a bit of a bottom-of-the-table tussle when Zamora finally makes it back in February.

Spurs are a talented team, especially with the infusion of the wonderful Rafael Van der Vaart, whose sublime skill led to Spurs’ equalizer just seconds after Fulham grabbed a deserved lead. Nonetheless, this one leaves me feeling empty. It was way too similar to some other recent efforts — wasteful, inconsistent and a bit unlucky. This time, though, Fulham didn’t even get a point for their trouble.

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