Griffin dismay, Defoe delight
By Alex Dunn. Last Updated: 13/08/05 4:55pm
Much has been made of a rejuvenated Tottenham this summer and they began the new campaign with a 2-0 success on their travels to Portsmouth.
The home side trailed at the break after an even first period that only saw the deadlock broken in the final minute when Andy Griffin put through his own goal, before Jermain Defoe showed his predatory instincts have not dimmed as he nipped in to secure the points just past the hour mark.
Alain Perrin's French revolution on the South Coast has embraced both an exodus of established names and an influx of new talent - with six making their home bows at Fratton Park.
It was with no surprise that with so many new faces, Spurs included three of their own, there was a nervous tension in the damp air as the game was played out in a frenetic pace.
Tottenham started the crisper in possession and in Hossam Mido possessed a striker with a physical edge and it was from the Egyptian's lay-off that Wayne Routledge should have been celebrating a debut goal inside five minutes but instead was left ruing another new boy, Sander Westerveld, who saved well with his feet.
Portsmouth's defence, including debutants Andy O'Brien and Gregory Vignal, heeded the warning and for the rest of the half looked capable of containing a Tottenham side that struggled to boss possession against a tenacious home effort.
Lacking cohesion if not desire, Portsmouth had to wait until 15 minutes before they conjured any opening of note, when from a trademark Laurent Robert delivery Tresor Lomana Lua Lua nudged his near post header over the top.
A peripheral Andy Reid tossed in a tame free kick easily gathered before at the other end, the home crowd rose as Lua Lua fell in the box but referee Barry Knight, correctly, looked away.
Defoe spun and saw an arrow of a strike deflected wide before Ivica Mornar, a surprise starter for Portsmouth, just failed to connect with a drilled Robert ball across goal.
Then came Griffin's inadvertent contribution. Mido and Defoe exchanged a neat one-two and as the former cocked his shooter, Griffin pulled the trigger himself but in his desperate lunge only managed to roll the ball past his own goalkeeper.
If the first period was exciting toil the second was largely just toil as neither side showed much in terms of class or quality.
It was Portsmouth that came out the brighter and an advanced Vignal forced an excellent stop from stand-in Spurs captain Paul Robinson with a 30-yard strike that zipped off the greasy surface.
Erik Edman then did his best to replicate Griffin with a lethargic clearance that beat Robinson but also the post, as the game matched the weather for the most part; miserable.
Whilst Lua Lua was lively, Portsmouth's new strikeforce will need time to adapt and it was an experienced Premiership campaigner, Defoe, that showed them the way to goal on 64 minutes when he doubled Tottenham's advantage.
A hopeful ball down the left channel exposed a ponderous Pompey back four square and when Defoe snapped up possession, there was only to be one outcome as he danced past Westerveld to finish from the angle with aplomb.
Robinson clutched a Robert header as Portsmouth briefly rallied but at the other end, Defoe could have registered his second were it not for a decent parry from Westerveld.
For Tottenham and Martin Jol a solid start to a season that promises much but for Perrin and Portsmouth, patience will be needed to allow a plethora of new boys to adjust to their new surrounds.
Portsmouth v Tottenham player ratings.
|Portsmouth||Team Name||Tottenham Hotspur|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5|
|4||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5|
|13||Total Fouls Conceded||23|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||8||13|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||8||9|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||8||4|