Spurs snatch dramatic win

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WEST HAM'S woeful start to the new campaign shows no sign of abating after they were cruelly denied a precious point at White Hart Lane, courtesy of Tottenham's fortuitous late winner.

In a pulsating second half, Spurs twice forced their way in front only to be pegged back by The Hammers before a late winner from Anthony Gardner sealed the game.

Simon Davies tucked the hosts ahead just past the hour mark only for Freddie Kanoute to quickly equalise.

Sublime skill from new boy Robbie Keane earned Spurs a penalty and a red card for Ian Pearce with Teddy Sheringham's spot kick perfectly placed.

Trevor Sinclair thought he had snatched a share of the spoils for the ten men but Gardner's deflected shot inside the closing two minutes pinched the points for the hosts.

Hammers boss Glenn Roeder made an immediate change in tactics at the kick-off, dispensing with his three-man back-line to match Spurs' 4-4-2 formation.

But no sooner had the visitors adjusted to the switch in gameplan, than Roeder was forced into a swap in personnel with Tomas Repka limping off to be replaced by Nigel Winterburn.

Spurs debutant Keane had an early sniff of goal but volleyed over after a poor header by Christian Dailly.

Though Spurs were the brighter side in the early exchanges the half chances fell to the visitors, with Joe Cole, in particular, buzzing around the box although he could not hit the target.

Goran Bunjevcevic struck from distance but his effort swerved away from David James's goal and the Yugoslav was then booked for a late lunge on Steve Lomas.

Spurs then had to reshuffle when the luckless Chris Perry was stretchered off, while five minutes before the break Sheringham headed straight at James under pressure from Dailly.

After the break, Spurs sprinted out of the blocks with Christian Ziege curling a free-kick wide and Keane heading off target.

That prompted a reaction from The Hammers with Kanoute heading over and then turning provider for Lomas to miss the frame of the goal.

But on 62 minutes, the match ignited as Spurs grabbed the lead as Matthew Etherington switched on the afterburners down the left flank to pull the ball back for Davies, who stroked it beyond James.

The lead lasted just four minutes, though, as persistence from Paolo di Canio enabled the Italian to pump the ball towards the back post.

Dailly was determined to win the header, nodding across the face of goal where Kanoute pounced to nudge West Ham level.

With the match capable of swinging in any direction, it was Spurs' turn to provide the quality with new boy Keane showing sublime skill to outfox Pearce.

The Irishman's control and flick left Pearce for dead and the Hammers defender's scything challenge resulted in a penalty and red card. Sheringham despatched the spot kick with aplomb.

Despite trailing, and at a numerical disadvantage, West Ham refused to buckle and on 77 minutes drew level for a second time.

Quick-thinking from a free-kick by Di Canio presented the equally alert Sinclair with a chance to poke the ball beyond the onrushing Kasey Keller.

Inside the closing ten minutes, the visitors had an outstanding chance to grab an unlikely winner when Cole outsprinted substitute Gary Doherty.

But, alarmingly, Cole's control let him down after he stumbled and was forced too wide, although he did well to eventually drill into the side-netting.

As the game ebbed towards a stalemate, Spurs turned the screw from an unlikely source with the goal symptomatic of West Ham's present ill-luck.

Central defender Gardner strode forward unchecked and unleashed a drive from 25 yards which deflected sharply off Gary Breen and into the back of the net.