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Talking Tactics with Mark Bright: Spurs

12 January 2015


What a fantastic week it has been for the new manager Alan Pardew. He backed up last week's 4-0 victory over Dover Athletic in the FA Cup with a very credible win over Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur. He asked for more goals, more possession and more creativity in the final third and we averaged 63% possession against Dover with 28 efforts at goal, and had 41% possession against Spurs with 21 efforts at goal.

Our first Premier League match without both Mile Jedinak and Yannick Bolasie, who are both away on international duty, was successful. In the first half we missed the dynamic Bolasie when we were in possession. Spurs played a 4-2-3-1 formation, coming into this league game on the back of six league matches unbeaten, and they started the match very strongly, moving the ball around quickly and neatly taking control of the match. 

With Spurs dominating the opening stages Pards made a tactical change at half-time, with man of the match against Dover Barry Bannan withdrawn for Adlene Guedioura. The Algerian has lacked first-team opportunities since his arrival but he made a difference by adding some physicality and running power into the midfield area. He joined the attack as much as possible and the manager says, he took the game 10 yards further forward putting Spurs on the back foot, something they didn't experience in the first 45 minutes. 

Harry Kane scored the opening goal four minutes after the break but there was no lack of confidence and we drove at the game and got back into it 20 minutes later with a Dwight Gayle penalty after Joe Ledley was fouled by Benjamin Stambouli - debatable said some but not the referee Anthony Taylor. Once that equalizer went in there was no stopping the crowd, they sensed that Spurs were there for the taking and the forward momentum was with Palace. 

We passed the ball better in the second half, managed to sustain more attacks and hounded the Spurs midfield into turning the ball over much more than they did in the first half. The travelling fans went quiet and the home crowd raised the intensity, and on 74 minutes Wilfried Zaha replaced Glenn Murray and what an inspired substitution it was.  

The manager saved one of our quickest and most skillful players for a late impact and it paid off. Wilf produced a piece of magic, twisting inside and out before the ball found its way to Jason Puncheon and with his sweet left foot swept the ball past Hugo Lloris. 

With 10 minutes plus stoppage time left Spurs had nothing left to give. Damien Delaney and Scott Dann once again held it all together at the centre of defence, and we won the midfield battle as the work rate was immense and the will to win was strong. 

We were worthy winners in the end and my thoughts turned our next fixtures, Burnley, Everton and Leicester City. Coming from behind against a top six team who had plenty to play for was what was needed to renew the fans' faith that the spirit of last season remains as strong as ever. Onwards and upwards.

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