Another Gomes blunder puts brakes on Harry's Houdini act

Fulham 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Darren Bent will be relieved that Fabio Capello, having decided to recall him to the England squad, chose to watch other candidates yesterday afternoon. The Tottenham forward was substituted as, like his team-mates, he failed to maintain his recent rich vein of form.

Instead it was the former England striker, Andrew Johnson, who scored as Fulham inflicted Spurs' first defeat in seven matches under Harry Redknapp.

It is Spurs' tormented goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes, however, who is most likely to recall this match in his nightmares. The Brazilian made another error, allowing Jonathan Woodgate's attempted clearance to slip away from him for Fulham's opening goal after 35 minutes.

Johnson's 70th-minute strike confirmed Fulham's superiority, but Fraizer Campbell scored with 10 minutes left to force a nervous finale.

Craven Cottage is an unlikely fortress, with its sylvan riverside location and quaint cottage tucked in one corner. Yet in recent years it has been just that. Their home form has kept Fulham in the Premier League the last two seasons with Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Aston Villa among clubs to be beaten there in recent years.

Spurs, however, came with buoyant belief having taken 10 points from 12 under Redknapp and won a brace of cup ties. They were unchanged from the XI that won at Manchester City last weekend with Bent leading the attack supported by a roving cast of midfielders. For the home side, Roy Hodgson made his first change in five matches with Clint Dempsey replacing Zoltan Gera.

With two confident, settled, passing teams, the portents were good and the game began brightly with Spurs initially taking the upper hand. Fulham responded well and soon began creating chances. In the 12th minute Johnson went past Woodgate and pulled the ball back, only for a former Spur, Danny Murphy, to scuff his shot. A minute later Dempsey drifted off the right wing and unleashed a 25-yard shot that Gomes turned over at full stretch.

Tottenham, while passing nicely, were moving the ball too slowly to penetrate a Fulham defence that dropped back swiftly in numbers. It took half-an-hour before they got behind Fulham's defence when Tom Huddlestone dropped a 50-yard ball into Bent's path. The recalled striker, however, was unable to find a finish.

It proved an expensive miss when, a minute later, Simon Davies curled in a cross-shot from the left. Woodgate, attempting to intercept, could only glance the ball on and it kicked off the turf, and then Gomes's chest, before coming to rest, to the Brazilian's horror, in the corner of his net.

Gomes looked utterly bereft but, while he was the prime villain, the whole Spurs team was malfunctioning and Redknapp took decisive action at the break. Off came Luka Modric – who may have been injured – and Huddlestone to be replaced by Roman Pavlyuchenko and Aaron Lennon as Tottenham went to a 4-4-2.

It made little immediate difference as Fulham continued to press, deservedly scoring again when Johnson drove in after Woodgate had blocked Davies's header from a corner.

Campbell cut the lead when set up by Jermaine Jenas and David Bentley. But Fulham, thereafter, looked the more likely scorers with Zamora heading wide and Gomes making a superb save from a Jimmy Bullard free-kick. Sadly, for him, that is not what people will remember about his role in this match.

Comments