Campbell rides luck to raise Spurs' standing

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The Independent Online

Three home games and three wins for George Graham's Tottenham prove the Scot is doing a lot right at White Hart Lane, but after the thrills and spills of last week's 3-2 win over Everton (when they came back from 2-0 down) this was very much a performance that harked back to Graham's days at Arsenal and all those 1-0 wins.

Three home games and three wins for George Graham's Tottenham prove the Scot is doing a lot right at White Hart Lane, but after the thrills and spills of last week's 3-2 win over Everton (when they came back from 2-0 down) this was very much a performance that harked back to Graham's days at Arsenal and all those 1-0 wins.

Significantly, this victory also moved Tottenham above their north London rivals, Arsenal, to fifth place in the table. However, there was less pleasure for the other London team in this equation as a goal earned by Sol Campbell but put into his own net by Shaka Hislop, the visiting goalkeeper, ensured West Ham remained at the foot of the Premiership.

West Ham started well but faded the longer the game went on, and the all-important strike came after 67 minutes and was accompanied by a large slice of luck. Oyvind Leonhardsen, who was involved in all of Tottenham's best moves, swung in the corner and the England defender's header bounced back off the bar, hit Hislop's back and crossed the line. Until that moment, it looked as if Harry Redknapp's West Ham defence - including Stuart Pearce and Nigel Winterburn with their combined age of 74 - was going to hold out against a hard-working Tottenham attack of Les Ferdinand and Sergei Rebrov.

Graham said afterwards: "It was a very tight game and typical local derby. But it's a good start to the season." He did not forget to point out that it was the first time Tottenham had beaten the Hammers in his two years in charge.

The fortunate goal put the onus on West Ham to come back for the third time this season and try to earn their third point of the campaign. It never eventuated and Steffen Freund came close to putting a more respectable gloss on the score with 14 minutes remaining, but he hit the crossbar from 25 yards out. Despite finishing with that flourish, Graham admitted that Tottenham had struggled in the first half and Neil Sullivan was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

The Spurs manager has bemoaned the state of Premiership defending in recent days, but clearly the message has not got through and it was one of his own players - Stephen Carr - whose error nearly let in Frédéric Kanouté after four minutes. Carr was robbed of the ball by Paolo Di Canio and his quick pass found the Frenchman, only for the latter to shoot weakly at Sullivan, who was tested again when Pearce let loose a thundering drive that went straight at the keeper.

This fixture has traditionally been full of incident, including three West Ham players sent off over the last three seasons but there was little evidence of that spiteful history until Joe Cole's badly-timed tackle on Luke Young after just 30 seconds of the second half. At that point the ever-lively Cole was lucky not to join Steve Lomas, John Moncur and Samassi Abou in the Hammers' recent hall of infamy and received just a yellow card.

Yet in spite of this defeat Redknapp, a gambling man, still sounded confident enough afterwards about his side's chances this season. He boldly said: "Panic? What have we got to panic about? We've got enough strong characters. We've got self-belief and we'll finish in the top half of the table."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Sullivan; Campbell, Taricco (Thatcher, 73), Young (Vega, 50), Carr; Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood; Iversen; L Ferdinand, Rebrov. Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Clemence, Etherington.

West Ham United (3-5-2): Hislop; R Ferdinand, S Pearce, Winterburn; Sinclair, Lampard, Lomas, Cole, Carrick; Kanouté, Di Canio. Substitutes not used: Forrest (gk), Moncur, Peacock, Kitson, Potts.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

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