"We want four," the Fulham fans were chanting before the final whistle, but victory by three goals was more than enough to send the Cottagers back to west London happy. This was, after all, their first ever win here at this level, and just their second in total at White Hart Lane. Their only previous victory in London N17 had come 55 years ago, in the old Second Division.
Fulham deserved this result and the little slice of history that came with it, as they notched up their second win of the nascent season, inflicting Tottenham's second defeat in the process. Yet they rode their luck with the turning point coming at 1-0. A Darren Anderton free-kick flew around the area and hit Moritz Volz's head, with the Fulham full-back grateful to see the ball rebound to safety off his post.
After that, the momentum was all Fulham's, which they proved when Barry Hayles found the net for the second time. Seven minutes after Volz's reprieve, Hayles challenged Dean Richards 30 yards out and forced him to make a hash of his clearance. All that was left was for Hayles to barge his way into the area and thrash his shot past Kasey Keller. Glenn Hoddle, who kept his players locked in for an hour after the game, appeared to be mystified as to how his team could play so poorly after holding Liverpool to a goalless draw last week. The Tottenham manager said: "Fulham deserved the win and we got what we deserved. This was below standard but I couldn't see this result coming for us. As for Dean, he's an honest player and held his hand up for the mistake." On a bad day for the home defence, he said that Ledley King was "fatigued, physically and mentally, so I took him off at half-time".
Hayles was a carpenter before becoming a professional footballer and it was appropriate he helped nail the coffin shut on Spurs' wooden defence. With 20 minutes remaining he dragged Richards out of position and picked out Luis Boa Morte, who did the rest from six yards.
Tottenham are on the brink of bolstering their squad with the loan signing of the French midfielder Stéphane Dalmat. However, the Internazionale fringe player has not put pen to paper and maybe a result like this will make him think twice, although Hoddle seemed confident he would join them at Middlesbrough's expense.
Fulham's manager, Chris Coleman, has also had his eye on the transfer market, but he lost out this week on Claudio Reyna, who signed for Manchester City while his striker Steve Marlet joined Marseille on loan. But the Welshman was happy to lavish praise on those who did turn out for him, saying: "Hayles' performance typified all the players out there. He battled and worked hard," before admitting he would have been delighted with a draw from the contest.
A cautious start by both sides did not bode well for this game, as they both used five-man midfield systems which blocked the flow of passes to the strikers However things livened up when Frédéric Kanouté forced a save from Edwin van der Sar after 14 minutes. The next time a goalkeeper was tested it was Keller, who was beaten by the irrepressible Hayles. The former Bristol Rovers striker beat two defenders before slotting his shot inside Keller's right-hand post.
Tottenham still had their chances, especially when Kanouté was free in the area only to drag his shot wide just before half-time. Fulham, by contrast, took their chances when presented to them, and therefore took the three points as well.
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Fulham 3
Hayles 23, 67, Boa Morte 71
Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 33,421Reuse content