Tottenham 1 Everton 0: Tim Sherwood calls for a quicker start to matches if Spurs are to realise their top-four hopes

The Tottenham manager believes his side need to perform better from the kick-off after their narrow victory over the Toffees

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The Independent Football

Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood expects a much better start from his side when they look to further boost their top-four chances at Newcastle on Wednesday.

Fourth-placed Liverpool's 5-1 trouncing of Arsenal on Saturday increased the importance of the White Hart Lane encounter between Spurs and fellow Champions League hopefuls Everton.

It had looked like the visitors would be returning to Merseyside with three points after a dominant first-half display, before Emmanuel Adebayor's strike earned Tottenham a hard-fought, and somewhat fortuitous, 1-0 win.

Sherwood was pleased by the way the players responded to his half-time pep talk, but knows his side cannot afford to continue making slow starts.

"I keep finding myself coming in here and saying the same thing," Sherwood said. "We started slow again and we have got to find out the reason why.

"Hugo Lloris has kept us in the game again early on and made some great saves, one especially.

"We have got to address it because we started slowly against Man City and we were out of the game. It could easily have happened again today.

"But we managed to sit them down, have a little chat and decided that we needed to put some more pressure on them higher up the field which was the game plan originally.

"We were nice and compact in the middle of the park but we were far too deep and if you give them space, they have good players who will open you up and that is what they did in the first half.

"So in the second half we stepped into them a little bit, made them play quicker and they gave us the ball back."

Many see the race for fourth as three-way battle between the two Merseyside clubs and Tottenham but not Sherwood, who believes Wednesday's opponents Newcastle are also in the hunt.

"It is a tough place to go, it always is," he said.

"I'm hoping it is difficult for those players to play at home in front of their crowd because I am not sure what the mood is like up there.

"But it will be a big crowd again and we will see if they have got any characters up there."

Should Tottenham fail to get a result in the north east, Everton would recapture fifth spot with victory against Crystal Palace.

Roberto Martinez has to pick up his side up for the Goodison Park clash after failing to take anything away from north London.

"If you played that game nine times, you'd have won it eight," the Toffees boss said of his team's performance.

"It is fair to say at times in football you are better to be lucky than good and today we played the good role, not the lucky one.

"But I thought from our point of view the only criticism about the first-half performance is that you need to hit the back of the net with the chances we had.

"I thought Lloris was outstanding in two actions, but then we had three very, very good opportunities that on another day we would have scored that important first goal.

"Looking at the performance, it is disappointing because we didn't get the result but if we can take this performance into the next 13 games we're going to get a lot of points. You hope football is not going to be that harsh on us again."