Date: 15th October 2017 at 11:17am
Written by: Fritter

I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to go to Wembley. It was a bit train spotter really. New ground and all that. I went in the end.

To Hillingdon and less than £2 to park for the day. A pub right there, the Swallow. London Pride. Decent pie. Fans of various clubs. Good landlord. Footy on TV.

Tube to Wembley park. What a pig’s ear they have made of the area. It was always horrible back in the old days. I went to all England home games for about 3 or 4 years, stopped around the Falklands when the songs became jingoistic and bombing. Trips to the empire pool, for the likes of EWF, ELP and the Who.

But now, a spanking new stadium relaunch on, it’s horrid high rise office blocks and accommodation. These line Wembley way and give it a future dystopian feel.

A long plod round. Just after 2 and can’t get internet. Look up. Team news on the digital display. Spurs team. Wait. More stuff. Spurs team again. No AFCB line up.

Into the ground. Impressive in design and scope. Like the Emirates the seating has shallow banking. Too shallow. Doesn’t feel like a football ground. Teams are out. Good to see the lads out on the pitch. Try to start a chant. Impossible because of the soundtrack they are playing. Seems to be a tribute to all the earthquakes that ever were, turned up to 11 through a fog filter.

The whole ‘match day atmosphere` generated by recorded singing. Which means that there is no point in actually singing. Turning the game, mostly, into an atmosphere free zone. Crowd control for the 21st century. For those so inclined there is expensive Soma available in the concourse (a word that I can’t stand when applied to football).

The noise continues until the actual whistle, as it did at WHL. Then the crowd are mostly silent. As with many modern stadia the sound doesn’t echo and resound. It is impressive when everyone sings or cheers but hopeless for the home and away ‘ends`, if they existed.

Still. KO. I counted each minute for about 10, waiting for the first goal. Relieved that it didn’t come.

Banks of 5 and 4 across the back when defending became 3 – 5 something when attacking. I think it worked well. We crowded them when they attacked, which they did a lot of. Spurs` movement was both quick and impressive. Their speed on and off the ball was punctuated by the odd defence and midfield splitting ball straight through. We held our positions and blocked and cleared well. Lewis Cook gave us class and heart stopping moments in equal amounts.

Time passed and we had a spell of attacking. A shot went close and then the ball seemed to bobble for ages. Looked like a great save on the line, which was confirmed on MOTD, then time stood still for about an hour while we waited for a toe poke goal. That felt like our chance.

King had the measure of their fullback and twice out muscled him. Would have been good to have had a small, nippy striker in the box.

Spurs regrouped and moved into slick gear again. Impressive, but not as effective without Rose or Walker. Towards the end of the half Son handled and protested. The crowd groaned and the cloud of Wembley hoodoo settled over them. We’d got the crowd rattled.

Two fouls by us in the first half were rewarded by yellow cards. It seemed that wrestling holds were immune as was the late tackle on the half way line by the dugouts (can we call them that anymore?). This was late and as bad or worse as the 2 yellows that preceded it. Not even spoken too. That’s your big club for you.

HT. Nil all. Terrific. Game plan worked well. Should have scored. Two good chances. There’s the rub. How many more good chances would we get against them?

Second half warily optimistic. Spurs again had spells of fast, fluid possession and it really is impressive when they all move. I thought Kane and Eriksen looked good and interchanged well. Can’t comment on most of their team as I don’t know who they all are. Don’t much care.

The goal came early on. The crowd came into life and for a while sang both of their songs. Not together, which was a shame, as that was what the ‘music` had sounded like pre match.

The collective energy went out of our fans. And the team who took a while to regroup. On a handful, but too many occasions, we would dwell on the ball or play a poor pass and Spurs would be on it like a team of released greyhounds chasing a dozen rabbits. Spurs were wasteful.

The line up had done well for so long. But Gosling was struggling. The gaps showed. Time for Defoe. Waits. More attacks, time for Defoe. Waits.

73 minutes Defoe on with Ibe. An excellent reception from Spurs fans. Too little too late for us. The new men combined well immediately forcing a(nother) good save out of Loris.

We had our moments towards the end but our moves broke down and each time this triggered what seemed like 20 Spurs players swarming up the pitch, the last time resulting in begovic receiving a yellow card.

FT 1-0.

Cue deafening music again. They really don’t want the crowd to be heard do they? Players received applause through the loud earthquake noise fog.
As Stiff records used to say. ‘We came, we saw, we left.` Many were anticipating a 3 or 4 nil defeat. We did much better than that. The debate continues on here. There is merit in all points of view.

For me, I think the line up worked until we went 1 nil down. 2 clear cut chances and to miss them both is not good enough. However well they were saved or cleared.

The Defoe dilemma. If he plays we have to play to him and King, if he plays, has to play second fiddle to him. King plays better when he can forage where he wants. Ibe and Defoe linked well and quickly when they came on. But ibe then went on to run with the ball and, as he has done before, passed it inexplicably into touch.

We don’t have players that automatically pick themselves any more. Both a strength and a curse.

We gave the ball away too cheaply on too many occasions (I’ll resist saying they were poor decisions and there were times when a player tried to turn and beat men just outside our penalty area and lost it (Gosling) or cleared it (Cook). In those circumstances JUST KICK THE THING AWAY!

Corners. Free kicks. Why not just kick them straight into touch having retreated into a defensive formation? Does anyone think we will ever score from a corner again?

Substitutions. We all have our view. On the hour I would have taken off Gosling, Stanislas and maybe King for Arter, ibe and Defoe. Defoe needed at least 30 minutes.

Cook has surely established himself. Would love to see an in form Arter alongside Surman and Cook.

I thought the back 5 did well. Mostly.

Oh one last thing. The stadium that is sponsored and ‘connected by EE` seems to be one that most other networks can’t get a signal. Brilliant.

Report by fritter

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