Boyhood Tottenham fan Barry Hayles stunned White Hart Lane into silence as scored a brace and made another as Fulham stormed to their first win at Spurs since 1948. The popular striker – preferred to Louis Saha today – was charged with ‘messing the Tottenham defence about’ by manager Chris Coleman and he staked a claim for a regular starting spot after the departure of Steve Marlet with one of the finest performances of his career.
It was particularly galling for Glenn Hoddle, who cut a beleaguered figure on the touchline, whom Hayles describes as his footballing hero. The hosts looked a shadow of the side who had taken four points from two tough fixtures against Liverpool and Leeds – hurt by injuries but remarkably devoid of invention and, perhaps more damningly, much fight. Spurs looked lacklustre in midfield and hardly laid a glove on their west London opponents after Edwin van der Sar had blocked Freddie Kanoute’s early effort following a promising run from Rohan Ricketts.
Fulham’s football was incisive from the off and they swiftly served notice that they weren’t going to be putting men behind the ball. Kasey Keller made an instinctive save from Steed Malbranque after Luis Boa Morte had shredded the Tottenham defence on the counter. Hayles had cut an isolated figure up front in the early exchanges but burst into life when released by a through ball from Lee Clark, beating both Dean Richards and Anthony Gardner for pace, before clinically finishing past Keller. The visitors took heart from the goal and might have been further in front by the break had Hayles’ intelligent chip had a little more height. Spurs, booed off at half-time, created little with Edwin van der Sar saving smartly from Ledley King’s speculative strike.
Helder Postiga headed against a post midway through the second half, but Fulham were growing in confidence with every passing minute. They put together several probing passing moves but the crucial second goal owed everything to a calamitous Tottenham error. Darren Anderton’s dreadful pass played Richards into serious trouble, Hayles stripped him of possession and fired home from the edge of the area. Four minutes later, it was three. Hayles turned provider this time, surging down the left and beating Richards again, before sending in a low centre that ex-Arsenal winger Boa Morte gleefully tapped home. It was the culmination of a fine team move started by full back Jerome Bonnissel before Malbranque combined effortlessly with Hayles to prize open the Spurs defence.
The scoreline hardly flattered Fulham, who were fantastic throughout. Indeed, Coleman’s men could and should have extended their advantage as they poured forward in the closing stages, with Clark and Louis Saha squandering good chances to add to Tottenham’s embarrassment.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3-5-2): Keller; King (Zamora 45), Richards, Gardner; Carr, Davies (Anderton 58), Ricketts, Redknapp, Tarrico; Postiga, Kanoute. Subs (not used): Burch, Bunjevcevic, Marney.
FULHAM (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Bonnissel, Goma, Knight; Legwinski, Inamoto, Clark; Malbranque, Boa Morte, Hayles (Saha 73). Subs (not used): Crossley, Leacock, Buari, Sava.
BOOKED: Inamoto, Volz.
GOALS: Hayles (23, 67), Boa Morte (71).
REFEREE: Jeff Winter (Cleveland).