FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 14TH JANUARY, 2007
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) NEWCASTLE UNITED 3 (1)
Referee: - Steve Bennett
Attendance: - 35,942
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Chimbonda, Dawson, Davenport (sub Ghaly, 87), Lee; Lennon, Tainio (sub Zokora, 78), Huddlestone, Malbranque (sub Keane, 74); Berbatov, Defoe
Subs not used: - Cerny; Gardner
Booked: - Chimbonda
Newcastle (4-4-2):- Given (Capt.); Solano, Taylor, Ramage, Huntingdon; Milner, Dyer, Butt, Pattison; Sibierski, Martins
Subs not used: - Harper; Edgar, O’Brien; Carroll, Troisi
Booked: - Ramage, Solano, Butt, Huntingdon
Look into my eyes. No, not around my eyes, but directly into my eyes. You are feeling sleepy. Now you are drifting upon a cloud above White Hart Lane. You are a non-partisan observer of the game of football being played beneath you, and before millions watching on TV around the World. You have been thrilled to see 25 men playing end to end football at the pace we love to see in Britain, and you have been entertained by the five goals and the other close calls laid out before you. Not good enough for you? You must be a Spurs fan then. You’re deliriously happy? Oh, you must be a Geordie, and you’re way above the clouds in ecstasy, after your team came back from behind to steal all three Premiership points, having beaten Spurs for the second time in three weeks. At the click of my fingers, you will wake up.
Spurs must have smelt blood today, as once again, Glenn Roeder was forced to field a makeshift side, which included 20 year old South African Matthew Pattison on the left wing, who is a veteran of just three Premiership starts. 19 year old Paul Huntingdon has more experience, having played 7 games this season, and scored his first Premiership goal to equalise Jermain Defoe’s 14th minute goal in the first half. Roeder’s outfield substitutes were no more experienced, and apart from the fact that the eleven starters performed so well, perhaps Roeder needed to protect his protégés. Perhaps the Newcastle youngsters will make it hard for established stars to get back into the side, if they carry on their climb up the league table. No doubt Roeder’s previous experience with the Newcastle academy has a lot to do with the way this team is working for him.
Having complimented the visitors for their application and of course the fruits of their labours, the simple statistics do indicate that Spurs should have won this game hands down, with a total of 26 shots on goal (11 on target, 10 off target and 5 blocked) compared to Newcastle’s 13 (5-5-3). The simple answer to the question you are all asking is that Spurs simply need to be more clinical in front of goal. Oh and Shay Given had one of his blinding games as well! Incidentally, it must be unusual for both sides to be captained by their goalkeepers, as was the case today.
Spurs started at such a high tempo, and dominated until they scored their first goal, that you really wondered by how many they were going to win. Malbranque put Defoe through after just four minutes, and despite the fact they were both being hampered all the way, Defoe got in a shot which Given saved. Immediately after that Defoe hit an effort wide from a cross from the right. Two minutes later, Huddlestone fed Tainio who made a good pass for Berbatov through the middle, giving Given an easier save to make with a shot directly at the keeper. Malbranque hit a rocket of a shot straight at Given, and then crossing from the left gave Defoe a headed chance which was also saved. At last, in the fourteenth minute, Spurs took the lead thanks to a low cross by Malbranque from the left and a good finish by Defoe, who may have been just offside, before sliding the ball home.
Having taken the lead, Spurs seemed to settle into a rhythm that suited the visitors. It didn’t help when they conceded a free kick on the right, which was launched deep across the Spurs area, where Huntingdon hit a sharp low shot from a tight angle, which went into the net off Robinson. Huntingdon was lucky to escape with words from Steve Bennett, as he over-celebrated at the wrong end of the ground.
It was over ten minutes, before Spurs had their next chance, and Defoe did well to hold the ball from a clearance, sending Lennon away skipping down the middle. Given raced out of his area to thwart Lennon, and the ball ran to Malbranque who tried a snap shot with the keeper out of his ground, but put it wide of the left post. Spurs would pay dearly later for this and other failures to capitalise. Paul Robinson had to tip over a Martins shot from Milner’s cross, and from the corner, Sibierski’s downward header was cleared.
After 33 minutes, Tainio led a break from the middle. Lennon and Defoe worked the ball up the field, and it was Defoe’s cross which gave Lennon the chance to shoot, which was blocked. Ramage got the first booking of the day, and from Huddlestone’s floated free kick, Chimbonda should have done better with his header which was yards over the top. Solano also saw yellow before Lee’s ball in from the left was subject to a skilful overhead effort from Berbatov which landed on the net. Berbatov’s next effort came after Tainio won a second ball, sending the Bulgarian away on the left, from where Given held the shot. Next up was control by Berbatov from a Robinson ball, and a feed for Defoe, who hit a delightful right footed shot from the left side of the area, that beat Given, but crossed the outside of the goal.
As half time approached, both Butt and Chimbonda saw yellow cards after a spat, which seemed to continue down the tunnel.
It wasn’t long after the break before Spurs regained the lead. Pattison had headed wide across the goalmouth for Newcastle, before Malbranque sent Chimbonda down the right on a run, getting all the way to the bye-line. The pass came back to Tainio, whose shot was blocked but rebounded to Berbatov, whose shot hit the ground and rose up and past Given. Given was soon busy again, as he could only parry a powerful shot by Defoe. Of course, Spurs needed a two-goal cushion, and chances still came along. Berbatov passed inside to Huddlestone’s whose shot took a slight deflection, but had Given beaten anyway. The ball passed outside the post for a corner, and soon after that another Huddlestone shot was deflected out for a corner.
Newcastle were more clinical at the other end taking the home team and crowd by surprise, when Dyer passed to Martins, who swiftly moved to his left and hit a stunning rising 25 yard shot that was just unstoppable, hitting the roof of Robinson’s net. More pain was to follow for Spurs, as within a minute, Martins was threading the ball to Butt, who took the ball to an angle on the right of the area, and fired low past the England keeper, who was one of those being observed by his National coach today.
Martin Jol made an immediate change, bringing on Robbie Keane for Malbranque. Keane’s first chance fell from a Lennon cross, but Keane (who had to react quickly) could only pass the ball to Given. Zokora now replaced Tainio. Lennon had started the second half on the left, but now returned to the right, where we all know he belongs! On 79 minutes, Lennon was inside the box, and had a perfect chance to shoot, but chose to lay the ball back to Keane, whose shot was blocked by Solano. Huntingdon got a yellow card for probably the most cynical foul of the afternoon, stopping Lennon in full flow on the edge of the box. Inevitably, Spurs did not get the reward they deserved from the incident.
Defoe hit a ball over the defence that beat any offside flag, and Keane might have scored, but again failed to get the ball under control. The game was fully stretched now, and Sibierski tested Robinson with a shot outside the post. At the other end, Spurs fans were despondent as a Defoe cracker hit the post and rebounded straight as a die to safety. Lee tried a shot from distance, but this was easy meat for Given.
Now Martin Jol played his last card, and put Ghaly on for Davenport. Ghaly joined Chimbonda and Lee in a three man defence, as Michael Dawson stayed up front. It was all to no avail however, although in injury time, Ghaly and Berbatov exchanged passes inside the Newcastle area, and both might have had a pot-shot, but neither had the conviction to hit the net.
The boos rang out for the defeat, which was Spurs second consecutive home loss. “Fortress Tottenham” has become a butter mountain, but Spurs have and will play worse than this and win. The top six places look beyond us now, and we must hope for success in one of the three cup competitions, starting with Cardiff on Wednesday!
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