BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
TUESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY, 2010
BLACKPOOL 3 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Adam (pen), 18
(Since amended to a Cathcart own goal by the Dubious Goals Panel)
Referee:- Chris Foy
Assistants:- Mr. D. Mohareb & Mr. T. Massey
Fourth official:- Mr. J. Moss
Blackpool (4-3-2-1):- Kingson; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Baptiste; Vaughan, Adam (Capt.), Sylvestre (sub Southern, 58); Kornilenko (sub Ormerod, 63), Campbell; Beattie (sub Phillips, 63)
Subs not used:- Halstead; Carney, Puncheon, Reid
Booked:- Evatt (foul on Pienaar), Adam (foul on Dawson)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Gallas, Dawson (Capt.), Bassong (sub Crouch, 73), Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios (sub Jenas, 46), Modric, Pienaar (sub Kranjcar, 59); Defoe, Pavlyuchenko
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Khumalo; Sandro, Rose
Spurs hopes dashed
Spurs travelled to Blackpool with hopes of going into third place and more importantly going five points clear of fifth placed Chelsea, but despite a performance that could, even should have seen more goals they succumbed to Ian Holloway’s “keen as mustard” Blackpool team, who scored three goals from their few chances, and grabbed a precious three points that gives them plenty of encouragement in their battle against the drop. Where this result leaves Spurs’ chances of keeping in the top four, I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t help.
William Gallas filled the right back slot, and as has so often been the case, he was the most reliable of Spurs defenders. Unfortunately the same could not be said of Sebastien Bassong, who was drafted in to partner Dawson, as he gave away a foolish penalty which set the home side on their way. Luka Modric returned in the middle alongside Palacios, and Harry played both Defoe and Pavlyuchenko up front. Luka did not have the best of games in the first half, with more passes than usual going astray, but perhaps Spurs were over-powered by the gung-ho Blackpool midfield.
Blackpool featured new signing James Beattie up front supported on the flanks by Kornilenko and DJ Campbell, with Vaughan, Adam and Sylvestre behind them. It was a near capacity crowd present and the Spurs fans occupied one half of a temporary stand, whose facilities were also of a temporary nature.
The pitch looked a bit bobbly, but it was a mild and damp night that was eminently suited to football.
Blackpool were playing “in your face” type football that had an effect upon the so-called cultured Spurs side, which just a week ago had conquered the mighty AC Milan. Clearly Holloway had got his men fired up to show that they were a better team, and they certainly gave Spurs more to think about. Spurs’ first chance followed a Pienaar corner and ended with Pienaar firing over from the left side of the box after a Modric ball. Minutes later Spurs were behind when Bassong foolishly challenged Campbell in the box giving the referee an easy decision to make. Bassong is a tight marker and in getting so close to his opponent, sometimes suffers as a result of his inexperience and failure to leave himself a little more room to work in. Skipper Charlie Adam made no mistake from the spot, firing high to the right of Gomes.
One of the ironies of the night really was that Gomes had few saves, if any, to make, but he still had to pick the ball out of the net three times. Spurs tried to get back on terms and Pavlyuchenko and Lennon did well working the ball forward down the right side, before Pavlyuchenko’s ball found Pienaar, whose shot might well have been handled. Referee Chris Foy might have found the game too fast for him at times. He certainly did not like to stop the play, which is to his credit, but I did feel that Blackpool were allowed to be too strong in their challenges at times. That could be sour grapes though, couldn’t it?
Defoe nearly scored with a clever chipped shot that looked as if it was actually headed onto the bar by a defender, but the ball ran clear in any case. Lennon was on form for Spurs, as he has been generally in the absence of Gareth Bale. He made one of his trademark runs down the right and combined with Palacios before having a shot at goal from a central position. The shot was cleared. At the other end Evatt got the first booking of the night for a foul on Pienaar. After the free kick, Lennon crossed into the 6 yard box and both Defoe and Pavlyuchenko had shots blocked.
Having had some pressure, Spurs suffered a sucker punch as the home side countered down the right and Beattie sent in a deep cross which was converted by DJ Campbell lurking in what looked like an offside position at the back post. Spurs had given themselves a lot to do, but Man Utd had come back from a similar position earlier in the season, so why not Spurs?
Harry Redknapp switched Jenas for Palacios at the interval, and Jenas did well, carrying the ball through some tight marking and passing accurately. Modric also found his better form. Spurs were now creating chances, but spurning them too often. Pienaar fired wide after more good work by Lennon. Campbell did give Gomes a shot to hold after turning both Bassong and Ekotto. Jenas had a shot go wide after a short corner on 48 minutes. The pattern was set for an exciting end to end second half.
Pavlyuchenko did well to control and hold the ball in the middle, sending Lennon away, and heading his cross which was saved by Kingson. Then Jenas and Modric worked the ball through tight marking to feed Defoe on the right. Defoe crossed, but Pienaar made a poor effort on goal. Pavlyuchenko had another decent effort with a shot that passed just over the bar. A Spurs goal had to come, didn’t it? Another chance came for Pavlyuchenko, courtesy of Ekotto and Pienaar down the left, but again it was off target. Defoe fired wide after a Spurs free kick on 56 minutes.
At this point, Pienaar was replaced by Kranjcar, who won a corner in no time, from which he hit a right foot shot just over. With half an hour left, Ian Holloway gambled by putting on his last two substitutes. With 20 minutes left Ekotto sprayed a fine long ball to Lennon, whose cross was met with power by Pavlyuchenko’s header, which we thought had gone in the net, but it appears Kingson managed to save it by sitting on the ball! Defoe threaded a ball for Modric on the right side of the area, but Luka’s effort was cleared. Now Crouch came on for Bassong, so we had all three of our strikers on the pitch. Jenas moved to right back, and Gallas partnered Dawson.
However, Spurs went three down with ten minutes left to play, and I felt that Ekotto was unlucky, as he tried to clear from Phillips, but the ball rebounded into the path of Ormerod, who made no mistake, with Ekotto up against the two attackers. Spurs kept trying and Lennon switched to the left, passing inside to Kranjcar whose shot was blocked. Spurs eventually did score, but it was after three minutes of added time, when Crouch headed down to Pavlyuchenko who hit a good shot from fully 25 yards. (Since amended to a Cathcart own goal by the Dubious Goals Panel)It was too little, too late, and those wearing tangerine went home with big grins on their faces.
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