SATURDAY 25TH AUGUST, 2001
FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
BLACKBURN 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Referee:- S. Bennett
Blackburn (4-4-2):- Friedel; Curtis, Berg, Short, Taylor; Gillespie (sub Bent, 68), Flitcroft (Capt), Mahon (sub Hignett, 60), Duff; Jansen, Grabbi (sub Blake, 18)
Subs not used:- Filan (GK); Hughes
Booked:- Gillespie (Foul)
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Sullivan; Perry, Doherty, King; Taricco (sub Rebrov, 67), Anderton (sub Davies, 85), Clemence (sub Freund, 8), Ziege; Poyet, Sheringham (Capt); Iversen
Subs not used:- Keller; Thelwell
Booked:- Taricco (Dissent?)
Spurs are still without a win, as Blackburn, still buoyed by their marvellous performance against the Champions on Wednesday night sustained their energy levels better than their opponents. The story of the match seems to be Glenn Hoddle's tirade against Graham Souness, who outraged the Tottenham boss with his protests against a Perry challenge on Jansen near the half way line, which led to a mysterious booking for Taricco, but you cannot disguise some tired efforts from Spurs today from players such as Ziege, Taricco, and especially Iversen against a side full of energy and determination.
Spurs will claim some hard luck stories, such as going one down, when they were trying to make a substitution for the injured Clemence, but if Steffen Iversen had half a yard more pace and effort, he would surely have had a hat-trick before half time. His worst miss was in the second half however, and whilst Spurs got a late consolation, that should have been an equaliser as Iversen failed dismally in front of an open goal.
Hoddle retained the formation which allows Ziege the freedom of the left flank, and Ziege it was who had the first chance after Iversen, Poyet and Sheringham had set him up on the left side of goal. Ziege hit the shot wide, and too many of Spurs efforts were not to test Brad Friedel in the Blackburn goal. Flitcroft was probably lucky, as Hoddle later said, not to get booked for his early challenge on Clemence, which left the midfielder hobbling after just 3 minutes. When the ball went dead, and the linesman tried to attract the referee's attention, Mr Bennett missed the signal, and the Spurs defence (particularly Taricco and Perry) were caught napping as from the throw in, Duff found Jansen, who threaded a ball to Mahon who scored across Sullivan from a sharp angle.
Spurs were then allowed to make their change, and Steffen Freund appeared. It has to be said that his passing was abysmal today. Spurs failed with an appeal for handball by Craig Short from a Taricco cross, and then had decent chances when Poyet got a header on target from a left field cross. Then Iversen made the first of his misses, after Sheringham pierced the defence after a quick free kick taken near the half-way line. Italian striker Corrado Grabbi also had to be replaced early on, and Spurs probably had the better possession in the first half, without making it pay. Blackburn were always threatening down the flanks through Duff and Gillespie, and after a little pressure on the left, Sullivan had to fly to his left to stop a Flitcoft rocket.
Then, after 25 minutes came the challenge on Jansen.The referee missed the incident, and gave no foul, but booked Taricco as he took the throw-in, apparently for getting involved in an eye-to-eye confrontation with Souness. Gillespie was next into the book after a foul on Poyet, but otherwise the officials allowed the game to flow, and despite the result, this was an entertaining game, with a loud atmosphere. Seven minutes before half time, Taricco allowed Duff far too much room to manoeuvre, and from his cross Gillespie hit a powerful shot that hit Sullivan's left post.
Teddy Sheringham forced a fine save from Friedel, after a 1-2 with Poyet, hitting a powerful shot from the right which the keeper had to tip over. Taricco may be suffering in his confidence levels due to the pending "trial by video" after the Everton game, but he did not want to commit too far forward for fear of losing Duff, whose pace was too much for him. Taricco even made a moderate player like Martin Taylor look a class higher, as the stand-in left back raced past to chip a cross just over the bar. Taricco failed to make it to an Anderton pass, allowing a counter-attack where Duff passed to Jansen, whose shot was only saved by Sullivan's trailing leg, as the keeper dived too early to the left.
Ziege had a couple of good chances, firing well over the target with one, and then failing to control the ball as he ran into the box, after good work by Poyet and Sheringham. Poyet is real class, but I do worry about his mobility, and would have liked Davies on the pitch far earlier than the 86th minute, which was too late to be of any use. Rebrov replaced Taricco, at which stage, Glenn reverted to the 3-5-2, with Anderton and Ziege playing as wing-backs. Sergei failed to make any impression.
Blackburn quickly went two up, as Duff was allowed to cut in from the left, and to run through the middle un-challenged until he put a right foot shot sweetly past Neil Sullivan. Iversen then made the most glaring miss, as he latched onto a short back-header from Berg, and with an open goal beckoning, failed to get the decisive touch, allowing Friedel time to get in his way and block the eventual half-strength shot. It is incredible to think that Iversen was being included in the close-season rumoured deal involving Shevchenko! (Just shows what mugs those of us who believed there was an inkling truth to the story were!)
Christian Ziege did get a consolation goal for Spurs in the last minutes with a 25 yard deflected shot after a build up following a throw from the right, but there is no doubt about the rightful winners of this game, and the hard work required to get this squad into the winning habit.
A variation on the anti-Campbell theme was aired today - to the tune of "She'll be coming round the mountain":-
"You can stick Sol Campbell up your arse (etc. etc)
'Cos we've got Ledley at the back" (etc. etc.).
Look on the bright side. We have been drawn at home against Torquay in the Worthington Cup Second round, and they currently prop up the football league without a point or a goal to their name.
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Declan Mulcahy's Last Five Stats for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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