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Match Reports
Blackburn v Spurs, 29.11.03

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 29TH NOVEMBER, 2003
BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Scorer:-
Gresko, 78

Referee:- Graham Poll

Attendance:- 22,802

Teams:-
Blackburn (4-4-2):- Friedel; Babbel, Todd, Short, Gresko; Emerton, Ferguson, Tugay (Capt.), Johansson (sub Reid, 46); Gallagher (sub Jansen, 82), Yorke

Subs not used:- Enckleman; Taylor; Baggio

No bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Dalmat (sub Mabizela, 65), Anderton, King, Konchesky (sub Ricketts, 81); Keane, Postiga (sub Zamora, 65)

Subs not used:- Burch; Doherty

Booked:- Gardner

There were too many instances of "deja-vu" for this Spurs team of journeymen. Once again, Postiga failed to capitalise when presented with a golden chance to score. The opposition goalkeeper was rarely tested, whilst Keller was kept very busy, and made several valuable saves. Dalmat flattered to deceive with plenty of pretty play, but consistent failure to ultimately succeed, when the simple thing would have been a benefit. Spurs regularly failed to make good use of possession, and the ball, which was not helped by Postiga's inability to even hold the ball, with his back to goal. Worse of all, Spurs succumbed for the second consecutive away game to a lucky winning goal that was subject to a wicked deflection by Stephen Carr, leaving Keller stranded. Blackburn lifted themselves out of the bottom three, but Spurs are only one place and one point above them.

Conditions were no doubt quite hard, as there had been a deluge of rain in the hours before the game, but the pitch looked fine by the time of kick-off, and players are supposed to love such conditions, aren't they? Spurs fielded an unchanged side for the third consecutive game, whilst the hosts had been forced to make changes for the suspended Lucas Neill, and Andy Cole, whilst also having players such as Flitcroft and Amoruso injured on the sidelines.

Spurs had plenty of early possession, without making much of it, and the home fans were getting rattled by referee Graham Poll's decisions in favour of the visitors. The only early threat from either side was when Emerton chipped the defence for Ferguson to cross, but the ball was cleared by the effective Gardner and Richards. This defensive pairing is one of the big plus points for Spurs at present, and new boy Gallagher hardly got a look-in, whilst Yorke was well-marshalled on the whole. It was Yorke who forced the first save, as he headed an Emerton cross straight to Keller after 14 minutes. Andy Todd got up at the back post to an Emerton corner, but headed outside the post. Gardner did make one mistake that could have been costly, letting in Yorke, who failed to control the ball himself.

The best chance Spurs had managed was a good ball from Taricco to Konchesky, who did hit a good cross, that Friedel just reached. One felt that if only Spurs could have stepped up the tempo a gear, then they could have had Blackburn beaten in the first half, as they looked well below par, despite the superiority in actual chances.Tugay tried a shot from 28 yards that was well outside, and Johansson hit a deflected shot, to draw a save from Keller. Then Johansson beat Carr, but his cross was cleared for a corner.

Before the break, Postiga's best piece of work (a chest down to Keane with a run on goal beckoning) was thwarted by the failure of Poll to play an advantage for Spurs. Instead he gave a free kick, which Spurs duly wasted. Johansson was replaced at the interval by Steven Reid, and within two minutes, Konchesky found Postiga, who had a header saved by Friedel. but then found he had been offside anyway. Two minutes later came Postiga's best chance of the game. Taricco lifted a ball over the defence to the back post, where Helder did well to reach the ball, and got his right foot under the ball, needing the merest touch to put it in. Instead he managed to lift it outside the post, before adopting his now customary head-in-hands routine. On 52 minutes, Spurs had a great move from defence, started by Taricco and Konchesky. Postiga fed Keane lurking on the right, and Robbie's powerful shot was deflected for a corner. Postiga did then manage a shot on target, but it was easy for the keeper.

Blackburn now picked up the baton and Spurs were under pressure for a considerable time, conceding several corners, and making a couple of scrambled clearances in the area. Zamora replaced Postiga, whilst Mabizela replaced Dalmat, presumably to bolster the midfield. Spurs then had their last great chance when Carr brought the ball out of his half, could have shot, but fed the ball to his left for Keane, who was one on one with Friedel, shot but fired a yard over the bar.

Now the home side started to dominate, as Mabizela only half cleared a ball to Tugay, who hit a useful long-range effort. After 73 minutes Yorke was up to a corner at the back post, and Keller had to bravely dive to the post to save. Kasey was down for a while, which must have given Rob Burch the jitters! Keller recovered and soon had to make a good save diving to his right, to collect Ferguson's shot.

The winning goal came with 12 minutes left. Gresko was allowed acres of space to make a run down the inside left channel, before he launched a shot that benefited from that wicked deflection due to Carr's effort to clear. On came Ricketts for Konchesky, and he did make a difference down that left-hand side. It was all too late though, as the only remaining chance for Spurs was late squandered free kick from Anderton.

Whilst neither Zamora or Postiga seem to be quite up to Premiership standard, surely Bobby must start Wednesday night's game against Manchester City. Hopefully Ricketts will also be in the starting line-up. For mediocre sides such as ours, the Carling Cup is more and more important, and once again probably represents our only chance of success this season

Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here

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