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Match Reports

Spurs v Blackburn, 15.05.05


Attendance:- 35, 797

Referee:- Alan Wiley (not as per programme)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Kelly, Naybet, King (Capt.), Edman; Davies, Carrick, Davis (sub Marney, 70), Reid (sub Defoe, 60); Kanoute, Keane

Subs not used:- Fulop; Bunjevcevic; Ziegler

Booked:- Naybet, Marney

Blackburn (4-1-4-1):- Friedel; Neill, Todd (Capt.), Nelsen, McEveley; Mokoaena; Emerton, Savage, Thompson, Pedersen; Stead (sub Johnson, 60)

Subs not used:- Enckelman; Johansson; Douglas, Tugay

Booked:- Savage, Neill

Spurs dim hopes of a UEFA Cup place faded into nothing, as they failed to break down a stubborn Blackburn side that got what they came for – a hard earnt point. As it happens events at The City of Manchester Stadium meant that Middlesbrough secured a point and the seventh slot anyway, but had Robbie Fowler scored an injury time penalty, saved by Schwarzer, then Spurs would have been rueing their failure to worry the scorers today.

In fact this was the sixth time in the last twelve games that Spurs’ array of striking talent has failed to score, and the fifteenth time in the season, with four of those games being goal-less draws – two at home against opposition we expected to beat. Let’s not bleat about Old Trafford, as once again, over the season, Spurs have lost to relegated teams (Crystal Palace and Southampton), or surrendered points that should have been bagged.

I have wondered this week about the wisdom of Ledley King’s quote that the team accepted it was very likely they would not get to Europe. Whilst the team had a few chances today, they did not seem to demonstrate that bit of extra drive of a team really determined to win. Part of the reason for that was Blackburn’s physical style, where they closed Spurs down, by fair means or foul to the point that Spurs players probably worried a bit about getting crunched as they were on the ball, or about to receive a pass. This must have hampered our ability to pass to feet, as so often during this game, we lost composure. Andy Reid had a mare today, as did in my view “Wonder Boy” Michael Carrick, who couldn’t even get his short passes right today. As has often been the case, corners and free kicks were squandered.

Just before kick-off, Reto Ziegler was presented with a Young Player of the season award, and Paul Robinson (dressed in a snazzy white jacket) got the Player of the Season award, winning extra applause as he announced he would hopefully be signing a new (improved) contract very soon.

Blackburn lined up in the popular 4-1-4-1 formation, with Mokoena the man in front of the defence, who were missing the suspended Craig Short. Stead was alone up front, but got support from Emerton from the right and Pedersen from the left. Hate figure Savage (to live up to his reputation in the second half) was inside with David Thompson. For Spurs, Jermain Defoe had to settle for the bench once again, as Robbie Keane got the nod beside the ever industrious Kanoute.

Spurs had a good chance after 7 minutes, when Brad Friedel could not hold Robbie Keane’s shot. Kanoute’s follow-up was cleared for a corner. Blackburn’s tactics were not so negative that they forgot to attack, as they tested the Spurs defence quite a bit in the first period. Second choice keeper Radek Cerny got his first real test in the first team after 13 minutes, when Savage’s corner was touched on by Nelsen, and then hit by Rovers’ skipper Andy Todd from close range. Cerny did well to reach above his head and push the ball over the bar for another corner.

Five minutes later there was a decent passage of play when Simon Davies picked up a flick, made a run and saw Friedel parry the shot. Andy Reid followed up and was brought down on the edge of the area. However, Spurs wasted the free kick and Blackburn broke back effectively, with Edman having to make a good block of Emerton’s shot inside the Spurs area. After 21 minutes, Kanoute showed good skill gathering a free kick, then turning and hitting a low shot saved by the keeper. Three minutes later, Kanoute and Keane put me in mind of the “G-men” (Greaves and Gilzean – guess which was which!), as they combined through Kanoute’s header, Robbie’s pass back, and Fredi’s run and shot just touched out by Friedel, for another corner.

Ledley King and Naybet (making a welcome return) combined to block from Pedersen in the box after 36 minutes, and then Sean Davis made a driving run down the middle to force another save from Friedel. After the break, Carrick dawdled on the ball in the middle and was closed down by two opponents who stole the ball, leading to an effort from Thompson, held by Cerny Savage got his name taken for a cynical foul on Andy Reid, who was getting away from him, and could have seen red for persistent arguing with the referee later on. Naybet had a good chance with a prod close to goal, from a Reid free kick, but put the ball wide. On the hour, Robbie Keane did well to make room for a left foot shot that went wide.

Once Reid went off, Spurs went to 4-3-3, with Keane on the right, Kanoute in the middle and Defoe on the left, but they made no headway against the ever retreating red shirts of the visitors. In fact Pedersen had the best chance of this spell, as he headed wide from Neill’s cross. Marney replaced the tiring Sean Davis, and he did have a free kick chance that was hit straight down Friedel’s throat.

I think the crowd had accepted that the necessary goals were not going to come by half time really, but at the end of the game, they were as appreciative as ever, when the squad paraded round the ground. Martin Jol was lauded and reciprocated his applause to the fans. Robbo was there with his daughter (I assume) also dressed in white, and it was good to see injured players such as Dawson, Brown, Mendes and Pamarot amongst those lapping up the crowd’s recognition of real progress throughout the season.

There is of course every hope for improvement next time round, and it has to be said now, that anything less than qualification for Europe next term would have to be a failure, with the resources now available to Martin Jol, and his coaching staff.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you, the reader, for your continuing interest in Spurs Odyssey Match Reports, which will resume after the close season. Have a great summer!

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