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Match Reports
Spurs v Newcastle, 10.04.05


Defoe, 42

Referee: - Steve Bennett

Attendance: - 35,885

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, King (Capt.), Gardner, Edman; Davies (sub Ziegler, 83), Brown (sub Davis, 54), Carrick, Reid; Kanoute, Defoe (sub Keane, 77)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Bunjevcevic

Booked: - Brown, Davis

Newcastle (4-4-2):- Harper; Carr, Boumsong, O’Brien, Babayaro; Jenas, Butt (sub Ambrose, 61), Faye, Robert (sub N’Zogbia, 61); Ameobi, Shearer (Capt.) (sub Milner, 46)

Subs not used: - Caig (GK); Hughes

Booked: - Faye, Ameobi

It should have been a lot more comfortable for Spurs today. Let there be no doubt that Spurs were worthy winners, but for the last quarter of the game, their fans had to bite their nails, as Newcastle, inspired by substitute Charles N’Zogbia finally put some pressure on the home side, who had dominated proceedings until that point. It’s not that Steve Harper (replacing the injured Given) had too many saves to make, as Spurs did not have their shooting boots on today. It’s just that Spurs played loads of good football, but too often failed in the last third to either make the vital last pass, or hit a shot on target!

Newcastle were of course missing three suspended players as well as Given, but the side they put out was still a strong one demonstrating that they have a squad with reserves in depth, as do Spurs. The “Toon” needed to think about not only next week’s semi-final against Man Utd, but they also have their UEFA Cup quarter final second leg next Thursday to prepare for. Skipper Alan Shearer, dominated today by Anthony Gardner, did get a knock in the first half, but his replacement by Milner at half-time may well have been an indication of the need for Graeme Souness to protect his most precious resource for those Cup ties.

Simon Davies made a welcome and effective return to the midfield, although he seems to be given licence to roam, spending some of his time on the wing. Michael Brown had another 100% busy game, getting his ninth booking of the season. He too suffered a knock early in the second half, but his replacement, Sean Davis, had just as effective a game. Michael Carrick played well, I am pleased to report, and that may have been partly because he tended more towards simple balls rather than some upfield passes that might not have been reached by his strike force. Jermain Defoe’s persistence paid off for his 42nd minute winner, but Fredi Kanoute had the touch of an elephant at times today. He had what I would call one of his West Ham games, and if Mido is fit next week, he may get promoted over Fredi.

Newcastle hardly threatened Spurs in the first half, but they did have the best chance, when Ameobi’s header bounced over the bar. Once again, White Hart Lane was almost full for this televised game. Predictably, the home fans gave Stephen Carr a hard time, not least when he was involved in a hard challenge with his compatriot, Andy Reid.

This was an entertaining game, which I imagine the SKY viewers enjoyed. Spurs dominated totally in the early stages. First Brown threaded a ball for Kelly, but Babayaro cleared well for a throw. Then Brown got a run inside from the throw, and hit a left foot shot low to the left of Harper, who made the save. After 5 minutes, Harper badly miscued a clearance, conceding a corner, from which he did well to save low from Gardner’s header. Carrick won a midfield challenge, and made a quick incisive pass to Defoe, who just missed the split second available for a good scoring chance. When he did shoot the shot was cleared, but then Reid’s ball across the area passed just in front of Kanoute, and Defoe.

Brown got an early card, having already received a couple of warnings, before Faye saw yellow for standing over a Spurs free kick. Referee Bennett was not shy of laying down the law, nor was he having any nonsense from Shearer, making his usual protests along the way. Another Reid cross went in front of Kanoute, before Kanoute headed the ball to Reid, who picked a gap for a shot, but put it 10 yards wide. The goals at Spurs Lodge must be triple size this week!

Defoe nearly seized on another incisive Carrick ball, but Harper just managed to clear off Jermain’s feet. Mid-way through the half came the Newcastle chance. Carr made the sort of run we used to see, passing inside to Jenas, whose ball was headed to the ground, then bounced over the bar, landing on Robinson’s net. Michael Brown soon led a Spurs break, with Defoe and Davies continuing the attack. Simon Davies had room to place a shot, but it was a poor effort that failed to test Newcastle’s reserve keeper. Spurs were playing plenty of good football, and an Edman cross was met by Kanoute with a header, but you guessed it – it went wide! Carrick hit a shot that was on target, from a Kanoute battle with Boumsong, but it was charged down, and as too often occurred, Reid’s corner was poor.

Spurs’ persistence, in the shape of Defoe, paid off when Babayaro passed back to Harper, whose attempted clearance really hit Simon Davies, rebounding to Defoe. Defoe was onside because Babayaro was still behind the play, and Jermain scored from close range with the keeper getting a touch, but not enough on the ball. Two minutes after the break, Defoe was winning a battle with Boumsong, who got in a tackle, but which somehow was not seen as a corner by the officials. Another delivery from the left found Kelly on a now typical advance, but his shot was nearer the upper tier of the Paxton stand, than the goal.

Spurs nearly gifted Newcastle a goal when Robinson and King had a mix up on the edge of the area. Robinson rolled the ball just outside and I think he expected Ledley to carry on the play. Ledley had failed to foresee this move, and the ball was open for James Milner, who hooked his shot high and wide to the relief of the majority in the stadium. Incidentally, Newcastle did not send as many fans as usual, and they were remarkably quiet today, but then their team was doing little to excite them.

Just after the hour, Edman made a good run down the left, supported by Reid, who passed inside to Simon Davies, making a good ball to Kanoute, who hit a woeful shot. Now, Reid was on the right, and he threaded a ball to Simon Davies who won a battle for the ball with Harper, but just could not reach the loose ball to make a pass back to a potential scorer. It was turning into one of those days, where Spurs were making all the running, but making their fans sweat too much over the three points.

Davies was to be the next villain for the home side, after Kelly made a great run to the corner flag, passing inside to Kanoute who teed up Davies. Davies too had time to spare, but still hit the ball above the goal, rugby style. Defoe did a great job holding the ball up, and feeding Kanoute, who missed again. Robbie Keane replaced Defoe for the closing stages, but had little action, with the exception of a move where he had two passing options either side of him, and although he was fouled, Robbie should have fed the ball. The pressure on Spurs was increased by two late free kicks to Newcastle just outside the area. Sean Davis got booked for conceding one of these, and Kelly rashly gave another for a challenge on N’Zogbia. Both kicks were blocked.

Spurs climbed to 7th place with this win, which could be good enough for Europe. Sorry Newcastle fans, but we do need Manchester United to beat you next week. I fear your quest for a domestic trophy is going to go on for another year. Spurs have to face Liverpool and Arsenal in their next two away games. We’ll be doing well to get a total of three points from those games, but that may be the requirement to maintain a challenge for Europe. It’s great to be in with a shout though!

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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