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Match Reports
Sunderland v Spurs, 12.02.06

Sunderland scorer:-
Murphy, 89

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 38

Referee: - Mr. A. Marriner (Fourth Official Mr. M. Atkinson)

Attendance: - 34,700

Sunderland (4-4-2):- Davis; Nosworthy, Breen (Capt.), Collins, Hoyte; Lawrence (sub Murphy, 74), Bassila (sub Leadbitter, 46), Miller, Arca; Stead (sub Le Tallec, 89), Kyle

Subs not used: - Alnwick (GK); Woods

Booked: - Kyle, Arca

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, King (Capt.), Lee; Jenas, Carrick, Davids (sub Murphy, 62), Lennon (sub Huddlestone, 85); Defoe, Keane (sub Mido, 69)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Gardner

Booked: - Murphy

If, at the end of the season, Spurs are labelled a team that “almost” made it to the Champions League – perhaps even the UEFA cup – they will rue this result alongside those at Fulham and at home to West Ham, to name but two occasions when a late, late goal could cost such aspirations dearly. Sunderland got no more than they deserved. Almost the only occasion when Spurs played quality football was when half the team were involved in the move that led to Robbie Keane’s 38th minute goal. Spurs then seemed happy to defend that lead, rather than take the game by the throat, and almost the only time they put in the sort of effort demanded by the travelling fans was in a frantic injury time, as they desperately tried to retrieve the lead dramatically taken from them by D. Murphy. That’s Sunderland’s D. Murphy by the way!

You could entitle one of the sub-plots to the game – “A tale of two Murphies”. There was Spurs Danny, making his debut, replacing the clearly unfit Edgar Davids after 62 minutes. Danny, aged 28, is described as a class act. He has been to Europe with Liverpool, and he did score in Sunderland’s first game of the season, when Charlton were the victors. Sunderland had 22-year old Daryl, who has a handful of appearances to his name – mostly as a substitute. This Murphy was signed last summer from Waterford United, having previously been on the books of such lofty clubs as Luton and Harrow.

It was Daryl who won the day and the headlines, when he muscled Paul Stalteri aside inside the Spurs area, and beat Robinson with a cool finish. Danny’s first pass was woeful, and he did not have time to settle into the pace of the game, making little impression, other than when he won his first booking in Spurs colours.

Spurs fielded a strong side, with almost all their talent at their disposal. Davids was selected, but passed poorly on the whole. Lennon was a welcome inclusion, but not on the left, where he is not so effective. Mido was back, but on the bench, where Murphy kept him company. Young-Pyo Lee was also back, after his sad family commitment in South Korea. The Spurs defence looked very comfortable for most of the game, with both King and Dawson in their usual impeccable form.

Mick McCarthy had been forced to make changes with the suspensions of Steve Wright, Caldwell and Whitehead, but, as I pointed out in my preview, and as Martin Jol claimed after the game, the Black Cats played with more confidence, due to the almost assured relegation. Indeed, McCarthy’s programme notes were a defence of the allegation that the club had never aimed to stay in the Premiership. A corner of the home support was chanting for Chairman Bob Murray to be removed throughout the game.

There was little about the game to excite the TV viewers, and it was the home side who got the first shot on target, as Kyle collected off Liam Lawrence and was allowed a run through the midfield, until Ledley King decided to close down the striker. Kyle’s shot was easily collected by Paul Robinson. Lawrence sent over a threatening cross soon after, which Dawson was happy to head out for a corner. Stead was the next to have a go, with a run that tested Dawson, taking him left and right. Stead did get a shot across the goal, but it was left by Robinson. Still, Spurs had not hit the target, and it was a failed pass by Davids that gave Sunderland yet another chance after 31 minutes, when Lawrence’s shot was deflected off King and at least tested Paul Robinson.

At last, Spurs were sparked into shooting, and like London buses, their efforts came in not twos but threes! Davids did find the advancing Lee on the left, and when Robbie Keane collected his pass, his shot was at least on goal. Lennon squeezed through soon after, but Davies was equal to that, but he was more worried when Lee took a quick free kick and Keane’s shot beat the keeper, but only rebounded onto the pitch off the advertising hoarding behind the goal.

Spurs’ goal was one to savour. It started with Paul Robinson’s throw to Jenas just inside the Spurs half. Jenas headed back to Stalteri, who slipped the ball inside to Carrick, under pressure from two opponents. Carrick swept inside and left his markers trailing, then had time to send a great ball outside the centre half, for Defoe, who made it into the area on the right-hand side. Defoe’s ball inside the 6-yard box, beat Breen, and was an easy finish for Keane from close range.

Sunderland’s crowd was the largest at The Stadium of Light for three months, and they got behind their men more and more, as they sensed that the decisions of the referee – Andre Marriner – were being stacked against them. Mr. Marriner is a recent addition to the select group of referees, and didn’t do much wrong in my view. Once again, it was Spurs having to defend, and when Stead put over a low ball from the left after an hour, Lawrence only just failed to make contact, with Robinson failing to collect the ball himself. After Murphy’s arrival, Lennon reverted to the right and Jenas played inside. Murphy played on the left side. Mido replaced Robbie Keane, and at least managed to hold the ball up a little.

Why Spurs could not get their full backs forward more I do not know, but when at last Stalteri did get into the Sunderland half after 76 minutes, he was there to meet Defoe’s cross from the right, but could not hit his shot with strength. Kyle had a great chance 8 minutes before the end, and hit an arrowed shot wide across the goal. Quite frankly, it came as no surprise to see Spurs succumb once again to a killer goal, and it came from Daryl Murphy who got into the Spurs box and was one on one against Stalteri. Stalteri was inside the forward, but probably bottled his challenge for fear of conceding a penalty. Sunderland’s Murphy got goal-side and beat the Spurs keeper with a low shot to the far corner.

Huddlestone had replaced Lennon at a late stage, and he was one of those in the Sunderland area for a late charge, which involved several efforts, one of which should have resulted in a winner for Jermaine Jenas, who scooped the ball high over the bar from 14 yards.

Spurs are of course still fourth, and our local rivals play their game in hand at Anfield tomorrow (Tuesday). A draw would possibly be the best result for Spurs, but it is time for us not to be worrying about others’ results and to become more ruthless – like black cats, really.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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