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Match Reports
Blackburn v Spurs, 19.11.06


Blackburn scorer:-
Tugay, 23

Spurs scorer:-
Defoe, (pen) 62

Referee: - Phil Dowd

Attendance: - 18,083

Blackburn (4-4-2):- Friedel; Emerton, Ooijer (Capt.), Henchoz, Gray; Bentley (sub Peter, 84), Savage, Tugay, Pedersen; McCarthy (sub Jeffers, 86), Nonda (sub Mokoena, 65)

Subs not used: - Brown; McEveley

Sent off: - Tugay (No Bookings for Blackburn)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Lee, Dawson, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Ghaly, Zokora, Huddlestone, Davids (sub Malbranque, 46); Defoe (sub Berbatov, 82), Mido

Subs not used: - Cerny; Murphy; Keane

Booked: - Mido

Sent off: - Ghaly

Referee Phil Dowd will be at the centre of all the headlines in tomorrow’s papers, after several crucial decisions (or non-decisions) which incensed both camps at Ewood Park today. The match was always going to be hard-fought, with both sides desperate for a win, and whilst it was never (in my view) a dirty game, Tugay’s sending-off for the foul on Ghaly that gave Spurs an equalising penalty was the spark that lit up what there was of a home crowd, and it seemed to me that the late red card shown to Ghaly for an alleged piece of violent play (elbow) was won by the Blackburn players, and given by Dowd to balance his earlier decision. Both recipients of red cards could be said to be Heroes and Villains today!

Obviously, Blackburn had to cope with ten men for much longer than Spurs, and those ten men played better and put the visitors under plenty of pressure in the last half-hour. Tugay had scored a wonder goal mid-way through the first half (everyone seems to do it against us this season), and with Mido missing chances left right and centre, Spurs can count themselves lucky enough to come away with a point. Still we look for our first away Premiership win, AND first away goal from open play, scored by one of our own men!

Both sides were missing key men. One of Mark Hughes improvisations was to play Brett Emerton at right back. Hughes was of course pleased to see Robbie Savage back in action. The same cannot be said of the Spurs contingent, ever ready to bait the former Leicester and Birmingham man. Martin Jol was missing Pascal Chimbonda (Oh, how we all missed him!), Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Jenas. Jol also chose to switch his strikers, giving Mido and Defoe the start – probably indicating that Berbatov and Keane will start in Leverkusen on Thursday night. Tom Huddlestone played beside Zokora in the middle and Edgar Davids took up the left side midfield role. Davids was as busy as ever, and had one or two key passes, but was replaced at the interval by Steed Malbranque, who made his first Premiership appearance for Spurs.

Blackburn did have the ball in the net after 6 minutes, but the flag had gone up, before Nonda stroked the ball in after Bentley and McCarthy had teed him up. Davids had a good curling shot just wide of the post after ten minutes, when Mido dummied Ghaly’s pass, and Defoe laid the ball back. Mido tried an early shot three minutes later from 25 yards, but the ball also curved wide of the mark.

Spurs fell behind after their first real struggle to clear their lines against a home attack. Spurs were being attacked down their left flank, and eventually the ball was half cleared as far as Tugay, standing in space 25 yards out, who hit the falling ball beautifully on the volley to beat Robinson to his left with an unstoppable shot. Mido saw yellow for a foul on Henchoz, and thereafter was consistently booed by the home crowd (to use the term loosely) Blackburn’s home support is quite abysmal really, and during the match various inducements were being offered to watch future games. There were plenty of empty seats in all four stands. The away support was given the whole of the lower tier at one end, and we did our best to fill that too!

Ghaly and Lee combined well on the right to beat Gray, and it was Lee who got the shot in, held easily by Brad Friedel at the foot of his near post. Jermain Defoe battled to win a ball against Henchoz after a Blackburn throw in their half, but his shot was also held by the keeper. Mido was hitting anything he got miles wide. Spurs had a bit of pressure in this phase though, and after two attacking throws, the ball came to Defoe who hit a shot that landed behind the bar.

Generally though, Spurs had trouble finding space in the midfield, getting closed down whenever on the ball, and prevented from playing their natural game. Zokora was not very effective and too often over-ran or misplaced the ball. Part of Blackburn’s strategy was to attack Lee with high balls, and Pedersen nearly scored with a header just before the break. Chimbonda would have been dominant here. Edgar Davids’ last offering was to make a good run down the left channel, and feed Mido, who could not get hold of his shot.

After the break, Malbranque took up the role of left-side midfielder, and did make a couple of incisive passes, with little time and space being offered to him. Malbranque won his first physical challenge and gave Mido a good opportunity which was spurned. On another occasion, both Mido and Defoe failed to read Malbranque’s piercing ball through the middle. Mido did have the ball in the net with a glanced header from a Huddlestone arrowed free kick, but the offside flag was up against Spurs.

Just before the hour came the first moment of controversy, when Ghaly was up-ended by Tugay’s challenge. Referee Dowd awarded a penalty instantly, and only seemed to go his linesman at the behest of the Blackburn protest. So, maybe it was his team-mates’ fault that Tugay then got sent off, as I don’t think the referee was going to do that on his own account. Certainly, I have to say that I don’t think Tugay was the last man, as there were a line of players across the area. After a two minute delay for protests/ melee including the ever-lovable Savage, Jermain Defoe did the business and confidently fired low to the right of Friedel

Within a minute, Mido was supposedly helping in defence, and although I was at the other end of the pitch, I have to say it looked like he handled the ball in his own area. No said the officials, and now the Blackburn crowd were booing Dowd any time he got within 40 yards of them! The ten men pressured Spurs, and Robinson had to save from Emerton’s shot, and then punched clear from a corner Robbo then had to be alert to McCarthy’s deft touch from a Gray cross. Spurs’ best chance fell to Huddlestone, whose header was deflected wide, after Mido crossed from the left.

The match ended with near chaos, as Gray was apparently pole-axed by Ghaly’s challenge, and after the Rovers’ side crowded the referee, he decided to show Ghaly red. Even Martin Jol was incensed by the decision and apparently also saw red, having to withdraw to the stand for the final minute or so. Perhaps Martin got his line a little wrong when he asked the referee if he could think he was a pr**k!

Both teams are still in the bottom half of the table, with Spurs three points ahead of Rovers, who needed the win most today. The nature of the Premiership so far this season though is that apart from the top two, there is little between the 14 or 15 teams below them, and if only a team can get a run going, then a climb towards the European qualifying zone is inevitable.

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

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