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Spurs v Blackburn, 28.10.07

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 28TH OCTOBER, 2007
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) BLACKBURN ROVERS 2 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Keane (pen), 49

Blackburn scorers:-
McCarthy, 60
Samba, 90

Attendance: - 36,086

Referee: - Rob Styles

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee; Lennon, Huddlestone, Zokora, Malbranque (sub Bent, 75); Berbatov (sub Defoe, 88), Keane (Capt.)

Subs not used: - Alnwick; Stalteri; Tainio

Booked: - Huddlestone, Zokora, Lee, Defoe

Blackburn (4-4-2):- Friedel (Capt.); Emerton, Samba, Ooijer, Warnock; Bentley, Savage (sub Mokoena, 45), Tugay (sub Morten Pedersen, 59), Dunn (sub Derbyshire, 83); McCarthy, Santa Cruz

Subs not used: - Brown; Nelsen

Booked: - Dunn, McCarthy, Santa Cruz

Under the one-match leadership of Clive Allen and the watching eyes of Martin Jol’s successor Juande Ramos, Spurs had a deserved point snatched away by Blackburn defender Christopher Samba, picking up a ball on the edge of the area after a free kick in added time, hitting an unstoppable arrowed shot into the left corner of Radek Cerny’s net. Once again Spurs had taken a lead, lost it, and lost the game in the dying moments to leave themselves in the bottom three after 11 matches. At the same stage last season, we were celebrating a magnificent win over Chelsea – an occasion which now seems all too long ago.

Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe decided not to make any radical changes, other than to start with skipper Robbie Keane rather than Defoe, and to re-install Michael Dawson at the back. Blackburn (who remain unbeaten away from home in the Premier League) fielded a strong team, and the result lifts them to fifth place, 14 points above Spurs. Spurs had dominated possession for the first three-quarters of the game, but it was the visitors who controlled the action in the closing stages.

It is no surprise that there is a loss of confidence amongst the squad at present. This was often demonstrated today by failed passes, touches and indecision. This surely is not a day to lay blame in any particular area, or on a specific individual, but we must place our trust and faith in Ramos to instil the necessary ingredients in our squad to enable the progress we require. For me, the main area for attention is central midfield, where once again Zokora was too often non-existent, and Tom Huddlestone did as many bad things as good. Maybe Kevin-Prince Boateng will get more chances under Ramos.

Spurs played towards the Paxton End for the first half, and after just two minutes, Huddlestone did find Berbatov with a decent chipped ball. Berbatov controlled the ball at the second attempt, but his shot was blocked by Samba. After 9 minutes, former gooner David Bentley embarrassed Young-Pyo Lee and hit a shot across the goal, luckily passing well wide of the target. There were few direct chances, and it was a while before Dawson back heeled a Huddlestone free kick towards Berbatov. Friedel was there first. Before the next decent Spurs move, Huddlestone had first lost the ball in the middle, but then redeemed himself, and won the ball back to start a move which ended with Berbatov and Malbranque teeing up Lennon, faced with the ever-imposing Friedel, who managed to save not only this effort, but then a Keane header from a ball by Lee.

I wondered if Friedel had carried a speculative deep cross by Lee over the line, but this was not a televised game and there will be no inquest over this matter, and nothing was given in Spurs favour. Cerny then held a shot by Santa Cruz, who had beaten Kaboul. Berbatov had a chance following a throw taken by Chimbonda and a threaded pass by Keane down the right channel. Berbatov’s shot went outside the post. Blackburn’s Dunn got a deserved card for a cynical piece of shirt tugging on Lennon, and Spurs’ nemesis Robbie Savage had to be replaced just before the break due to injury.

Within two minutes of the re-start, Robbie Keane sent Lennon away with a great lofted ball down the inside right position. Lennon raced into the box, and was brought down by Warnock, giving Rob Styles an easy decision to make. Keane stepped up, and planted the kick deep to the right of Friedel with typical aplomb for his eighth goal in nine matches. Spurs had a deserved lead, and Lee was the unlikely candidate who could have made it 2-0 when receiving a flick by Berbatov, seeing his left footed shot patted away for a corner by Friedel. Malbranque (who had one of his better games for us) also forced a save following the corner. This time it was a defender that got in the way.

Blackburn got an equaliser on the hour, as Mr. Styles waved play on after a foul by Spurs. McCarthy hit a right foot swinger from 25 yards which took a deflection and left Cerny stranded. Spurs might have re-taken the lead after a good move which featured Lee and Malbranque in the early stages, a chipped cross by Keane and a header by Berbatov that Friedel saved for another corner. With 20 minutes to go, Aaron Lennon had a great run, but mis-placed his pass with Robbie Keane waiting in acres of space. After a move from the right Huddlestone fed the ball to Zokora who actually threaded a good pass to Keane – just beaten to the ball by the ever-reliable Blackburn keeper.

A chain of substitutions and not a little frenzy followed, which meant bookings, before Cerny held a decent shot by Pedersen in added time, but was then beaten by that marvellous shot from Samba to enable Blackburn to climb above Liverpool, and to give Juanda Ramos plenty of homework in his first week as Head Coach.

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

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