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Middlesbrough v Spurs, 03.11.07

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 3RD NOVEMBER, 2007
MIDDLESBROUGH 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)

Middlesbrough scorer:-
Young, 52

Spurs scorer:-
Bent, 35

Referee: - Mike Dean

Attendance: - 25,625

Teams:-
Middlesbrough (4-4-2):- Schwarzer; Young, Riggott, Wheater, Taylor; O’Neil (Capt.), Cattermole, Rochemback (sub Boateng, 77), Downing; Tuncay (sub Hutchinson, 71), Aliadiere (sub Lee, 77)

Subs not used: - Turnbull; Hines

Booked: - Lee (for a foul on Lee!)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee; Lennon, Jenas, Boateng (sub Zokora, 62), Malbranque; Bent (sub Berbatov, 57), Defoe (sub Keane, 57)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Stalteri

Former Spurs full back Luke Young scored only the fifth league goal of his career, and probably the best he will ever score in the 52nd minute to peg back Spurs from a much needed lead and potential three points. Young’s goal was simply unstoppable, and to be honest was one of the rare occasions when either goalkeeper was bothered in a match lacking the excitement one might have expected from a vital bottom of the table clash.

Spurs coach Juande Ramos had caused many raised eyebrows with his team selection, putting faith in Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe up front, at the expense of the number one and two strikers of Berbatov and Keane. No doubt this was done with an eye to a tricky UEFA Cup tie in Tel Aviv on the horizon, but it was still a gamble by Ramos, that paid off when Bent scored his third and best goal of the season. That goal will give Bent much-needed confidence, and Spurs really should have held their lead against a young team missing many regulars, such as Woodgate, Huth, Arca, Pogatetz and Mido to name just five.

Ramos also gave Kevin-Prince Boateng his League debut, playing beside Jenas. Boateng held his own quite comfortably, and sported a blonde Mohican style streak in his normally dark hair to celebrate. Presumably he knew the team yesterday!

If you have seen the few minutes of highlights on Match of the Day, there is little else I can relate to you about the game. Spurs had an early scare after 3 minutes, as Lee and Kaboul stood still at the touchline, convinced the ball had gone out of play, whilst skipper Gary O’Neil was the beneficiary of the ball being winkled through Spurs legs, to hit a low cross/shot across Robinson that Downing just failed to touch in, with Chimbonda also trying to clear.

In the early stages, Michael Dawson looked more assured than of late, and made several good headed clearances. Kaboul continued to worry supporters with his somewhat cavalier style, but managed to get away with any errors today. Bent seemed to be winning only one in five headers from Robinson’s clearances, and Berbatov definitely has a better average than that!

There was nothing in the way of quality football to report until Steed Malbranque challenged Luke Young on the half way line and won his tackle, turning to thread a good ball down the left channel for Bent. Bent picked up with his left foot, turned inside and shot low and hard past Schwarzer with his right foot for a great goal. Malbranque found Bent again after 41 minutes, with a shorter ball, but Bent struggled to get at it from his feet. Just before the break, a great Spurs move involving Boateng, Lee, Malbranque, Defoe and Jenas ended with a Defoe cross that Bent just got a touch on, hitting the ball outside the far post.

After the break, Bent and Lennon led a Spurs break, and Defoe’s cross/shot was cleared for a corner. Boro’ started to put a bit of pressure on Spurs. Firstly Rochemback’s free kick from the left was headed on by Aliadiere, but well pushed round the corner by Robinson. Then came the goal. This time, it was a Boro throw on the left, which went to the edge of the box. Malbranque just failed to get a decent contact on the ball as it ran to Young, and then Malbranque and Lee were not close enough to stop Young’s rising piledriver that no goalkeeper would stop. Once again, Spurs were thwarted by the sort of shot that on another 9 out of 10 occasions would go high and wide.

Ramos switched both strikers and brought on Zokora for Boateng with half an hour left, but the first choice strikers made no more headway than had Bent and Defoe, other than Berbatov picking up a half cleared ball after a Dawson pass, trying a right foot shot that went over the bar.

The point was enough to take Spurs out of the bottom three on goal difference from Wigan, who we meet next Sunday. Now that IS a must win game for Spurs!

I would just like to end this report by reflecting upon the social side of following Spurs. As well as my usual drinking partners, Cassim and Andy, yesterday in Barracudas Bar in downtown Middlesbrough (don’t forget your “B” card next year boys!) we were joined by regular supporters Darren Alexander, Geordie Boys Steve and Chris Hall, Ian Dawson and some Scots Spurs, AND friends from Holland!, Cumbrian Spurs, Phil from FTL, Stuart Anderson from Sunderland and Matt Carr who had flown in from North Carolina, and Jon Adelman who was accompanied by Steffan Chirazi – all the way from San Francisco. Such is the power and level of support that exists for this great club of ours. Some of us were interviewed pre-match by a crew that were working for Fox TV in the USA, so maybe you’ll get a sighting of that footage.

It really is marvellous to be a part of such a world-wide Spurs family. We really do deserve better times from out team.

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

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