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Newcastle v Spurs, 24.09.08


Newcastle scorer:-
Owen, 90

Spurs scorers:-
Pavlyuchenko, 62
O’Hara, 66

Referee: - Chris Foy

Attendance: - 20,577

Newcastle (4-4-2); - Given; Geremi, Taylor, Coloccini, Bassong; Duff (sub Xisco, 71), Butt, Cacapa (sub Edgar, 71), N’Zogbia; Owen (Capt.), Martins

Subs not used: - Harper; Tozer; Doninger; Donaldson, Ameobi

Booked: - Butt (foul on Bale)

Spurs (4-5-1):- Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon (sub Campbell, 62), Jenas, Zokora, O’Hara, Bale (sub Giovani, 52); Pavlyuchenko (sub Modric, 75)

Subs not used: - Cesar; Gilberto; Bentley; Bent

Booked: - Corluka, O’Hara, Zokora

Tears for the Toon

There were more tears for the Toon last night, although hardly any home fans could be bothered to turn up and support their team, with the crowd 33,000 below capacity being the worst since St. James’ Park was re-developed. That figure was boosted by the vocal presence of many Spurs fans who were rewarded with a composed if rarely exciting performance by Ramos’s men. Whilst still up in the rafters of the Sir John Hall stand, the away fans have been moved to create a “singing section” of home fans apparently. However, there was no evidence of the presence of such a section, as those who had bothered sat for the most part in stony silence.

Spurs went with a game plan to pack the midfield, and operate on the break. Ramos played a five man midfield, with Aaron Lennon on the right and Gareth Bale being his attacking partner on the left. The idea was for them to support the lone striker Pavlyuchenko, but he had little service until he got his debut goal in the second half. Jenas, Zokora and Jamie O’Hara were the central midfield. Jenas’s performance was much improved after Sunday, with some incisive passing, and whilst Zokora operated well in his own half, we know he comes up short on the creative stakes. Jamie O’Hara was rewarded for what for me was a man of the match performance with a well taken gift of a goal from Steven Taylor, which really sealed the win for Spurs, despite Owen’s late consolation.

Spurs looked comfortable at the back, with Woodgate quite supreme, and the other three also competent. Ledley King’s presence is of course always most welcome.

There was very little excitement in the first half, but I felt that Spurs were enjoying more possession and more control. They were getting to the last third, but had no cutting edge, and gave Given rare challenges. They did break after 7 minutes, and Jenas fed a diagonal ball to Pavlyuchenko who hit a shot high towards the Gallowgate Stand. Pavlyuchenko had a second chance after half an hour, when he won a corner, taken by O’Hara, and headed just wide.

Jenas started a good Spurs attack with a well-timed tackle in his own half, and as Spurs moved forward, they were awarded a free kick about 30 yards out. Taken by Bale, this one was headed just wide by Jonathan Woodgate. Lennon had a good effort on goal, after receiving from Jenas and cutting in from the right hand side before hitting a shot past Given’s right post. In added time, Newcastle had a free kick, taken by Geremi, and it was actually Gareth Bale’s header that put the ball wide, although a goal kick was awarded.

After the break, Spurs lifted the tempo, but it was the home side who had the first chance, as N’Zogbia’s cross from the left reached Duff at the back of the area. Duff’s shot looked as if it was going into the net at the far corner, but Woodgate was on hand to divert it past the post.

Gareth Bale was surprisingly replaced by Giovani, who immediately took up duties on the right, whilst Lennon switched to the left. Giovani had immediate effect as he made a couple of good forward runs to lift the excitement levels. Corluka demonstrated good skill deep in his own half, then sent a long ball to the left channel, where Ekotto had advanced and carried the ball forward before hitting a good effort, parried by the keeper, then cleared. Giovani crossed for Pavlyuchenko, but he was well blocked as he tried to get his shot in from close range. At the other end, Owen tested Gomes – for once getting the better of Woodgate – but Gomes was equal to the shot, as he was to most attempts on the night.

Spurs took the lead after some good possession in the middle. The ball was worked to Lennon on the left, who delivered a good cross for Pavlyuchenko to rise between the centre backs and head home for that vital first goal for player and team. Lennon was then replaced by Campbell.

Geremi had a free kick blocked. Then Gomes held his follow up attempt on goal.

Spurs lead was decisively doubled when Jamie O’Hara closed down Steven Taylor on the ball 30 yards out. Jamie came away with the ball, and only Given to beat. O’Hara (22 today) took his chance coolly in front of the Gallowgate fans; curling his shot to Given’s right to cue team celebrations.

Newcastle’s chances were few and far between, but Martins hit a decent shot that was held by Gomes.

Spurs played out time with little difficulty, and Luka Modric made a welcome return, replacing Pavlyuchenko. By this time, I have to report some nasty rumours were circulating (emanating from local police and stewards) about Paul Gascoigne. As I have found no confirmation in the media, I’ll say no more, but pray to God that Gazza (a legend to both teams) is okay.

Newcastle got a consolation goal in the last minute when Geremi’s low cross could only be parried by Gomes, and Owen snapped up the loose ball to make it 2-1. That was not good enough of course, and the Toon face a difficult game on Saturday at home to Blackburn.

The draw for the fourth round of the Carling Cup is on Saturday, but Spurs’ priority of course is to try and get a win at Fratton Park on Sunday lunch-time. I will be one of the many Spurs fans trekking from extreme north to extreme south for this match.

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