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Birmingham v Spurs, 30.01.10


Birmingham scorer:-
Ridgewell, 90

Spurs scorer:-
Defoe, 69

Attendance:- 27,238

Referee:- Mr. S. Attwell
Assistants:- Mr. M. Mullarkey & Mr. D. Cann
Fourth official:- Mr. L. Probert

Birmingham (4-4-2):- Hart; Carr (Capt.), R. Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson (sub Fahey, 58), Ferguson, Bowyer (sub Michel, 65), McFadden; Benitez, Jerome

Subs not used:- Taylor; Queudrue, Vignal, D. Johnson, Gardner

Booked:- Johnson, Bowyer, McFadden, Carr

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, King (Capt.), Bale; Bentley (sub Jenas, 89), Huddlestone, Palacios, Modric; Crouch, Defoe (sub Keane, 78)

Subs not used:- Alnwick; Hutton, Bassong; Kranjcar, Rose

Booked:- Palacios, Defoe

Throwing it all away

Having fought hard, and dominated possession until they scored a deserved goal in the 69th minute, Spurs managed to commit the cardinal sin of submitting to a typical sucker punch as five minutes of added time was being announced on the loudspeakers. The solitary point keeps Spurs in fourth place but the question has to be asked – for how long? Liverpool and Villa won today, and City will win tomorrow against a Portsmouth team further depleted by the “fire-sale” re-purchase of Younes Kaboul. That will put three teams within two points of us, and two of them with a game in hand. Maybe Spurs will just have to win their crunch games starting with Villa at home next Saturday tea-time.

Quite incredibly, Harry Redknapp started with an unchanged team, featuring Ledley King playing his second match in five days, which is quite an unprecedented event in recent Spurs history. The only change to the Spurs eighteen was the replacement of Jamie O’Hara on the bench with Niko Kranjcar.

Former Spur Stephen Carr led the Blues out and was greeted with hatred at various stages of the game by the visiting support, who also took the opportunity to deride Leeds in advance of next Wednesday’s FA Cup replay at times. Where Spurs played Luka Modric nominally on the left, Birmingham did the same with James McFadden, who admirably stayed loyal to the club despite their relegation, and who was not confined to the Blues’ left flank. David Bentley had a decent left foot effort after one minute, which went wide, before McFadden in a central position laid on a pass for boo-boy Bowyer, whose shot was saved by Gomes.

In my opinion, Wilson Palacios was the outstanding player for Spurs throughout proceedings, putting in the greatest effort, and achieving plenty, whereas his midfield partner Tom Huddlestone was surely the most anonymous of Spurs players. Once again Modric and Bale also excelled for Spurs. Palacios started a good move for Spurs after 7 minutes, when he did just enough with that half yard of effort to force a midfield ball away to Bentley, who carried the ball to the edge of the area, passing inside to Modric, whose shot was just wide of the woodwork. Another decent passing move by Spurs ended with Bentley putting his cross too close to Hart, and in fact in to his arms. Bentley was often guilty of taking two or three touches on the ball, whilst Bale’s crossing was more incisive after one touch.

Bentley was fouled after 12 minutes, and following a free kick from the right, both he and Crouch had shots blocked by the defence. At the other end Jerome hit a shot wide. Benitez had a great chance for the hosts after a goal kick was headed on and Dawson stumbled to the floor. Benitez was one on one with Gomes, but fired tamely at the keeper. After another good passing move by Spurs, Corluka hit a cross to the near post, where Defoe headed wide. After 32 minutes, Bale took a throw which was controlled by Peter Crouch and fed to Bentley, whose shot was saved by Hart, conceding a corner. Two minutes later Corluka was feeding the ball to Bentley and Palacios made a run from deep for the winger, receiving the ball, before hitting a shot just wide. Then, after Spurs had to defend three corners, Palacios made the clearance, finding Defoe and again making the run to receive a return pass, before setting up Modric for an impressive shot that was just over the bar. Spurs were looking the favourites, and the home crowd was very quiet indeed.

Bale crossed and Bentley had a shot saved within minutes of the restart. Spurs had a great chance after referee Mr. Atwell allowed them to play on after a midfield foul. Luka Modric threaded the ball to Defoe, who slid it sideways to Crouch who had a great chance to score, but pushed his shot wide. Birmingham now started to take one or two bookings, whilst Palacios also suffered the same retribution and was relatively restrained for the remainder of the game. Spurs took the lead with a great goal in the 69th minute. It came from a good first time cross by Bale, hit low and powerfully and flicked on by the diving header of Crouch, before Defoe volleyed home to the right of Hart. Soon after that Defoe also took a booking for an alleged and perhaps harsh foul decision.

McFadden had a half chance, which was spurned after a Crouch mistake in the middle led to Birmingham’s build up. Sadly, Spurs failed to close out the game effectively, and conceded after what seemed like a bit of ping-pong to and fro across the area, before left back Ridgewell got the final touch from close range to finally make the home crowd cheer. I’m glad I watch Tottenham every week, and not Birmingham, but I fear that we are not going to finish in the top four. I know that Spurs must learn to be more ruthless, and composed for however many minutes of added time are awarded.

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