BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 22ND JANUARY, 2011
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Lennon, 90 (+1)
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Assistants:- Mr. D. Mohareb & Mr. R. Pollock
Fourth Official:- Mr. K. Wright
Newcastle (4-4-2):- Harper; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Enrique; Barton, Nolan (Capt.), Guthrie (sub Perch, 74), Gutierrez; Best (sub Lovenkrands, 65), Ameobi (sub Ranger, 88)
Subs not used:- Krul; Campbell, Ferguson, Xisco
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Cudicini; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson (Capt.), Bale (sub Bassong, 11); Lennon, Jenas (sub Crouch, 71), Modric, Pienaar (sub Kranjcar, 83); Van der Vaart; Defoe
Subs not used:- Pletikosa; Corluka, Kaboul; Sandro
Lennon plays his “Get out of Jail” card
Spurs have never lost a game in which Aaron Lennon scored, and little Aaron proved to be our saviour today at St. James’ Park, scoring in the first minute of the declared 4 additional minutes play. It was a deserved goal, both for the individual and for the team, although both sides could have argued for and indeed achieved the win, with Modric hitting the bar with fifteen minutes to go, although Leon Best hit the Spurs bar in the first half. Both goalkeepers made vital saves too.
Lennon has now scored 20 goals for Spurs, several of which have come very late in the game, such as this season’s winner at home to Liverpool, and last season at home to Birmingham, in Spurs sensational start to that season. Aaron likes Newcastle, against whom he scored in the December 28th home win.
Harry Redknapp made 4 changes to today’s team for involuntary and voluntary reasons. The telegraphed doubts about the fitness of Ekotto and Palacios were proven, but Gomes also suffered an injury in training and was replaced by Carlo Cudicini. Gareth Bale moved to left back, which allowed Steven Pienaar to make his debut, starting on the left of midfield, but playing on the right for much of the second half. Jermaine Jenas played beside Modric, and was predictably booed, but perhaps the booing of Sebastien Bassong was not so predictable. After all, he never asked to leave and only left after Newcastle were relegated and accepted Spurs’ generous offer in the summer of 2009. Bassong made an early substitute appearance for Bale, who had to retire after only 10 minutes, suffering from his recurring back strain.
Jermain Defoe was preferred to Crouch, with Van der Vaart supporting him, but this left Spurs with so little height upfield, necessitating the ball being played to feet, which is fine, but at times would have been a good option.
Newcastle were missing Andy Carroll, but to their credit played an adventurous 4-4-2 with Leon Best and Ameobi in attack.
The first half action was not too pulsating, but Spurs created the first clear cut chance after two minutes, when Cudicini found Lennon with a good throw after a failed Newcastle attack. Lennon made a good run and found Defoe on the right side of the Newcastle area, where Jermain fired wide across the target. Gareth Bale was hobbling after only 6 minutes, and clearly struggling. Van der Vaart was playing deep at times and he sent Modric away from the Spurs half. Luka fed Defoe, who this time was on the left of the area, hitting a shot which Harper saved well for a corner.
Spurs were enjoying a lot of possession, and I didn’t see Pienaar put a foot wrong in the first half, although he tired towards the end of the game, when he was replaced by Kranjcar. Pienaar looked groggy when he was floored after 20 minutes. Referee Mark Halsey was in a generous mood, and booked nobody, although we all spotted fouls that he let go, and bookable offences on both sides too.
Michael Dawson was not so infallible today and after he only half cleared, the ball fell to Ameobi after 22 minutes. The striker fired well over the target. Five minutes later Leon Best hit a shot against the bar and it rebounded safely away from the Spurs defence. Lennon was to be found on the left at times in the first half, and he received one of Michael Dawson’s long balls before setting up Pienaar for a chance of a debut goal. Pienaar spurned this and a subsequent chance. From the other side, Lennon did really well to work the ball into the Newcastle area, before Nolan brought his run to an end. In added time Jermain Defoe had a one on one chance but Harper came off the better saving for a corner.
After 53 minutes, Pienaar and Lennon worked well to get the ball down the left flank, before the ball was passed inside to the ever industrious Modric, who gave Jenas a shooting chance. Jenas hit the ball well off target. Mr Halsey waved away any Spurs appeals for a foul on Pienaar after Lennon had given him a run inside, and Pienaar had seemingly been sent flying. A similar incident against Defoe was also ignored by Mr Halsey later in the game.
Newcastle took the lead somewhat out of the blue, when centre back Coloccini appeared on the left of the Spurs area to receive Guthrie’s pass from the right wing. Coloccini left Hutton on the ground and hit a right foot shot that Cudicini got a touch to, but failed to stop hitting the net to set off the home crowd into quite a roar. The Newcastle tails were up, and to be honest it didn’t look like Spurs were going to be able to offer a response, with Van der Vaart less effective than usual. Having said that, Van der Vaart did some excellent work with Lennon after 64 minutes, before Lennon’s shot was pushed away for a corner by Harper.
A bad error by Jenas in the middle gave Newcastle a good chance, with substitute Lovenkrands in front of Cudicini, who made an excellent save. Jenas was then replaced by Crouch, who partnered Defoe with Van der Vaart withdrawing to the centre of midfield, beside Modric. Cudicini had another save to make, this time from Ameobi’s left foot shot, and then at the other end, Luka Modric hit a powerful shot against the bar. Michael Dawson was beaten by another substitute, Nile Ranger with two minutes to go, but thankfully his shot passed in front of the goal, with Cudicini beaten.
Spurs fans were oh so thankful when Defoe fed Lennon for a short run into the left of the Newcastle area, where he fired a low shot to the right of Harper’s outstretched hand for a precious equaliser. Spurs tried to use the remaining time to get a winner and probably had the best of possession in this spell, but both teams were beaten by Mr. Halsey’s final whistle. Spurs remain in fifth place, and will have a struggle to retain a top four place. On the other hand, Newcastle are doing well, sitting in seventh place with 30 points. They too can probably start contemplating a race for Europe, rather than a fight for Premier League survival, which would have been their main objective this season.
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