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Newcastle v Spurs, 16.10.11

(4 P.M.)

Newcastle scorers:-
Ba, 48
Ameobi, 86

Spurs scorers:-
Van der Vaart (pen), 40
Defoe, 68

Attendance:- 46,420

Referee:- Lee Probert
Assistants:- Mr. P. Kirkup & Mr. A. Watts
Fourth official:- Lee Mason

Newcastle (4-4-2):- Krul; Simpson (sub Santon, 77), S. Taylor, Coloccini (Capt.), R. Taylor; Obertan, Cabaye, Tiote, Jonas; Best (sub Ameobi, 71), Ba (sub Ben Arfa, 71)

Subs not used:- Elliot; Gosling, Marveaux; Lovenkrands

Booked:- Tiote (foul on Modric0

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Capt.) (sub Bassong, 30), Ekotto; Bale, Parker, Livermore, Modric; Van der Vaart (sub Defoe, 63); Adebayor (sub Pavlyuchenko, 89)
(Armband to Modric)

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Rose; Townsend, Giovani

Booked:- Parker, Modric

Out of Toon with a point

There was a sense of imbalance about the Spurs line-up today. Aaron Lennon and Sandro failed to make the right side of their 50-50 chances of fitness to start this game, and matters were not helped by Ledley King pulling up within the first 30 minutes. Manager Harry Redknapp had other options, but chose to start Gareth Bale on the right, where he does not play best, and whilst Luka Modric started on the left, he was later switched with Bale, and played right side, where he is not at his best either. Arguably, that situation was crucial to Newcastleís equaliser early in the second half, which gave them the boost in morale and the impetus to take the game to Spurs, who had not looked seriously troubled until that point.

Rafa van der Vaart played a bit too deep a lot of the time, and despite his clinical penalty kick which gave Spurs the lead, it was only when Jermain Defoe replaced the Dutchman that Spurs looked more business-like in my opinion. Some of the Spurs players did not look at their best either, which did not help their quest for fifth consecutive league win. However, Newcastle will take pride in the fact that they remain unbeaten, and in fourth place. The home side also looked the more likely winners in the closing stages.

The old Geordie passion and enthusiasm seems to have diminished a little, as they couldnít muster more than 46, 420, whereas they used to fill the stadium with over 51,000 souls. There was a good away support, as always, tucked away in the rafters of the north-east part of the stadium.

Spurs included skipper Ledley King, but he didnít last too long. Jake Livermore made his second league start of the season, next to Scott Parker, who did not play to the high standards we have seen in his previous four games. The imbalance of Bale starting on the right did not last too long, but Gareth too did not seem to be in tip-top form. Shades of International wear, I suspect.

Referee Lee Probertís presence has not been the greatest of omens for Spurs, and his decisions did not seem to favour us in the early part of the game. Gareth Bale also made two or three passing errors early doors, which did not help the Spurs cause. There was little goalmouth action in the first half, and Friedel was the first keeper to be tested really, when he did well to hold Ryan Taylorís free kick swung in from the Newcastle left flank. Demba Ba got a header on target midway through the half, but this was easily taken by Friedel.

It wasnít long before Ledley was pulling up, and not clear whether this was his groin, hamstring or knee. One thing was certain though, and that was Bassong had to come on. Even the match of the day highlights show very little action from the first half apart from Steven Taylorís foul on Adebayor in the penalty area at The Gallowgate End. Mr. Probert took an age to point to the spot, and was perhaps guided by his assistant. Anyway, the penalty was the correct decision, and Rafa van der Vaart made no mistake in beating Krul with a shot to his left.

Within two minutes of the break, Newcastle had equalised. Modric was supporting Walker on the right side of defence, but had been drawn to an inside position. The ball was sent to Jonas Gutierrez, who exposed Walkerís weakness, just passing him on the left before chipping a cross that Demba Ba converted with his foot. Friedel effectively carried the ball deep into the goal, but could not do anything to prevent the goal.

Luka Modric led the Spurs fight back at this point, battling to get past the tackles of Tiote (who did get one yellow card), and Cabaye. The referee was not giving Luka any assistance really, but he did thread a ball to Adebayor, whose fired wide across the goal. Obertan had a similar shot wide at the other end. Modric won a ball in midfield and heroically carried it down the line (literally), ultimately feeding the ball to Van der Vaart, who hit a first time shot with the outside of his foot, which was straight at Krul.

Kyle Walker went down with an apparent injury, but mercifully recovered. Van der Vaart was replaced by Defoe after 63 minutes. Defoe scored a lovely goal in the 68th minute after a well-worked move started by Modric and finished by Parkerís astute ball. Defoe made himself that vital bit of room for an excellent finish. Modric had had an attempt blocked before the build up for this goal too. Defoe picked up a long ball by Modric, and hit the side netting with his shot.

Newcastle made a double substitution, one of which (Ameobi) would prove crucial. With 10 minutes to go, Friedel made a good save from Tiote, pushing over a 25 yard shot for a corner. Parker then gave away a free kick in a dangerous position, but again Friedel made the save. Walker went on a fine run all the way to the edge of the Newcastle area, but just ran into Newcastle skipper Coloccini, who confidently dispossessed the Spurs right back.

Newcastle got on level terms to the delight of the home crowd with less than five minutes of normal time remaining. It looked to me more like lucky touches than deliberation that led to the ball reaching Ameobi in space on the left of the Spurs area. Once again, Walker was found wanting really, being just a pace or so the wrong side of Ameobi, who hit a great shot across Friedel into the far corner. Spurs tried to regain the lead, and Modric hit a soft shot at the keeper, before Defoe had one shot blocked, then the follow up saved by Krul. From then till the final whistle, the pressure was really on Spurs, who held out for a draw, which was really a fair result.

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