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Spurs v Shamrock Rovers, 29.09.11

(8.05 P.M.)

Spurs scorers:-
Pavlyuchenko, 60
Defoe, 61
Giovani, 65

Shamrock Rovers scorer:-
Rice, 50

Attendance:- 33,500

Referee:- Mr. Gediminas Mezeika
Assistants:- Mr. V. Simkus & Mr. S. Dirda
Fourth Official:- Mr. A. Kancleris
Additional assistants:- Mr. N. Dunaliskas & Mr. S. Sylva
(All officials from Lithuania)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Walker, Corluka, Bassong (Capt.), Rose (sub Kane, 80); Lennon (sub Townsend, 46), Livermore, Carroll, Giovani; Defoe (sub Falque, 73), Pavlyuchenko

Subs not used:- Gomes; Kaboul; Bale, Modric

No Bookings

Shamrock Rovers (4-1-4-1):- Brush; Sullivan, Sives, Murray (Capt.), Paterson (sub Stevens, 46); Rice; McCabe, Finn (sub Ricketts, 72), O’Donnell (sub McCormack, 46), Dennehy; Twigg

Subs not used:- Thompson; Sheppard, Turner, Kilduff

Booked:- McCabe (foul on Rose), Finn (foul on Rose)

Spurs find killer touch after nasty shock

Despite 10 changes to the team which beat Wigan last Saturday, Spurs dominated Shamrock Rovers last night, but it took the nasty shock of a 50th minute opening goal from the so-called lowly visitors to kick-start Spurs into action, where they found the killer touch they had been so lacking, to score three goals in the space of five minutes, which sealed this game. The Irish side brought some 3,000 fans, who made plenty of noise and really enjoyed their trip, especially to see The “Hoops” stay on level terms for so long, and to take the lead at the Park Lane End.

Harry Redknapp fielded a far stronger team than that which secured a point at Thessalonika in Greece two weeks ago, and we welcomed back Danny Rose and Aaron Lennon from injury. Rose had not been seen since pre-season, and had made four impressive appearances at the end of last season at left back. Here again, Danny played well up and down the left flank, and when attacking he drew the fouls that attracted the only two bookings of the game from the Lithuanian referee.

Tom Carroll again impressed with his range of passing, and justified the public praises given to him in pre-match publicity by Tim Sherwood. Giovani had one of his best games in a Spurs shirt, starting on the left, but switching at times with Aaron Lennon, but also being given Modric-style freedom of the park. I even saw “Gio” helping Danny Rose at the back! Lennon did not appear to be too fit and was replaced at half-time by Andros Townsend, who I thought turned the game for Spurs with some fine left wing domination, and combination with his contemporaries – Rose, Carroll and Livermore. Jermain Defoe was in fine fettle and his hard work in his own half and a magnificent 70 yard run led to Spurs’ third goal, which I think could qualify as one of our goals of the season, more because of Defoe’s contribution, than the final touch of Giovani.

Pavlyuchenko’s touch was not good too often in the first half, but he did set Spurs on their way with a fine equaliser eventually.

There were one or two gaps in the crowd, with a big empty space in the south upper stand, where I believe the proposed neutral zone was supposed to be. Shamrock fans occupied the top corner and a good half of the lower tier. They added plenty of colour and plenty of noise!

Despite the heat of a hot early Autumn night, the game was played at a good pace. After just one minute, Giovani had an early exchange of passes as he advanced from the left hitting a good shot to the left of the keeper, who held. Richard Brush was to have a busy night in goal, and he held Spurs at bay for a long time. Rovers’ captain Dan Murray drew “words” from the referee over an early challenge upon Jermain Defoe. Giovani was to be found down the right side after 5 minutes, where he had a one-two with Pavlyuchenko, before firing a shot which was deflected for a corner. After 10 minutes, Giovani made a good pick-up from Defoe’s pass, hitting a good shot to the left of Brush, who saved.

Giovani stole a ball in his own half and brought it out of defence, moving it to the right where Walker and Lennon continued the move. The ball was fed inside to Pavlyuchenko, who turned but found the Rovers’ defence alert to the situation. Another ball was well won by Giovani, who passed to Defoe. Jermain’s shot seemed to get either a deflection, or perhaps a touch from the keeper before hitting the post and rebounding clear. Pavlyuchenko had a shot saved by the keeper after a cross from the left from that man Giovani. Another effort by Pavlyuchenko, after a Giovani corner went for another corner. This time it was a header.

Shamrock Rovers were stringing some passes together and gaining more possession at times, drawing “Oles” from their support. McCabe was one of the more adventurous of their players, and tried a shot after an attacking throw, which did not worry Carlo Cudicini in the Spurs goal. Lennon sent over a deep cross from the right, which went beyond the back post. Giovani hit a rising shot that passed over the bar across the goalmouth.

After a Spurs throw on 33 minutes, Giovani carried the ball inside and passed to Danny Rose, lurking just outside the area. Rose hit a chipped left foot shot that rebounded off the bar and a follow-up shot was blocked before Rovers managed to clear. 4 minutes later, Pavlyuchenko received a long ball, turned and shot, but the shot was deflected for a corner. Two minutes later he fired over after a defensive error presented him with a chance. Three minutes before the break, Tom Carroll made a good run down the left channel, feeding Giovani, whose low cross beat everyone in the middle.

Rovers made two changes for the second half, and Harry Redknapp replaced Aaron Lennon with Townsend, who took up position on the left wing. That gave Giovani the right flank, but he would also turn up across the field at times.

That nasty shock came after a free kick for Shamrock in the 50th minute, taken by McCabe and saved well by Cudicini. The ball ran back to the outside of the Spurs area and was met with a powerful shot by right back Sullivan, before being deflected into the Spurs goal by Rice. Understandably the celebrations were ecstatic. Shamrock have a reputation for some good away performances in Europe, and at this moment I had visions of Bale and Modric being required to get Spurs really going.

The recovery took a few minutes, but it was an emphatic one. Townsend and Rose combined well down the left before Rose unleashed a decent cross that just could not find Spurs feet in the middle. The equaliser came on the hour, following a Spurs corner, which had been taken by Giovani. He was still out on the left after a Spurs throw, receiving the ball from Townsend, before sending over a cross which Pavlyuchenko powerfully headed home. Within a minute, Giovani sent over a great cross field ball to Townsend, who beat his man, crossed for Defoe to head home this time and give Spurs the lead.

There was a gap of four minutes before Spurs’ third goal, and it came after that great work by Defoe in his own half near the touchline, winning a strong challenge and carrying the ball on a fine run, before teeing up Giovani who was able to fire home past the keeper, after taking one touch and hitting a powerful left foot shot into the net.

Defoe was replaced by Yago Falque after 72 minutes. After 77 minutes, Townsend fed Rose, who got to the line and hit a great cross/shot that the keeper saved at his near post, happily conceding a corner. Carroll and Livermore combined down the left channel, before Carroll fed Giovani down the left. Gio’s cross was nearly turned in by Pavlyuchenko, but the goalkeeper saved. Dennehy had a decent effort at the other end hitting a left footed shot across the goal and over the target.

Danny Rose was replaced by Harry Kane and Townsend reverted to left back, but it didn’t stop his forays down the wing. Giovani passed to Pavlyuchenko on the right side of the box, and the Russian fired wide of the target. Pavlyuchenko then had the ball laid up for him by Falque, but spurned the opportunity. After more good work by Giovani, Pavlyuchenko gave Falque a chance, but his shot was blocked. As we entered added time, Townsend collected a long ball on the left and cut inside before hitting a good right footed shot that Brush managed to hold at the second attempt.

A more convincing scoreline would have been nice, but it was a good win for a Spurs team containing mostly fringe players, who did entertain the crowd. Rubin Kazan and PAOK drew in Russia, so Spurs are level on points with Rubin, who lead the group on goal difference. Our next two games at home and away against the Russian side should dictate the final group placings.

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