BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 19th MAY, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) SUNDERLAND 0 (0)
Referee:- Mr. A. Marriner
Assistants:- Mr. S. Child & Mr. S. Long
Fourth official:- Mr. P. Dowd
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto (sub Sigurdsson, 83); Lennon, Parker (sub Dembele, 64), Huddlestone, Dempsey (sub Defoe, 73); Bale; Adebayor
Subs not used:- Friedel; Naughton, Caulker; Holtby
Booked:- Bale (alleged simulation)
Sunderland (4-4-2):- Mignolet; Larsson, Cuellar, O'Shea (Capt.), Colback; Johnson, N'Diaye, Vaughan, McClean (sub Knott, 73); Wickham (sub Mandron, 74), Graham (sub Mitchell, 88)
Subs not used:- Westwood; Marrs, Ferguson, Harrison
Booked:- McClean (foul on Huddlestone), Vaughan (foul on Parker), Mandron (foul on Bale)
Sent off:- Vaughan (second yellow for foul on Lennon)
Bale wins it late, but it's all too late for Spurs
Gareth Bale scored yet another corker of a goal in the 90th minute to give Spurs a much-deserved win and a record haul of Premier League points in our club's history, but it was all to no avail as the news was confirmed from St. James' Park that Arsenal had won 1-0 to secure the much-coveted final place in next season's Champions League.
For the third time in recent history, Spurs have been thwarted at the last hurdle in their efforts to join the elite in Europe, and what hurts the most is that essentially it has been Arsenal who have pipped us on each occasion.
Spurs are the bridesmaids one again, and will have to settle for Europa League football again next season.
We knew that Arsenal had gone ahead after 52 minutes. 10 minutes later there was an immense cheer around the ground that suggested Newcastle had pulled a goal back, but the fervour remains a mystery to me, as the score had not changed.
Spurs still had to do their job, and they left it till late, with Sunderland goalkeeper Mignolet being kept very busy, and managing to keep the Spurs attack at bay, sometimes with he assistance of a goalpost and/or a defender nearby. Hugo Lloris had to make a couple of important saves too, but primarily, the football was being played towards the Sunderland goal.
With Dembele on the bench, and presumably not 100% fit, Tom Huddlestone got the nod next to Scott Parker, and I have to say it remains a mystery to me how Huddlestone saw out the 90 minutes, when Parker, Assou-Ekotto and Dempsey were replaced by Dembele, Sigurdsson and Defoe in that order.
It was a full house and a sunny day, as the home crowd sought to roar their team to success, as they kicked off playing towards the Park Lane End. Spurs won a couple of early corners, after Adebayor's effort following a throw on the right. Huddlestone was the taker from the right and Bale took those from the left. Mignolet was in action early to prevent a goal.
Jan Vertonghen sent Lennon away down the right with a lovely long ball, and another corner ensued, with no end result. Similarly, more nice football down the right side featuring Adebayor, Parker, Lennon and Walker gave us no reward.
Walker had a good game, and after great skill and effort he sent Dempsey away with a ball from his own half. Dempsey fed the ball on to Adebayor who approached from the left, but fired wide.
There was uproar from the Spurs crowd after 20 minutes, when Gareth Bale seemed to be the definite victim of a foul in the box, but referee Andre Marriner not only denied a penalty from a distance of some 35 yards, but saw fit to book Bale for simulation. The word travelled around the ground that a gross injustice had been done, and Mr. Marriner was nobody's friend after that. Had Spurs been awarded and scored from a penalty, who knows what effect it would have had upon the Arsenal players 280 miles north in Newcastle?
Adebayor and Dempsey combined on the right hand side, and Huddlestone had a shot on target, saved by Mignolet.
Spurs had a scare after half an hour following an error by Vertonghen, which led to a Sunderland attack, and Danny Graham's ball inside to Connor Wickham, whose effort was very well saved by Hugo Lloris.
More good play from Kyle Walker, this time in an advanced position down the right channel gave Adebayor a chance from the right, which was held by the keeper.
Aaron Lennon was switching wings, whilst Bale lurked in the middle with Adebayor. Assou-Ekotto sent Lennon away, but his cross was blocked and cleared. Dempsey gave Bale a chance, but the keeper saved cleanly.
N'Diaye gave Wickham another chance, but that was well blocked by the Spurs defence. McClean got booked for a foul on Huddlestone, but Bale's free kick was well saved by Mignolet, diving to his left. Dempsey also had a good effort saved before the break, following good work by Parker, and a ball from the right by Lennon.
At half-time Ledley King was interviewed on the pitch, and made a presentation to five representatives from Ozspurs.
Spurs were obviously keen to get that necessary win. A cross by Assou-Ekotto beat all, and Aaron Lennon latched onto it beyond the back post, firing wide.
At the other end, Hugo Lloris came to the rescue after a bad error in midfield by Huddlestone, which allowed a Sunderland attack, and a shot by Danny Graham.
Spurs were denied another good penalty shout when Carlos Cuellar appeared to fall upon he ball in slow motion, but Mr. Marriner was clearly still feeling generous towards the visitors. It was an Adebayor shot that had been stopped by this action.
David Vaughan got his first yellow for cynically bringing to an end Scott Parker's run, after Parker had shown great determination and skill to win a tackle, then carry the ball into opposition territory.
Mignolet was happy to push away Bale's free kick. Huddlestone's corner was headed over by Michael Dawson. Then we heard that Arsenal had taken the lead at Newcastle. Spurs carried on playing with the same gusto, in their efforts to at least fulfil their side of the required bargain to win the game.
Bale put an attempt too far wide after being fed by Adebayor. Then, after a Spurs free kick from the right, Adebayor touched the ball back to Vertonghen, who miscued. The ball reached Huddlestone at the back post, but he fired horribly wide, with no composure.
After 62 minutes, a Parker shot was cleared off the line, then Lennon's follow-up hit the post and was cleared for a throw.
Surprisingly at this stage, Parker, who had been most effective, was replaced by Dembele.
Another Dawson header was saved following a corner, then, after a low ball by Hiddlestone and an attempt by Dempsey, Bale tried a right foot shot, which Mignolet managed to block and clear. Walker tried a long shot, which was also saved.
Vaughan saw yellow for a second time after a foul on Lennon, but Bale's free kick went over the bar. There was more good approach play by Spurs through Walker, Dembele, Huddlestone, Assou-Ekotto, and finally Adebayor and Bale, whose early shot was held by the keeper.
Bale over-hit another free kick, having been fouled by substitute Mandron, but he over-shot the target. Bale tried another early shot after a Lennon cross from the left. Mignolet held the shot. Dembele tried a clever ball to Huddlestone, but the ball ran too close to the keeper.
Substitute Jermain Defoe finally got involved, after a Bale cross from the right. Defoe fed Sigurdsson, whose effort ran to Huddlestone, hitting a left foot shot to the keeper.
Spurs had a couple of corners in quick succession, before Bale finally at least secured the three points with yet another fine solo effort from a good 22 yards or more. This time, Gareth was towards the right of the box, and he hit a cracking left footed shot to Mignolet's top right corner. It was just another great goal to add to the season's tally of spectacular Bale goals.
There were 4 minutes of added time both at The Lane and at St. James'
Park, but there was no change to the scorelines, which gave Arsenal the path to Champions League football, and yet another year above Spurs by a one point margin.
We were however prepared for this disappointment, and live to fight another day.
In the usual end of season post-match ceremony, Gareth Bale was presented with both the members' and young members' player of the year awards. His mantelpiece must be getting very full.
I shall reflect more on the end of the season in the days and weeks to come, but for the moment, I wish all readers a happy and restful summer, with thanks for your interest and support.
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