It was a chilly damp evening for a typical six pointer game at the bottom of the league. With three teams on 19 points (West Ham, Blackburn Rovers and Spurs) it was Spurs with the worse goal difference in the relegation spot needing the victory more. This was the second season that Spurs have been in this position. Last season they beat Chelsea and Arsenal to survive. Spurs beat Leicester City 2-1 in their last game while the visitors drew 2-2 with Brighton. Blackburn were promoted as champions of the second division winning by seven points from Villa but have struggled as Spurs beat them earlier in the season 3-1.
Spurs lined up with Austin in goal behind Dinzeyi and Marsh with Hinds at right back and Cirkin on the left. White anchored the midfield with Oakley-Boothe and Maghoma ahead of him. They were flanked by Tracey on the right and Bennett on the left in support of Roles as a false nine. On the bench were three players from Saturday's U-18 win at Villa. I cannot understand why it is such a young squad being such an important game unless they are looking towards next season already.
Spurs kicked off the first half attacking the South end getting players into the last third but were caught out when Blackburn broke away with Butterworth feeding Mols on the right. His cross was headed in by Vale to give the visitors the lead. Rovers began to press Spurs in all areas of the pitch to stop their passing game and winning the ball. Vale fired wide for a corner and had another effort saved by Austin before they won a penalty when White caught Butterworth as he drove forward. Butterworth beat Austin to the keeper's right to put Rovers in a commanding position inside fifteen minutes.
Blackburn were certainly up for this match and Butterworth was first into the refs book for pulling White back White took the free kick and when it was not cleared Oakley-Boothe had his effort blocked. Cirkin got forward to hit a firece drive from over twenty yards which was turned over by Albinson for a corner which was headed over by Dinzeyi. Blackburn were on top for the rest of the half with Vale heading just wide before the break.
There were no changes of personnel for the start of the second half but both coaches made positional changes. White dropped into the back four with Marsh anchoring the midfield; Tracey went up front with Roles dropping to left midfield, and Oakley-Boothe going to the right flank. Blackurn went to five at the back to protect their lead which they did not need to do as the pressure in midfield kept them in control.
Butterworth had an effort deflected onto the bar before Magloire was booked for stopping a Cirkin run. Vale won another corner from a header before Spurs' only booking of the night was picked up by Roles for a late tackle.
Austin saved from Butterworth before Buckley was booked for taking the ball at a Spurs free kick claiming the kick had been taken. It was around this time that the referee spoke to the Rovers' captain about the over-physical nature of his team's challenges.
Spurs were giving the ball to Bennett as he was getting down the left which saw Doyle booked for pulling him back. Spurs made a double change with Parrott replacing Tracey up front and Markanday coming on for Oakley-Boothe on the right wing. That was quickly followed by Lyons-Foster replacing Cirkin in the back four with White going to left back.
Parrott had a header wide from a corner but Blackburn sewed the game up with a third when Rankin-Costello received a cross on the right and cut inside to curl the ball inside the far post. With the visitors looking to see out the game, Bennett played in Parrott for a chance that was saved.
Blackburn were well up for the game while Spurs were not. If Spurs had not conceded so early they may have done better but the pressure that Rovers put on them stopped them playing their passing game. Spurs now have two games to save themselves from relegation starting with the trip to bottom club Swansea City next week and finishing with a home game against high flying Derby County which could be at White Hart Lane. The"Hammers" have Derby next and finish with champions-elect Everton so it is still not over.
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