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Newcastle v Spurs, 04.04.21

My grateful thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for this detailed report.

Sunday 4 April 2021, 2:05pm
Premier League
Newcastle United (1) 2 Tottenham Hotspur (2) 2

Newcastle scorers:-
Joelinton 28
Willock 85

Spurs scorer:-
Kane 30, 34

Newcastle United (5-3-2): Steve Bruce
1 M Dubravka, 23 J Murphy (19 J Manquillo), 17 E Krafth (28 J Willock 79), 6 J Lascelles (c), 3 P Dummett, 11 M Ritchie; 24 M Almiron, 8 J Shelvey, 36 S Longstaff; 9 Joelinton, 12 D Gayle (10 A Saint-Maximin 71).

Subs not used:- 26 K Darlow, 2 C Clark, 15 J Lewis, 16 J Hendrick, 4 M Longstaff, 57 E Anderson

Booked: Dummett (65 foul on Lamela), Shelvey (72 foul on Lamela), Almiron (85 foul)

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2):-
1 H Lloris (c), 25 J Tanganga, 6 D Sanchez, 14 J Rodon, 3 S Reguilon; 18 G Lo Celso (3 G Bale 88), 28 T Ndombele, 5 P-E Hojbjerg; 27 Lucas Moura (11 E Lamela 64), 45 C Vinicius (7 H-M Son 45), 10 H Kane.

Subs not used:- 12 J Hart, 15 E Dier, 8 H Winks, 17 M Sissoko, 20 D Alli, 53 D Scarlett

Booked: Lo Celso (45 foul on Almiron), Tanganga (63 foul on Ritchie)

St James’ Park, Attendance: 0

Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees:- Ian Hussin, Eddie Smart
Fourth Official:- Lee Mason
VAR:- Darren England
Assistant VAR:- Andy Halliday.

Another frustrating performance by Spurs

A team which has top four aspirations should be able to beat a bottom four team. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen today as Spurs’ supporters endured yet another frustrating afternoon. Spurs fell behind shortly before the half hour mark not unexpectedly. They then scored two quick goals in their only purple patch during the game before succumbing to yet another late goal.

Spurs who had performed reasonably well in their last game before the international break winning at Villa Park against Aston Villa named an unchanged side with Son among the substitutes for the first time since being injured in the north London derby. Newcastle’s last outing was a poor 3-0 defeat at Brighton, so it wasn’t surprising that they made five changes with Murphy, Krafth, Ritchie, Longstaff and Gayle replacing Manquillo, Clark, Hayden (injured), Fraser and Willock. Like Son, a key Newcastle player Saint Maximin returned from injury to the substitutes bench.

Each side had an opportunity early in the game. Joelinton was well placed but shot straight at Lloris. Then Spurs were awarded a free kick on the left side close to the box. Lucas Moura sent a dangerous ball into the box, but no Spurs player could put the ball in the net.

The game then settled into a rhythm with Newcastle showing more attacking initiative. After nineteen minutes Shelvey set Gayle up with an aerial ball. Gayle’s header was directed towards Lloris’s right post. He pushed the header out and Gayle had another effort which Lloris stopped with his feet. Lloris deserves credit for a good double save.

A few minutes later Vinicius was in the clear and slotted the ball home only for the assistant referee to raise his flag for offside.

In the 29th minute the inevitable happened. Spurs failed to clear the ball. It fell to Ritchie who set up Longstaff on the left. He crossed for Joelinton who scored with a shot to the right post. Joelinton has made 62 Premier League appearances since the beginning of last season. He has scored only four goals, and this was his second against Spurs. (The other was in Newcastle’s 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in August 2019).

Spurs’ response was excellent. Within 90 seconds Lo Celso on the right played a nice pass into the box. Krafth failed to clear it and Harry Kane was there to slot the ball home. Four minutes later Ndombele set Kane up on the right of the box and he scored with a powerful diagonal shot towards the far post.

Newcastle regained the initiative in the remaining minutes of the first half. Rodon showed his mettle on two occasions. First, he made a good tackle on Almiron to stop an attack down the right touch line. Then Murphy played a dangerous ball into the box which Rodon diverted for a corner. Then Lloris raced out of his box to clear the ball before Gayle could pounce.

The final action of the first half saw the first booking of the game. It went to Lo Celso who followed through on Almiron after the ball had gone. For a skilful player he can be too physical at times. It was an unnecessary booking and a soft free kick just outside the box but fortunately Newcastle couldn’t capitalise on it.

Son was introduced for Vinicius after the break. Newcastle have made a specialty of scoring early in the second half against Spurs. (19 April 2015 at St James’ Park, Jack Colback within the first minute of the second half; 26 October 2014 at White Hart Lane, Sammy Ameobi with 8 seconds of the restart, the fastest ever in the Premier League). They almost made it a hat-trick today.

From the kick off Newcastle moved the ball into the Spurs half. It fell to Almiron on the right of the box. He unleashed a diagonal shot which was going just wide but Lloris took no chances and pushed the ball out for a corner.

During the second half Newcastle again showed more initiative for long periods.

Midway through the second half following a Spurs corner taken by Lo Celso, Tanganga directed a header on target but it was cleared off the goal line by Almiron. A few minutes later Joelinton had a good opportunity in the Spurs box but shot narrowly wide of the right post.

Not long after that the ball came of Kane in the Newcastle box. It was a narrow angle and the ball seemed to catch in his foot which allowed Dubravka to clear it.

In the 79th minute Newcastle made a bold substitution taking off Krafth a defender and bringing on the Arsenal midfielder on loan - Joe Willock. Shelvey moved into the back line.

Then came the series of events on which the game turned. A Newcastle attack in the Spurs box was broken up and Spurs rapidly counter-attacked. The ball was moved to Kane at the other end. He unleashed a shot which struck the left post.

Newcastle quickly responded with another counterattack. There was chaos in the Spurs box. Ritchie crossed for Joelinton. Almiron had a close-range header blocked by Rodon. The ball finally fell to Willock in space on the left side of the goal. The substitute who had only been on the pitch for five minutes hit a shot which went in off the crossbar.

Spurs had been planning to make Sissoko their third substitute just before the goal was scored. Bale was introduced instead. He immediately took a free kick just outside the Newcastle box which went over the bar. Soon after the game finished.

Kane was Spurs’ man of the match. Rodon and Lloris had their moments too. Son who came on in the second half seemed to lack match fitness.

This was an opportunity to occupy fourth position at least until tomorrow when West Ham play Wolves.

It was one of a series of frustrating results this season. The players must take responsibility. But so too must the manager who doesn’t seem to be inclined to do so.

There are some recurring failures including the following.

• Tottenham have failed to win six Premier League games this season in which they led at half-time, the most of any side in the Premier League.

• They have also dropped 11 points because of goals conceded in the final 10 minutes of games this season, also the most of any Premier League side.

A manager with Mourinho’s experience should be addressing these issues and reducing the number of times they occur in co-operation with the players.

Spurs can still qualify for Europe but must be more consistent throughout the remaining eight Premier League matches seven of which are against teams higher in the table than Newcastle.

The next three games will have a huge impact on the outcome of the season. There are Premier League games at home to Manchester United, who have not lost an away league game since January 2020 and away to Everton. The minimum acceptable would be not to lose to Everton and gain at least four points from these two matches. Then there is the Carabao Cup final, and we can but hope that Manchester City have an off day.

There is still hope that the season could end well but Mourinho and the players must eliminate errors and deliver acceptable results. If that doesn’t happen significant changes will have to take place in the close season.

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