After the Lord Mayor's parade fore Spurs, as they submitted to an
energetic Birmingham City side, who showed they had more hunger for the
points than Tottenham, who still need a few more wins to make sure they
will be safe from being dragged into the battle at the bottom of the
A hat-trick for Forssell
left Paul Robinson gutted, but he was blameless, as was Jamie O'Hara,
who worked hard on the left side of midfield (to start with) and Tom
Huddlestone, who kept trying, without a lot of success.
Unfortunately, too many players seemed to be suffering a post League Cup
hangover ... or was that from their post-match celebrations ??
Whatever the reason, it was no succour
for the travelling Spurs hordes, who supported the team throughout as
dismal a performance as has been seen for quite a while. But for
Birmingham, a double over Spurs was just the ticket after taking a point
off the Gooners last week. With an important UEFA Cup tie coming
up on Thursday, some of the players were holding back from getting
injured, while other just did not perform, leaving the team a shadow of
the side who won a trophy just six days ago.
It had all started pretty well with a
Berbatov chance, Steed almost getting onto a flick from the Bulgarian
and Bent having a close offside given against him. However, the
first set-piece Birmingham got, they scored from. Still not
picking people up from corners, Tottenham will always concede goals
unless they cut this out of their game. With the corner being won
by the head of Liam Ridgewell, it fell to McFadden to play the ball back
into the mixer with pace and from inside the six yard box, Mikael
Forssell headed in past Paul Robinson with just seven minutes on the
The lack of concentration had been
missing on Sunday, but here, the first opportunity was lost and the team
were then chasing the match. Huddlestone set up Jamie O'Hara
straight away and his shot flew wide from 20 yards out before Alan
Hutton narrowly avoided heading Gary McSheffrey's free-kick past
Robinson, as it went inches wide of the post. The closest
Tottenham got to equalising was in the 20th minute, when Dimitar
Berbatov took the ball off Patrice Muamba and moved forward to hit a
shot against the post from 20 yards. The ball bounced away to
Spurs had a spell where they had the home
side on the back foot, but the positions they created in wide areas were
wasted, as the ball flew too high, failed to beat the first man or flew
off the Tottenham players' heads to go wide of the target. Maik
Taylor saved an O'Hara shot at his near post, while Robbo held Johnson's
bouncing shot safely. If only Malbranque could have found Berbatov
with a cross, Spurs could have got back in it, but there was an
interception by Ridgewell at the expense of another corner, which Spurs
failed to make the most of.
O'Hara's industry kept Brum on their toes
and he forced another save from Taylor, before he drew a foul on the
right wing, where he had moved to. It was obvious that Ramos had
to change things and with Jermaine Jenas and Robbie Keane spending the
half-time interval warming up out on the pitch rather than just kicking
around, they made their appearances at the re-start with Malbranque and
Teemu Tainio making way.
The change failed to make an immediate
difference, as McFadden hit Robinson with a clear shot and then
McSheffrey played in a shot that Forssell volleyed into the ground and
the Spurs keeper showed good footwork to get to it and push it up over
the bar. A shooting opportunity opened up at the other end, when
Keane was fouled and Younes Kaboul stepped up to rifle the free-kick
just wide from 30 yards.
It was a free-kick that Zokora conceded
on the edge of the Spurs box in the 55th minute that created the next
chance. In a well-worked routine, McFadden left the ball for
Larsson to curl it over the wall and out of Robinson's reach to double
the lead. It was just what Spurs did not want and it looked at
this stage that some of the players realised that this game would
realise no points.
When a third goal came four minutes
later, it left Tottenham wide open. Robinson performed a lightning
reflex save to keep out Didier Zokora's touch on Larsson's cross.
However, it was typical of his luck that after making such a fine stop,
the ball fell for Forssell to shoot into the net to make it 3-0.
As an example of it not being Tottenham's
day, when Huddlestone fired a free-kick for handball into the wall, it
fell for Jenas, who mis-hit his shot. Even so, it went into the
penalty area, where Robbie Keane was sharp enough to latch onto it and
try to knock it past the keeper. Unfortunately, Taylor was alert
and grabbed the ball as it came at him. The City goalkeeper was
being kept busy at this stage of the match, with saves from Keane's
header and Hud's shot. When Bent had a free header from the fourth
corner in succession, he glanced it wide, when it was begging to be put
on target and into the goal.
While Zokora had been playing alongside
Kaboul in the middle of the back four, he seemed to be being dragged out
of position, although he made a timely block when Forssell was on for
his hat-trick goal from inside the area. His time on the pitch was
up though, as Chris Gunter came on for him almost straight away.
Berbatov almost got Spurs something from
the game, with a shot straight at the goalie, who pushed it over the top
for another corner, which saw another Bent header go wide once more.
There was almost some joy when Keane took the ball away as Ridgewell and
Muamba dwelt on the ball and set up Huddlestone, but his shot flew well
It was the pre-cursor to Birmingham's
fourth goal. A long straight ball dropped kindly for McFadden to
play in Forssell, who got away on the left to face the Spurs keeper and
slot home past Robinson. Now, whoever we have played this season,
we have not been done by more than two goals, yet we found ourselves 0-4
down to Birmingham. I am not saying they didn't deserve to be
winning by that margin, but we had not been inspired enough to stop them
being ahead by that score-line.
O'Hara had not given up hope of getting
something out of the game and collected a clearance to take the ball on
and curl a shot just wide with Taylor scrambling across goal. It
looked as though that might have been Tottenham's last effort on goal,
as McLeish brought on Cameron Jerome and Mauro Zarate to spice things up
in attack with six minutes left. It almost worked, with the
Argentinian forward taking the ball round Chimbonda and brought a save
from Robinson with his legs to deny him his first goal for the Blues.
Spurs launched one last attack, when
Jenas won the ball and brought it forward. He played a square ball
to Keane, who stepped over it and then took the return to him from Bent
in the six yard box with a side foot into the net for our consolation
goal. And truthfully, it was about the only consolation we had.
The few good performances were outweighed
by the poor ones and the side looked like they were bereft of both
energy and ideas. What the Coach will make of it ahead of the PSV
match, I don't know. I feel that the rested players will be back
in action, but we still need a few points to prevent late season worries
We have eleven games, so perhaps the
management think that there are enough games to pick points up from.
Six are against top half teams and five against those below us.
But, as Juande said after the Prague second leg, we will have to play
better than that or we are not going to win many games.