For a usually sensible referee, Peter Walton had a bit of 'mare, making
things difficult for both sides and also making it almost unbearable for
the fans. Giving Spurs a dubious penalty is hard for the home fans
to accept when the linesman with a much better view clearly indicates he
didn't think it was a penalty, but the two quick yellow cards for
Palacios resulting in him leaving the action and leaving Tottenham open
to attack, was hard and jagged to swallow, when the second one was well
crafted by David Dunn, who was on his way down as Palacios came in.
Having said all that, Spurs were in such
command of the game and not seriously threatened by Rovers, that they
should have been far enough ahead not to have succumbed to two late
goals from a side painfully lacking in class or ideas. There was a
feeling that this sub-Bolton side would put up a fight to retain their
Premier League status, but they were handed a win by a man who might
equally have been off the pitch instead.
The game started with Spurs defending
confidently and Gomes coming to punch and catch crosses without too much
trouble. The biggest problem he had early on was a fiercely struck
back pass to him from Woodgate, but he managed to get it away before
Benni McCarthy closed him down. In the early midfield tussles,
Stephen Warnock was obviously detailed to get stuck in and two late
challenges, which required Jenas to leap to avoid injury went unpunished
by Walton, although his leniency got less and less as the game went into
the latter stages.
The first real chance fell to Blackburn
in the 10th minute, as Pedersen's free-kick saw Diouf get ahead of
Assou-Ekotto, but he headed his effort two yards wide from reasonably
close range. Most of the threat from the home team came from long
throws or balls lumped into the box, with little passing on the ground
taking place. Also, their forwards were so keen to try and get
into scoring positions that they were regularly caught offside.
Spurs carved out a chance a couple of
minutes after Rovers, with Bent and Keane setting up Modric for a shot,
but Warnock got back to block it, but from the corner, the Croatian sent
in a near post corner for Ledley King to glance a header across goal,
with Keane and Jenas too far away from it to get a vital touch.
Bent had a better opportunity when Gomes threw the ball out to Jenas,
who got the ball into midfield and then it found Aaron on the right
wing. Givet did what a number of players did to try and stop
Lennon, by placing his body in the way of his run, but the ref waved
play on (about the only good decision he made in the game), allowing
Palacios to slip the ball into the right side of the penalty box for
Darren Bent to shoot low across Paul Robinson, who palmed the ball wide
for another corner in the 18th minute.
Bent once more was on the end of a break
from the back, but this time he couldn't get enough power in his effort
to give Robinson any trouble and then a few minutes later, it was the
Tottenham goal which was under threat. A long throw fell for El-Hadj
Diouf at the penalty spot, but his shot was blocked by Assou-Ekotto as
it was heading just inside the post. The long throw was the last
action Pedersen was involve din as his knee injury saw him replaced by
Dunn and frankly, it might have been better if the Norwegian had stayed
on, as his dives don't fool anyone.
Lennon cut inside Givet after Modric had
fed the bal to him, but his shot was off target, when he might have
blasted it low across the goalmouth and then another opening was created
for Corluka on the same side, but he also panicked when in a good
position to score and hit his shot wide, with better options available
with 18 minutes to half time.
When the Tottenham goal came on the half
hour, it arrived from a strange source. Breaking out of defence as
we had done previously, the ball was worked to Aaron Lennon on the right
wing. He cut back and played the ball towards the middle of the
penalty area, but before it got there, the Blackburn defender Gael Givet
stopped it with his hand just inside the penalty area as Lennon played
the bal in from a wide position. The linesman clearly held his
flag down by his side and not across his chest as if indicating it
should be a penalty, but Walton pointed to the spot to the amazement of
nearly everyone. it did stop the ball entering the danger area,
but the player looked like he was pulling his arm out of the way and not
in a John Terry way.
Keane kept calm amid the arguments by the
Rovers players who surrounded the referee and then complained about
Keane placing the ball ahead of the penalty spot. The Spurs
skipper stepped up and coolly slid the ball wide of Robinson's dive and
into the inside of the side netting to make it 1-0.
The goal appeared to help Spurs open up
the hosts at will. A neat bit of interplay between Keane and
Modric nearly gave the midfielder a couple of shooting opportunities,
but in the end it wouldn't fall for him and he waited to shoot, by which
time he was crowded out. Then, just before the half time whistle,
Modric played a corner back to the 'D' where Wilson Palacios hit a
volley that looked as though it was on target, but was blocked by the
Rovers defence. There was still time for Woodgate to have a free
header at a corner and put it wide, while Blackburn flung a long throw
into the box and it was cleared to Warnock, who volleyed it wide.
The second half was mainly a scrappy
affair as Blackburn tried to drag Spurs down to their level and took the
ineffectual forward Roberts off and put on Ooijer at the back, moving
the man mountain Samba up front. This made it quite obvious what
Allardyce intended in terms of tactics for the second period. A
less stylish version of Bolton Wanderers under his command. I know
that Blackburn were desperate to get a win to drag them out of the
relegation battle, but goodness, is this what Premier League football
has come to. But then the meagre crowds at Blackburn have little
expectation and jeer decisions louder than they cheer goals ... probably
because they see more of the former than the latter.
Anyway, the tactic started off well for
Rovers, with Samba knocking on a free-kick and Diouf getting there to
hook a shot well over the top. The game descended into a string of
stoppages for free-kicks and off-sides, but the referee failed to see
two off the ball incidents when Mokoena knocked Palacios to the floor,
with the second a clear elbow to the head of the Honduran. That
might have been worthy of a red card on it's own, but then Walton was
keeping his powder dry for later. Allardyce must have seen the
writing on the wall for the South African midfielder, as he replaced him
before he got sent off and brought on Tugay.
Samba got booked for a crude foul, which
again was no more than he had done earlier and could have been his
second. Consistency was not the referee's strong point today (but
what was ?).
Tottenham were getting in behind the full
backs and Lennon and Jenas were knocking crosses along the six yard box,
but there was nobody there to capitalise and the one goal lead was
looking precarious as we went into the last quarter of the match.
Modric had a shot blocked and Diouf managed to somehow head wide when he
got to a low cross into the six yard box.
Spurs were holding the Rovers efforts
well and looked like they would claim the three points for their stylish
performance, Walton took a hand in swaying the game in the other
direction. A foul on Dunn by Palacios brought a yellow card, which
was a little harsh in light of what had been going on before, but
obviously Walton's memory or concentration was going. What came
two minutes later was more than harsh, as Dunn ran infield from a wide
position with the ball and as Palacios came in to challenge, the
Blackburn midfielder threw himself before Wilson got to him and he even
consciously did not stick out a leg. But Walton went trigger
happy, as he had done for the penalty and went straight to his pocket
for a second yellow and then a red.
It left Spurs with ten minutes to see out
the threat of high balls into the area with ten men. However,
within a minute, Samba played a shot across goal and it wasn't going in,
but McCarthy was just played onside and he knocked the ball in from
close range to equalise. Zokora then replaced Lennon and it was a
little too late to help out the defence and once more, like in the Jol
days, it removed the greatest threat to Blackburn, which we could have
done with as the final minutes arrived.
Gomes was right behind an overhead kick
that Samba attempted when the ball was knocked down for him and then the
Spurs keeper was equal to a fierce drive Warnock struck after a low ball
in from Andrews, with the Brazilian diverting the ball over the top.
It was only a brief relief as the corner was played in low and went
through a pack of players at the near post to find Ooijer standing a
yard out with no-one to stop him nudging the ball in for what proved the
It is dubious to suggest that had there
been any consistency, then the substitute Ooijer would not have been on
the pitch, as twice he brought down Bent in cynical fashion. While
Blackburn fans will claim it was what Palacios did, the punishment was
not the same and the result was adversely affected because of the
referee's poor decision making on the day.
The defeat still leaves Tottenham needing
three points to be safe, but Spurs will need to make sure of results
without having to rely on referees doing what they are paid to do
THE HEATHROW SPUR