A first half that would have made it hard to determine which side was
from the top flight and which from the second tier, was turned around
with a twenty minute goal burst that put Tottenham in a very good
position going up to Lancashire for the second half of this tie.
4-1 might have flattered Spurs, but the pace
they came out at in the second half took Burnley by surprise and made an
It took a substitution and a change in
attitude by Spurs to finally put an impressive Burnley side to the
sword. In the first half, the five man midfield of the visitors
by-passed and out-passed Tottenham's four, with the white shirts being
lacking in effort and spirit.
Chris Eagles ran the midfield for the
Clarets in the first 45 minutes, with a style of bringing the ball down
and passing it simply. In comparison, Tottenham were either trying
things that were far too extravagant to hitting long balls up for
Carlisle to win in the air. Too many Tottenham players were
unwilling to track back and the pairing of Bentley and Bale just did not
work on our left hand side. Burnley exploited this and their two
best chances came form that area.
Eagles hit a shot from outside the box
early in the first half, but Spurs had the first shot on target, as
Bentley shot from 25 yards. However, Jensen made an easy save
flopping on the ball. Within two minutes, Tottenham were behind.
Eagles took the ball forward on their right wing, then cut in between
Bale and Bentley before putting a square ball across the six yard box to
Martin Paterson, who easily lost Dawson to find space at the far post to
knock home the ball from four yards out. Fifteen minutes in and
0-1 was not the way it was supposed to be. But what was supposed
to be was that Tottenham were supposed to turn up.
It was one of the matches when Spurs turn
up thinking that is all they have to do. When things are not
working well, they need to buckle down and graft, but the team looked
unwilling to do that. Lennon seemed to be getting a lot of the
ball for a change, but when he got past his man, he failed to deliver a
killer ball. At the other end, Eagles was delivering good service
into the area and with 24 minutes on the clock, Robbie Blake ran into
the box, unmarked, to glide a header from Eagles' right wing cross a
foot wide of the far post. He really should have made Gomes work
to save it, but the effort brought some ire from the Spurs crowd which
might have got through to the players.
Almost immediately, Tottenham won a
corner and from Bentley's kick, Woodgate rose highest to head down into
the six yard box and Roman Pavyluchenko got a touch to, forcing Jensen
to make a good diving save to parry the ball out. It was a lot
closer than Bentley's attempt from 25 yards out on the left, when he
tried to replicate his goal against Arsenal and only succeeded in
hitting the Burnley crowd who continued to give him stick for his
previous association with Blackburn Rovers.
The half-time whistle was welcomed with
boos from a big section of the Tottenham support, with a different noise
coming from the away end. It was patently obvious that Bentley is
woefully out of form and his replacement had to be made, with Jamie
O'Hara the logical choice. His left foot would give the side more
balance ... and so it proved to be. With Ralph Coates appearing at
the interval to reminisce about his time at both clubs, his comments on
TalkSport earlier in the day had revealed his true colours with
references to Spurs as "we" and on the pitch saying he hoped Spurs would
get through and Burnley get promotion.
By adopting a different approach to how
we came into the Arsenal semi-final last season, Spurs started the
second half at pace. And it really caught Burnley back on their
heels. A neat link-up between Lennon and Corluka finally got the
Croatian through and he delayed his cross, with it being blocked out for
a corner. O'Hara trotted over to take it and produced a cross to
pick out the head of Michael Dawson at the far post. He rose
beyond and above Clarke Carlisle to power a header at goal and with a
man on the line and the goalkeeper there too, the ball went into the top
corner to give Spurs a rapid equaliser, which is just what they needed
to have any hope of getting back into the match.
Within a couple of minutes, Modric was
setting up O'Hara for another shot, but this time he blazed over, but
six minutes into the half, Pavyluchenko got the ball on the edge of the
box and cut inside to try and shoot, but it was blocked into the air,
where Modric flicked his header backwards to the left hand side of the
box. Waiting was Jamie O'Hara. His first time volley caught
Jensen unawares and the ball went under the big keeper to squirm into
the net to make it 2-1 to Tottenham.
The effort that Spurs were suddenly
putting in made Burnley back-track, as they didn't know whether to go
for a goal to get back into the game or to hold onto what they had.
The slick passing they displayed in the first half disappeared and
Eagles faded from the action, as the Tottenham midfield really kicked
into action. Chances came thick and past, with Modric heading a
Lennon cross wide, when better placed than he was for his goal against
Wigan on Friday and Fraizer Campbell curled a shot into the goalie's
arms when in a good position. In between Robbie Blake received a
quick free-kick from Jordan and nearly caught Tottenham out as they had
been in the Everton match. Luckily, Blake's effort curled well
from outside the area, but did just enough to beat the far post to miss
by a foot.
A real scramble happened in the Spurs
penalty area just after the hour, as the ball was played down the left
hand channel for Paterson to chase and Gomes came out to close him down,
but the ball ran loose to Blake, but the resulting cross was headed out
by Dawson and Gomes recovered to grab the ball as it came away from
A minute later, the match was decided
with a touch of class. Taking a ball from the left wing,
Pavyluchenko cut inside between two defenders and pushed the ball out of
Carlisle's reach before rifling a shot home from inside the penalty area
past the keeper to give Tottenham a two goal cushion. While
criticism has come Roman's way, he is now getting used to playing in the
team structure and with the new signing Jermain Defoe, who was shown off
to the White Hart Lane crowd before the game, waiting to join him in the
team, he is scoring on a regular basis and seems to like this
At this stage, Burnley lost their
composure. Having put in a few rustic challenges to try and
unsettle the Spurs players in the first few minutes of the match,
Michael Duff conceded a needless free-kick with a push on Pavyluchenko
when wide on the right wing. His argument with the linesman seemed
to occupy his focus, so when O'Hara whipped in an in-swinging free-kick
with his left foot, Duff got his head to the ball, but could only divert
it past Jensen into the far corner of the net to make it 4-1 just a
minute after the previous goal.
With 26 minutes of the game left, it
looked as though Burnley had gone and it might be a question of how
many. Spurs did create other opportunities, with Zokora blasting
the best one over the bar ... unsurprisingly. Burnley struggled to
get their game going again and brought Akinbiyi on to try and shake the
Tottenham defence up, but the improved second half showing included
Woodgate and Dawson linking well in the middle of the back four and Bale
playing more confidently on the defensive side of his game, with O'Hara
giving some protection in front of him.
The large and noisy following from the
North-West will have made a disappointed journey back to Lancashire, but
the tie is not over and Tottenham will need to be well aware that an
early goal in the return leg might give the Clarets some encouragement
to go on and attack Spurs, but that might lead to some gaps opening up.
With a second half performance giving
Tottenham a three goal lead, it was more than most home fans could have
hoped for going into the half-time break. It will not be a
foregone conclusion that Spurs are through, as many newspapers seem to
think. From last season's semi, we will know better than most that
things can go against the expected outcome.
But with some players desperate to get
back to Wembley and with Harry Redknapp having to bawl out the side at
half-time, I am sure he will make it perfectly clear to the players what
is expected of them at Turf Moor.
THE HEATHROW SPUR