A flat atmosphere and a flat performance could not stop Spurs beating a
poor Blackburn Rovers side, who made things even harder for themselves
by going down to ten men in the 39th minute before going down 1-0 to a
hard-working Tottenham side.
a shocking game to watch, with both sides giving the ball away too often
and the finishing lacking a clinical touch meaning that there was little
flow to the game, especially with Rovers being built in the image of
their manager and putting in a physical performance that would have
matched the reputation the club had a few years back.
The tone that Blackburn were going to
take was set within the first minute of the game. As Bentley ran
up the line to take up a position in support of his forwards, Ooijer
blatantly barged him to the ground. It was the first of several
fouls that the Dutchman perpetrated and got away with before referee
Webb finally lost patience with him after six fouls and booked him.
Maybe, if he had applied the same intolerance with some players to
Ooijer, he would have been back in the dressing room with Olsson.
It was Vedran Corluka who on hand to
prevent Rovers having an early chance, as he got in the way of a long
ball that bounced off him to Gomes, with Santa Cruz lurking nearby.
Gomes put in an uncertain attempt to hold a corner when he fumbled it
and managed to get away with it. He was a little hesitant as
Pedersen tested him from long range, but he grabbed the ball to his
chest at the second attempt and looked to release Bentley quickly with
his throw out.
Aaron Lennon had almost put Bent through
in the right hand side of the penalty area, before he took the ball
easily off Olsson, just inside the Blackburn half and skipped away with
the defender trying to get back at him, but Aaron cut back in from the
dead ball line to make sure the Rovers man could not tackle him.
The little winger had the presence of mind to pull the ball back to
Roman Pavlyuchenko, who was just outside the six yard box and swept it
first time out of Robinson's reach to hit the net in the ninth minute.
It was an electric run by Lennon and a goal-scorers finish from
Pavlyuchenko, who looks like he is happy in his football and enjoying
getting on the end of things in the box.
Shortly after the kick-off, Jermaine
Jenas drove forward with a powerful run, but his decision to hit a shot
on goal, that ended off target, might have been better had he slid a
pass through to Bent or Lennon on his right. Tottenham almost made
it two in the 18th minute, as David Bentley swung in a free kick from
the left (for another Ooijer foul) was touched on by Roman's head and it
hit the base of the post with Robbo stranded. Unfortunately, the
follow up by King would have been ruled out, as Darren Bent was offside.
Almost straight away, a long ball down
the right saw Brett Emerton outpace Assou-Ekotto and as Gomes came out,
the Aussie lifted the ball over him and towards goal. Luckily for
Tottenham, Gomes had made enough of an advance to allow Woodgate to get
back and head the ball out before Benni McCarthy could get to the lob.
Blackburn should have been level on the
23 minute mark, but when Olsson put in a good low cross from the left
wing, McCarthy met it with a volley, but could not control it and it
flew off his foot and over the bar. Even then, his effort was
fairly central and Heurelho Gomes might have been well placed had the
ball been a couple of feet lower. Unfortunately for the Swede, he
was the first into the book for a late tackle on Lennon. He
managed to get away with another late tackle on the same player, because
the ref decided to play on and then not go back to book the perpetrator.
Gomes remained rooted to his line as an
in-swinging free-kick was put in and everyone missed it and it ended up
in the grateful Brazilian's arms. Then it was Tottenham's turn to
go forward and Lennon cut inside, kept going and struck a low shot that
missed the target by about a yard. By the time Aaron got the ball
again, he pushed it past Olsson and the defender could not help himself
and crashed Lennon to the floor again. Webb had little option but
to show another yellow and then a red to dismiss the player from the
field. I say little option, but he was a lot more lenient with
other Rovers players.
It was Lennon who brought the save of the
match from Paul Robinson, when he lashed a loose ball on the edge of the
area with his left foot that took a deflection off Ooijer and Robbo kept
it out with his legs. Before the half-time whistle, Huddlestone
had struck a fierce shot over the top and Webb construed a hack on
Bentley as a dive and put the other Spurs winger into the book.
Strange when a similar assault by Samba on Jenas had not drawn even a
whistle from the official.
Paul Ince took the half-time interval to
replace Benni McCarthy with defender Danny Simpson, to allow Morten
Gamst Pedersen to move back into midfield. Spurs struggled to play
against the ten Rovers men in the second period, with plenty of
possession, but very few clear cut chances created.
The early opportunity was with a stooping
Santa Cruz heading a free-kick at goal and Gome held the effort
comfortably. Assou-Ekotto got caught out with a ball inside him
and had to rely on Ledley to bale him out. Eight minutes into the
half, Huddlestone struck a long range shot that was deflected wide for a
corner and then Tom had another effort that went narrowly over the top
this time, as he fired it in from 25 yards out with Robinson beaten all
ends up. Bent was robbed by a good tackle on him by Ooijer as he
and Bentley broke away into the Blackburn half.
Ryan Nelsen joined the rash tackling,
with a hack on Assou-Ekotto right on the edge of the penalty area in the
64th minute and from it, Spurs failed to get it through the wall.
Nelsen later was allowed to jump at players with a leading elbow (on
more than one occasion), before he knocked Campbell down on the edge of
the box and then wrestled with him to prevent him getting up and getting
away from him. The lack of consistency shown by Webb, supposedly
one of the country's best referees, was shocking. He played
advantage sometimes and pulled play back, but not all the time, with
some players earning cautions without a chance to have a tackle before
getting booked, while others had a number of fouls before they entered
Tottenham got into some good positions,
but failed to produce a killer final ball. Lennon found Robinson
with a cross and Pavlyuchenko should have taken a shot on the Rovers
goal rather than try to set up Darren Bent. Ooijer finally got his
booking for the last in a string of fouls, followed by a good chance for
Spurs when Woodgate headed a Bentley free-kick over the bar from a
couple of feet out.
Rovers best chance of the second half
fell to Pedersen after a long ball dropped in front of him, but he
lashed it into the ground and the ball went wide of Gomes' goal.
With Rovers still down to ten and tiring, Harry brought on Campbell to
replace Pav. it was a good move, as his pace was integral to
keeping Rovers pegged back. In the 81st minute, he nearly made a
goal for Bent, as he got past three back shirted Rovers players tight on
the line, his ball across was just missed by the striker at the near
post. Lennon was enjoying himself so much that he came in from the
wing on the left to drive a shot straight into Robinson's midriff.
Fraizer almost added to his recent tally
of goals when Bentley put in a good cross, straight onto the
substitute's head in the six yard box, but he glanced it wide, when
really he should have scored. It had been a patient piece of play
on the right wing, in engineering space for the winger to put in a
The one goal margin was still a slender
one and one which could have been levelled. Samba almost turned up
in the same position as last season when he scored the winner in the
last minute. This time, his shot from a free-kick that fell to his
feet, hit a Tottenham foot and the ball was cleared. Santa Cruz
tried a flick behind his backside, when Samba's knock down from a long
Robinson free-kick dropped behind him. In the last frantic minute,
substitute Treacy tried a shot, but it was blocked and then when
Tottenham broke away, the final whistle went and for once, we were
pleased to hear that sound from the over-fussy official.
The only bit of excitement in the closing
stages was when Andrews (not for the first time) dived in with a
forceful challenge on a Spurs player and this time he tangled with Jenas
as the midfielder was unbalanced by the ex-MK Dons player. The
handbags ended with Jenas pushing the Fourth Division player and then
there were yellow cards for both of them, with Andrews let off lightly
for trying to drag Jenas' shorts off him !!
As I said at the start of the match
report, this will not live long in the memory, but perhaps it might be
the start of the team winning ugly. They certainly worked hard for
each other and closing Rovers down rapidly, but perhaps it took too much
out of them in the second half.
It wasn't pretty but it was three points