For the second game running, Spurs were reliant on ten men at the finish
to take the points against a physical Newcastle United team and an
incompetent officiating team at White hart Lane this afternoon.
Another red card, this time for Younes
Kaboul for dipping his head into Newcastle's midfielder Tiote, who if
referee Taylor had any gumption about him, would have had the backbone
to send off some time earlier. Not that Taylor possessed anything
like that nor displayed any control of the game from the very kick-off.
He may be new to the list of Premier League referees, but I could do
without ever seeing him take the whistle at a Spurs match ever again.
But even with a half hour of the game
left and a 1-0 lead, it was Tottenham who looked like the team playing
with the full complement, as they passed the ball and went on to score a
fine solo goal from Gareth Bale to wrap up the points. And they
kept a clean sheet for the first time since the opening day of the
Tottenham were in control of the game
from the kick off and although Newcastle tried to string passes
together, they were not making much penetration nor were all their
passes accurate, with many peppering the crowd or the advertising
hoardings. In comparison, the Spurs passing was crisp and it
soon became obvious that the player shad to take evasive action to avoid
injury from some of the challenges coming in. Perch twice tried to
slice Lennon down, but timed his tackles well, whereas Tiote made a long
series of foul tackles (before and after being booked), which the
referee (and I used the word loosely) chose to over-look. Carroll
continued to jump at Dawson rather than for the ball and was allowed to
continue for most of the game, only being booked when he tried the same
trick on Gomes with eight minutes left (when he also appeared to put his
head onto the Spurs keeper ... without further punishment).
Conversely, when Palacios made his first foul of the match, he was
cautioned straight away. I do not believe that consistency is Mr.
Taylor's middle name.
Spurs had a few half chances with Pav
hitting a bouncing shot that Krul had to be alert to as it popped up off
the wet turf and then Rafael van der Vaart tested him with a
free-kick that was going in under the bar until the keeper pushed it
over. In between Newcastle's only real threat of a goal came
unsurprisingly form their one tactic of hitting high balls at Carroll,
but he lifted a header onto the roof of the net, when meeting the ball
without pressure on him.
Gareth Bale had been quite quiet, having
his crosses cut out, but just before half-time he got into a good
position on the left and played a one-two with Benoit Assou-Ekotto,
whose cross was headed wide on the other side of the box, but Aaron
Lennon picked up the ball and knocked it back in to Pavlyuchenko's head.
His powerful header forced Krul to a full length save to his left and
touching the ball onto the post, it then ran across the goalmouth and
hit the other post, before rolling out and ending up in a goal kick, as
van der Vaart's follow-up was played off him.
Having started the proceedings with a
minute's applause for the recently departed Ralph Coates, half-time saw
a few of his former team-mates telling tales about the little winger and
Phil Beal, Martin Chivers, Alan Mullery, Pat Jennings and Martin Peters
all regaled us with their memories of Coates, who was a warm, friendly
individual, who always had time to chat. It is not something that
you think will be said of many modern day players once they have
There was a spate of yellows with Kaboul
going into the book for a foul on Barton, who should long have been the
first name on the referee's list. Giving him the captain's armband
seemed akin to giving him Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility, because
his incessant back-chat and the string of fouls and petty manhandling of
the Spurs players went un-noticed by the muggle with the whistle.
But the Spurs team rose above the mediocrity of the visitors' long ball
game to the head of Carroll to take the lead.
Kaboul played a through ball to Aaron
Lennon and with a head of speed up, he ran at Perch, turning him inside
out and getting to the right corner of the box to hit a low shot across
goal that flicked off the full back's thigh and took the ball out of the
keeper's reach into the opposite corner. It was nothing that Spurs
didn't deserve and it was a relief that the stultifying style of play
employed by Newcastle had been un picked in the 57th minute.
Newcastle were taking a lead from their
captain and were losing their discipline, with the highly ineffectual
Alan Smith almost taking two players out (including another from his own
side) before getting a yellow card and Spurs created a good passing move
to present Modric with a shooting opportunity to force a diving save
from Krul. Then, in the 64th minute, Kaboul once more brought the
ball out of defence in front of the West Stand, before Tiote flew into a
tackle, which brought them face to face and Younes ducked his head into
the Newcastle midfielder's head persuading the referee to send him off.
No further action was taking against Tiote, who seemed happy enough to
get in Kaboul's face and even though both players were already on yellow
cards, it was a straight red for the Spurs man. In view of what
had gone before ... such as Barton wiping out Pav from behind without so
much as a sniff of a card and other blatant hauling down of players not
even bringing a free-kick ... it was a little out of character for
someone as lacking in charisma as the referee Taylor.
The dismissal brought an offensive change
for Newcastle with Ranger coming on for Gutierez and Spurs had to shore
up the back line by taking Pavyluchenko off and bringing Bassong on.
Newcastle upped the ratio of balls pumped high into the Spurs box, but
many resulting from when Newcastle had been given soft free-kicks were
over-hit by the achingly over-rated Barton and the crosses in from the
wing by Routledge that eluded everyone brought back the memories as to
why he had not made any sort of impact at the club while he was at White
One such Routledge cross was the subject
of an attempted overhead kick by Smith, but his timing was so poor he
missed the ball completely and confused Andy Carroll so much, that he
fell to the ground without anyone in his vicinity. Routledge could
have made a name for himself when the ball popped up in the Spurs box,
but his volley went harmlessly across the face of goal. Jermaine
Jenas, who had replaced Wilson Palacios (who was on a booking) at
half-time, ran half the length of the pitch to slip a pass out to the
right wing for Lennon to run onto it and from a similar (but slightly
wider position), he struck another shot across Krul, but dragged it wide
of the far post this time, when maybe a driven ball across the six yard
box might have hit someone and gone in.
But in the 81st minute, another sweeping
move made it 2-0 to football. Modric, who was at the heart of all
things good about Tottenham's play, played the ball down the left for
Gareth Bale, who went on a lung-busting run, before cutting inside the
lumbering Steven Taylor and hitting a low ball across the keeper and in
at the far post, as Crouch had closed in. It looked a lucky goal,
but on replay, Bale hit the ball with the outside of his foot and Krul
had little chance of doing anything with it.
Just before the end of normal time, Gomes
had to push away a Carroll header that he had actually won fairly for a
change and into added time, Jenas once more used his pace to take him
away from the tiring Newcastle midfield to .hit a shot from 25 yards out
just wide of the goal. There was time for Newcastle to launch one
more stratospheric grazing ball into the box and when it came down, it
earned them a corner. The first was punched away to Lovenkrands,
who lobbed a volley back at goal and Bale was there to head off the
line, with Modric heading the ball away from the goalmouth when Smith
played it back in.
Having managed to defend with ten men and
done so very well, the final whistle brought only the second clean sheet
of the season for Tottenham and Newcastle's basic techniques were
underpinned by a physicality that I am sure had not come from Chris
Hughton's teachings. What Pardew can do for this side I don't
know, but other clubs he has been at have played a bit of football and
that is what had got Newcastle where they were so far this season.
But for Spurs to pitch up, lose a man and
over-come the sort of soporific football that the visitors brought to
the Lane, was yet another step forward in the learning process as they
moved into fourth place in the table albeit only for 24 hours should
Chelsea win their game in hand ... or the way the Pensioners have been
playing ... maybe not.