With a new manager to impress, Spurs set about progressing to the
quarter-finals of the League Cup with a functional performance against a
spirited Blackpool team, who had their chances to make a name for
Juande Ramos will be
left none the wiser for this 2-0 victory over the Seasiders, but the
changes he made appeared to make a difference and the team played with a
style that indicated that they may be an attacking force in the future.
However, Ramos' success might rely on what he makes of the defence.
Spurs still looked shaky at the back and
from a first minute free-kick, Flynn hit the rebound off the wall way
over the bar. Paul Robinson was going to be put under early
pressure to test his mettle, but he just about made a punch to a cross
and then Gorkss struck an effort over the top when he turned on a ball
played in just behind him.
At the back, Blackpool showed how it
should be done when Barker got in first, ahead of Keane at the near post
to stop him reaching Lennon's pass into that area. Both Zokora and
Chimbonda panicked in front of goal and drive shots way too high when
well placed, then an aberration by Zokora, who left the ball for Kaboul,
who then slipped as he as faced by Fox, who had picked up the ball, left
the Blackpool man in on goal. With Robinson facing him, the
midfielder tried to slide the ball past the Spurs keeper at his near
post, but got his shot wrong and it hit the side-netting, letting
Tottenham off the hook in the process.
A couple of minutes later and a long kick
out by Robbo saw Berbatov rise to win a header and Robbie Keane ran onto
the flick to delicately lift the ball over Rachubka as the ' Pool goalie
came out to meet him. It was a lead that was scarcely deserved,
but in the situation Spurs are in, it was one that they needed.
At this stage, Tottenham started to build
some pressure, with some good passing, but the build-up was still too
slow. They won a few corners and Malbranque struck one into the
Park Lane fans, while Dawson got on the end of a loose ball in the area,
but his shot on the turn was blocked. Steed almost picked out
Berba with a chipped pass into the box, but with the Bulgarian striker
standing near the penalty spot, his touch only took the pace off the bal
for the keeper to claim it. A firmer touch might have had Rachubka
Didier Zokora must have been trying to
impress Ramos, as he wanted to get on the score-sheet, but his shooting
was as off-target as you could get and his status as the new Steffen
Freund gathers momentum. Jenas was closer with a 25 yard effort,
while Keane's attempted overhead kick went wrong and the ball was
comfortably taken by the goalie. At the other end, Robinson's
continuing problems of dealing with crosses saw him punch straight to
Taylor-Fletcher, who, gratefully, hit his shot over the crossbar.
That was a couple of minutes before the
teams turned around. Paul Stewart extolled the virtues of
both of his former clubs in the interval and when they came out for the
second half, Taylor-Fletcher should really have had Blackpool level
within two minutes. A cross by Parker from the right wing saw the
midfielder lose Chimbonda and earn a free header, which he should have
buried rather than hitting the bar from a couple of yards out.
Immediately, Spurs hit back with an almost identical move that ended
with Keane lifting the ball over Rachubka, but this time it drifted just
wide, with Kaboul closing in.
Five minutes into the half, Fox fired in
a free-kick, which Spurs did not defend well and it flew across the six
yard box with two Blackpool players just unable to get on the end of it,
while a minute later, they came even closer to being on level terms.
A cross from the right wing again found Chimbonda dreaming, as he left
Taylor-Fletcher once more and this time the player hit a volley to shoot
Parker's cross into the top corner from the edge of the six yard box.
However, Paul Robinson somehow leapt upwards to turn the ball over the
bar with a fantastic save. Having seen on Sunday how goalkeepers
can be worth points when Friedel had a fine match, Robbo proved himself
worthy of his selection with this stop. Later he had a couple of
nervy moments when he slipped taking a goal-kick (which ironically went
to a Spurs shirt and ended up with Defoe having a good opportunity) and
he let another shot bounce off his chest in front of goal, but got away
With 35 minutes left, Ramos had seen
enough and took Kaboul off, which the Frenchman wasn't happy about,
bringing on Tainio at right back and moving Chimbonda into the middle of
defence. It might have been a reaction to the two chances
Blackpool had, but once alongside Dawson, he looked more steady and
Dawson played a bit better too.
It proved an inspired substitution, as
three minutes later, Chimbonda went forward to head home Steed's left
wing corner at the far post, although a defender got a final touch to it
as it crossed the line.
Defoe replaced Keane and his first action
was to hit Robinson's mis-kick with great power at goal, forcing
Rachubka to push it over the bar.
The second goal killed the game, although
Fox tried a long range shot that went over the bar and with four minutes
to go, Defoe hit another shot that Rachubka could only push wide for a
corner. Fox tried again from way out, but had the same result,
while Darren Bent came on and slid a low cross across the face of the
six yard box, but Lennon and Defoe were unable to reach it.
At the end, the Spurs players gave their
shirts to the Blackpool player and Juande Ramos could relax after
starting with a win. It was by no means convincing, but they are
through to the last eight with seven more Premiership teams, so the next
tie will be a lot more difficult.
But by then, Ramos will have had the side
together for a few weeks and will have assessed their abilities.
From this performance, they still have a lot of work to do together.