OPPONENTS Shamrock Rovers
DATE Thursday 28th September 2011
VENUE White Hart Lane






With this match being the last that Michael O'Neill will be in charge of the club before leaving, the occasion of Tottenham Hotspur's visit is bound to be an emotional one.  The manager has been the reason for their success  and that success has attracted a lot of interest in him.  With a number of players having their contracts expiring in the summer, it could be a change that spells a change in fortunes for the Dublin club.

Situated in Robbie Keane's home town of Tallaght, Rovers have made the Europa League group stages as the first team from the Republic to do so.  They have lost every game so far, but have given the other teams in the group a scare along the way and none more so than when they took the lead at White Hart Lane.  Spurs hit back with tow quick goals and another one late in the match to make the 3-1 score-line look comfortable, but the performance said otherwise.

It may prepare Spurs for this match in a small ground and in what could be horrendous weather conditions as they play out their final fixture, with the other two teams in the group likely to go through and leave Spurs to concentrate on the league.

The Irish side were fairly physical at the Lane, but moved the ball well before running out of steam in the second half.  Spurs will need to be alert to prevent a shock, as this side do have goals in them.  A resolute approach will be what is needed to stop Rovers giving O'Neill a big send off before he goes for an interview as Northern Ireland manager. 

The youngsters will get a run out and with nothing to play for, unless Harry is going for the big, big win that might just see Spurs through, the team will contain only a few first teamers and the youngsters will give the side a hunger to impress and shape to keep Rovers pegged back.  Tom Carroll will be restored to the midfield and Harry Kane might well start up front with Pav, if he is fit.  Bassong will play, despite the central defenders dropping like flies through injury and suspension, so maybe Harry might choose to rest Seb and play Corluka there.

Utilising the pace in the young wingers Townsend and Fredericks could pose Shamrock problems they are not used to and the likelihood of a good win might be a more probable outcome.

Rounding off the group with a win and the young players showing what they can do might sweeten the bitterest pill of being knocked out of Europe, but then, it will be a good grounding for them for the years to come and Spurs can go back to focus on bigger and better prizes.

PREDICTION Shamrock Rovers    0        Tottenham Hotspur    4

Channel 5 (live coverage) 19.30

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Shamrock Rovers  0 (0)     Tottenham Hotspur  4 (3)
Europa League
Thursday 28th September 2011                               Kick off  18:00
Tallaght Stadium
None Pienaar 29
Townsend 38
Defoe 45
Kane 90
Murray (foul)  24


Kranjcar (foul)  27
Pienaar (foul)  60


Crowd :   7,500 Weather :  Chilly, dry
Referee :  Stephan Stauber (Switzerland) Assistant Referees :  - (Switzerland)
Additional Officials :  - Fourth Official :  - (Switzerland)
Shamrock Rovers kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Shamrock Rovers : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Brush

  2  Sullivan
  5  Murray (c)     
17  Oman
  3  Stevens

20  Dennehy
26  Patterson
  6  Rice  (  8  O'Donnell 46)
21  Finn  (  9  Twigg 57)
18  Turner

10  Sheppard  (11  Kilduff 74)

Unused subs: 
16  Thompson
  7  McCabe
27  Ricketts
19  O'Neill

  23  Cudicini

32  Assou-Ekotto (27  Falque 84)
29  Livermore
  4  Kaboul (c)
25  Rose

31  Townsend 
21  Kranjcar     
30  Sandro
40  Pienaar       

17  dos Santos

18  Defoe    (18  Kane 84  )

Unused subs: 
  1  Gomes

46  Carroll

Manager :  Harry Redknapp Manager :  Michael O'Neill
Sponsor :   Investec Shirt sponsor :  Woodie's DIY
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Umbro
Match report

An entertaining game, with Spurs running out 4-0 winners against a Shamrock Rovers side that put in a lot of effort, but showed why they have not fared well in this Europa League campaign.  But in the end Spurs were undone by their own previous endeavour sin the competition and by a draw in Greece that conveniently saw both PAOK and Rubin Kazan progress at our club's expense.

So a professional performance with a team half full of youngsters, was not enough for Tottenham, but there was a moment just before half-time when a 3-0 lead and with PAOK winning 1-0 and Rubin down to 10 men, and unlikely result and progression looked on.  But it wasn't to be and the four goal win will go on the record books but will go no further than that.

With only four subs, Harry Redknapp showed that his focus was on the game against Sunderland on Sunday.  The team started well for the home side, as James Paterson had the ball in the Tottenham net within two minutes, only to be disappointed by an offside flag and then Ken Oman took a shot quickly, that sped past the post with 11 minutes gone. 

Much as they had done at Stoke on Sunday, it took 20 minutes to get a shot on goal and even then, it was a weak shot from outside the box from Defoe that the keeper took easily.  With this being their manager's last game at the end of a long season, they were determined not to roll over and Rovers put in a muscular performance that let the Tottenham players know they were there.  However, the bookings that Niko Kranjcar and Steven Pienaar received were soft compared to those handed out to the home club's player (singular). 

Danny Rose almost fluked a goal when his cross looked to have Rovers' keeper Brush in trouble, but he managed to tip it over the bar, but a minute later, the ball was in the net.  Tottenham were playing the ball around on the edge of the penalty area and it came to Steven Pienaar, who stretched to take a shot as a defender closed in.  The ball flew between his legs and took a flick off another Rovers man, taking the ball slowly over the line past Brush's dive to his right in the 29th minute.  It had not looked like Spurs were likely to score up to that point, but it seemed to whet their appetite, as they began closing down the Shamrock players quicker and Giovani dos Santos raced away from the halfway line, looking up to see Jermain Defoe in the penalty area, but his cross was a little too far in front of the striker.

Suddenly, all the pressure was on the Irish goal, with Gio and Kranjcar hitting shots on target, but it was a fine move and finish that made it 2-0 with 38 minutes on the clock.  Spurs won the ball on the left and made a couple of quick, short passes, with the ball coming to Defoe, who set it into the path of the on running Andros Townsend, who curled it first time with his right foot.  The ball arced over the keeper and into the far top corner to double the Tottenham advantage.

Three minutes later, from a similar position, Townsend tried to repeat the feat with his other foot, but this time it was a little too high and a little wide of the frame of the goal.  Defoe was denied by a block when he shot from the heart of the penalty area, but it only delayed the inevitable a few minutes, as right on the stroke of half time, the England forward made it 3-0.  Jake Livermore came out of defence with the ball and played it out to Townsend on the left, who played a low ball into the box where Defoe got on the end of it and the ball found the bottom right corner of the net courtesy of a deflection off a defender's back.

While Rovers had been spirited, a lot of their energy was being used up chasing the ball and luckily for Tottenham, their two star men were not on the top of their form.  Striker Sheppard was a lone figure up front and while he did well to hold the ball, there were only rare threats on goal and his defensive team-mate Enda Stevens, who is bound for Aston Villa, looked all at sea and so should fit in well at Villa Park.

With a chance to go through if Spurs could achieve a five goal swing and Rubin lose, they looked as though they might go for as big a win as they could, but a change of personnel shook Rovers up and they looked more solid in the second half.  The home fans got a bit excited when Sheppard was felled by Kaboul in the box, but the defender got the ball first and then Cudicini brought down Oman, but he had been given offside already.  Livermore also got the benefit of the doubt when Sheppard when through the middle and the Spurs youngster looked to have pulled him back on the edge of the box, but nothing was given.  Substitute O'Donnell flashed a shot a foot wide of the foot of Cudicini's left hand post and

A long diagonal ball from Assou-Ekotto found Sandro, who looked to pass the ball into the middle of the goal, but the ball almost caught out the keeper, but hit the post, came back and hit Brush who unknowingly managed to get the ball wide.    Shamrock went close with a header by substitute Twigg that went a foot wide of the post at the Spurs end, before Spurs sub Harry Kane went on a mazy dribble, without looking entirely convincing, but he managed to get a shot on goal, although it was straight at the goalie.  Tottenham were looking to add to their tally although news of the Rubin equaliser had fed through and Kranjcar fizzed one a couple of feet wide as the ball sat up just as he was about to hit it and then another Spurs sub, Yago Falque hit a shot that the unsighted keeper could not react to, but the ball thudded against the upright and then bounced back across goal. 

A late break by the home side saw defender Sullivan strike at goal from 25 yards and it was at a good height for Carlo to beat away two handed, before the ball fell to the Irish defender in the next move and perhaps more tellingly, he hit the ball that went off the pitch somewhere near the corner flag.

But Spurs had one more attack in them, with Rose's long cross to the far post missing out Kane in the middle, but Townsend was there to nod the ball back to the striker, who had pulled away from his man and he turned and struck the ball past the goalkeeper and defender on the line from a couple of yards out to register his first senior goal for the club.

So, Tottenham go out of Europe for this year, but can now concentrate on qualifying for one of the European competitions for next season.

Stanford Rivers


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What you thought



Other scores in the Europa League this week :
Group A
PAOK Salonika (GRE) 1 Rubin Kazan (RUS) 1 Thursday
Group B
FC Copenhagen (DEN) 0 Standard Liege (BEL) 1 Thursday
Hannover 96 (GER) 3 Vorskla Poltava (UKR) 1 Thursday
Group C
PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 2 Rapid Bucharest (ROM) 1 Thursday
Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR) 2 Legia Warsaw (POL) 0 Thursday
Group D
Lazio (ITA) 2 Sporting Lisbon (POR) 0 Wednesday
FC Zurich (SWI) 2 FC Vasuli (ROM) 0 Wednesday
Group E
Besiktas (TUR) 3 Stoke City 1 Wednesday
Dynamo Kiev (UKR) 3 Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR) 3 Wednesday
Group F
Slovan Bratislava (SVK) 2 Red Bull Salzburg (AUS) 3 Wednesday
PSG (FRA) 4 Athletic Bilbao (SPA) 2 Wednesday
Group G
Austria Vienna (AUS) 2 Malmo (SWE) 0 Thursday
AZ Alkmaar (HOL) 1 FC Metalist Kharvik (UKR) 1 Thursday
Group H
Club Bruges (BEL) 1 Sporting Braga (POR) 1 Thursday
Birmingham City 1 NK Maribor (SVN) 0 Thursday
Group I
Atletico Madrid (SPA) 3 Rennes (FRA) 1 Thursday
Udinese (ITA) 1 Glasgow Celtic 1 Thursday
Group J
Steaua Bucharest (ROM) 3 AEK Larnaca (CYP) 1 Wednesday
Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 0 Schalke 04 (GER) 3 Wednesday
Group K
Wisla Krakow (POL) 2 FC Twente (HOL) 1 Wednersday
Fulham 2 Odense BK (DEN) 2 Wednesday
Group L
Sturm Graz (AUS) 1 AEK Athens (GRE) 3 Wednesday
Anderlecht (BEL) 5 Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 3 Wednesday





League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 PAOK Salonika 5 3 2 0 9 5 11 +4
2 Rubin Kazan 5 3 1 1 1 4 10 +6
3 Tottenham Hotspur 5 2 1 2 5 4 7 +1
4 Shamrock Rovers 5 0 0 5 4 15 0 -11


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