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Jamie's Dutch treat

Posted on 27 November 2008  - 12:00

Qualification from UEFA Cup Group D now looks probable after a further three points were added to our account courtesy of Jamie O'Hara's winner against Nijmegen on Thursday evening.

Jamie's Dutch treat

Qualification from UEFA Cup Group D now looks probable after a further three points were added to our account courtesy of Jamie O'Hara's winner against Nijmegen on Thursday evening.

The midfielder planted his head on the ball in the 14th minute in what turned out to be the decisive moment.

It was an opening without incident for the first 13 minutes until the deadlock was broken in explosive fashion. Gareth Bale cut back and Fraizer Campbell rattled the ball off the underside of the bar before an alert O'Hara was on hand to nod beyond Gabor Babos to give us a deserved lead.

Not that too much had happened before this, but the pressing was coming from the team in blue and Gomes was left inactive in front of the Spurs travelling support.

There were six changes to the starting XI that defeated Blackburn at the weekend, with four Academy youngsters drafted onto the substitutes bench, including John Bostock and Adam Smith, who have previously enjoyed first team experience since the beginning of pre-season.

Nijmegen did present a goal threat on 22 minutes when Moestrafa El-Kabir drilled in a shot that Gomes did well to foil and, when the loose ball was about to be seized upon by a home body, Chris Gunter launched himself into a brave and effective block - effectively a goal-saving challenge from the young Welshman.

The home side attempted to forge a way back into the game as half-time approached but were met with strong resistance from the likes of Gunter, Dawson and Woodgate, while Bale was effective both defensively and offensively on the left flank.

The home support, packed inside the compact Goffertstadion, were not losing heart and there was a good atmosphere on a chilly night in eastern Holland.

They could have been left a bit deflated when O'Hara thumped in a shot from just outside the area, which Babos needed his reflexes to be at their sharpest to repel, while the rebound did not fall kindly for Campbell, but David Bentley managed to steer back into the danger area, with this particular alert averted.

Bentley attempted to arrow towards the top corner in the opening exchanges of the second half before his cross was nodded with some conviction goalwards by Darren Bent, requiring a fine save from Babos to tip over the bar.

Nijmegen inched their way back into the contest as the game reached the hour mark with some useful possession, while all the time Gomes remained confident in his work and cross gathering, very much in tune with his central defenders.

Bent made way for Aaron Lennon with 20 minutes left on the clock, with the little winger stocking up the midfield and bursting forward at his considerable pace.

Woodgate executed a superb tackle on El-Kabir on 77 minutes to deny perhaps Nijmegen's most effective player a clear route on goal.

Academy striker Jon Obika was granted a first team debut with seven minutes remaining, before Ryan Mason was bought on for stoppage time, which passed without significant threat to our advantage.