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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 5 March 2006  - 12:00

A winning strike from Mido on 69 minutes sealed the points after Blackburn Rovers battled back from two goals down in an exciting clash at the Lane.

A winning strike from Mido on 69 minutes sealed the points after Blackburn Rovers battled back from two goals down in an exciting clash at the Lane.

It looked like we were on course for a slightly more routine win when Robbie Keane put us two goals to the good in the first half, but a Blackburn reply just before the break made the early period of the second uncomfortable viewing from a Spurs perspective - even more so when Craig Bellamy levelled on 67 minutes.

A combination of substitute Aaron Lennon and Mido won the day.

Jermaine Jenas and Teemu Tainio returned to the team after illness and injury, while there was also a starting spot for Keane in the week he signed a new contract to remain at the Club for another four seasons after this one. Morten Gamst Pedersen was, as expected, missing for Rovers.

The boys formed a huddle just before kick-off to the strains of Glory, Glory, while the anticipation and supports levels in another full house at the Lane cranked up a few more notches.

Keane marked his contract celebrations with a goal on eight minutes of quite brilliant execution. After accepting a quick throw-in from Mido by the right hand corner flag of the Park Lane end, the new captain of the Republic of Ireland lifted the ball over the head of his marker before dragging it across goal and shooting into the net past a despairing Brad Friedel.

It was a dream beginning and a carnival atmosphere was brewing on a bright Sunday afternoon before a little scrappy patch intervened as we approached the midway point in the half - although a clearance spooned high in the sky by Michael Gray made things interesting for a good few seconds of Blackburn indecision.

Jenas then prodded the ball through to Mido out wide and the Egyptian's low cross was not wholly convincingly turned behind by Robbie Savage. On 32 minutes the visitors could - and perhaps should - have levelled when Ryan Nelsen headed a David Bentley cross back across goal and loan striker Florent Sinama Pongolle must have been inches away from making a decisive touch.

The central area of the pitch was getting crowded and, if we weren't a goal up, you suspected it would have been one of those frustrating first periods when the away team smother any form of creativity by numbers.

The chances of that happening in the second were greatly reduced when the advantage was doubled five minutes before the break. A handball by Nelsen right on the edge of the area led to the award of a free-kick which was struck low and true by Mido. Freidel pulled off a smart save but couldn't gather and Keane was on hand to knock in his tenth goal of the season.

The joy levels dropped a bit two minutes later when a Craig Bellamy cross was nodded in by the unmarked Pongolle six yards out and the lead was cut.

Blackburn - galvanised by the goal - began the brighter in the second period, gaining in territory and possession, if not troubling Paul Robinson in goal. We needed a little spark and hoped the introduction of Aaron Lennon would provide it. The little winger replaced Edgar Davids, allowing Jenas to switch to his favoured central position.

Bentley went for the top corner on 62 minutes and some top drawer goalkeeping from Robbo was called for and delivered by the England No.1. The out ball to relieve the pressure was Lennon but finding him was proving a problem initially.

Five minutes on and there was an almost inevitable equaliser. The flight of a long ball deceived Ledley King and Pongolle was away down the right flank, squaring for Bellamy to shoot low past Robinson.

The response was quick and most welcome on 69 minutes. Carrick picked out the darting run of Lennon who played the ball across the six yard box where Mido was waiting at the far post to shoot high into the net and the lead was restored.

The encounter turned into an end-to-end thriller - hand ball claims, crunching tackles and lightening quick counter attacks. It suddenly had it all and Danny Murphy was bought on to enrich the mix in place of a visibly tiring Tainio.

Keane looked on for a hat-trick in the last ten minutes when Carrick located him out on the right, the striker's lofted shot clearing Friedel but also the bar. Michael Dawson then had a bravely block at the feet of Kuqi in front of goal. The victory margin should have been greater when Lennon again set up Mido in the closing seconds, but this time it was not to be.

We didn't have it all our own way, but the grip on fourth place is tightened slightly and the vast majority of a 36,080 crowd went home very happy.