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Penalty blues

Posted on 17 August 2003  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

It was penalty pain at St Andrew's as a debatable spot kick consigned us to defeat in our Premiership opener against Birmingham City.

Referee Rob Styles pointed to the spot after what looked like a 50-50 tussle between Anthony Gardner and Robbie Savage.

Kasey Keller managed to get a firm hand on David Dunn's penalty but it nestled in the back of the net to ultimately win the game.

Few could argue that we deserved some reward from the game after completely dominating the second half.

But the closest we came was when Robbie Keane struck the inside of the post after 56 minutes.

With a host of players out, Rohan Ricketts made his Premiership debut alongside Helder Postiga and, later as substitutes, Bobby Zamora and Dean Marney.

The opening stages rushed by - a frantic, high-energy, mess of a game and it took until 15 minutes for anything of note to happen when Dugarry appeared to divert Clemence's in-swinging free-kick onto the inside of the post.

That kick-started a flurry of incident including, no surprises here, Savage getting involved first with Redknapp and then being booked for 'tackling' Taricco so late it will still be arriving tomorrow.

City then had two decent chances. Horsfield turned on a sixpence in the box to lose both Bunjevcevic and Doherty only to drag his shot wide from 15 yards then Dugarry latched onto Clemence's pass but with Keller out quickly, lobbed wide.

We certainly stood up to the physical challenge, not least in midfield, but spells of possession came to nothing.

It all changed after 35 minutes though. Savage and Gardner tussled for a bouncing ball in the box, both pulled and tugged, Savage went down and referee Rob Styles pointed to the spot. It looked a poor decision with the naked eye and both Gardner and Redknapp were booked. Dunn slotted home despite a good hand from Keller.

Keane volleyed wide during our best spell of pressure leading up to half-time but City had another decent chance just before the break as Dugarry turned away from Doherty on half-way only to shoot tamely.

The second half started slowly but Bobby Zamora's arrival signalled 25 minutes of complete dominance.

Indeed, we should have levelled when Keane found himself clear on goal after 56 minutes only for the Irish star to flick the ball onto the inside of the post.

Play remained in City's half for what seemed ages at a time but we couldn't create a chance against a back five protected by Clemence and Savage.

Zamora impressed on his debut and proved a real handful in the air but having fashioned a couple of headers at goal, missed his chance for glory when he headed Carr's cross over from close range in the last minute.

MINUTE BY MINUTE GUIDE

15mins: WOODWORK. After a frantic start, the first chance of any note. Clemence curled in free-kick from right flank, Dugarry, on the stretch, diverted onto the inside of the post.

16mins: Ricketts quick feet and one-two with Postiga but shot wide from 18 yards.

22mins: Redknapp and Savage square up after Redknapp's tackle.

24mins: YELLOW. Savage for late tackle on Taricco.

26mins: Horsfield spun away from Bunjevcevic and Doherty in one movement but dragged decent chance wide from 16 yards.

29mins: Clemence pass found Dugarry peeling away from Doherty, Keller out quickly, Dugarry lobbed wide.

30mins: YELLOW. Clemence for shirt pull on Carr.

35mins: PENALTY/GOAL/YELLOWS. Looked a terrible decision from referee Rob Styles as Savage and Gardner tussled for a bouncing ball. Dunn slotted home penalty. Gardner and Redknapp booked. 0-1.

37mins: YELLOWS. Carr and Dunn after off-the-ball tussle.

40mins: Keane flick up and volley wide from 25 yards.

45mins: Dugarry spun away from Doherty on half-way, ran to goal, left side, weak shot saved by Keller.

Half-time: City 1-0 Spurs

46mins: YELLOW. Davies for foul on Purse.

49mins: Taricco cross a fraction over Postiga.

53mins: Savage hustled Taricco, Gardner and Redknapp out of possession creating chance for Dugarry, who shot over.

55mins: SUB. Zamora for Postiga.

56mins: WOODWORK. Keane suddenly away into box, clear, flicked ball past Taylor but onto inside of post.

58mins: Zamora header at far post from Redknapp's cross sailed just over.

67mins: SUB. John for Horsfield.

69mins: SUB. Marney for Taricco.

70mins: SUB. Devlin for Dugarry.

76mins: Ricketts floated cross headed straight at Taylor by Zamora.

79mins: Marney snap-shot on volley from 15 yards produced save of day from Taylor.

85mins: Superb Doherty block to deny John from close range.

87mins: YELLOW. Ricketts for foul on Savage.

88mins: SUB. Tebilly for Savage.

89mins: Carr cross headed over by Zamora from eight yards.

Injury time: YELLOW. Marney for foul on John.

Line-ups: Birmingham City: Taylor, Kenna, Purse, Clapham, Johnson, Savage (Tebilly, 88), Clemence, Dunn, Dugarry (Devlin, 70), Cunningham, Horsfield (John, 67). Subs: Lazaridis, Bennett.

Spurs: Keller, Carr, Taricco (Marney, 69), Bunjevcevic, Gardner, Doherty, Redknapp, Ricketts, Davies, Postiga (Zamora, 55), Keane. Subs: Sullivan, Kelly, Acimovic.