MATCH REPORT: SPURS 1, BLACKBURN 2
Robbie Keane made it 23 goals in his last 30 games but the spoils went to Blackburn Rovers at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon.
Robbie Keane made it 23 goals in his last 30 games but the spoils went to Blackburn Rovers at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon.Keane's second half penalty put us in pole position to secure a first Premier League win since August, but a deflected strike from Benni McCarthy and a late one from Christopher Samba dashed such hopes.
Before we were ready to usher in a new era at the Club there was the matter of a contest to deal with against in-form Blackburn under the leadership of Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe. The Lane was packed to the rafters - the Spurs areas, at least - as very-soon-to-be Head Coach Juande Ramos stepped out into the Directors' Box to soak up the atmosphere in his new environment.
He will get to work on Monday morning, there were three points to be fought for before that time. Clive did not make too many alterations, Michael Dawson returned in place of the injured Anthony Gardner, while Robbie Keane was back in the fold instead of Jermain Defoe.
First up though, Dawson did the honours when it came to receiving our cheque for winning last season's Fair Play League, while the team warmed up for the game sporting Kick it Out T-shirts bearing the message 'One Game, One Community' in support of the week of action.
There was a lively enough beginning to the encounter without too much being carved out in the way of chances. Dimitar Berbatov took a little too long when presented with a shooting chance from the edge of the area, with David Bentley a bit wide with his angled effort at the Park Lane end.
Just before the 20 minute mark a Tom Huddlestone free-kick presented itself to Dawson around eight yards out, the defender not letting it bounce, but not making a decent enough connection to trouble Brad Friedel.
Berbatov the Steed MNalbranque then combined to set a darting Aaron Lennon through on goal and it took an advancing Friedel to deny him a first of the season. Friedel was exercised again when the flight of a deep ball from Lee Young-Pyo caught the visiting defenders out and a Keane header forced the goalkeeper into tipping over the bar.
Rovers were in retreat for a good spell leading up to the half-hour mark, Berbatov shot into the side netting, Robbie Savage went off injured and no further clear cut openings were carved out before the break.
The picture changed almost straight after the interval when Keane sent Lennon scurrying into the area where he was chopped down by Stephen Warnock. Referee Mr Styles pointed to the spot and Keane struck his kick high past Friedel on 47 minutes.
Friedel did brilliantly in stopping the advantage being doubled when he shovelled away a Lee blast at his near post after the full-back had been slotted through by Berbatov.
The plot took a twist just before the hour when Bentley picked out Benni McCarthy just outside the area and the South African turned and dispatched a shot that flew up off the lunging Dawson and looped into the top corner and in off the inside of the crossbar. Cruel.
Berbatov should have regained the lead with a header in front of goal from Keane's cross, but did not generate enough power or direction and Friedel was able to save. Lennon was thrilling yet frustrating with his final ball as the team wrestled the initiative back from Blackburn after the leveller.
Keane was just beaten to the punch by Friedel when played in by Huddlestone before change was made with Darren Bent replacing Malbranque. The next incident was a horrible challenge by Morten Gamst Pederson on Dawson as the defender was attempting to apply a thumping clearance.
There were a few nerves around the ground as both teams were cautiously seeking the win as we entered the final moments, strikers were coming on, but neither side was going to gamble on too big a number ahead of the ball.
The bolt from the blue came in stoppage time when the ball was not cleared efficiently and Samba struck a curling effort from the edge of the area beyond Radek Cerny to silence the Lane.