Blackburn blow in Premier League 2
Spurs 0-3 Blackburn (Premier League 2)
Mon 08 April 2019, 20:55|Tottenham Hotspur
A 3-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on Monday night left our Under-23s in a precarious position at the wrong end of the Premier League 2 table.
The proverbial 'six-pointer' at Stevenage offered both sides the chance to move three points clear of the drop zone - and it was Rovers who grabbed that initiative thanks to two goals in the opening 14 minutes, one a free header from Jack Vale in their first attack and the other, a penalty converted by Daniel Butterworth after Harvey White was adjudged to have tripped him in the box.
Joseph Rankin-Costello curled home a fine third in the second half.
It saw Blackburn leapfrog West Ham into ninth position of 12, the Hammers above us and outside the bottom two only on goal difference with two games left. Our opponents in a week's time, Swansea City, prop up the standings and only stand a slim chance of survival on goal difference, with the bottom two going down.
An organised Rovers defence meant we hardly had a chance at goal, Dennis Cirkin's rasping driving from 25 yards - tipped behind by Charlie Albinson just after the half-hour mark - the closest we went in the first half, with Jon Dinzeyi heading just over from the resulting corner. We'd made a lively start but, in our first Premier League 2 outing for a month, conceded cheaply in the third minute when Stefan Mols chipped a cross into the six-yard box for the unmarked Vale to score with a downward header from six yards. Goalkeeper Brandon Austin denied Vale a second on the break as Rovers pressed home the advantage and when midfielder White - one of four Under-18 scholars in a young starting line-up - slid in on Butterworth, referee David Rock pointed to the spot and the midfielder fired home number two from 12 yards with not even a quarter-of-an-hour gone.
Vale was always an aerial threat for Blackburn, somehow contriving to miss a second close-range header on 33 minutes and then seeing another one blocked by White - who by that stage had swapped places with George Marsh to play centre-half - just beyond the hour mark. In between times, Butterworth's shot from inside the box spun up onto the woodwork but with numerous turnovers in possession in the middle, we were finding it hard to build, hence shooting chances were not forthcoming.
Reinforcements arrived off the bench in the form of three more stars of our title-chasing Under-18 side and one of those went close to finding a breakthrough on 79 minutes - Troy Parrott just wide with a brilliant header from Marsh's corner - but Blackburn, managed by former Birmingham City midfielder Damien Johnson, put the seal on their night with seven minutes left as Rankin-Costello stepped inside from the right and curled left-footed inside the far post to make it 3-0.
Both sides knew the importance of this game in the fight to get away from the relegation trapdoor and we'd made a purposeful start, almost forcing an early mistake in the Blackburn defence.
But the third-minute opener from the visitors steered the contest in their favour early on. Rankin-Costello laid the ball wide to Mols on the overlap and his deft delivery was nodded in by Vale right on the six-yard line, leaving keeper Austin helpless. It was always an uphill battle from there.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was clearly angry and frustrated after the game: “We didn’t defend our box well enough and we didn’t attack their box well enough. They deserved to win and I’m very, very disappointed with our performance and disappointed with our application, knowing the importance of the game. We got what we deserved,” he said.
“They came and defended very well and we found it difficult to break them down. When they scored the first goal we knew it would be difficult and then they got a penalty which I didn’t think was a penalty – I thought he (White) won the ball – and then we’re chasing the game. You can have talent and you can have ability but if you don’t have a willingness, a desire and a bigger want than your opponents, it doesn’t matter and that’s the disappointing thing. We spoke about it before the game. If you don’t apply yourself, out-fight and out-compete your opponents, it doesn’t matter how much ability you have. We didn’t do that tonight – they did that to us. There’s not much more I can say. I’m disappointed with the performance and the lack of desire and will to be better than the opposition.”
Spurs 0-3 Blackburn (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Austin, Hinds, Cirkin (Lyons-Foster 76), White, Dinzeyi, Marsh (c), Tracey (Parrott 72), Oakley-Boothe (Markanday 72), Roles, Maghoma, Bennett. Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Duncan.
Blackburn Rovers: Albinson, Doyle, Thompson, Davenport, Magloire (c, Annesley 90+1), Carter, Rankin-Costello (Pike 90+2), Buckley, Vale, Butterworth (Whitehall 86), Mols. Substitutes (not used): Eastham, Saadi.
Goals: Blackburn - Vale 3, Butterworth 14 (pen), Rankin-Costello 83.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Roles 63; Blackburn - Butterworth 16, Magloire 53, Buckley 64, Doyle 69.
Referee: David Rock.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Gentle breeze, 13 degrees.