I have never seen us win at Tottenham, not even a draw as far back as my limited memory can recall. Unfortunately I was to leave White Hart Lane yet again with that unenviable record very firmly intact. Frustratingly this is a game we, ultimately, should have got something from……
The day as always started well with a few pints in the local hostelry, we always enjoy going to “The Park” near Northumberland Park train station, it’s a decent size, serves Guinness in jugs and is a nice stroll from the ground, albeit in the rain. The word going round the pub was that Richardson had “done ‘is hamstring” which annoyingly proved to be true. Every time we get a player of Richardson/Edwards match winning calibre somewhere near fit and on form the football gods decide to consistently piss us off this season.
We lined up in the predicted 4-5-1 (or 4-3-3 in a glass half full way), Gordon in goal, Noz & Johnny Evans (how good is this lad by the way?) at centre half, Mcshane at right back and Danny Collins at left back. The midfield saw the return of Whitehead, relieved of his right back duties alongside Miller & Yorke with Stokes right, Murphy left and Kenwyne up top. Any thoughts we had of a tight goalless draw were blown out of the water after about a minute when Noz stupidly tried to beat his man in the danger area of the pitch. Mcshane booted the ball straight off a Spurs players back in a desperate attempt to atone for Noz’s error and roughly 3 seconds later the ball was in the net via Lennon’s boot – when will we ever learn? The next 20-30 minutes consisted mainly of Spurs’ incisive attacking football threatening to rip us apart – Berbatov skimmed the bar and missed an absolute sitter (acute angle my arse) and I thought we were in for a good hiding. With about 10 to go till half time Stokes came off for Chopra and we seemed to settle a little better, some suggested that Stokes had played a shocker but I didn’t see it that way to be honest…. this is not to say I’m right, I just didn’t see it that way. Somehow we had given ourselves a chance as the ref blew for half time with us only 1 down.
In complete contrast to the first half we lifted our game immensely in the second . Murphy, who had been a peripheral figure for much of the opening period really came out flying and put in a performance which for me was the equal of his display against Pompey… IF he could continue in this vein he could finally show a few of us why he’s worth persevering with. The papers today suggested we had up to half a dozen efforts cleared off the line, I didn’t count to be honest but all I know is that the last 30 minutes we hammered them left right and centre; Jones had a goal disallowed for offside (he was) and Chopra missed an almost open goal for trying to be Bruce Lee (he isn’t) when it seemed easier to score. Murphy put some beautiful crosses in that were begging to be finished (they weren’t) and then right at the death a long Tottenham clearance was allowed to bounce twice, Robbie Keane latched on to it but hit his shot weakly and gave Gordon the chance to gather comfortably (he didn’t) and the ball nestled in the back of the net. 2-0 and that was that, another long journey home in the rain with fuck all.
Many of us will have reasoned why we seem to be so “unlucky” on the way back and I can only offer my two reasons as an opinion.
1/ Lack of quality in front of goal – Kenwyne is great but Stokes can’t offer any consistency to his promise and Chopra is just shite, he’s not good enough. Can we get a striker in the mould of a Phillips in somehow?, it would make a hell of a difference
2/ Silly mistakes – everyone makes them yes but how many goals that we have conceded have been totally avoidable but for shambolic defending , recall them yourself and see
One thing is for certain, regardless of new signings, the next 3 games must yield 6 points at the least if we have any aspirations of staying up, we begin a week on Tuesday against Birmingham……
Hero of the day: Daryl Murphy for reasons explained above
Villain of the day: Jointly awarded to Nyron for a very poor display and Tottenham for yet another rip off admission price – £36 is proper bump to the max I’m afraid, shame on you Tottenham…. and it rained, have I mentioned this?