Let me start by saying its a quarter to four in the morning..... I've been drinking beer for the last (at least) three hours, and I have the prospect of less than three hours sleep ahead of me!
Not that that's any excuse for a shoddy match report!
So, with Europe beckoning, James and I set out from Heathrow early doors with the aim of getting a couple of pints in before the game. The weather was rubbish and I felt a bit..... well..... not quite with it. Fingers were crossed that the players didn't feel the same way!
Arriving at the ground James fancied buying a couple of bits at the Spurs store but couldn't find the right sizes so we did what any self-respecting fans would do..... reverted to beer!
On a drizzly and sometimes rainy night we found that Keano was on the bench and when hearing the Blackburn team sheet I thought they would be a far tougher proposition than Charlton earlier in the week. And so it was to be.
Frankly we were cack in the first half. Not that Blackburn created oodles of chances, but really, we didn't get close enough to them to shut down. Couldn't really put my finger on it. With both Malbranque and Lennon playing we should've had plenty of width - although as it turned out, Steed seemed to be adopting a more central role. Was it the lack of Keane? Was it the lack of Jenas? Hang on, did I really say that?!
Not sure, but whatever it was, Blackburn were in the game and dangerous enough. Sure enough, in the latter part of the first half, a longish ball crossfield finds Morten Gams Pedersen and he delivers an absolute peach for McCarthy at the far post. First impressions were that it was a great ball - and it was. But really Gardner was left standing too deep by McCarthy's run.
It could've been two-nil very soon after but we managed to hold out till half-time. Plenty of work still to do.
Somewhat entertaining, Nayim was this week's guest. The chants of "Nayim from the half-way line!" resonated around the ground as we saw time and again on the screens THAT goal from the Cup Winners's Cup Final against the Arsehole! I still remember some great goals that he scored for us..... that hat-trick at City in the Cup..... that blinder against Liverpool on my birthday from a corner where he hit it on the volley from outside the box..... ah, those were the days!
Still, leaving past memories aside, we lined-up for the second half with Ghaly on (a first half sub for Steed - I can only imagine through injury) and hoping for a concerted effort. We got it - sort of!
At one-nil down, Roberts (I think?) hit the bar with a downward header that could've made it two-nil. We still lacked a cutting edge and chants for Keano were growing stronger. Not that Martin Jol was swayed, but he did bring Keane on with plenty of time to spare. Interestingly it was Ghaly (the first half sub) who came off.
As soon as he saw his number I saw him start to pull his shirt off. "Uh oh" I thought..... he's gonna be a silly boy now. And sure enough, as he pulled the shirt off and walked off the pitch he tossed it to one side as he walked straight down the tunnel. What a dick. OK, so you're frustrated. You've come on and then been sub'd. Fair enough if you're having a cracker of a game, but he wasn't. The crowd let fly and frankly, other than expecting to see an apology in tomorrow's papers/news, I also expect he won't be pulling on the Spurs shirt again.
With Keano on we had a different dimension. Every time we moved forward for the last half hour Blackburn failed to recognise who to pick up leading to plenty of room all over the pitch. Lennon was beginning to have his best game in months and with Berbatov playing his usual role of plucking balls from the air, holding up, playing in others, we were getting right back into it.
It came as no surprise when a half-decent move resulted in a Berbatov snap-shot that Friedel tipped back into play and Defoe converted for the equaliser! Come on! With plenty of time still on the clock (20+ minutes) and with Spurs dominant and Blackburn shaking there was every chance we could seal European qualification tonight.
The waves of Spurs pressure continued, although we lacked the real cutting edge. Dawson snuck free once only to turn and blast wide. Our best chance fell to Keane when he turned superbly only to find his shot hit the base of the far post and bounce back to Friedel! Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!
As the game wore on it became more apparent that we weren't going to win. Roberts was red carded right at the end for a second yellow. I presume for being a mouthy so-and-so. But too late to affect the result.
All-in-all, probably a fair result. We were cack first half, really picked our game up in the second and but for Keano's shot off the post would've been celebrating. Mind you, they hit the crossbar as well at what could've been two-nil, so let's not get too hacked off.
Level on points with Everton we now only need a draw against City on Sunday to be back in the UEFA Cup. But frankly I would be hugely disappointed if the team went out minded to just achieve that. We want fifth place in the League, and while that's no longer in our hands, we need to do it. Fifth two seasons on the belt, and with the kind of cup runs we've had this year will really start to establish us as a force again - I hope.
As far as performances go for the night - King and Dawson at the back were imperious as ever. Chimbonda had a good game and got forward well in the second half. Gardner clearly isn't a left back but did OK. Tainio and Zokora did OK in the centre of the park. Lennon had one of his best games for months. Defoe was sharp-ish when he had the opportunity and Keano's introduction really pulled things in our favour in the second half. Two comments of note - Berbatov..... just great. I so love to watch this lad play! He is a class apart. Ghaly - differnt end of the spectrum altogether tonight. No respect for the shirt. Would be surprised to see him pull it on again.
Here's looking forward to Sunday, three points in the bag, an Everton stumble and a Spurs fifth placed finish. I can hope!