Oi! Who's been hijacking my match report thread?! Honestly!
Anyway, here we go.....
Tonight I'd agreed to take an American to the game. Guy I know through work who's been dead keen to go, so my sister sacrificed her ticket. I hired a car - no bloody chance I was going to try finding parking for my own motor around Tottenham for an evening KO! - and headed up to London. Nightmare journey. At least when I hit the A4. Bloody hell, I hate London driving. Sitting in queues, watching brake lights blink on and off. What a load of rubbish! Glad I live where I do and get to give it some stick around a few country roads! I digress.
By the time I picked Bob up I knew we were going to be late. Radio Five on car stereo and Berbatov puts Spurs a goal up. Bob is not impressed that we're not at the ground! Worse follows as Villa equalise. He's not happy about missing two goals, I'm most unimpressed by the fact its 1-1.
When we finally got into the ground there was half an hour on the clock and plenty of time for Villa to score twice to go into the break 3-1 up. I'd said to Bob in the car that we had a knack of taking the lead this season and royally screwing it up. He looked at me as though I'd had some kind of premonition. Truth be told we actually had a lot of the play and as Bob said, wasted anything we did create, while they finished well for their goals.
Unfortunately, the finer points of piss poor defending escaped Bob - but I wouldn't expect him to have known about how shabby we've been at the back. Having missed their equaliser - although I was informed by the regulars that it was a shocker from Robbo (replays confirmed this at half time) - I was treated to two really bad bits of defending for Villa's second and third. Quite why we allowed whoever it was that crossed for the second as much time on the ball as we did is beyond me. He had an eternity to size up the cross. When he delivered, they got a flick, and after a bit of pinball the ball ended up in the back of the net. I'm sure people will blame Robbo for that one as he got a touch, but really he had no chance. And as for the third, well, leaving aside the handball that led to it, for Dawson to get done over so easily..... surprised me to say the least.
3-1 down at half-time things looked grim. The pleasure of seeing Dave Mackay, Steve Perryman, David Ginola, and Glen Hoddle recount tales of greatness at WHL did little to disguise the shocker we were having. I wish we could actually start living in the present rather than having to hark back on past glories.....
Anyway, second half started, and we were diabolical for the first ten to fifteen minutes. We conceded a couple of awful free kicks. The first they didn't managed anything from, the second was fired in hard and low - probably went under the wall - and it was 4-1. Oh dear. This was turning into an embarrassment. I know I said a couple of weeks ago that I didn't feel embarrassed about the defeat to the Goons, but 4-1 down at home to Villa was beginning to feel like days gone by.
At this stage I'd as good as written the game off. Still plenty of time to play, but really, we didn't seem to be turning it on, and my mind wandered to whether the Villa fans were right in their song of "Sacked in the morning". They also gave us a great rendition of Happy Birthday which was met with a round of applause.
The one saving grace was that there was still a lot of time left, but a three goal deficit when you've started the half badly..... seems insurmountable. How wrong I was!
We didn't immediately throw the kitchen sink at it, but Defoe's introduction injected a bit of newfound urgency. Indeed it was his shot that redounded off the post and eventually fell to Chimbonda to finish from a tight angle. 4-2, twenty minutes still to play..... who knows?
Defoe was doing what he does best - making an absolute nuisance of himself across their back line. Not quite the vintage Defoe, picking the ball up, running hard at defenders, turning this way and that, but enough to shake things up a bit.
Then we took off Berbatov and threw on Bent. Didn't really understand this as we'd just begun to push the ball forward quickly..... OK, I mean lump it forward! And of all the players we have up front, Berbatov is the one who I would single out as being able to (a) head and flick it on, and (b) bring it down with superb control to keep possession. But, no matter, for better was to follow!
We won a pen with about ten minutes still to go. Side note - ref was cack. But a definite pen from where I was sitting. Keano converted very well indeed and all of a sudden we've got a real game!
Now we really were throwing the kitchen sink at it. As the clock ticked down, we won a corner and as the ball ricocheted around, falling to Defoe (who couldn't quite connect), and with Villa failing to clear, Kaboul fired it in to the far corner and the comeback I just didn't think I'd see, had happened! 4-4 from 4-1 down. Unreal. Kaboul celebrated by ripping off his shirt and jumping into the dugout - dunno if he got booked! And all of a sudden the flags were being waved by the Spurs supporters, not Villa.
In the very last seconds we could've maybe nicked it with Defoe just failing to get to the ball ahead of Carson - although I suspect the ref had already blown.
A point salvaged, somehow.
Let's be fair - as is so often the case, we led, we threw it away..... except this time we pulled it back. I remember Spurs teams of old..... they'd have crumbled. Credit is due for the fact that they got a point out of the game - although it doesn't help us to any great extent.
Villa's goals owed much to our shabby defending I'm afraid to say. Don't care what anybody - Martin O'Neill included - says. Not that Martin O'Neill is saying anything else, but just in case he does! Dawson had a shocker. Possibly the worst performance I've seen from him in a Spurs shirt. Definitely an issue with his defending for the their third, and his passing was way down on the standard I've come to expect. Conversely, Kaboul had a great game. Won most of the stuff that came his way, ran strongly with the ball to create openings, and, of course, scored the equaliser. Chimbonda also played well today - particularly when pushed up to support the attack. But overall, we were poor defensively. Robbo's mistake cost us for their equaliser. Really did. The lad is having a bad time of it right now. I disagree with those who say he isn't up to the job. He is having a bad time of it though, and as a keeper, every error is magnified that much more because it tends to end up with you picking the ball out of the net.
Not much comment on other areas of the pitch. Thought we offered enough up front to have got a much better result - had we not defended so badly. Which itself goes some way to saying the midfield was better than recently in creating chances, but not necessarily any better in helping shield the back line. We don't have the balance there I'm afraid.
Anway, 4-4. Incredible game. Bob thoroughly enjoyed it. Having missed two goals and the first half hour I bet he didn't expect the excitement that followed! I celebrated our fourth wildly and as we had a pint after the game, even Bob had started to say "we" when referring to Spurs! Seriously though..... after a game that probably sums up Spurs to a tee - entertaining, exciting, full of goals, defensively questionable - what else would you expect?