Sunday, 24 January 2010
And the Spurs go stumbling on
It should have been all over within the first 20mins. But once again determined defending and inspired goalkeeping plus Defoe's fourth missed penalty in a row contrived to keep it level. There was no doubt who were the Premiership side at this point and I would gladly buy the video with the penalty edited out of the first half hour. Eventually a brilliant run by Bale, the first of several, set up Kranjcar for a first time shot which the goalkeeper stopped with his feet and Crouch gratefully scored our first from the rebound. Defoe was denied a very reasonable penalty shout but the referee knew that we would probably have missed it anyway.
They equalised soon after the break after some lethargic defending, mainly by Jenas, from a corner. It was that man Beckford, obviously, that scooped the ball over the line from a sitting position. After that Leeds rivaled us for passing and movement and it was not clear now which team were said to be challenging for Champions' league.
Harry finally took some decisive steps just to prove that he can. Rose who was making his first 1st team start was subbed for Palacios brought in to help Jenas out in midfield. It was good to see Rose given the chance. He looked quick and industrious but made little impact. Bale beat the full back more often than he did.
Pavlyuchenko, too,made an entrance with 20mins. to go and it took him 4mins. and 11 secs to score. So that makes Harry either a genius or an idiot for not playing him more often. You choose. Keane came on at the same time and once again looked interested and effective. I groaned at the sight of Keane and cheered at the glimpse of Pavlyuchenko. If there were any footballing justice Crouch would never again be preferred to our Russian misfit. It probably won't arise because he is rumoured to be on his way. I am not so sure about this myself. We had a goal ruled offside on a very marginal call and everything came down to the final five minutes of extra time.
Keep the ball and run down the clock is the usual advice on this. Not at Tottenham clearly. We went for broke and glory and eventually ceded possession. Cue Dawson's rush of blood bringing that man Beckford down on the byline in a non-threatening position. He got up and thrashed the penalty into the roof of the net. The replay is on February 2nd. Bale played well for the third game running and was credited with the Man of the Match award.
Dawson and Bassong however played as if they had never met and Dawson headed almost everything straight back to their midfield. Had Leeds been as ruthless in front of our goal as they were in front of theirs they might, but for Gomes, have had a couple of goals in the first half. They are a good, strong team but we should have won this by keeping our heads. Jenas was lethargic and didn't give Modric who played well in his unfussy way enough support in midfield and should have scored after an enterprising run.
We are in a bit of a sticky patch with poor decisions by the players and the officials going against us. But we are still in the cup and 4th in the league. Harry has given a young player a go and there was that rare sighting of Pavlychenko. Keane is no longer first choice, Bale has more than delivered on my expectations. We didn't even lump the ball up to Crouch that often.
If we beat Fulham on Tuesday my cup will be at least more than half full even if it does not not quite runneth over. Liverpool game? What Liverpool game? That's buried deep in the memory to be dredged out when they beat us for the 4th. Champion' League spot.