Monday, April 03, 2006


Newcastle 3 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur

One year on from his darkest hour in a black and white shirt Lee Bowyer's rehabilitation appeared complete, as he inspired Newcastle to a fantastic demolition of Champions League chasing Spurs. Bowyer was everywhere, scoring the first, winning the ball for the second, and winning the penalty for the third. In short: he turned in the sort of performance last seen when he was wearing a Leeds shirt and forcing his way into the England team.

Coming off the back of four straight defeats, it was imperative that we got off to a good start on Saturday, to restore some of the confidence which the defeat at Charlton in particular looked to have knocked from the side. Suffice to say, we did. From the first whistle we looked lively, and after a beautifully crafted move in which Solano fed N'Zogbia down the left, the Frenchman cut inside his marker and delivered a low ball across the face of the goal, and Bowyer slid in to make it one-nil after only 65 seconds.

For the next fifteen minutes we continued to threaten Spurs, with swift passing and strong tackling epitomising our play. Bowyer was fouled in the penalty area by Edgar Davids, and had he not kept running in an effort to get his shot in, he could have had a penalty. As it was we continually threatened Spurs with vigorous attacking football.

Then, with twenty minutes played, the visitors finally got the ball. They fed Aaron Lennon on the left, who tricked his way past Stephen Carr and fired in a cross which Robbie Keane was able to bullet into the goal and give Spurs an undeserved equaliser. Perhaps partly culpable were central defensive pairing Moore and Ramage (Boumsong spending his first Premiership game of the season on the bench), but in truth it was a good goal by a man in form.

Whilst the goal might have seen our heads drop, it didn't, and instead we forced our way back in front. Bowyer, winning a ball in midfield, fed Solano, who advanced before firing a shot in from 25 yards. Robinson could only parry the ball out, and Ameobi (enjoying one of his better games) reacted quickest to put the ball in the Leazes net, and taking a whack for his effort. Thankfully, unlike our number 10, Ameobi survived the clash with the Spurs keeper, and was able to continue playing.

Five minutes later and Bowyer again was the instigator of further Spurs misery. Having so far played Davids off the park, he once again got ahead of the Dutchman, only to be pushed over. Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot, and Shearer duly scored his eleventh (and final) goal against Spurs in a Newcastle shirt.

With Newcastle now two goals in front, there was still time for Robbie Keane to hammer the ball off the cross bar, with Given well beaten, before half time came.

No substitutions were made in the break, although Spurs came out with a bang, presumably having been berated by Martin Jol for their first half non-performance.

Whereas previously they had looked second best across the pitch, they started to compete, and Jermaine Jenas (roundly booed all afternoon) broke free of Craig Moore, and rounded Shay Given. With an empty net in front of him, poor finishing by JJ saw him hit the side netting. (In last year's infamous Villa report we wrote: "Newcastle worked their way back into the game only for poor finishing by Jenas preventing us from pulling a goal back" - some things never change.)

Michael Dawson was promptly sent off for a second booking, and with Spurs down to ten men, the game rather petered out. Newcastle looked comfortable, and Spurs never looked like getting back into the game.

After the dark days of March it must have been heartening for Glenn Roeder to get another win under his belt, and lift us up in to twelfth. Europe may be long gone, but we can still push up the table and ensure a top half finish which has got to be the bare minimum.

A Spurs fan's perspective: The Shelf

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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