Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Subs stun Spurs

Newcastle Utd 2 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur

At long last, a precious three points at home lifted us back towards the relative security of mid-table.

Goals from Charles N'Zogbia, and a last gasp winner from Damien Duff were sufficient to overcome a Spurs side whose only goal inevitably came from one-time Toon target Luka Modric.

With Ameobi replacing Martins in the starting line up, with the Nigerian still suffering from the injury which inhibited his goal celebration against Portsmouth, Newcastle started the brighter, and took an early goal when N'Zogbia latched on to Given's long clearance. Easily beating his man, the Frenchman seemed to be hauled down in the area, only to recover sufficiently to slot the ball home past Heurelho Gomes in front of the Gallowgate crowd.

We were showing sufficient steel in midfield, with Butt and Guthrie combining to good effect, and there was real optimism that we could go on to add a couple more. However, Dawson's toe-punt interception of a Guthrie pass to Ameobi released Modric who broke through on goal and the Croatian was able to score his first goal for the visitors. That proved to be Shola's last involvement, as he then left the field with what appeared to be a hamstring strain, to be replaced by Viduka, who looks like he's already enjoyed several large turkey dinners.

With less mobility up front, and Gutierrez having a quiet day on the right, it was left to N'Zogbia to provide our most potent attacking threat; however, both sides seemed to be cancelling each other out. With little in the way of attacking chances, there was precious little to excite the crowd, and the atmosphere appeared to suffer accordingly.

With time running out in the second half, JFK withdrew Enrique, who'd had a fairly torrid afternoon attempting to cope with the pace of Aaron Lennon (the Spurs winger creating a number of decent chances having run rings round our Spanish left back). In his place was Damien Duff, with N'Zogbia dropping back to cover the defence. It was our two subs who combined to break the deadlock with only minutes left on the clock. The Irishman controlled the ball on his thigh before feeding it to Viduka. The Aussie displayed his excellent touch and laid the ball back into the path of the onrushing Irishman with a deft back-heel, and Duff was able to gently tuck the ball past Gomes to give us a decisive lead.

With so little time left on the clock, there was little Spurs could do, although they still managed to create one good chance for Frazier Campbell, only for the on-loan striker to aim a weak header at Given.

All in all, a good win which saw us climb to the giddy heights of 12th. If we can manage a rare win on Boxing Day away to Wigan then the top half of the table could start to beckon, which in turn should make us a more appealing destination for players in January, and potentially a more appealing place to stay for Michael Owen when he eventually decides what he wants to do at the end of the season.

One final comment, by my reckoning that makes it 5-0 to the Goldfish bowl JJ. Happy Christmas!

Other reports: BBC, Guardian,

A Spurs fan's perspective: Harry Hotspur


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