Monday, August 20, 2012

Ba and HBA sink Spurs

Newcastle Utd 2 - 1 Spurs

The 2012-13 season began with a bang on Saturday at St James’ Park, with two goals from Demba Ba and HBA enough to see off last season’s fourth-place finishers Spurs.

Opting for a 4-4-2 formation, the Silver Fox welcomed back Saylor for his first competitive start since he hobbled off the pitch last January, partnering him with Perchinho (in the absence of the recovering Sideshow Bob, and leaving Mike Williamson on the bench) at the heart of our defence. Otherwise, the team sheet looked very similar to much of last season, with Ba and Papiss Cisse up front and Dreamboat and Mr T anchoring the midfield with Spidermag and HBA down the flanks.

With AVB currently seeking to impose his philosophy on Droopy’s old Spurs, and currently with only one recognised striker and a want-away midfielder on the books, if not the pitch, this looked a pretty good time to play a team who haven’t won at St James’ Park for eight years.

We started sluggishly, struggling to find fluidity in midfield and create any meaningful supply for our Senagalese strike force. At the other end, Gylfi Sigurdson had a shot well saved by Tim Krul (although a goal wouldn’t have stood as the new fulcrum of the Spurs midfield was wrongly flagged offside) and both Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale hit the woodwork.

Half-time arrived with the match still goalless and we opted to reorientate ourselves, ditching 4-4-2 in favour of last season’s 4-3-3 formation, which pushed HBA into a more advanced role. The change paid off, with slick passing between Dreamboat and HBA seeing the ball find Danny Simpson (now apparently here for the remainder of the season at least) whose deep cross was only headed up by Kyle Walker. The ball fell to Ba on the left of the Spurs box and he stroked the ball past the despairing dive of Brad Friedel to give us the lead. Ba then promptly headed for the Strawberry Corner to pray (not “rub his face in the mud” as the idiot on Channel 5 News commented later in the evening).

With the midfield starting to tick and HBA looking increasingly threatening, we started to look a more composed side – composure clearly evidenced by Saylor, who stopped the ball going out for a corner, before dropping on his front to head the ball back along the ground to Krul to allow the keeper to pick up the ball.

By that stage, the Silver Fox had been sent to the stand, having pushed the linesman after he failed to award a throw-in when the ball looked to have gone out off a Spurs player. With his walkie-talkie seemingly not working, reserve coach Willie Donachie was left doing shuttle runs up and down the stairs to relay messages to John Carver on the bench.

Presumably one of those messages was to give new boy Vurnon Anita some game time, so he came on to replace Dreamboat, and looked solid, showing some good touches.

Defensively, it was a shame that we weren’t able to keep a clean sheet, with Defoe popping up at the back post to knock home a rebound after Krul had saved his initial effort from a Spurs corner.

Thankfully though, that wasn’t to be the last word, and HBA took a short corner, before receiving the ball back and bursting into the box between Aaron Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart, both of whom stuck out legs to clip the Frenchman and concede a penalty. With Ba the appointed penalty taker, and John Carver getting quite exasperated on the touchline, it was HBA who managed to wrestle control of the ball before calmly slotting home having sent Friedel the wrong way.

That goal took the wind out of Spurs' sails, and with Defoe their only recognised striker, they couldn’t create any further chances to threaten Krul’s goal.

Aside from a good start against a team who look likely to be one of the sides with whom we’re battling if we want to qualify for Europe in some form next season, it was a good win. Undoubtedly we’ll play with more fluency this season, but a win should never be sniffed at, and with HBA picking up where he left off last season, we could be in for some very special performances over the coming weeks and months.

The only negative is the prospect of an FA punishment for the Silver Fox, who accepted after the match that he shouldn’t have pushed the linesman and could well face further sanction as a consequence.

Spurs fans' perspectives: Dear Mr Levy, TottenhamBlog, Triffic Tottenham

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

Labels: ,



Post a Comment

<< Home