From the first minute when a Sunderland corner was headed goal-wards by
Frazier Campbell and Gomes palmed it straight out to Darren Bent to prod
home, you knew that a few former cockerels would come home to roost and
so it proved with a 1-3 defeat and a lack of positives to come a week
before an FA Cup semi-final.
In the first Sunderland attack, a corner
on the Spurs left was won and Gomes saved Frazier Campbell's shot and as
the second corner came in, Campbell threw himself at the ball and it
flew at goal, where Gomes reacted well to palm the ball out, but it went
straight in front of goal and Darren Bent came in at the far post to
knock in the loose ball from a yard out in 36 seconds. It had to be him
and with his goal against his former employers went Tottenham's chances
of getting much out of the game.
Why is it that the North-East has this
effect on our players ? Is it that they just don't enjoy going too
far from London, although many travel considerably further to play their
international matches ? A goal down inside the first minute left
Tottenham an uphill task and while they have come back from such a
deficit previously this season, Sunderland were playing beyond
themselves and Spurs within themselves. The lack of commitment
without Dawson in defence left Spurs exposed.
Tottenham created a half-chance when
Kaboul launched a pass through the middle towards the unmarked
Pavlyuchenko, but the Russian could not bring the bal lunder controol
and looked generally our of sorts all day. When the ball returned
to the Spurs penalty area, Jordan Henderson made his way into the box
and he fell under challenge from Benoit Assou-Ekotto and the referee
waved away appeals for about what was to be the only time in the match.
That was in the 14th minute and neither
side carved out a chance to be worthy of the name, 12 minutes later,
Bale's cross was headed by Bentley and it forced Gordon to dive to stop
the ball down to his right. Once more, the game switched ends and
as Malbranque was put in on the edge of the box, he hit a low shot that
Gomes saved and the ball popped up to hit Kyle Walker on the hand.
Penalty said Lee Mason. Bent stepped up to add to his total for
the season, with a shot powerful enough to beat Gomes' dive to the
28 minutes and 0-2 down, there was little
hope for getting anything out of the game. Campbell went close
with a header, before Cattermole let Palacios know he was there and
picked up a yellow card for his trouble. Spurs came back into the
game a little in a ten minute spell around the 30 minute mark. Pav
tried to bend a shot in, but missed and Eidur Gudjohnsen met David
Bentley's cross at the far post with a sliding shot which Gordon
narrowed the angle and kept out. Five minutes before the end of
the half, Sunderland were awarded another penalty when Campbell went
over Modric's leg in the box and Bent was given the chance for a 40
minute hat-trick. This time he put his spot-kick to Gomes' left and
the Brazilian flung himself to turn the ball aside although it was a
"good height for a keeper" to make the save. Gomes was alert
enough to stop a Malbranque effort with his legs before the half time
It was a relieved Spurs team that got
back into the dressing room, as the home side could have been five ahead
at the break, although I guess Harry Redknapp would not have been a
welcoming sight when they got back to the changing room.
The manager decided to make changes, with
Niko Kranjcar and Jermain Defoe coming on to replace BAE and Bentley.
It meant a little re-arrangement, but one of Niko's first passes only
picked out Campbell, who almost got on the end of Bent's return
ball. Five minutes into the half, Campbell once more went down in
the box, this time with Bassong alongside, but Mason decided that there
was no foul this time.
Spurs broke and won a corner, when Gordon
came out to Defoe, who Pav had played through, with the keeper just
getting enough on it with his legs to take the ball out. It was
played onto Gareth Bale's head by Luka Modric and Craig Gordon rose to
tip the Welshman's effort over for another corner, but this came to
nothing when Wilson Palacios screwed his shot wide. Roman rose
above Da Silva to nod the ball through for substitute Jermain Defoe to
get ahead of Michael Turner and pull his shot across the face of goal.
While Tottenham had not got on the
score-sheet, it was when Defoe hit the turf that there was more concern
for Spurs fans. The little man came back on, but looked limited in
his movement thereafter. A neat passing triangle between Modric,
Kranjcar and Gudjohnsen provided a shooting effort for the Little
Croatian and captain for the day, Modric to shoot from the edge of the
box, but he only found Gordon with his straight shot.
Hope was building, but that soon stopped
when Wilson Palacios chased a ball down the Spurs right and as Meyler
chased it into the box, the Tottenham midfielder missed the ball and
caught the Black Cats midfielder. Once again, Bent grabbed the
ball and it looked set for him to get a hat-trick and rub it into
Harry's face following the "Sandra" comment last season. Darren
struck the ball along the ground to Gomes' right and the keeper guessed
right once more and the keeper got a hand to the ball, which hit the
right hand post and bounced back into his arms as he turned around.
With 68 minutes gone, Richardson crossed
from the right wing and as the ball came in Campbell and Gomes went for
it and the ball dropped to Henderson, who drove it into the net.
However, the ref had blown for a foul on the Spurs goalie. With
time running out, Redknapp brought on Crouch for Pav and with a Spurs
corner on the left wing, Kranjcar put the ball into the six yard box and
Crouchy climbed on Turner to have a free header that he buried to pull
Spurs back into the game at 1-2.
Bruce made changes in response to the
Spurs goal, with Malbranque and Bent going off for Kenwyne Jones and
Zenden coming on to bolster the attack. Ten minutes remaining and
Sunderland almost made the substitutions pay, with Campbell's cross
being missed by Jones at the near post and Gomes having to scramble back
to see Zenden's shot kicked away by Sebastien Bassong on the line.
Then a free-kick taken by Zenden got a glancing header from Turner that
took the ball to the far post, but Jones was on his heels and couldn't
get a touch on the ball. It didn't matter much as Henderson had to
hurry to get to a ball down the right and looped a ball to the far post,
where Boudewijn Zenden hit a first time volley that dipped over Gomes
into the opposite top corner for a fine finish to the move and to the
There was no coming back from that for
Tottenham and the damage had been down in the first minute, not the
86th. The FA Cup semi-final seemed to be playing on players'
minds, but they must make sure they are mentally right for next week
against Portsmouth, otherwise there will be nothing to show for a season
of promise, which might not be kept.