If it's not a goalkeeping gaffe or a defensive error, you can put money
on a goal against us being a contender for Goal of the Season. So,
when the law of the Ex struck against Tottenham, it looked a though it
would be a Goal of the career for Luke Young, as he drew Middlesbrough
level and earned them a point in the process.
No blame could be attached to the goalkeeper
and only a slack bit of tracking back by Chimbonda, when he chase back
into his own area, could attract criticism for the defence. The
howitzer that came out of the blue from 25 yards and rocketed into the
top of Robinson's net was typical of the way things have been going for
Spurs, but a point from this trip was enough to lift the team out of the
bottom three, so Ramos' first objective has been achieved.
But it was a shock that greeted us on our
arrival at the Riverside, when we discovered that Berbatov and Keane had
been replaced by Bent and Defoe. The new coach had said that
everyone would get their chance to impress and he was living up to his
Bent certainly looked up for it and
probably realises that he needs to seize the opportunities that come
along to show what he can do, as, so far, he has failed to do himself
justice. He almost had the dream start, as he nearly got a decent
touch to Lennon's low cross. And it was a low cross at the other
end, which almost saw Boro score, when O'Neil slid a firm ball across
the goalmouth and Downing was a yard away from it, as Chimbonda went in
Luckily for Tottenham, that chance went
begging and the lack of a potent goalscorer in the home side became
painfully obvious, as they may have got more out of the game with a
recognised striker. Fortunately, Aliadiere is a player without the
goalscoring touch and almost all the chances fell to him and he failed
to grab them. Not only that, but he must be the most injured
player in football history, as he hit the deck more times than any
average footballer does and needed treatment most of the times too.
Rochemback hit a 25 yard effort well wide as the game approached the
twenty minute mark, but the game was too bitty and there was little
quality on show.
Spurs had given Kevin-Prince Boateng a
league debut, as Ramos was keen on the player when he was with Sevilla
and the German youngster showed that his presence can be a useful one,
with some tough tackling and good use of the ball. This was
complemented, as Defoe and Bent were linking well together ... perhaps
something that might be useful to England in the near future ??
In the 32nd minute, Steed Malbranque put
out a leg to take the ball from Young and played Bent in down the line
on the left. Taking the ball towards goal, the striker ran at
Chris Riggott and from 20 yards out let fly, with his early shot beating
Schwarzer at his right hand post. It was a fine strike and one
which will give the forward some confidence, which has seemed lacking up
That confidence showed just before half
time, when he and Jermain linked up and Defoe's low cross was glanced
only just wide with an open boot as Bent ran in to try and glide it into
the far corner.
In between, when the ball looked to be
going out for a corner, Robbo tried to keep it in play and knocked it
down for Downing to cross to the far post, but Michael Dawson rose to
deny Tuncay a scoring opportunity.
The break came and went, with Spurs
starting as they finished, as Lennon had a shot blocked. However,
from a free-kick harshly given against Boateng, Wheater got his head to
the ball and glanced it across the Spurs keeper, but Robbo dived to push
the ball out for a corner. Dawson got that away, but when the ball
was played in from a throw-in that resulted, a pass to Young saw him
find the goal he perhaps always thought was in him.
In truth, Boro scarcely looked like
scoring and a bolt out of the blue like this was the only way they might
have got one ... and even then, Robinson wasn't that far away from it.
Spurs retaliated when Kaboul struck a 30
yard free-kick with ferocity, but it flicked off a defender for a
corner. With the forward pairing having lost their impact, Ramos
made a double switch bringing on Keane and Berbatov to try and win the
game. Shortly after, he replaced the debutant Boateng, as he had
faded from the action, bringing on Zokora to push on from midfield.
Dawson almost gifted Boro another goal,
when he slipped on the ball, leaving it for Aliadiere. The hapless
striker took the ball wide instead of going for goal and his cross hit
the Spurs central defender on the hand at his side and the referee was
not interested in the penalty appeals.
With fifteen minutes left, Spurs were
given a reprieve, when the poor Aliadiere was taken off and replaced by
the even poorer Dong-Gook Lee. Even his own fans booed him when he
came on !!
As the game came to a close, Spurs pushed
for a winner. Berbatov hit one over, Jenas put a low ball into the
area which was too far ahead of Dimitar and a close call five minutes
from the end saw Lennon's shot hit Wheater and Riggott before just going
wide of Schwarzer's goal.
While Tottenham had the bulk of the first
half, a draw was perhaps the right result and Young's goal was one which
would grace much better games than this.
Tottenham looked more compact and knocked
the ball about well at times. At other times, their passing was a
bit off and the defence still has to concentrate fully, while learning
to stop being jittery every time the other side attack.
Ramos showed that he is willing to change
his tactics and personnel to suit the need to test the opposition, with
big names left out if he feels that others offer a better option.
And while this was a worse result than we got at Boro last season, a
point on the road is something that was welcome.