Another opening away day and another defeat, this time by 1-2 at
Middlesbrough, which came in a match that Tottenham failed to click in
providing the forwards with two much to feed off.
Lining up with Gomes, Giovani, Modric and
David Bentley making their debuts, it was perhaps more newsworthy that
striker Dimitar Berbatov was left sitting on the bench, pending his move
to Manchester United. His "professional" performance that the
management feel that he put in as a sub helped inject a bit of urgency
in the team and showed what we will need from his replacement.
A quick start from Boor earned a corner
inside the first minute, as Spurs were caught on their heels.
Luckily, Gomes showed his early worth with a good catch and within a
couple of minutes, Lennon put in a good low cross that failed to find
Darren Bent and David Bentley running in, then Bentley tried a long shot
that took a flick off a defender for a corner, but nothing came from
that. The pressure was going Tottenham's way, with a corner
volleyed wide by Giovani, but with ten minutes gone, Gomes was called
into action with a good save from Downing, although the winger's shot
Five minutes later a Bentley curler went
wide from outside the box and when Modric played the ball out to Aaron
Lennon, he put in another dangerous cross that too out the keeper, but
the defence kicked it out for another corner. The game was
swinging from end to end and they broke from that corner and Benoit
Assou-Ekotto did well in keeping Tuncay from having a shooting chance
and when he played it square to Alves, the full-back got in a block to
take the ball away from goal. Benoit was then at the other end,
throwing in a cross that Jones looked dodgy on.
Just after the half hour, Boro had the
ball in the net, but it was harshly ruled out. A corner was swung
in from the right and central defender David Wheater was unmarked to
thump a header past our defence. The whistle went though, without
people really knowing why, but it was reported to have been for a push
by Alves. The Brazilian striker had a chance soon after, but
struck it just too high with our Brazilian keeper looking like he would
have saved it had it been on target.
In the last couple of minutes of the
half, both teams had chances. Assou-Ekotto's cross just missed
picking out Dos Santos and then Alves hit a shot on the turn, but it
failed to have much weight behind it.
An early chance at the start of the
second half could have seen Spurs snatch a goal, when Bentley fired in
an effort from 25 yards and Brad Jones produced a spectacular dive to
save, which was probably more than it needed. Our next chance came
just before the hour, with Bent missing an overhead kick, which always
looks embarrassing when it doesn't come off. Just after the hour,
Boro were denied when Jonathan Woodgate returned to haunt his former
side with a vital block when Tuncay tried a shot from a loose ball from
Juande Ramos decided to make changes in
the 65th minute, with Berbatov replacing Giovani and Gareth Bale coming
on for Aaron Lennon on the left. It almost worked straight away,
with Berbatov slipping Jenas through to bring Jones out to save with his
legs as he went through on the keeper. This precipitated a spell
of pressure, with a couple of corners and Bale's shot being blocked.
But then a couple of minutes later, the
home team took the lead. A cross from Downing was hit fiercely
towards goal on the volley by Alves. Gomes made a fine save to
push the ball onto the bar, but it dropped to Wheater, who this time
found the net without the referee ruling it out, knocking it over the
line from close range.
Aliadiere failed to convert a good cross,
heading straight at Gomes and a move that saw Zokora fly up the line and
find Berbatov, who found Bent with a back-heel and the forward's shot
went agonisingly inches wide. Than a minute later with 80 gone saw
Jamie O'Hara nip between Wheater and Jones, but the keeper managed to
thwart his shot.
With four minutes left, the killer goal
sealed the win for Boro. The ball was played to Digard, who didn't
get a clean contact on his shot and it went across goal and found our
former forward Mido, who applied the finishing touch from around 12
yards out. It was a bitter blow as Spurs pushed for an equaliser.
It could have got worse, as Gomes came
out with Aliadiere through on goal, but luckily, the ex-Gooner chipped
poorly and the opportunity had gone. Deep into added time, Digard
fouled to give Spurs a free-kick, which David Bentley swung in and found
the head of Robert Huth, who headed past his own keeper to give Spurs a
goal, which was little consolation.
This was a disappointing debut to the new
Ramos Spurs, but it is still early days. The team must start
winning away games if they seriously want to challenge at the top of the
table and they must make more of the possession they have, including
making more openings for the forwards. One up front might be
required against some sides on our travels, but by taking the game to
Boro, it might have been more of a problem for them to deal with out
attack than vice versa.
Yes, the next game is at home against
Sunderland, but already the pressure to win is there.