For the second successive Saturday Spurs were denied by an injury time equaliser. After a brief rally following Jermain Defoeâ€™s opener after 69 minutes Birmingham had posed no threat whatsoever but then just as the fourth official was packing away his hi-tech numbers board (which must have still been stuck on â€˜5â€™ after David Bentley was replaced; surely no injuries and four subs doesnâ€™t mean five minutes of injury time does it?) Cameron Jerome climbed above Ledley King to knock back a hopeful McFadden punt into the box and whilst Corluka dawdled and Gomes & Dawson scrambled, Liam Ridgewell nipped in to smack home gleefully from a couple of yards.
Both teams were unchanged from midweek which meant a surprise start for Ledley King. Two games in 5 days? What the? The explanation appears to be that Bassong is carrying a knee injury and such is the lack of cover the King was considered the better option. The game started scrappily, we spent a lot of the first half giving a good impression of being on the verge of taking complete control but we never quite did. A few shots from range tested Joe Hart but nothing to worry him overmuch. The same was true at the other end.
In the second half we were dominant and after Crouch, Bentley and others had either squandered openings or seen them blocked we took the lead when Bale, ball at his feet, sprinted to the bye-line and sent in a low cross. Crouch stooped and flicked on to Defoe who showed superbly quick feet and fired a first time volley past Hart. The home team looked a different side as they came at us looking for a leveller. We were rattled for a short while but before long were on top again and looking to extend our lead. We didnâ€™t and in the end got punished for it.
To me the result against Liverpool was the one thatâ€™s hard to get away from as an indicator of how the rest of the league season will pan out. To lose so impotently to the team whose position we were hoping to usurp was a real kick in the nuts as well as spelling out in large letters â€˜Youâ€™re Not Good Enough!â€™.Â Notwithstanding the first-class performances from Palacios, Bale and Modric (and the fact that we deserved to win), this same lack of top level quality was on display at St Andrewâ€™s – in the casual view of possession shown by Huddlestone and Bentley in particular, the lack of speed in most areas of the pitch, the absence of a reliable and consistent goalscorer away from Defoe and ultimately the lapse in concentration at the back that led to the equaliser. In my match reports and previews Iâ€™ve tried to be careful in not talking too often about challenging for a top four place as opposed to a top six one as I believe itâ€™s important to remember where we were a year ago and to keep some perspective. I think the season should not be viewed as a disappointment if we fail to make it to the Moneybags League. That though doesnâ€™t make it hurt any less when we chuck away an opportunity like we did in this game. Very frustrating.
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