I didn’t see this one. I wasn’t at the Britannia, it wasn’t on telly and I couldn’t find a stream anywhere so it was the online commentary from BBC Radio London or nothing. The commentator’s name escapes me (Phil?) but he and Bradley Allen did their best to paint entertaining pictures of two hours of goalless (and by the sounds of it pretty unadventurous at times) football.
After an even first half with little meaningful action we started the second as the livelier side. Tom Carroll, Sandro, Giovani and Livermore pushed Stoke back but the all too familiar from last season failings up front meant we never capitalised on our superiority. From the commentary it appeared that Pav was having a shocker, something that continued all the way through to his wild spot-kick at the end as it turned out, so the ball never stuck up front for long. The huffing and puffing Van der Vaart was rarely in space near goal and efforts from Carroll, Giovani and Livermore all missed the target or were dealt with by Sorenson. Kaboul and Bassong were coping well with the hoicks and hoofs and aerial threat (Crouchy! From the San Siro to the Britannia in seven months) from the home team, despite an archetypal Gomes performance where he was in one of his ‘a flap a day keeps the goals away’ moods.
We started making substitutions after the hour mark, VdV and Sandro being replaced by Defoe and ill-fated debutant Luongo as did Stoke and were pushed back for the remainder of the half. Defoe’s name was rarely mentioned whilst Carroll and Giovani who had both been prominent in our best period also disappeared. Despite Bradley’s assertion that a goal was due any second we finished the ninety minutes with Stoke notching their seventh clean sheet of the season and us our fourth in succession.
Townsend came on for Giovani near the start of extra time and sounded lively but it wasn’t enough as we failed to create much. Stoke missed a couple of half chances at the other end. During the first hour or so Carroll appeared to be our best player but by the end Kaboul was being referred to in heroic terms. He and the indefatigable Assou-Ekotto are the first teamers who played for the full two hours. Both went down for treatment during the game but as both finished it, hopefully they’re okay.
So to penalties. During my Spurs watching career Gomes has been the keeper with easily the best penalty saving record so I wasn’t as pessimistic as most when John Walters stepped forward to take the first spot-kick. My hopes were ill-founded however as he never got near any of the home team’s efforts by the sounds of it and, oh so predictably, we lost. You can only feel sorry for Luongo and huge disappointment with Pavlyuchenko who has had a pretty miserable start to the season.
The positives to take from the match include the return of Sandro and the performances of Carroll, Giovani, Corluka and Kaboul. To finish with a midfield of Townsend, Livermore, Luongo and Carroll and not get pummelled by Stoke is a very promising sign. The huge negative was the performance of Pav and the confirmation that we’re going to need to rely heavily on Plan A(debayor) at least until the January window because Plan B(limey – call that a penalty?) doesn’t look very good.
Here’s how the ‘lottery’ went – Walters scores, Defoe scores, Pennant hit crossbar, Pav skies one (Bradley Allen – “worst penalty I’ve ever seen”), Whelan scores, Townsend scores (“brilliant penalty”), Wilson scores, Corluka scores, Crouch scores (for them! ), Kaboul scores (with a thunderbolt apparently). It’s now sudden death. Etherington scores, Livermore scores, Upson scores, Carroll scores (“consummate”), Shotton scores, Luongo saved by Sorensen. That’s it 7-6 to them.
Oh well, maybe next year.
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