What turned out to be a memorable end of season game for the home team
brought back bad memories for Spurs fans, as they were beaten for the
first time this season when leading at half-time and switched off to
such an extent they ended up 2-4 losers to the side already relegated to
Things started so
well, with a carnival atmosphere among the Spurs fans, with banter about
going on a European tour, while there was also a thought for our hosts
supporters (which was a little unnecessary really) that we would never
play them again. As it turned out, it was a match too far and the
concentration levels needed in every Premier League match were allowed
to slip in the second half, as Burnley scored with almost every attack.
A long ball up the right by Kaboul was
chased by Aaron Lennon, who got ahead of the defender Fox and he
cleverly pulled the ball back to Jermain Defoe, waiting in the middle of
the goal. Unfortunately, the ball was too far behind him to reach,
but Gareth Bale was supporting the attack and produced a firm
side-footed finish to beat the keeper and a defender in front of him and
behind him on the line. it was a confident finish form a player
who is on top form at the moment.
With Tottenham passing the ball about
nicely, although still managing to give it away too cheaply, they were
making Burnley look ordinary at this stage of the game. The goal
had quietened the home support and when Bale went through onto Kaboul's
cross-field ball, it looked like he would double the lead, but as he got
to the edge of the left side of the six yard box, he was stopped by a
very good tackle from Elliott, tacking the Welshman back. That was
five minute sin and three minutes later, Burnley tested Ben Alnwick,
making his Premier League debut, for the first time, although it wasn't
much of an examination of his goalkeeping ability. A long cross
from Patterson was headed into the path of Cork from the far post and
the on loan Chelsea midfielder managed to run, but could not get any
power into his effort, so Alnwick took it comfortably.
A quarter of an hour in, Spurs won a
corner on their left and Bale put a pacy ball into the box, which Crouch
won over Bikey, but the defender did just enough to make the England man
head a foot over the bar, with the ball heading back the way that Brian
Jensen was coming from. It is one that Crouch might have done
better with. Five minutes later another Bale cross that flew low
through the goal-mouth went through without Defoe or Crouch getting a
touch on it, when that was all that was required for the ball to be
heading into the the back of the net. It was a little too
comfortable for Tottenham as Burnley were offering little in resistance.
Central defenders do let things go to
their heads when they get within sniffing distance of the goal don't
they ? First Kaboul decided that he wanted to have a go at a
free-kick from 25 yards out and ballooned it way over the bar, while
Andre Bikey went through a couple of tackles just inside the Spurs half,
before thinking the best option was to have a shot, but it ended up in
Row Z at the opposite end of the ground to Younes' effort.
Crouch had a shot from way out blocked by
Alexander, when a minute later, Spurs scored a delightful goal. A
corner was played to Gareth Bale was out wide on the left, with two
players in front of him and seemingly nowhere to go. He played a
pass with the outside of his foot in to Luka Modric on the left side of
the box, but just outside. The little Croatian took the ball to
his right, cut back onto his left as he was about two yards inside the
area and with players converging on him, fired an unstoppable left foot
shot into the top corner on the opposite side of the goal that Tom
Huddlestone scored in last week against Bolton. It was one of
those goals, where it takes a second to realise that the ball had hit
the net and it was such a good piece of skill that it drew applause from
many to the home supporters too.
Spurs were cruising with 32 minutes gone
and while 3-0 is usually a difficult score for Tottenham, 2-0 proved to
be a tricky one as they found Burnley had found their spirit from the
start of this season. Four minutes before half-time, the home team
pulled a goal back, when a straight ball to Fletcher just outside the D
in the middle of the box was back-heeled through into the area, leaving
Ledley confused as hew as right behind the Burnley striker. With
Assou-Ekotto not tracking Elliott's run, the Irishman took an early shot
that left Alnwick with little chance and although he got his arm to the
ball, he could not stop it going in to make it 2-1.
While it looked like this would be little
to celebrate, the game changed form that point and the rigours of
Wednesday night and the long season before that started to come home to
The second half proved to be a startling
reminder of all the things Spurs have been putting into practice over
most of the previous nine months, but they decided to stop doing here.
There were still opportunities to wrap the game up, but the cost of the
failure to take them is one thing that must come out of this match to
work on. Two minutes into the half, Defoe took the ball forward
after Modric had broken up a Burnley move about 25 yards from his own
goal. As the striker approached the area, he slipped a pass out to
his right to Lennon, who drilled a low shot across the keeper and was
unlucky to see his effort bounce away off the base of the far post.
From that point on, the home team were
inspired and Spurs were put on the back foot. Ledley had to make a
sliding tackle when Nugent ran at the heart of the Tottenham defence,
then Alnwick saved Fletcher's shot with his legs when the clearance fell
to the Clarets striker. With the time on the clock showing 50
minutes, a move started in their own half, Burnley's Martin Patterson
was finding space on their right, crossing to Fletcher on the far post
and he was free to volley at goal, but he was stretching and couldn't
control his shot that went over.
But in the 55th minute, they did get a
shot on target and when Patterson's right wing cross came in, Michael
Dawson was underneath it and Kaboul did not go with Cork, who met the
ball with his head and buried it past Alnwick to put them level.
The tide had turned and three minutes
later another Patterson cross found Fletcher coming in at the far post
and only a finely timed block by King prevented another effort going in.
It was only delaying what was coming and it took another thirteen
minutes, as Fletcher took the ball from the middle of the pitch to the
left and pulled a ball across the Spurs box. Benoit Assou-Ekotto
was not alert to the fact that Patterson was coming in behind him and he
side-footed the ball into the net with Alnwick covering the ground to
try and get to the ball, but couldn't.
3-2 almost became 3-3 when a Bale
free-kick found Crouch, but the striker headed it straight at Jensen, as
he did on Wednesday on one occasion at Fulop. From a Bale corner
in the 83rd minute, Caldwell got to the ball just before King and
deflected his header against his own bar and the ball bounced out to
safety. In between these chances, Lennon had played in substitute
Pavyluchenko, on for Defoe, but his rising shot was pushed aside by
Jensen. With six minutes left, Bale's long-throw found Crouch's
head but he could only find the keeper and that was the forward's last
involvement, as he came off for Gudjohnsen to enter play.
He had little time to get involved with
Burnley wrapping up a convincing win in the end with a late goal.
Wade Elliott was allowed too much time on the right to play a low ball
fizzed low across the box and just on, substitute Steven Thompson got a
touch to divert it past the Spurs goalie to make it 4-2.
The score-line flattered Burnley, but
their second half performance of hassling and effort, coupled with good
finishing was well deserved in the end. There was little luck for
Tottenham, with two efforts coming back off the woodwork. But
then, it highlighted that there are no easy game sin the Premier League
... even at this stage of the season with nothing for either team to
play for. Arsenal won their match, so we wouldn't have finished
third anyway, but it shows that there is still work to do to make sure
Tottenham can keep moving forward.