Date:Sunday January 1 2006
TOTTENHAM: Robinson, Stalteri, Dawson, Gardner, Lee, Jenas, Carrick, Davids, Tainio (Brown 68), Keane (Defoe 79), Mido.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Pamarot, Lennon.
NEWCASTLE: Given, Ramage (Luque 45), Bramble, Boumsong, Elliott, Solano (N'Zogbia 79), Parker, Faye, Ameobi, Shearer, Owen (Babayaro 45).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Clark.
Newcastle lost Michael Owen to a foot injury and surrendered meekly to a Tottenham side that were playing their third game in six days. So much so, the Spurs fans revelled in taunting the Toon Army with a variety of songs including 'Souness Out!' and 'There's only one Bobby Robson'. The latter even had the Geordies singing along.
Teemu Tainio struck his first goal for Spurs two minutes before the break to bring a drab encounter to life, before Mido hit a bouncing volley over Shay Given to make certain of victory with 24 minutes left. With Sola Ameobi missing the target from 8 yards, the London side were hardly troubled.
Newcastle were simply dreadful! Same old story ... good players ... no purpose or leadership. And you can read into that whatever you wish.
Only half a team without Owen up front, but it is in defence that the real problems lie. Titus Bramble was at fault for Spurs' first goal and Celestine Babayaro caught out for their second. But I'm sure you've read it all before. It's getting as repetative as a scratched record.
Graeme Souness' side should have benefited from an unexpected midweek break due to the late postponement of their game against Charlton. Isn't that what Souey has been shouting back these last few days? Too many fixtures?
Spurs took their time to take advantage, with only Michael Carrick's range of passing rising above the general mediocrity for the instantly forgettable opening 43 minutes.
Robbie Keane, the stand-in captain in the absence of Ledley King, twice had the ball in the net but was flagged offside, while Jermaine Jenas, who was booed by fans of his former club, flicked a header wide from the Irishman's cross.
Finally, with two minutes of the first half, the breakthrough - mercifully - came. Unsurprisingly, it was Tottenham who scored, with Mido flicking on a long pass and, with Bramble slipping at the vital moment, Tainio was left with the space in which to pick his spot inside the far post.
That finally brought the game to life and Owen looked to burst through in the final seconds of the first half, only for keeper Paul Robinson to race out and smother the ball at his feet. That was Owen's last involvement in the game, with the England striker being replaced at the interval by Albert Luque, while Babayaro came on for Peter Ramage.
Luque came onto the left wing, with Shola Ameobi moving up front to partner Alan Shearer, who remains one goal short of Jackie Milburn's club scoring record. Luque was immediately involved as his 20-yard effort was deflected wide for a corner, which Shola Ameobi headed wide, while Scott Parker thrashed a shot just off target.
After that brief spell of pressure from Newcastle, Spurs nevertheless resumed their domination of possession, buoyed by two outstanding pieces of control, firstly by Jenas and then by Keane.
Although Amady Faye, who had been non-existent up to that point, made an important block on Edgar Davids, Celestine Babayaro failed to clear the ball and Keane swung a dangerous cross to the far post, where Mido was lurking unmarked. The Egypt international enjoyed a certain amount of good fortune, with his volley bouncing into the ground and over keeper Given, but the visitors only had themselves to blame for another costly defensive lapse.
Newcastle's misery was nevertheless complete when Ameobi somehow contrived to lift a shot over the bar from just eight yards out after Paul Robinson could only parry an effort from substitute Charles N'Zogbia.
So we ended 2005 in worse shape than we started it. Unlucky? Perhaps. On the right tacks? No way!
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