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Sunderland v Spurs, 03.04.10


Sunderland scorers:-
Bent, 1, 29 (pen),
Zenden, 86

Spurs scorer:-
Crouch, 72

Attendance:- 43,184

Referee:- Mr. Lee Mason
Assistants:- Mr. J. Collin & Mr. M. Murphy
Fourth Official:- Mr. N. Miller

Sunderland (4-4-2):- Gordon; Ferdinand, Turner, Da Silva, Richardson; Henderson, Meyler, Cattermole, Malbranque (sub Zenden, 78); Campbell (sub Bardsley, 89), Bent (sub Jones, 78)

Subs not used:- Carson; Kilgallon, Liddle; Mwaruwari

Booked:- Cattermole, Malbranque

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Walker, Kaboul, Bassong, Ekotto (sub Kranjcar, 46); Bentley (sub Defoe, 46), Palacios, Modric (Capt.), Bale; Pavlyuchenko (sub Crouch, 71), Gudjohnsen

Subs not used:- Alnwick; Dervite; Rose, Livermore

No bookings

Bent double dents Spurs hopes.

The “Sandra” saga came back to haunt us with a vengeance yesterday at The Stadium of Light, when Darren Bent scored a brace against us, with the first coming within a minute of kick-off. Harry Redknapp had famously derided the striker after he missed a sitter for Spurs by saying “My missus (Sandra) could have scored from there”. What was worst about Bent’s goals yesterday was the fact that he celebrated with such relish in front of his former fans, who had never derided him whilst at Spurs, and always supported his efforts. Heurelho Gomes repeated a little bit of history with two superb penalty saves to deny Bent a hat-trick, but really there was always only going to be one winner here.

We haven’t been making excuses about injuries during the run of five successive wins leading up to this game, so the addition of Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone to the list is really only of passing relevance. However, the fact is that despite the presence of Wilson Palacios, Spurs lacked teeth and desire, and with Darren Bent leading the ex-Spurs contingent in his side, Sunderland were truly “up for it”, hitting the track running with that early goal.

Luka Modric skippered the Spurs side, and partnered Palacios, whilst Gareth Bale played in front of Ekotto, with Bentley on the right wing. Younes Kaboul was drafted in to partner Bassong at the back, where in this game, Spurs were at sixes and sevens for much of the game, without clear leadership in the battle zone. That is where the leadership qualities of the likes of Dawson, King and Woodgate were missed. Harry Redknapp’s second half line-up was probably the one he should have started with, but that’s hindsight, isn’t it?

Spurs went behind within a minute, as Ekotto conceded a corner taken by Richardson. Fraizer Campbell met the ball with a diving header which Gomes parried and Bent finished off with more relish than Branstons, running along the goal-line tugging his Sunderland badge and grinning like ten Cheshire Cats at the Spurs fans. Any element of liking for our former striker dissipated immediately, but he doesn’t care about us anymore. His goal, put the Spurs team and crowd on the back foot, and lifted the home crowd to full voice. They were to witness what must surely have been their best game and best win of the season.

There was little in the way of quality football for a good spell, and few chances to mention. Bentley had a header held by Gordon, from a Bale cross after 25 minutes. Three minutes later came disaster for Spurs. Malbranque forged his way into the Spurs box and fired a shot which Gomes saved with the ball flying up onto Kyle Walker’s arm. The referee seemed to have his arms in the air waving for play-on, but then pointed to the spot for a penalty. Walker was surely unlucky anyway as it looked like ball to hand to me. I am told that the referee’s “play-on” signal was to allow Malbranque into the box after a foul, but I have to say the award of the penalty incensed me immensely. I was even less happy when Bent put the spot kick away and repeated his party celebrations.

Fraizer Campbell was just as determined to score against his former club, where he spent a season on loan, putting a header wide soon after that goal. Spurs took no bookings, and that includes Wilson Palacios, who was fouled by Cattermole, who did see yellow. Pavlyuchenko got a chance after a pass from Walker, but hit his right foot shot over the bar. Then there was more excitement as Fraizer Campbell went down in the box after Modric stuck a foot out and the referee was happy to point to the spot again. Up stepped Bent, but this time Gomes saved with a great dive to his left. Gomes had saved a Bent penalty in the game at White Hart Lane, so he can clearly read his former team-mate. So, Spurs had a little respite, but Gomes was soon having to save again, this time from Malbranque.

The insertion of Jermain Defoe had some early effect as he was almost through for a one on one, but had his effort blocked, before Gudjohnsen also had a follow up attempt thwarted. Modric’s corner was headed by Gareth Bale, but Gordon tipped the effort over the bar. Defoe had a 54th minute right footer go wide across the box, before Modric and Kranjcar combined and Modric hit the final shot which was held.

However, on the hour, Sunderland won another penalty for a foul by Palacios on Meyler. I called Bent’s direction from over 100 yards away and Gomes heard me, diving to his right this time to make a heroic save to keep Spurs in touch. To the best of my knowledge the last Spurs keeper to make two penalty saves in the same game was Pat Jennings sin the early seventies at Anfield, so Gomes has joined an exclusive club. Gomes has less to show for his effort, as Jennings’ side at least managed a 1-1 draw.

Sunderland thought they had gone three up in the 64th minute, when Anton Ferdinand’s rifled shot hit the net in the far corner to Gomes’ right, but after prolonged celebrations, the Sunderland team were pulled back, as the referee had spotted an infringement in the Spurs area. Spurs even managed a moment of pressure upon the Sunderland goal, and Bale hit a cross/shot that was saved after good work by Walker and Kranjcar in attacking the right flank. It got better after Crouch replaced Pavlyuchenko, scoring a header with his first touch after a lofted cross from the left.

Could Spurs get something out of a game, when they hardly deserved anything? The answer came in the 86th minute, and was a resounding “No” as substitute Zenden latched onto Henderson’s cross to hit a magnificent left footed volley into Gomes’ top left corner. That was well and truly, game set and match to The Black Cats, who sit safely in 13th. That was only the start of Spurs’ bad day as Manchester City thrashed Burnley 6-1 at Turf Moor to stake their claim to fourth.

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