Rovers 1.v.1 Spurs
19th November 2006
What have we done to deserve this?
It feels like all of our games are embroiled in controversy at the moment, and rarely is it in favour of Rovers. Tugay was the hero and unfortunate villain as he scored another wonder goal before being harshly sent-off.
On reflection a draw is a fair result as Tottenham came to Ewood Park and put in a solid display. It is also important to point out that the controversy doesn`t derive from any malicious intentions from Spurs, unless of course you`re talking about one of the Premiership`s rising thespians; Didier Zokora.
Mark Hughes was forced to make a couple of changes to his starting eleven but had the luxury of being able to pick Robbie Savage. Zurab Khizanishvili and Lucas Neill were both absent so Michael Gray and Stephane Henchoz came in to complete a Last of the Summer Wine back four.
Spurs got proceedings underway on a mild Lancashire evening, the air pricked with anticipation from both sets of supporters and they showed the early endeavour. However, Rovers thought they had gone one up inside ten minutes after Shabani Nonda raced through and coolly slotted the ball past the on-rushing Paul Robinson only to have his celebrations halted by an untimely offside flag.
The game then hit a lull and was being played out like an episode of Countdown, slow and hard to decipher.
Then Blackburn`s resident magician lit up the stage in the 23rd minute with a sumptuous volley from all of 30 yards. He showed tremendous technique, keeping his eye on the ball, following Ledley King`s looping headed clearance, before rasping a drive that raced past Robinson and almost tore the netting from the goal-posts.
It was perhaps a little harsh on Spurs who were looking the better side. Their dominance continued through to half-time with Mido wasting two particularly presentable openings.
Martin Jol, clearly unimpressed with his sides efforts replaced the ageing Edgar Davids with Steed Malbranque at half time and Spurs went for the jugular straight from kick-off.
Indeed they thought they had levelled within three minutes of the restart. The impressive Tom Huddlestone drilled a free kick into the area and Mido glanced it home. However, the Rovers defence had showed great awareness by stepping up at the crucial moment, forcing the offside.
Spurs were very much in the ascendancy and it did look as though an equaliser was just moments away. It duly arrived on the hour mark but like so many goals against Rovers this season it was shrouded in controversy.
A placed ball through the middle from the right dissected Rovers` defence and Hossam Ghaly was through on goal. Tugay rolled back the years, again, to cover. He lunged at Ghaly in a bid to block an imminent shot, but the shot never arrived as the Egyptian winger cleverly lifted the ball over Tugay. IN what can only be described as unfortunate, Ghaly trod on Tugay`s trailing leg, by accident, and crumpled to the floor. Phil Dowd had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick.
He then compounded things by sensationally sending-off Tugay. The horror on the faces of the Rovers players said everything about the decision.
Rovers were shell-shocked and had to restart the match after Jermaine Defoe coolly slotted home the penalty, although Friedel managed to get a hand on it.
Within minutes the officials were again facing a barrage of abuse after another appalling decision. Michael Gray`s floated free-kick into the area was missed by Andre Ooijer, Rovers` captain for the day (what a week he has had, captain of his country and now he is leading out Rovers), but was adeptly brought down by Mido with the help of his arm.
It was clear for all to see that he had handled and how the referee`s assistant failed to notice such an obvious discrepancy from only ten yards away, no-one will ever know.
A recent study compiled reported that referee`s are bias towards the home sides and influenced by their fans. Well if ever there was a case to refute such a statement, this match would surely be it.
Rovers fought bravely against all the odds and could have won the match, if luck would spend a week or two in any of Blackburn`s high quality hotels.
Benni McCarthy cleverly back-heeled in mid air at the near post, which almost caught Robinson out and Emerton went close with a long distance drive.
Mr. Dowd wasn`t finished though and he added to his first red card of the season by dismissing Ghaly for a crude and obvious elbow in the face of Michael Gray, who must be getting all to used to that!
The game eventually came to a close in heavy rain and freezing conditions. A draw is perhaps a fair reflection on the game as a whole but the means that Spurs achieved will certainly leave a bitter taste in the mouths of all concerned at Rovers.
What a goal, a wonderful repertoire of passes and recieved one of the harshest red crds ever issued.