Tottenham Hotspur bounce back after paying penalty against Blackpool
Published 09/05/2011 | 00:00
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Blackpool 1: Blackpool's big-dipping Premier League adventure went on its merry way on a muggy North London evening, lurching dizzily up, then down but leaving them satisfied with a point obtained in bizarre circumstances; Charlie Adam scored from the second of two penalties awarded in the space of a minute after Heurelho Gomes saved the first.
Jermain Defoe equalised with two minutes to play but the result does serious harm to Tottenham's chances of another Champions' League place.
They may also have to face two decisive away games in the next week without Gareth Bale, who was carried off on a stretcher in considerable pain with what looked a bad ankle injury inflicted by Adam. Fading hopes of repeating last season's fourth place seemed to have been revived by yesterday's defeat for Manchester City, whom they visit on Tuesday. The failure to capitalise here, however, leaves them six points behind and looking, more realistically, at contesting a Europa League spot with Liverpool – a fate that may well be decided by next Sunday's game at Anfield.
Harry Redknapp had pointed out even before yesterday's game how disruptive a long run of Thursday night European games can be and last night he reiterated: "I can't say I'm mad about it, but we want to finish fifth." He then introduced his opposite number Ian Holloway to the waiting media with the accolade: "If he keeps Blackpool up, then never mind Manager of the Year, he's Manager of the Century."
The irrepressible Holloway believes the "absolute miracle" is still possible. They will need to win at home to Bolton on Saturday and ideally would want Manchester United to have tied up the title before visiting Old Trafford on the final day of the season.
Blackpool have brought a breath of sea air to the League and would be popular survivors. It was therefore a shame that Adam risked controversy with a late lunge that caused the injury to Bale, who went to hospital for a scan last night. Holloway defended his captain, while Redknapp felt: "It looked a bad challenge."
Spurs again kept Bale in midfield, even though regular left-back Benoît Assou-Ekotto was missing. The decision proved productive, not least because Danny Rose showed promise in filling in. He and Bale both caused trouble in the first half with dangerous cross-shots but overall Blackpool's scoring opportunities, although fewer, were more threatening.
Midway through the first half, Gomes, the villain at Stamford Bridge last week, pulled off a heroic save to keep out Adam's thunderous volley, after which the ineffective Sergey Kornilenko missed with a free header.
Gomes had to save a deflected shot by Adam too, and David Vaughan, cutting in from the right to shoot just past a post, emphasised the adventure that has brought them more goals than at least one team in the top 10.
Like many others, from Arsenal to Internazionale, they found Bale more than a handful and his best effort, curling wickedly at the last minute, was a fraction wide. But after he had nutmegged Keith Southern, Adam came in with a nasty looking challenge that left the young Welshman in severe pain and forced his replacement by Peter Crouch.
That was the prelude to the extraordinary sequence that brought Blackpool the lead. Gomes first saved superbly when Campbell seemed certain to score, then fell to his left to keep out Adam's penalty after Michael Dawson handled from the subsequent corner. But before Spurs had cleared their lines, the goalkeeper flapped at another cross, then brought down Gary Taylor-Fletcher and was this time well beaten by the Blackpool captain's more fiercely struck kick.
Blackpool appeared to be on their way to a first-ever double over Spurs and a berth two points clear of the bottom three. Two clean sheets in successive weeks proved beyond them, however, the defence standing off Defoe to concede a 71st goal of the season as he took Luka Modric's pass and beat Gilks from 25 yards.
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Adam