A single goal from the Moroccan Magician, Adel Taarabt, put a dent in Spurs’ drive for a Champions League qualification whilst boosting QPR’s hopes of staging this league fixture again next season. This game had everything that is good and bad about Premier League football. We had the good of a sublime free kick winning the game, as yet again underdogs QPR beat their more illustrious London neighbours to maintain the recent unbeaten home form which has seen four teams leave empty handed and only Everton managing to come away with a point.
We also had the bad of spoilt prima donna international footballers trying to cheat their way to an undeserved point by kicking anything or anyone who had the temerity to put them under pressure. Combine this with a referee who seemed to treat those prima donna footballers differently to those honest players who were scrapping for their survival. We also had a performance from a referee who I’m sure will have to explain himself following the debacle of a sending off when it was clear to everyone in the ground that the ref had not realised that he had already booked a player and had to be told via his earpiece by one of his colleague officials. But onto the game eh ?
Mark Hughes picked the same starting eleven that had played so poorly last time at the Hawthorns. Hopefully for the last two away games we can pack some travel sickness tablets in with the kit bags. So with Zamora ploughing a lone furrow upfront against his former club, Adel Taarabt, another ex-Spurs player, took up his position wide left with Jamie Mackie wide right. The middle of the park was filled by the trio of Diakite, Barton and Derry. At the back, Paddy Kenny was defended by the regular back-four of Onuoha, Hill, Ferdinand and Taiwo.
As with previous games at home versus the BIG clubs, we set about the visitors from the first whistle, pressing them in the own half, sometimes on the edge of the box even. Within two minutes, Mackie had robbed Modric some thirty yards from goal and did what he does best. He ran straight at the heart of the visitors defence, in this case left-back Assou-Ekotto, and as the Spurs defender backpedalled at an alarming rate, Mackie hit a cross-come-shot to the far post that eventually went about two yards wide.
Then on six minutes, Derry repeated the trick by robbing the England captain, Scott Parker, some 30 yards from goal and as QPR’s No.4 went to break away, he was cynically tripped from behind by the Spurs player for the most obvious yellow card you will ever see, except that we had Mark Clattenburg officiating, silly me. It was at this early stage that I said to my mate: “You watch one of our players get a yellow or red card for something innocuous”.
On ten minutes, Diakite picked up a stray pass and ran at Assou-Ekotto just like Mackie did earlier and with the Spurs player appearing to be panicking, Diakite strode into the box, but again, like Mackie, his cross-come-shot to the far post went about two yards wide. Spurs’ defence looked as jittery as it was last Sunday at Wembley. One time Mackie got down the wing and sent in a cross to the far post that appeared to be of no danger. That was until the ball fell at the feet of ex-QPR loanee Walker and with Friedel not sure what he was doing, Walker eventually put it out for a corner. Walker and Friedel exchanged views as to whose fault it was. It was great to see as a home fan and this incident obviously raised our hopes and that of the players. They were rattled just like Arsenal a few weeks ago.
Then on twenty minutes, the visitors awoke from their slumber when they won two corners in succession. From the first one, Van der Vaart found the head of Bale ten yards out and as his bullet header was heading just under the bar, Kenny flung up his right arm to tip the ball over the bar. Luckily for us it was straight at Kenny I guess as it was the best chance so far. From the second corner, Van der Vaart and Bale played a short corner exchange and as Van der Vaart was on the corner of the 18-yard box, he hit a left-foot rising shot which was heading for Kenny’s top right-hand corner of the goal before he somehow plucked the ball from the air. These two passages of play even woke the visiting fans who then decided they would support their team instead of watching in silence. They probably expected us to lie down and die and they would pick up a routine three points.
Shortly after came the first yellow card of the day. No need to guess which team got it is there ? Zamora received the ball with his back to goal and was being marked by Sandro who appeared to be pulling his shirt. Zamora appealed to the ref for a free kick, but nothing was given. As Sandro eventually won the ball, Zamora tripped him for the inevitable yellow card. I’ll lay money that if Zamora plied his trade in North London he would not have been booked, as was proven earlier with Parker who had done exactly the same foul.
Four minutes later that was all forgotten, well for a while anyway, when QPR took the lead. Taarabt ran at Spurs’ defence and as he nutmegged Sandron, he ended up in a heap with the Spurs defender as they tussled for possession. Considering some of the fouls that the ref hadn’t given so far, I thought at the time that it was a soft free kick. Taarabt was the only player who was lining up the free kick so we knew what was coming. He had a point to prove of course, especially with his woeful performance at White Hart Lane back in October when he was rightly substituted and replaced by a defender !
As Friedel was lining up his wall, Taarabt strode forward and sent the ball over the wall and down to the keeper’s right-hand post. I honestly thought that Friedel was going to save it as the shot did not seem to contain enough power to even reach the goal-line, let alone hit the net, but hit the net it did as Friedel followed about a minute later. Maybe it’s time the 40-odd-year-old laid down his gloves, even though he is the record consecutive appearance holder in Premier League history. Not that I or 15,000 home fans cared as the place went mental for the fourth home game in a row. Taarabt ran to the dugouts and planted a kiss on the turf in front of the home fans, while I planted a kiss on the bloke in front of me for the second time this season, a habit that I don’t want to kick as you can all understand.
Within minutes, Taarabt got a bit excited in a similar position and tried his luck, but this time Friedel was in the right place to shield a soft shot. On the half-hour, Spurs broke away and as Barton slipped over at a crucial time, Van der Vaart made the most of the opportunity by getting a powerful left-foot shot on target that Kenny did well to parry, but the ball went up in the air and as it seemed easier to score, Defoe somehow managed to head the ball over the bar.
As the first-half was coming to an end, Diakite went on a lung-busting run and as he went past Parker, the England captain decided once again that he would put a stop to our attack by scything down Diakite for yet another nailed on yellow card. Wrong again. We are not stupid enough to think that every foul by the opposition should be a yellow card or that we are immune from any cards from referees, but we just want the same football laws applied equally. If you do a foul and your name is John Smith and you play for the Dog & Duck you should be treated the same as if you are England captain Scott Parker. I recall that he also got lenient treatment at White Hart Lane when he had committed about five fouls that were just as bad as the two he had committed in the first 44 minutes on Saturday.
We had even picked a second yellow on 41 minutes when Taarabt, not known last season for his tracking back it must be said, followed Walker like a shadow and fouled him by the bye-line in front of the baying visiting fans. The referee wasn’t influenced by their screams, of course not, how silly of me. From the Spurs free kick, the ball went straight up the other end where Zamora was found by a Diakite pass. As QPR’s No.52 (I ask you ?) once again held the ball up with Sandro all over him, he waited for support in the form of QPR’s captain who hit a first time shot that took at least one deflection and sailed over Friedel’s head, but unfortunately it went just over the bar and landed on the netting. Half-time: 1-0. Spurs didn’t like it up ’em, just like Chelsea and Arsenal in previous games. Good.
The ‘next England manager’ brought on Aaron Lennon in place of Sandro at the start of the second-half, but it could’ve been any one of about eight players, so bad were they. We again got in their faces and with less than a minute played, Diakite ran at Spurs’ midfield from a deep position and ended up within about ten yards of Friedel’s goal. As he went past about four players, he found himself at an acute angle to the left of the goal, but instead of opting to go with his left, he hit the ball with the outside of his right-boot and the ball hit the side-netting.
About ten minutes later, Diakite tried a shot from about 25 yards that went embarrassingly wide to which he was jeered by the away fans behind the goal. Within a minute it was our turn to laugh out loud as the ball fell to Scott Parker on the edge of the ‘D’. As our defence ran out to close him down, he hit his volley about six yards over the bar. This player may have to be captain at a major tournament come the summer, God help us. He wasn’t a happy bunny and neither were his team mates.
Walker was having a go at his defensive partners on a regular basis as they seemed to be at sixes and sevens whenever we ventured near the goal. It was about this time that the whinging levels from the prima donna players in the visitors’ squad came to the fore. Van der Taart rolled around as if he was shot as Hill robbed him and set us up on an attack. He lay prone on the floor for the best part of a minute looking like a car crash victim with no signs of life. He then realised that he wasn’t getting a free kick, so he got up and walked back (he didn’t run all afternoon) to take up his position.
Then it was Gareth Bale’s turn. He went down in a heap and was punching the ground in sheer agony. I actually thought better of him as he comes across as an honest bloke. Wrong again. Within a minute he was running at Onuoha at pace before our right-back took him down for our third yellow card of the game. Bale must’ve visited Lourdes while we weren’t looking to get a cure for his horrific injury a minute earlier.
Literally a minute after Onuoha’s yellow card, it was the England captain’s turn to up the cheating antics. He was going absolutely nowhere as he chased a loose ball running away from our goal towards the Paddocks. Onuoha went into challenge, but realised that he was already on a yellow and knowing that he wouldn’t get the ball in time, he stood still and never moved a muscle in his body as he did a good impersonation of one of those statue people you see in Trafalgar Square as they fleece tourists for their hard earned money. Parker slipped the ball past QPR’s right-back then did what can only be described as a perfect execution of a dive if it was carried out by Team GB’s Tom Daley in the 2012 Olympics. It was an act of cheating with the sole intention of getting a fellow professional sent off, pure and simple. Parker’s fellow cheat, Bale, then ran 30 yards to scream at the referee who had the temerity to wave play on. Parker also joined in and was screaming abuse at any QPR player who was in hearing distance. Not only was it shameful, it was embarrassing. And when you think that these two Spurs players were witness to a near tragedy last month when Fabrice Muamba collapsed on a football pitch, it makes my stomach churn. And from an England captain !
As I said at the beginning, this game had the good and the bad in one game and this was certainly the nadir of a recent catalogue of cheating by professional footballers. To compound the home fans ire, we then got out obligatory red card, a decision that made Inspector Clouseau look competent. Clint Hill took out Lennon as he headed away from goal for a needless free kick. Taarabt got the ball and went to run, but as he was closed down by a Spurs player he realised it was a foul. The ball ended up going about five yards from where the free kick was given. With everyone knowing that Hill was going to be booked, the referee brandished a yellow card to Taarabt instead. The referee then walked away oblivious to the fact that Taarabt had already been booked. He then turned around again and walked to Taarabt and brandished a red card. He was then surrounded by players who were bemused. It was during this chat that he then brandished a yellow card in Hill’s face. Not sure if it was for Hill’s foul or for something that he said. The referee probably didn’t know either !
So we had to play the remaining 13 minutes with our usual ten men, but every single player stood their ground to record yet another famous victory against a top team. Had the red card come earlier who knows, or cares. Kenny only had one save to make in the remaining time as Giovani got a shot on target, but Kenny saved comfortably. The referee even gave Spurs an extra five minutes to try and cheat their way back into a game that was lost the moment the ‘next England manager’ wrote his team down. Not sure if the ref could understand his handwriting if his trial evidence is anything to go by, but neither could Spurs fans who were angry at his selection with the smallest forward in the squad playing against both Hill and Ferdinand who probably had the easiest 90 minutes this season.
In the second-half, Spurs fans took to chanting: ‘He Plays on the Left, He Plays on the Left, Gareth Bale, He Plays on the Left’. I had to agree as he seemed to be playing centre midfield at times and did nothing for most of the game except to try and influence the ref’s decisions. He even decided to be a ball boy at one time. The referee again said nothing.
Team: Kenny 8, Onuoha 7, Ferdinand 8, Hill 8, Taiwo 7, Mackie 7, Derry 7, Barton 7, Diakite 7 (Buzsaky 6), Taarabt 8, Zamora 7
MOTM: Taarabt for his simple piece of magic that proved the ‘next England manager’ wrong. His work rate off the ball has improved under Sparky and he is now getting to grips with the Premier League. He likes scoring against North London teams as well !!!
Referee: Clattenburg 3 – One for turning up, one for blowing the whistle to start the game and one for whistling to end the game. All we ask for is a level playing field. Scott Parker deserved at least one yellow card for two cynical fouls and the dive was outrageous. The ref saw all three incidents, but treated him with kid gloves compared to our players. The comedy of errors for the red card showed that he’s out of his depth at this level.
Attendance: 18,021 (including 3,024 visiting fans)
(Apart from the bottom pic, all the others shown above were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)