Tottenham Hotspur (a) Premiership
Half time: Tottenham 0 Newcastle 0
86 mins Danger had just been averted when Jonathan Woodgate failed to deal with a bouncing ball in the left back position. Dalmart stole it and surged to the byline before crossing low and hard to Robbie Keane on the six yard box. O'Brien tried to cut out the cross but could only slice it into his own net. 0-1
Full time: Tottenham 1 Newcastle 0
Sir Bobby said:
"There was one major nonsense of a decision and if it is shown on the television everybody sees it. It did not go for us and it was a nonsense as it happens.
"If we had got that at the time in the game when we were on fire, it would have made the difference. I asked him to have the courage to give the penalty. I was blunt to him, but I was fair and I was not rude.
"It was a clear penalty, a stone-waller, as clear-cut as any penalty and I asked him to have the courage to give it, something that a referee at the highest level should be doing."
"The players have been superb today, given everything, and for long periods we dominated. It is hard to recognise that we have not got anything today, not even a point, and to see an own goal go in makes it even worse.
"We have come down here and dominated, we have not dominated it all, but we have had the bulk of the play and it was tough to come away with nothing.
"We have lost another goal late in the game and we have been pretty consistent in that. We are losing valuable points and it is hard to take.
"We have given the ball away from the throw in and when it has come across, Andy O'Brien has unfortunately sliced it into the net."
"I hate using the words character and commitment but our defending was terrific, our young centre-back pairing of Anthony Gardner and Gary Doherty against wily Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy's speed.
"We didn't give them clear efforts at goal, we always had bodies in the way and got the first ball. Our covering was very good and were were not isolated at the back.
"We defended well and got a clean sheet and a lot of managers take a lot of pride in a clean sheet, especially when you win.
"Fortune favoured the brave, we stayed with the game and in the end we were very dangerous towards the end on the break and we got the goal."
About the 4th spot in the Premiership:
"I would like Bobby to nick it because there is no more decent or honest manager who has done his apprenticeship and deserves everything he has got out of the game. He is a good man and a humble man who is always helping other people.
"Newcastle have a good nucleus of young British players - the likes of Dyer, Jenas, Woodgate, Bramble and Bellamy - and I think that is a good philosophy because that seems to be more lasting than buying foreign players who might be more mercenary."
Our first Premiership defeat of 2004 - ending a run of 8 games unbeaten - and our third away defeat of the season, all of which have come in London (Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham.)
300th start for Alan Shearer (league & cup not including Charity Shield)
White Hart Lane
record - Premiership
Jonathan Woodgate's 12th Premiership appearance of the season and the first time he's finished on the losing side.
Another unhappy London trek for Andy O'Brien - sent off at Stamford Bridge in November and now registering an OG at White Hart Lane.
It's now 304 minutes since we registered a goal (at the right end) in London - the final 34 minutes of the Fulham victory followed by nil returns at Chelsea, Charlton and Tottenham.
After seven consecutive Premiership away draws, it's entirely typical of this team for them to lose a game in which they played their best football in weeks and came up against a side who for the most part looked there for the taking.
And as it so often is these days, the misery was compounded by the re -appearance yet again of our old nemesis, late scorer. Adding insult to injury of course, we even scored their goal for them (although O'Brien can't be blamed) and couldn't conjure one of our own, as the alignment of stars and planets that caused Thursday's goal glut disappeared back into the ether despite our best efforts.
Result aside though, it's hard to write too disparagingly about Newcastle's performance in this game. After some tedious and distinctly underwhelming away trips this season (not least of which was Oslo) at least there was a semblance of a feeling of our lot pulling in the same direction - as Nirvana nearly said, smells like team spirit....hell, we even moaned at the officials in a collective fashion.
Of course being well-versed ourselves in the art of magpie moaning, we can point to some madness from Bellamy (tumbling over in the search for penalties, dismissals and lord knows what rather than just getting on and playing) and dereliction of duty from Bowyer (drifting in from wide right at every opportunity) as evidence of shortcomings.
But if we were we failed in anything apart from scoring and keeping our concentration intact in the dying minutes, it was in not forcing an error from the suspect Spurs keeper Casey Keller. Only a couple of attempts on goal despite a lot of decent possession will again cause us to point the finger at the supply routes, or lack of them.
When a blatant first-half penalty for a trip on Aaron Hughes by Taricco wasn't given by the referee Howard Webb, such was our overwhelming share of the play and the weakness of the home side that it didn't seem to matter too much. Wrong.
As we told you on Friday, Premiership new boy Webb has never awarded a spot-kick and also seemed intent on registering a card-free afternoon, which may account for his reticence in making any pivotal decisions. That lenience also manifested itself in a failure to calm things down, specifically between Bellamy and the consistently antagonising Taricco.
Our Welsh flyer was only ever one swipe of a boot away from injury as the tackles started to fly in and at times even closer to a self-inflicted problem as he tussled with Taricco and his gob went into over-drive. A stronger official would have calmed him down or shown a card to rein him in - as it was, more often than not it was Shearer trying to keep his strike partner in check.
So, better than of late, but still not good enough and depressing to be beaten by the most run-of-the-mill Spurs team for many a season. That old waffle about decisions evening themselves out over a season does have a vestige of truth surrounding it and this just wasn't our day to be handed presents. Unlike Spurs. We needed something else today - either a piece of French inspiration or someone getting on the end of a decent set piece. Unfortunately we never found either..
Our loss capped another weekend of variable returns from the European hopefuls, with Sir Les silencing the St.Andrew's comedians and Sturrock's Saints scalping the scousers, leaving only dark horses Aston Villa and our next opponents Charlton to yield maximum returns.
But with Portsmouth travelling to Anfield this Wednesday have taken precisely four points from a possible forty two on their travels, Liverpool's game in hand on us looks as much of a gimme as one gets these days - some LuaLua magic there certainly wouldn't go amiss....
With Houllier & Co. then entertaining Wolves on Saturday afternoon and Villa hosting Blackburn at the same time, our teatime tussle with Charlton assumes massive importance in shaping the destiny of the black and whites, along now with the trip to Villa.
We should have taken at least a point from this game, but instead the field becomes ever more open and the need to win at home regardless of the quality of the oppostion looms ever more large, as long as we are incapable of adding to that pair of successes on the road at Fulham and Smogside.