Depleted Tottenham kept in touch with the top four with a businesslike win at Blackburn. They never looked back after an early Peter Crouch goal, although they lived dangerously at times and had Heurelho Gomes to thank for several important stops. The home side gave a decent account of themselves in front of their new owners and deserved at least a share of the points but Gomes stood firm behind a reshaped defence.
Members of the family behind Venky's were present at an Ewood game for the first time and a short message of encouragement before kick-off produced a positive, if lukewarm, response. The abrupt dismissal of Sam Allardyce has not produced the expected freefall after all. Blackburn are comfortable in the top half of the table and were looking for their fourth home win in a row. Steve Kean seems to have quelled any thoughts of a player revolt too. On the morning of the match Chris Samba joined Ryan Nelsen, Míchel Salgado and Jason Roberts in signing a new contract.
None of that counted for much when Spurs strolled into the lead after three minutes. Notionally playing on the right wing in a reshuffle forced by the absence of Gareth Bale with a back injury and Luka Modric after an appendix operation, Rafael van der Vaart lofted a speculative diagonal ball towards Crouch in the area and hit the jackpot first time. Easily climbing above Samba, Crouch guided a header of no great power beyond a questionably positioned Paul Robinson.
"I'm happy with three points and a clean sheet," Harry Redknapp said. "Especially after losing two more players after I picked the side. I had to change things round again but we still came with an attacking team."
Spurs now have a run of games in which they do not have to play a top four side until April, although Redknapp denied that meant they could steal a march on the teams above them. "Look at Birmingham holding Manchester City," he said. "It's a mistake to take anything for granted in this league, there are no easy games. I wouldn't even assume Manchester United have the title sewn up, even though they are red hot favourites. You can't write off Chelsea yet. They have the players with the experience, they've done it before, and now they've got Fernando Torres."
Crouch's next involvement after his goal was clearing off his own line after Junior Hoilett threatened from a corner, before a frantically backpedalling Gomes just managed to claw away a shot from the same player as Blackburn searched for an equaliser.
Three more times Blackburn went close before the interval, David Dunn shaving the woodwork with a couple of shots and Nelsen narrowly missing with a header from a corner. Gomes typically threw in a couple of anxious moments of his own making but the makeshift Spurs defence held out.
William Gallas and Sébastien Bassong performed reliably enough in the middle, though the visitors named Jonathan Woodgate on the bench due to the unavailability of Michael Dawson and Younès Kaboul. They also named two reserve goalkeepers after Steven Pienaar dropped out late with concussion picked up in training and there was no remaining cover in the party who travelled. The alternative would have been naming just six substitutes.
Mame Biram Diouf brought a save from Gomes right at the start of the second half when he ought to have done better. An astute pass by Jermaine Jones played him cleanly behind the Spurs back line, even if he did have to shoot from an unfavourable angle. Jones's next contribution was not quite so impressive. He gave the ball to Aaron Lennon on the edge of his own area and watched the winger race all the way upfield to set up the overlapping Jermain Defoe for a shot.
Robinson rescued Blackburn in a similar fashion to Gomes. Again the shot was from an angle, yet with even more time and space than Diouf, Defoe would normally have expected to score. Robinson made an even better reaction save on the hour when Lennon cut inside Salgado and let fly. The shot took a slight deflection off Samba's shoulder on the way through but Robinson was alert enough to tip it over the bar.
With new captures Mauro Formica and Rubén Rochina watching from the stands, Kean was booed for withdrawing Jones with half an hour left to play, then jeered even more loudly for replacing Dunn. At least that allowed Morten Gamst Pedersen to take the free-kicks and a rasping shot from the edge of the area after Vedran Corluka had fouled the excellent Hoilett brought the last of a series of notable stops by Gomes.
Moments earlier the Spurs goalkeeper had denied Diouf at point-blank range, though his best save of the evening was a dive to deny Hoilett from 25 yards out. Rovers kept coming and thought they had beaten him at last in the final minute ofstoppage time, only for Jermaine Jenas to divert the ball over his own bar with his knee.
"We were very unfortunate not to score. We had 11 shots on target and their keeper was man of the match," Kean said. "We can only blame ourselves for going behind so early but it wasn't our night. I think I would have been disappointed with a point."
Redknapp cleared up the mystery of his bid for Charlie Adam. "Blackpool came on to us, asking would we be interested," he said. "It was 10.30 on deadline day and I was in a hotel restaurant having a bit of pasta. I told Daniel [Levy] I would be very interested. I love Charlie Adam, he's a good player but I said I thought they had left it too late and that turned out to be the case."