Preamble Hello. This is a fixture tinged with a wee bit of sadness. Tottenham and Blackpool are arguably the most fearless, attacking and likeable sides in the Premier League, yet modern football is no country for dreamers, and both teams are struggling to achieve their targets for the season. Spurs need snookers to reach the Champions League, and now find themselves under extreme pressure from Liverpool for a Europa League place, while Blackpool have dropped into the relegation zone after Wigan drew at Aston Villa.
Both sides have extremely tough fixtures to come, so they could really do with picking up points today. Spurs play Manchester City and Liverpool away in the next eight days, while Blackpool go to Old Trafford on the last day of the season. They have stopped the rot to some extent with consecutive draws against Newcastle and Stoke, but have still won only one of their last 15 league games. That was a 3-1 victory over Spurs at the end of February, a match that started a dismal run of one victory in 11 for Tottenham.
Both teams are desperate for three points today, which, coupled with their nature, means only one thing:
a 0-0 draw attack, attack, attack attack attack.
There have been 118 goals in Blackpool's Premier League matches this season, which puts them top of that particular league. As with the infectious Luton side of 1982-83, and of course the heroic Foggia team of 1991-92, they have decided to enjoy their first season in the top flight and sod the consequences.
It's such an admirable approach and most of us will hope that, as with Luton in 1982-83, they find a way to avoid relegation. If they do so by getting a result at Old Trafford on the last day, Ian Holloway's celebration would surely be a neat companion to David Pleat's giddy dance around Manchester 28 years ago.
Tottenham (4-4-2) Gomes; Kaboul, Gallas, Dawson, Rose; Van der Vaart, Modric, Sandro, Bale; Pavlyuchenko, Defoe.
Subs: Cudicini, Lennon, Jenas, Crouch, Bassong, Kranjcar, Corluka.
Blackpool (4-3-3) Gilks; Eardley, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey; Southern, Vaughan, Adam; Kornilenko, Campbell, Taylor-Fletcher.
Subs: Kingson, Ormerod, Cathcart, Phillips, Puncheon, Reid, Beattie.
Referee Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
1 min Blackpool, in tangerine, kick off from left to right. Spurs are in white. In fact it's Danny Rose rather than Gareth Bale who is playing at left-back for them.
2 min "Dear Jesus," says Kimberley Taylor. "Please don't let Blackpool go down. The end." As the kids say, this.
3 min Blackpool have started nicely, with much more of the ball than Spurs. Adam plays a smart one-two in midfield and then feeds the ball wide to Crainey, whose cross comes to nothing.
5 min Spurs finally get some meaningful possession after four minutes of watching Blackpool pass the ball around. Modric drills a beautiful crossfield pass to Kaboul, who spanks his cross out of play for a goal kick.
7 min Dawson makes a smooth interception, strides forward and thrashes a 30-yard shot that spins off the sliding Vaughan and just over the bar. That was lovely play.
8 min Dawson gives away a silly free kick, 25 yards from goal. It's to the right of centre, which makes it perfect for the left of Charlie Adam. But in fact it's taken by the right-footed Eardley, who whips it into the wall.
10 min "Come on, surely the genuine neutral would rather have Spurs win today, and pip Man City's Evil Empire for fourth, even if does mean Wee Blackpool go down?" says Ryan Dunne.. "The latter are indeed a very entertaining side, but this is in part because they can't defend, and invariably get rogered by decent strikers. Arguably not much of a credit to the league!" That's cold, man. They've still won as many away games as the league leaders, which is pretty impressive.
12 min Apart from the ever excellent Modric, who is pinging crossfield passes left and right, Spurs have been pretty sluggish thus far.
13 min Rose, scorer of that amazing goal against Arsenal last season, wins a corner on the left. It eventually finds its way to Bale on the right wing. He comes infield and drives a low, bobbling 20-yard shot towards the near post that Gilks pushes away with both hands.
16 min Pavlyuchenko's dummy allows Defoe to race towards goal from the edge of the centre circle, but Baptiste shows excellent pace and strength to first keep up with him and then usher him away from goal. Excellent defending.
17 min Spurs, though nowhere near their best, are starting to dominate. Bale's cross finds Defoe in far too much space on the penalty spot, but his first touch is a little heavy and that allows Evatt to charge out and block his shot.
18 min Modric's 25-yard shot takes a deflection off a defender and spins just wide of the far post with Gilks motionless. A goal is coming.
20 min "If one player - Christopher Samba - played for Blackpool instead of Blackburn, I reckon that Blackpool would be up now and Blackburn down," says Gary Naylor. "Makes the big guy's wages look like value." Yeah, Mark Hughes doesn't get enough credit for that signing. What was it, £500,000?
21 min Eardley is rightly booked for a cynical foul on Rose.
23 min "I'm rooting for Blackpool in this one," says Phil Sawyer, "
despite having spent my teenage years sloping round the Golden Mile, where casual violence was never very far away. I remember once, while leaning against a wall waiting for a taxi, a passing gent punched me in the jaw without even breaking his stride. I was upset at the time, but now I realise that that kindly soul was merely trying to give me a physical demonstration of what life had in store for me."
24 min Gomes makes an outstanding save from Adam. Kornilenko's shot was blocked brilliantly by Gallas, and the ball looped across the box to Adam, who hit a beautiful low volley towards the far corner. Gomes plunged to his left to save. From the resulting corner, Kornilenko headed over from eight yards. He should have scored.
26 min I've just remembered that Van der Vaart is playing in this match. He controls Modric's excellent reverse pass before sweeping a right-footed shot straight at Gilks from the edge of the box.
27 min "That Danny Rose goal's so good it should be on Broadway," says Dennis Johns, and you know what's coming here don't you. "Can you imagine it? Broadway! Danny Rose!"
28 min Spurs aren't on their game at all. As Chris Waddle says on ESPN, playing Van der Vaart wide right doesn't really work, and at the moment Blackpool are having much more of the game than we might have expected.
30 min "I'm also rooting for Blackpool in this one," says Jamie. "I spent many a happy year sloping round the Golden Mile, usually handing out casual violence. I remember once, I saw a guy leaning against a wall in a manner which suggested he needed to be punched in a better direction. So I did. Annoyingly, he never thanked me. Hopefully he realises I was only doing it for his own good."
32 min Southern, who is putting himself about with a fair bit of zest, muscles Pavlyuchenko off the ball with disdain to start another Blackpool attack.
33 min "Tom Huddlestone is one of a select band of players who've played for a club with whom he's shared his initials," says Niall Mullen. "Mick Channon and William
Wright are the only other ones I know. Anyone else?" If only Fergie had signed Matthew Upson, eh. Eh.
33 min An outstanding cross from Bale, spanked low across the face of the goal from the left corner of the area, just evades Van der Vaart and Defoe before zipping away for a goal kick. That's the sort of cross Gary Lineker fantasised about 25/8.
34 min Gallas is rightly booked for a sliding foul on Adam, just short of the halfway line.
36 min "Phil is right about Blackpool and violence," says Gary Naylor. "I recall a couple of incidents from many trips to Lancashire's, ahem, Las Vegas. Two heavily tattooed men emerged from a chippy and I overheard just one sentence - 'No, Vince Karailius were t'ardest man in Rugby League'. On a rainy Saturday afternoon on the Golden Mile, a man was pushing a crying toddler strapped in a buggy. I was heartened to see the man carefully unbutton the raincover to comfort the child - alas, I was wrong, as he cuffed the youngster saying, 'Shut up you little bastard'. Things are different oop north." Oh no, child abuse is the same throughout England.
36 min A nice passing move from Blackpool ends with Vaughan teeing up Adam, who belts a first-time shot from 25 yards with his right foot. It was pretty close to Gomes, who took the safe option and palmed it away. Actually it took a slight deflection, which makes that a better save from Gomes.
37 min Defoe has a goal rightly disallowed for offside. He spanked Van der Vaart's cute reverse pass high into the net from 10 yards, but he was just ahead of the last man when the ball was played.
38 min Bale has come into the game in the last 10 minutes, and Defoe almost gets on the end of an excellent flat cross from wide on the left.
39 min Bale finds the overlapping Rose down the left, and he sidefoots an excellent low cross into the corridor of uncertainty between keeper and defenders. The Spurs strikers were not following it in, however, and Gilks was able to palm it desperately away from goal.
40 min A hopeless tackle from Kornilenko on Bale brings an inevitable yellow card. Kornilenko is a huge unit.
41 min Kornilenko lines up a shot 25 yards out and shanks it about 12 miles wide. On this evidence he looks a bit of a carthorse.
42 min "As if any bloke called Jamie ever punched anyone on the jaw," says Jon Millard. "Surely he meant 'waxed my Hoxton fin whilst deliberating which Tapas to order'."
Half time: Tottenham 0-0 Blackpool That was decent stuff, as 0-0s go, and Blackpool will be pretty happy at the break. See you in 10 minutes.
46 min Spurs kick off. Both sides have made a half-time substitution: Jason Puncheon is on for Sergey Kornilenko, and Aaron Lennon is on for Roman Pavlyuchenko. That means Rafael Van der Vaart will move infield and play just behind Jermain Defoe.
47 min DJ Campbell's long-range shot is deflected wide off Gallas, so Blackpool have the first corner of the second half. It's clipped deep by Adam, challenging Gomes to come into the crowd. He does just that and punches clear with decent authority – and ten seconds later Van der Vaart almost scores at the other end. Lennon drills an excellent angled pass over the last defender for Van der Vaart, who controls it on the edge of the box but then, under pressure, spanks it high and wide.
49 min Van der Vaart has already done more in the second half than he did in the first. He holds Crainey off by the right touchline and pulls back a good ball to Bale, in loads of space 17 yards from goal. He has time to take a touch but instead hits it first time with his right foot, and it goes miles over the bar.
50 min "Interesting spot from Mr Mullen (33 mins)," says Gary Naylor. "Makes me reflect that it's rather a shame that Sir Alex Ferguson has never managed Fulchester United's second team."
51 min After a bewitching slalom from Modric – what a glorious player he is – Van der Vaart tries to chip Gilks from the edge of the box. It was an imaginative effort but easily saved by Gilks.
52 min Vaughan moves infield from the right and hits a very good, bobbling shot that goes just wide of the near post. I think Gomes had it covered, but it was a lovely effort. He's a really good player, Vaughan, something of a poor man's Charlie Adam. He has the same endearing darts-player's build as well.
53 min "I think the problem with our (Spurs') shot-shy strikers is that they look at the bench and see no real threat if they have a stinker," says Steve Waterhouse. "Unhealthy competition for places, if there is such a thing." Bring back Robbie K-oh.
54 min Spurs have been excellent since half time, the result not only of that tactical switch but also a much greater urgency. Bale runs 20 yards to the edge of the box, unchallenged, and then drills a low cross-shot that deflects almost imperceptibly off Baptiste and goes this far wide of the far post. The referee gave a goal kick, but it was an understandable error.
55 min "Re: Niall Mullen (33 min)," begins Steve Betteley. "Not only must there be loads of players for a number of clubs with that distinction, there's another Spurs player - Tommy Harmer, a forward who made over 200 appearances in the 50s. Interesting fact - Tommy signed professional terms the year after Spurs won the title in 51 and was sold the year before we won the title in 61. Spurs won nothing for 10 years after signing Harmer and didn't start winning anything again until they'd sold him. Rumours that he is actually the father of Manuel Almunia are apparently unfounded."
57 min Another half chance for Spurs. Van der Vaart's deep corner from the left is headed down by Kaboul and flicked acrobatically over the bar by Defoe. He was only six yards out, but it was a tricky chance as he was facing away from goal and the ball reared up off the pitch.
58 min "It's coming" says Chris Waddle on ESPN, and it is.
59 min A lovely move from Spurs. Modric plays a classy one-two with Defoe and then eases the ball wide to Lennon. He runs at Crainey before clipping a flat cross towards Modric, 15 yards out, and he flashes a header just over the bar.
61 min "Does anyone know why Harry Redknapp won't give Cudicini a run in the first team?" says Edward Taylor. "He surely is (or was?) one of the best keepers around, and I don't remember him dropping any dollies." Cudicini was a terrific keeper but he's 37 now. I would still choose Gomes, who makes up for the admittedly hideous errors with a stream of brilliant saves. (In my humble etc.)
62 min Bale is in lots of pain after a bad challenge from Charlie Adam, who put his studs in on Bale's left ankle. All his weight (insert your own joke here) went through onto Bale's ankle, and this looks pretty nasty. Adam goes over to apologise, which is all well and good, but that was a very unpleasant tackle. He could easily have been sent off, and probably would have been had the referee seen it properly. I don't think he was even booked. On ESPN, Chris Waddle becomes the first man to say that Charlie Adam is "not that kind of player". Hmm.
65 min Bale is being stretchered off and will be replaced by Peter Crouch. That's a huge problem for Spurs, with trips to Manchester City and Liverpool over the next eight days. It may well be a broken ankle.
66 min Baptiste scythes down Modric on the left wing, and somehow escapes a yellow card. It was an honest attempt to play the ball – he was just done for skill – but it should still have been a booking.
68 min That Bale injury has taken a bit of sting out of Spurs, who were all over Blackpool when it happened.
70 min Lennon's cross appears to hit the arm of the sliding Crainey, but he was a couple of yards away and there was certainly no intent. The corner is played deep to Van der Vaart, 25 yards from goal; he takes a touch and eases a curler towards the far post, but Gilks is quick on his feet and gets across his line to save comfortably.
71 min Van der Vaart's corner goes all the way beyond the far post to Dawson, who controls it and then drags a tame shot into the side netting at the near post.
73 min Spurs have 17 minutes to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
74 min Gomes makes an awesome save to deny DJ Campbell. Spurs were sliced apart by some gorgeous football... AND NOW BLACKPOOL HAVE A PENALTY! The resulting corner went towards the far post and Dawson, who was possibly impeded by Evatt, raised his arm and handled.
GOMES SAVES THE PENALTY! Redemption for Heurelho Gomes, who dives all the way to his left to make a superb save from Adam's penalty... AND NOW BLACKPOOL HAVE ANOTHER PENALTY!
This is astonishing! DJ Campbell is trying to wrestle the ball off Charlie Adam, who says no and is going to take his second penalty in as many minutes.
GOAL! Spurs 0-1 Blackpool (Adam 76 pen) This time Adam scores, thrashing the penalty into the left of the net as Gomes dived the other way. Incredible stuff.
77 min Right, here's what happened. Gomes made an awesome reaction save from Campbell. Then Dawson – probably fouled – gave away a penalty from the resulting corner. Gomes saved that penalty, conceding a corner in the process. Gomes came miles from his line for that corner, and fouled Taylor-Fletcher (it may well have been a dive, but it was daft goalkeeping either way, as Gomes was 12 yards from his goal). And finally Adam, having told Campbell to bugger off, spanked his second penalty into the net. Fitba? Bloody hell.
78 min I've never seen anything like that.
79 min Aaron Lennon is booked for booting the ball away in a huff.
80 min "There must be loads says Steve Betteley," says Niall Mullen. "I agree but he only proffers one example. From the 50's. It's an annoying game. So much so that I'm annoyed Mark Hughes played for Bayern Munich and not Brian McClair."
81 min The goal, and the absurd manner of it, has winded Spurs. They haven't got going in the five minutes since Adam scored.
82 min It's all going off here. Crouch and Van der Vaart are down, having clashed heads, and now Evatt is down after an incident with Defoe. There wasn't much in it really: Defoe's leading arm hit Evatt in the face as they jumped for a high ball, but I'm almost certain there was nothing intentional from Defoe.
83 min "Two non penalties taken by a player who shouldn't have been on the pitch," says Damian Spendel. "I hope they stay up so we can send them down next season. Bitter? Nah..." I'd like to see the second one again. I'm certain Taylor-Fletcher made a meal of it, but I suspect there might well have been contact.
84 min The good thing about the two penalties, of course, is that Chris Waddle is repeatedly saying the word 'pelanty'.
85 min "That right there is Gomez," says Ben Dunn. "Brilliant and catastrophic in two easy minutes."
86 min At the moment, Spurs don't really look like scoring. Yet before Blackpool's goal they seemed set to score with every attack. The life of the mind, eh.
87 min Puncheon misses a great chance to seal the match. Gallas's mistake allowed a long pass through to Campbell, on the left of the box, and he pulled it back for Puncheon to strike first time from 12 yards. He screwed it all the way across goal and wide.
88 min Puncheon whips one straight into Gomes's stomach from 25 yards.
GOAL! Spurs 1-1 Blackpool (Defoe 89) A goal out of nothing. Jermain Defoe, who has been dreadful today, drops deep, collects from Modric and thrashes a devastating low shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards. That was a wonderful strike, the sort we have seen Defoe score a fair few times before. As Chris Waddle says, he has barely any backlift when he shoots from distance.
90 min 'Arrytime department: there will be six minutes of added time.
90+1 min Danny Rose, who has played very well at left back, is replaced by Nico Kranjcar. And Blackpool bring on, a striker, James Beattie, for a defender, Neal Eardley.
90+2 min [Keegan] Only one team is going to win this now, and it's not Blackpool. [/Keegan]
90+5 min Spurs have a biggish appeal for a penalty when Lennon's cross hits Evatt. It was hard to tell if it hit the arm; even if it did, Evatt was very close to Lennon and a penalty would probably have been harsh.
90+6 min Crouch nods down a long cross towards Defoe, whose first time strike from the edge of the area is comfortably saved by the sprawling Gilks.
90+7 min Blackpool break two on two, but Puncheon drags his shot across goal and wide from the left side of the box. It was a half chance at best.
Full time: Tottenham 1-1 Blackpool That's the end of an endearingly shambolic game between two largely likeable sides. The result, however, is not much use to anyone. Blackpool would have taken it at the start of the game, but not when they led in the 89th minute. It was entertaining stuff, particularly when Blackpool were given two penalties in the space of 90 seconds. They move back out of the relegation zone on goal difference, while Spurs move above Liverpool into fifth. Night.