Football: Batty is quick to settle in

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

IT BEGAN with the saga of Leeds United's bank statement and ended with a case of Scandinavian understatement.

David Batty, whose sudden move to Ewood Park last week made the Yorkshire club's finances look pounds 2.75m happier and their supporters equally unhappy, played as though he had been wearing blue- and-white halves all his life.

He received a telegram of encouragement from his former manager, Howard Wilkinson, before the match and praise from his new manager, Kenny Dalglish, after it. 'He fitted in very well, but it is easy for him because he just loves playing football,' Dalglish said.

Certainly Batty's enthusiastic ball-winning and intelligent distribution in only his second full game in six weeks contributed to a Blackburn victory much easier than the scoreline suggests. Inevitably, Alan Shearer was the scorer, his eighth in only five Premiership starts this season. Stuart Ripley's corner was headed down by Mike Newell and Shearer swivelled and thumped it past Erik Thorstvedt from close range. It would have been the first of many but for a sequence of splendid saves by the Spurs goalkeeper.

'It did get a bit hectic out there, especially in the second half,' Thorstvedt said. As Blackburn swarmed forward he made flying stops from Ripley (twice), Shearer and Tim Sherwood and saved the best until last, a brilliant one- handed deflection of a Newell hook- shot destined for the top corner.

Tottenham's manager, Ossie Ardiles, said: 'The scoreline flattered us. Erik was magnificent. It is a long time since I have seen such an outstanding performance from a goalkeeper.'

Ardiles was left wishing for the sort of strength in depth that Jack Walker's millions continue to provide for Blackburn. With Teddy Sheringham injured, he gave Stephen Robinson his debut, and the 18-year-old from Northern Ireland responded with Spurs' best effort, a 20-yard drive narrowly over Bobby Mimms's crossbar.

But with Vinny Samways the victim of a stomach bug, Spurs were woefully short of midfield creativity, and their patient build-ups rarely took them into the Blackburn box. If Tim Flowers goes to Blackburn, Mimms may find himself surplus to requirements and on Saturday he knew just how that feels.

Goal: Shearer (15) 1-0.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Mimms; Wright, Marker (Atkins, 50), C Hendry, Berg; Gallacher, Batty, Sherwood, Ripley; Shearer, Newell. Substitutes not used: Pearce, Talia (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Thorstvedt; Edinburgh, Mabbutt, Calderwood, Campbell; Sedgley, Barmby, Howells, Dozzell; Anderton (Moran, 73), Robinson (J Hendry, 69). Substitute not used: Walker (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

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