Football: Rampant Rovers step up pursuit: Tottenham's troubles continue

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

Blackburn Rovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

THE Blackburn manager wore a tracksuit afterwards - an unusual occurrence according to those who know him best - yet in every other respect it was the same old Kenny Dalglish. A different look; the same outlook - no further than the next game and the next three points.

While the man in Jack Walker's pocket beats out the same pragmatic credo regardless of the occasion and circumstance, more fanciful eyes peering further outside his bunker can spy a competition for the championship at last beginning to emerge.

With this victory, Tottenham's sixth successive League defeat which is a club record, Blackburn squeezed Manchester United's points' advantage to a measly 10. Before the treble- chasers from Old Trafford next kick a Premiership ball that could be down to four which will become one if Rovers prevail in the Easter Saturday meeting between the sides at Ewood Park.

In theory at least it all adds up to a spring cleaning of what had become a dull and dusty title pursuit with United, seemingly freewheeling to the line, leaving behind them the real race for second place and the Uefa Cup qualifying place.

Impressively, Blackburn have hung on, ignoring all the suggestions that they were trying to catch the uncatchable. It can only have helped that no one outside their Lancashire parish gave them a chance and, thanks to Charlton, there are now no FA Cup distractions.

At White Hart Lane where supporters have almost forgotten what it is like to experience the thrill of a League win (3 October was the last) they always looked the part but took a long time to make their superiority count. Then Alan Shearer pulled another from his assortment of spectacular goals, a powerful header brilliantly controlled from Stuart Ripley's cross. It was his 50th in just 59 Blackburn appearances and moved Dalglish to say: 'He does something special every game so we look forward to next week.'

One goal was always going to be one too many for the hosts, who are severely short of confidence and togetherness. Consolidation for Blackburn came by way of Kevin Gallacher's economical finish from Mark Atkins's through pass after Kevin Scott's penalty-box execution had proved to be as wayward as that of Spurs' other new recruit, Ronny Rosenthal.

Atkins, who worked skilfully alongside Nicky Marker to make up for the absence through injury of Tim Sherwood and David Batty, epitomises the down side of Walker's millions and Dalglish's spending, a solid consistent performer pushed into the sidings. 'He's not played many games at all this year but he showed the benefit of a squad of players,' Dalglish added.

Goals: Shearer (60) 0-1; Gallacher (72) 0-2.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Scott, Nethercott, Edinburgh; Anderton, Samways, Sedgley, Caskey; Barmby, Rosenthal. Substitutes not used: Day (gk), Gray, Campbell.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, May, Moran, Le Saux; Ripley, Marker, Atkins, Wilcox; Gallacher, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Mimms (gk), Wright, Morrison.

Referee: I Borrett (Suffolk).

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