Football: Sinton arrests the Spurs slide

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Blackburn Rovers 1

Tottenham, beaten in their previous four matches, were asked to deliver a win last night by their manager, Gerry Francis, regardless of whether they played well.

In the event, they managed to provide the boss not only with three points, but a decent performance as well. And by way of a win bonus, the home side were able to welcome back their winger Darren Anderton, who came on in the second half to make his first appearance in 10 weeks following a groin injury.

But it was a case of modified rapture for Francis afterwards, as he stressed that Anderton was still far from capable of playing for a full 90 minutes. Teddy Sheringham and Chris Armstrong, last season's strike partnership, are still out injured, along with new signing John Scales. And Francis will be without his most recent signing, defender Ramon Vega, who came off in the second half with a hamstring injury that will keep him out of Saturday's match with Chelsea, after which he has a three-match suspension. "It's so frustrating at the moment," Francis said.

His frustration was mirrored by Blackburn's stand-in manager, Tony Parkes, who expressed disappointment that his side had conceded what he saw as two soft goals after keeping a clean sheet in their previous six games.

Tottenham's opening goal arrived unexpectedly at the end of a first half which had become an exercise in frustration for home players and fans alike. Ruel Fox and Rory Allen both wasted clear shooting opportunities, but the former made amends five minutes before half-time to set up an opener for the industrious Steffen Iversen.

Fox's cross from the right found the pounds 2.7m signing from Rosenborg at the far post, and although he stumbled over the ball on his first touch, he recovered to hook a shot past the oncoming keeper.

Blackburn, despite being perplexingly less than the sum of their considerable parts, responded well after the break and fully deserved to equalise after 56 minutes through their defender Colin Hendry. The wily Scottish international got goalside of his marker, Sol Campbell, to head home Jason Wilcox's corner.

Only a reflex save from Ian Walker prevented Graeme Le Saux putting Blackburn into the lead five minutes later.

But Spurs reapplied themselves to the task, and seven minutes from time Andy Sinton gave them an unfamiliar winning feeling as he drove home a long throw from Allan Nielsen which was flicked on by Campbell.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Vega (Nethercott, 48), Campbell, Edinburgh; Fox (Anderton, 62), Nielsen, Howells, Sinton; Allen, Iversen. Substitutes not used: Austin, Bardsen (gk), Rosenthal.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Kenna, Berg, Hendry, Le Saux; Gallacher, Bohinen, Flitcroft, Sherwood (Donis, 83); Sutton, Wilcox. Substitutes not used: Marker, Given (gk), McKinley, Warhurst.

Referee: P Danson (Leicestershire).