Keane provides the cutting edge for pragmatic Spurs

Blackburn Rovers 0 - Tottenham Hotspur 1
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The Independent Football

Defensively solid, well organised, if not spectacular, and a young, fit team growing up together. It all sounds more like a traditional Arsenal side than Tottenham Hotspur. But, as Martin Jol, Spurs' head coach, reflected on an eventful first month in charge at White Hart Lane, the indications were that Saturday's resourceful performance at Blackburn Rovers is more a sign of things to come than Jol's first League game, that 5-4 defeat to their local rivals, Arsenal.

Defensively solid, well organised, if not spectacular, and a young, fit team growing up together. It all sounds more like a traditional Arsenal side than Tottenham Hotspur. But, as Martin Jol, Spurs' head coach, reflected on an eventful first month in charge at White Hart Lane, the indications were that Saturday's resourceful performance at Blackburn Rovers is more a sign of things to come than Jol's first League game, that 5-4 defeat to their local rivals, Arsenal.

This was Spurs' third game in six days, including half an hour of extra time midweek in the League Cup, and Jol was delighted by his team's resilience in grinding out a second successive Premiership win and clean sheet.

"I'm loving every minute here," Jol said. "We've now won three League games away and that can help us climb the table. That's maybe an advantage for us over the other teams at the bottom. You always worry when you play so many games so quickly, but the players have stood up to it and you can see how good their fitness levels are.

"This is a young team and it's a team for the future that only recently came together. We're not looking at the top of the League or qualifying for the Champions' League. We just want to improve and work with the players," he said.

Understandably for a coach joining a team in mid-season, Jol is looking forward to next month's transfer window when he hopes to rectify some of the imbalances within his squad.

"Everyone can see we don't have players for every position. I've been playing [Rohan] Ricketts in right midfield recently and he's done well but it's not his natural position. We need a couple more pieces in the jigsaw."

The principal difference between the teams was that in Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe the north London club had strikers capable of changing the game in a moment. In the event, Michael Brown, whom Jol has reminded of his obligation to provide goals from midfield, did the next best thing by setting Keane up for the winner after a 60-yard run. Spurs' impressively muscular defenders, led by the increasingly assured Ledley King, then closed the game out with comfort.

For Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, the damage was already done. "We didn't perform at the same level we have been," he said. "Possibly we didn't deserve much more than we got. We didn't start at the right tempo and it's hard to pick it up during the game. Once we were behind we didn't have the guile to get back in it. We didn't create a single clear-cut chance. They defend very well and have got some big players at the back who are prepared to get stuck in where it hurts," he said.

Worryingly for Hughes, Blackburn have now won only one of their eight League games at Ewood Park. Last season they collected a meagre 19 points at home. "We've got to get better at home," said Hughes. "It's been going on too long and we've got to address the issue. We need good home form and we expect good home form. If we can sort it out I'm sure we'll be OK."

Goals: Keane (55) 0-1.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Short (Matteo, 85), Johansson; Reid, Ferguson, Tugay (Thompson, 65), Emerton; Dickov, Gallagher (Bothroyd, 56). Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Flitcroft.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Naybet, King, Atouba; Pedro Mendes, Brown, Carrick, Ziegler (Redknapp, 73); Keane (Gardner, 78), Defoe (Kanouté, 88). Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Pamarot.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Blackburn: Dickov, Tugay. Tottenham: Naybet.

Man of the match: King.

Attendance: 22,182.

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