Samba's forward thinking sparks Rovers

Blackburn Rovers 2 Tottenham 1

If Blackburn Rovers escape relegation from the Premier League this season, one of the pivotal reasons will have been a conversation on the training ground. Chris Samba was talking to his manager when he revealed something of his youth in France. Until he was 17 he had been a striker. Sam Allardyce was not surprised. The ball skills of his 6ft 5in centre-back were above average for a defender of his size and he had already witnessed the discomfort his height could create in an opposition area.

Nevertheless, it lodged an idea in the Blackburn manager's mind: Plan B will be big Chris as a striker.

Crude maybe, but so far it has worked. Against West Ham United two weeks ago Samba rolled forward to help his side rescue a point and in this game it was his leviathan presence that dragged Blackburn from the precipice of a desperate defeat. His bulk and pass set up Benni McCarthy's equaliser and his towering menace at the near post contributed to Heurelho Gomes' miscalculation for Andre Ooijer's 89th-minute winner. The Samba beat, you might say.

"I've had to mark him a couple of times," Ryan Nelsen, the Blackburn captain, said of his centre-back partner, "and I've felt his elbows once or twice as well. Now I get the young guys to try and mark him instead so I don't have to.

"To say he's a handful, doesn't really tell the story. He caused them a lot of problems when he went up front and he was always going to. I'm certain he would be a different sort of player to anything Ledley King or Jonathan Woodgate have marked before. He gives us something different."

He did on Saturday and in doing so perpetrated one of the great injustices of the season. A "great boost for morale" was Allardyces's verdict but his afternoon had been unremittingly grim for 82 minutes. Tottenham Hotspur, supremely prompted by Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas, made Blackburn look like relegation fodder and, if the referee Peter Walton had not, erroneously, sent off Wilson Palacios for a second bookable offence in the 80th minute, the north Londoners would have secured a win that would have put them on the fringe of the European places and Rovers in deep trouble.

Walton had also not distinguished himself by awarding Spurs a penalty when Gaël Givet appeared to be trying to pull his arm away from Aaron Lennon's cross but it was Palacios's departure that changed the game and led to the referee bearing the brunt of the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp's disappointment. "I said at half-time he'd try to even the game up if he could, 'so be careful'," he said. "I was right, someone got sent off."

Then, aware that further criticism might incur the wrath of the Football Association, Redknapp delivered a scathing and vicious compliment. "Bless him, he has a go, doesn't he?" Just as well the FA does not dole out fines for condescension as well as dissent.

Goals: Keane pen (30) 0-1; McCarthy (82) 1-1; Ooijer (89) 1-2.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Andrews, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Diouf, Mokoena (Tugay, 63), Warnock, Pedersen (Dunn, 26); McCarthy, Roberts (Ooijer, h-t). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Villanueva, Treacy, Olsson.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Zokora, 83), Palacios, Jenas, Modric; Bent, Keane. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Bentley, Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson, Chimbonda.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Blackburn Samba; Tottenham Hotspur Palacios.

Sent off: Tottenham Palacios (80).

Man of the match: Keane.

Attendance: 21,891.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent