Spurs' six game unbeaten run came to an end at Ewood Park, thanks largely to an inept performance by the referee. The worst of Peter Walton's many mistakes was to send off Wilson Palacios - the team's best player on the day - and thus allow Blackburn back into a game that they deserved to lose.
The home side's Aaron Mokoena tried to handle Palacios by kicking lumps out of him in the first half and elbowing him in the face in the second, yet all of that went unpunished. Mokoena was taken off on the hour mark, presumably in recognition not only of Palacios' dominance in the middle of the field but also out of concern that Blackburn themselves would be reduced to ten men.
In the event, it was the Honduran who was given his marching orders, following Dunn's absurdly theatrical dive. Harry Redknapp condemned the referee's decision as "diabolical" and even Sam Allardyce conceded that it was "a bit harsh". Spurs proceeded to lose two quick goals and it was game over.
While Palacios could not be held responsible for his unfair dismissal, criticism could certainly be levelled against the manager's reaction - or lack of reaction - to it. With Blackburn playing route one football at its ugliest and Spurs in the lead away from home with only ten minutes to go, Redknapp failed to act decisively - Zokora was brought on to shore up the midfield only after Blackburn had already equalized. They went on to win a match that could already have been put to bed if a dominant Spurs had managed to score a second goal.
Sitting on the bench was Pavlyuchenko, back after two appearances and one goal for Russia. Instead of bringing him on, Redknapp persisted with Bent, who apparently had been too crocked to play for England a few short days previously. Perhaps most surprising of all was that David Bentley did not get on for even a few minutes against his old club. Whether this speaks to a phenomenal lack of motivation on his part or the manager's abiding lack of faith in him, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Bentley has very little future at White Hart Lane.
One player who did line up against his former club was Paul Robinson. The keeper received a great ovation from the travelling support and pulled off a wonderful save from Bent. Gomes, by contrast, was shaky in the Spurs goal throughout the game and was badly at fault for Blackburn's winner. With only seven matches remaining, very few of the Spurs fans would object if Cudicini was now given a run in the side.
As Redknapp recognized after the defeat, "thirty eight points is not safe" and with Man Utd, Everton and Liverpool still to come, Spurs cannot afford to be complacent. Having said that, the bottom three is starting to take shape, with Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion already looking doomed. The next two fixtures against West Ham and Newcastle are at home and both should be winnable. Six points would undoubtedly guarantee a stress-free end to what has been a very stressful season.