Souness not blaming Harper
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Graeme Souness refused to blame Steve Harper for his side's defeat at Tottenham.Newcastle boss Graeme Souness refused to blame Steve Harper for his side's defeat at Tottenham.
Harper's poor clearance from Celestine Babayaro's back-pass was blocked by Simon Davies allowing Jermain Defoe to snap up the rebound and score the only goal of the game.
Souness refused to be too harsh on his keeper, who was only playing because of a hip injury to Shay Given, and has backed him to bounce back from the mistake.
"To concede the goal when we did was disappointing, but we can't be too hard on Steve Harper," said Souness.
"He plays so few games, and he had to come into the side today and pick up the pace of the match and adapt to everything else associated with Premiership football.
"Reserve team football does not prepare you for a test like that.
"But Steve is a big boy and will deal with it. Nobody is pointing the finger at him."
Newcastle's best chance to score fell to substitute James Milner after a mix-up between Paul Robinson and Ledley King, but the England Under-21 international failed to hit the target.
Souness conceded that they failed to take advantage of the mistake and he thought it was a scrappy game at White Hart Lane.
"It was a game about two goalkeepers who made one mistake apiece," added Souness.
"We were punished for ours; they got away with theirs.
"It was not a good game of football. After our efforts [in beating Sporting Lisbon 1-0 in the first leg of the Uefa Cup quarter-final] on Thursday, we were never going to chase it.
"We thought we weathered the first half storm and it looked like we were going to get to half-time with the match at 0-0 - but then they scored."