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Spurs survive a turf encounter

Michael Dawson refused to criticise Young Boys' artificial pitch after his Tottenham side only just avoided total humiliation on it on their Champions League debut.

Manager Harry Redknapp called for Astroturf to be banned from the competition following last night's 3-2 defeat at the Stade de Suisse in the first leg of Spurs' play-off round tie.

But stand-in captain Dawson insists there are no excuses for the calamitous defensive display that saw the visitors fall 3-0 down inside 28 minutes in Bern before finally getting going.

"We can't blame the pitch -- we can't make excuses," the new England defender said.

"We were slow out of the blocks and it was disappointing.

"We trained on the pitch.


"So it wasn't a problem. If you concede early away from home, it is hard and it took us longer than we would have liked to recover.

"The performance wasn't good enough."

Goals from Sebastien Bassong and Roman Pavlyuchenko ensured Redknapp's men would retain their favourites' tag ahead of next Wednesday's return leg at White Hart Lane.

Redknapp had refused to criticise the pitch in the build-up to last night's game but let rip after the match, revealing the four personnel changes he made were all due to fears it would cause some of his players serious injury.

Although insisting it was a better surface than earlier Astroturf pitches, Redknapp said: "It's not an excuse but I played on Astroturf myself and hated every minute of it.

"We've had it at QPR; we don't have it anymore in England.

"I don't agree with Astroturf and I don't think Astroturf should be used in a competition like this."

Redknapp, who left captain Ledley King at home due to the pitch, revealed he had held a meeting with his unhappy squad about it on Monday night.

He added: "I left four players out because they weren't comfortable on the pitch in training.

"Aaron Lennon wasn't comfortable, Robbie (Keane) had a problem with his knee. Tom Huddlestone, last time he played on Astroturf, he was out for six weeks -- his knee blew up like a balloon.

"So I didn't really want to risk Tom.

"It was a case that we were pretty desperate and I threw him on."

Redknapp admitted his side got out of jail last night, saying: "It was a great defeat -- if there's such a thing as a great defeat.

"At 3-0 down, we were staring down the barrel, weren't we, really?

"We were in desperate trouble."

Spurs defended appallingly in the opening 28 minutes, conceding perfectly preventable goals to Senad Lulic, Henri Bienvenu and Xavier Hochstrasser.

Their woes deepened when they lost both Jermain Defoe and Luka Modric to injuries which Redknapp confirmed made them doubtful for Saturday's Premier League game at Stoke.

On yesterday's evidence, he will need both fit for next week's return clash with Young Boys.

Home boss Vladimir Petkovic was delighted with the result, revealing he would have gladly taken it before kick-off.

He added: "It was difficult to keep the rhythm for the 90 minutes. Their second goal shouldn't have been made but I'm still very proud of the team."