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Spurs v West Bromwich Albion, 23.04.11

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 23RD APRIL, 2011
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Pavlyuchenko, 27
Defoe, 66

West Brom scorers:-
Odemwingie, 5
Cox, 81

Attendance:- 36,160

Referee:- Mr. S. Attwell
Assistants:- Mr. S. Long & Mr. S. Burt
Fourth Official:- Mr. D. Drysdale

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Kaboul, Gallas, Dawson (Capt.), Ekotto (sub Sandro, 7); Van der Vaart, Huddlestone (sub Lennon, 62), Modric, Bale; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (sub Crouch, 87)

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Bassong; Jenas, Pienaar

Booked:- Dawson

West Brom (4-4-2):- Carson; Reid (sub Jara, 45), Meite, Olsson, Shorey; Brunt (Capt.), Scharner (sub Cox, 77), Mulumbu, Thomas (sub Morrison, 70); Odemwingie, Vela

Subs not used:- Myhill; Pablo; Tchoyi; Fortune

Booked:- Scharner (foul on Modric)

The game is up Tottenham

Jermain Defoe’s 100th club goal might have been the moment of magic that kept Spurs in the hunt for fourth place, but the game is surely up now for Spurs as they succumbed to substitute Simon Cox’s first Premier League goal in the 81st minute. By then, Spurs were suffering from tired legs, tired hearts and tired minds, and that wasn’t just the playing staff either. One win in their last 7 league games just isn’t good enough to qualify for Champions League football, and once again a team that has spent the best part of the season in the relegation battle has taken points off us at home and away. With Liverpool flying and on our tails, Harry Redknapp has a hard enough task to keep Spurs in fifth place. The table does not lie after 33 games.

There was one enforced change for Spurs with Younes Kaboul carrying on at right back in place of the injured Corluka, and Jermain Defoe coming in for Crouch to partner Pavlyuchenko. Another enforced change after West Brom’s opener in the fifth minute, when Ekotto over-stretched and seemed to pull a hamstring meant that Bale had to cover at left back, whilst Sandro came on and partnered Huddlestone, whilst Modric was pushed out wide. Thus Spurs spent too much of the game without width, although Bale still got forward. Even when Lennon came on for the ineffective Huddlestone after an hour, he was played on the left, which is not his strongest side, in order to accommodate Van der Vaart on the right hand-side. This seemed to be another occasion when Harry did not know how best to use his resources.

Bale had made a bright start and offered a hard low cross into the area, but no-one could convert it, and then Spurs fell behind to a shock early goal by the visitors. Arsenal loanee Vela provided a deep cross from the left and danger man Odemwingie was in space ahead of Ekotto, firing home his thirteenth goal of the season, despite Ekotto’s valiant attempts to block him. Ekotto injured himself in the effort and played no more part. Indeed, the nature of the injury will surely cost him a game or two in Spurs difficult run-in.

Sandro was soon making an impact and many Spurs fans cannot understand why this young man is not first on the team sheet instead of Harry’s favourite – Huddlestone. The Spurs Odyssey votes so far make Sandro our best player in this game and his performances have been consistent since his emergence in this calendar year. The young Brazilian did a great job battling down the right flank all the way to the corner flag to win a corner, but the kick came to nought. A couple of minutes later Bale was downed outside the box but young referee Stuart Attwell was letting a lot go in both directions. Van der Vaart did take a Spurs free kick after 16 minutes, which Gallas headed over the goal.

After 20 minutes, and at the second attempt, Van der Vaart got the ball to the advancing Bale, who crossed. Pavlyuchenko got his head to the ball at the near post, but not enough on it to threaten the West Brom goal. It was Pavlyuchenko who was showing more than Defoe, and despite his poor application at times, he got a reward in the 27th minute, with a lucky rebound off a West Brom defender before forging an opening for his left foot shot across Carson’s hands going into the net off the keeper’s left hand post.

Huddlestone was fouled outside the West Brom area, and with both Bale and Van der Vaart lining up to take the kick, it was Bale who hit the kick over the bar. Modric and Van der Vaart combined before Van der Vaart crossed low to Pavlyuchenko, who hit a right foot shot over the bar. Minutes later, Defoe was the provider from the left and Modric’s shot was in fact deflected out of play off Van der Vaart. There were four minutes of added time during which Steven Reid was replaced by Jara; Scharner got a yellow card for a foul on Modric, and Kaboul hit a free kick over the target.

After the break, Pavlyuchenko headed down a Huddlestone ball for Van der Vaart, whose shot was well off target. Kaboul also had an effort go over. A big problem for Spurs was the fact they were giving too much room to West Brom when in our half. Perhaps it was the commitment to attack, but surely a well-coached side should consistently close players down. Odemwingie had a headed well saved by Gomes for a corner after a cross from the left, and two minutes later it was Odemwingie firing again, this time with his foot, and this time wide.

Modric hit a short cross from which Pavlyuchenko’s header was deflected for a corner. Then Huddlestone was replaced by Lennon, but Aaron appeared on the left side, with Modric moving inside to partner Sandro. Spurs were awarded a free kick after a handball by Brunt. Van der Vaart hit the free kick over the bar at the far post in front of the Paxton Road stand. Then came Defoe’s moment of magic. He had been fed the ball by Van der Vaart, but the goal was all his own work really, as he jinked left and right to carve room for his powerfully driven shot.

Soon after this Scharner brought down Gareth Bale with a challenge that would surely have seen a yellow card for any other player. Scharner however had already been booked and was let off by the referee. It wasn’t too long before Roy Hodgson (perhaps recognising the risk of losing a man) replaced Scharner with Simon Cox. Before that though, Spurs had been under pressure in their own area, where Dawson blocked Morrison’s shot. Modric chipped a ball to Gareth Bale who might have been offside, but he hit his cross/shot wide of the far post anyway.

At times, Spurs decision making was not good and one example of this was when Van der Vaart received from Defoe, but turned into trouble, instead of passing out to the right flank. Spurs had another scare from a Brunt shot, before they backed off and backed off allowing Cox to curl a wonderful shot that dipped just below the far corner of the goal. There was no stopping the shot when it was made, but it should not have been allowed.

Crouch was a late replacement for Pavlyuchenko, but Spurs efforts looked more and more desperate, whilst that man Odemwingie caused more danger by hitting the Spurs side netting. With three truly difficult away games to come, the game is surely up for Tottenham, isn’t it?

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