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John Ellis's "third eye" report on Spurs v West Brom, 25.11.17

John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have no less than 454 mutual friends on Facebook. This figure is rising, and I am pleased to add this third feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our home draw against West Bromwich Albion.

John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Bromwich Albion

In writing my match reports I try to be as fair, impartial and objective as possible. I must admit it is sometimes difficult as with the defeat at Arsenal but I do try.

So today, in fairness to West Brom, a team struggling at the wrong end of the table, on a terrible run of form, with a caretaker manager, away to a top four side, they will come away very satisfied with a hard earned point.

They did a job on us and we failed to capitalise on our superior skill in front of a large home support of just under 66,000 fans. However, there are ways and means of playing the game and West Brom take gamesmanship to a whole new level. The scale of time wasting from within the first 15 minutes by the entire team was appalling.

Listening to the radio in the car on the way home, even Adrian Durham said Ben Foster was booked in the 80th minute which in his opinion was 60 minutes too late.

How can he be allowed to tackle a ball boy to delay the young lad from doing his job in retrieving the ball and throwing it to a Spurs player to take a corner? How can this action not bring about a booking?

The reason is that the referee Mike Jones was completely out of his depth. It comes to something when Eric Dier is booked for remonstrating with the referee to take action for Foster's continual delaying tactics and at that stage, the perpetrator Foster hadn't been booked.

As fans said around me, the loss of time is bad enough but it is the breaking up of the game, the loss of momentum, the building in frustration inside the Spurs players and fans. Every stop in play for a West Brom throw in, free kick, goal kick took at least a minute out of the game.

There were examples of West Brom players kicking and throwing the ball away from the position the restart was intended to start from. Other examples of players wasting time in jogging away from taking the restart and leaving it for another player twenty yards or more away who walked up to take the restart and when he finally got there, took more time to release the ball.

Then there was the feigning of injury by a succession of players. Gareth Barry went down near our left flank and tried to walk off right across the Wembley pitch to our right flank. The referee rightly ordered him to turn around and take a few steps to the right to come off. Barry actually argued with the referee and within seconds of his team mate taking the throw-in, he was waved back on to the pitch. Unbelievable!

The biggest culprit was Foster. I lost count of the number of times he needed to go into his net before taking a goal kick for a drink of water on such a cold day when he wasn't even running like an outfield player.

I do not apologise for providing the above detailed illustrations. It needs to be written. West Brom were a blight on the game. An anti-football team and the referee was just too weak to be man enough to deal with it. Nevertheless, they have previous against us and we should have known we needed to be on our mettle from the start. Score an early goal and such nonsense can be avoided.

We should have known, the worst possible circumstance would be to go a goal down and the consequences of such an occurrence. And yet we made a dreadful start. With only three minutes on the clock, Dele dilly-dallied on the ball in a central position inside his own half as almost a last man. He lost possession and with one through ball, Rondon was bearing down on goal. Sanchez showed great pace to firstly catch and secondly shepherd him across goal. It seemed the danger had been averted and yet somehow Rondon was able or should I say allowed to pass the ball into the far corner of the net passed a strangely statuesque keeper. From the angle we were sat, we expected it to also pass the far post and go out for a goal kick. We were stunned to see the ball had actually crawled over the goal line. It was a bizarre goal.

In crossing the line, the ball seemed to show the same lack of energy and enthusiasm as the start made by the Spurs team. Almost immediately, the time wasting started. It wasn't helped by the over-officious referee who seemed to regard football as a complete non contact sport unless a Spurs player had the ball. It was already clear that we were in for a long frustrating afternoon.

To make matters worse. Too many Spurs players were not on song. Ponderous in possession; wayward passes and a general lack of rhythm. Only Son looked a goal threat in the first half and was a proper livewire. First he forced a good diving save from Foster which was tipped round the post. Then he unleashed a cross across the face of the goal which Dele couldn't quite reach. In first half added time he had a further shot, which deflected over the bar.

Other than a shot from the edge of the box Kane was quiet and there wasn't much else in terms of an attacking threat.

The second half saw an increase in tempo but West Brom pressed well and closed the space down in front of their penalty box. Davies was having a poor game with misplaced passes and continually hitting the first man. It was therefore a surprise to see Vertonghen substituted. His aggression and pace might have made a difference down the left?

Our equaliser came through good work from Trippier who was arguably our best player and finally Kane found some space in the box to tuck home the equaliser from yet another Dele assist.

With 20+ minutes remaining and the crowd as well as the players up, it seemed Spurs would build up a head of steam which sadly never really materialised - in part due to the continual breaks in play.

With West Brom pressing in numbers, the key was to quickly switch from one flank to the other. When Spurs did this, there was space to be had down the flanks. Kane could have perhaps done better with a header but there was generally little for Foster to do.

Llorente won a couple of headers but didn't find Spurs players and made a ludicrous attempt to win a penalty. His 30 minutes on the pitch did nothing to quell the growing concerns as to whether he will ever fit in at Spurs.

West Brom seemed to be tiring and space was opening up. Yet perversely, it was the visitors on the break who could nearly have snatched it on a couple of occasions. The ending was reminiscent of sucker punch late defeats from bygone years. All in all Spurs didn't play well and the exertions in Dortmund perhaps took their toll.

On now to two hazardous away games when a minimum of four points will be needed to keep pace in the race for a top four place. Yes, a top four place, because a title challenge is now looking to say at the least very unlikely.

Spurs Odyssey match report

El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime

John Ellis's Facebook page

El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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