BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 25TH AUGUST, 2012
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1(0)
West Brom scorer:-
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Mr. J. Collin & Mr. J. Brooks
Fourth Official:- Mr. F. Graham
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Livermore, Sandro (sub Sigurdsson, 73); Lennon, Van Der Vaart (sub Adebayor, 62), Bale; Defoe (sub Jenas, 76)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Naughton, Caulker; Townsend
Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Fortune)
West Brom (4-2-3-1):- Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson (Capt.), Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Fortune (sub Rosenberg, 78), Morrison, Dorrans (sub Brunt, 75); Long (sub Lukaku, 62)
Subs not used:- Myhill; Dawson, Jones, Gera
Booked:- Mulumbu (foul on Defoe), Reid (foul on Bale)
Morrison's super saver!
On a day when cheers rang around the ground for former skipper Ledley King, both on 26 minutes and at half time when he was interviewed by Pete Abbott, familiar boos and feelings of negativity and frustration greeted the late, late equaliser by James Morrison, after Benoit Assou-Ekotto had given Spurs a 74th minute lead after a deflected driven shot.
In truth, despite the skill and domination displayed by Spurs in the first half, the draw was no more than Steve Clarke's side deserved.
The game had opened up considerably after the introduction of West Brom's Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku, who replaced Shane Long after 62 minutes. Lukaku had a point to prove as he had been somewhat overlooked by Villas-Boas during his tenure at Chelsea.
West Brom remain a thorn in AVB's side, as they were team that ended his time at Chelsea when they won in March this year.
Spurs remain a work in progress, but many Spurs fans do not have the patience to wait too long for results. Adebayor started from the bench, and Spurs do desperately need a good target for the times they do get down the flanks and deliver their crosses. There was plenty of delivery today, but far too little conversion.
Vertonghen replaced the injured Kaboul, and it was Caulker not Dawson on the bench. There was a point in the game when the home crowd chanted Dawson's name, but Vertonghen did well, despite one or two shaky moments, from which he recovered well. Rafa van der Vaart took Sigurdsson's place, and despite a good performance, was replaced by Adebayor on the hour.
With that change, AVB'S switched to a 4-4-2. He replaced Sandro with Sigurdsson, whose first touch, a corner, led to Assou-Ekotto's goal, but then mysteriously took a defensive stance by replacing Defoe with Jenas after the lead had been obtained, but not secured. Jenas's arrival was not greeted with unanimous cheers, and his name was being bandied about as the scapegoat at full time by some.
Spurs started brightly, as they did last week, and the visitors were pegged back, despite the fact they had the same formation as us. Bale put an early chance well wide from the left side, and was on the end of a move after 5 minutes, as Spurs broke through a Lennon run, a pass to Van der Vaart, and a blocked shot by Defoe. Bale hit a low cross/shot narrowly wide across the goal. Soon after that, Bale was the provider for Sandro, but the ball got under his feet.
Walker got down near the right corner flag before crossing, and Bale scooped his shot well over the bar. Assou-Ekotto send a good ball down the line to Bale who showed great skill near the corner flag, before passing inside to Defoe, who fired wide across the goalmouth.
Only 10 minutes had gone, and Spurs were already worth a goal. Sandro saved Vertonghen's bacon, after a mistake way the centre-half, recovering well to prevent Fortune and Long to take advantage.
Now we were getting loads of rain in the ground, which was to be followed by the full works of thunder and lightning. Van der Vaart released Bale and his cross gave Lennon a chance. The winger could get no strength on his effort. Lennon was on the end off a clever ball from the left, and fed Rafa, who fired wide from the near post.
Vertonghen sparked the next attack, feeding the ball to Bale, receiving it back, but trying a shot with his wrong foot, the right, woefully wide.
Jake Livermore had a very good game, in my view, and made a number of incisive passes. However, his foul on Mulumbu gave Reid a chance, which he hit over the target. At the other end, Defoe was fouled in a similar position and Van der Vaart also fired over.
Spurs won a corner after good work by Assou-Ekotto and Bale, after which both Van der Vaart and Sandro played a part in further pressure on goal. Vertonghen won a ball off Fortune and Bale ran away with the ball, crossing to Defoe, but there was no goal. Once again, Spurs had reaped no reward for their dominance.
In the first minute of the second half, there was a nice exchange on the right between Lennon and Rafa, before Lennon ran inside, only to see his shot held. Rafa hit a lovely long ball from the right to find Bale at the back post. Gareth hit his shot with the wrong foot, and skied it. Livermore at first lost a ball, recovered and fed Defoe, drawing a foul, after which a lot of love was shared between the two players. Benoit tried a free kick and hit it well. Foster had to tip it over for a corner.
Assou-Ekotto passed to Livermore from deep, and Jake hit a lovely pass for Defoe, who perhaps was greedy, and fired wide. Walker sent Lennon away with a lovely ball inside the defender, but despite Spurs pressure, there was no end result.
Defoe had a "goal" disallowed for offside after the ball been delivered from the left. Now substitute Lukaku showed his mettle, giving Gallas and Vertonghen a lot to think about. He as almost through on goal, and Friedel made an excellent close range save to concede a corner. Another Lennon break gave another chance to Defoe which was again spurned.
West Brom started to put pressure upon Spurs, and their strategy reaped rewards. Fortune got one shot in, which Friedel saved, then as Fortune tried to make the follow-up, Vertonghen recovered well to clear, having been initially bettered. It was end to end stuff now, and Jermain Defoe had a typical solo effort, which Ben Foster parried away for a corner. Sigurdsson came on and took the corner, which was half cleared to the feet of Assou-Ekotto, lurking 25 yards out. He arrowed a shot, which took a nasty deflection, beating Foster, bringing great cheers from a home crowd that thought the game was at last won.
It didn’t work like that though. After a quiet spell which included a few more substitutions, Sigurdsson had a shot cleared for a Spurs throw, after Bale’s ball inside from the left. Vertonghen was again being sorely tested at the other end. This time it was the power of Lukaku which Vertonghen matched and against whom the Spurs man won the battle.
Now though, there was some desperate defending by Spurs, as West Brom were determined to get at least an equaliser. After an ill-advised powerful and long back pass by Assou-Ekotto. Spurs broke forward though and Bale made a break down the right side. He crossed and Adebayor dummied for a player he thought was behind him, but there was no-one there. Shortly after that, Adebayor turned provider for bale, whose shot was saved well by Foster, at the expense of a corner.
For too much of the closing stages though, Spurs lost their desire, and looked happy to sit back and try and defend their slim lead. It didn’t work though, as after a couple of West Brom efforts were cleared off the line, a ball from the right fell to Morrison in a little pocket of space, and he gleefully fired home in front of his own fans.
It’s becoming boring saying it, but Spurs need to get their transfer business finalised, and whilst I wouldn’t say it is a case of “back to the drawing board”, some fans’ knives will be out for AVB if that first win does not come next week against Norwich.
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