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West Brom v Spurs, 05.12.15

(3 pm)

West Brom scorer:-
McClean, 39

Spurs scorer:-
Alli, 15

Attendance:- 23,602

Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- S. Bennett & D. Bryan
Fourth official:- L. Mason

Teams:- West Brom (4-1-4-1):- Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt; Evans; Sessegnon (sub Gardner, 44), Fletcher (Capt.), Morrison, McClean; Rondon

Subs not used:- Lindegaard; Chester, McNanaman; Anichebe, Lambert, Berahino

Booked:- Morrison (Dissent), Gardner (Taking free kick too soon), McClean (foul on Dembele)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela (sub Son, 65), Alli (sub N’Jie, 80), Eriksen; Kane

Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Wimmer; Onomah, Winks

Booked:- Kane (foul on Dawson), Dembele (foul on McClean)

Windy weather was the winner today

Football came second to the blustering and powerful wind today, which swirled around The Hawthorns, badly affecting the quality of the fare on offer.

Dele Alli gave us a 15th minute lead, but Spurs allowed "The Baggies" a first half equaliser, and we never really tested goalkeeper Boaz Myhill after that. Indeed, Hugo Lloris had to make an excellent second half save from a close range Olsson effort.

Mauricio Pochettino made two changes today, with Dele Alli returning from suspension, and playing the advanced midfield role ahead of Dembele, whose best games have come from that deeper role. Erik Lamela also started, in place of Heung-min Son, who replaced him after 65 minutes. Perhaps the coach plans to rest Harry Kane next Thursday and give Son a start then.

The priority today though, with the game kicking off at 3pm when the Man City defeat at Stoke was known, was surely to gain three points, and close the gap on one or more of the teams in the top four. Tony Pulis’s West Brom, like any Pulis side, are difficult to beat though, especially on a day when they had more height to take advantage of those high balls. Spurs’ job should have been to keep the ball on the ground though, which they did at times, but most of the time found any attack stemmed from a packed defensive formation.

Last week, Jonny Evans played at left back for “The Baggies”, but today he played in front of the back four, and skipper Darren Fletcher played a more advanced role as part of a midfield four, seeking to prevent Spurs’ high press, and peg the visitors back in their own half.

Spurs had kicked off playing towards The Birmingham Road stand, but the home side had the first real chance of the game after five minutes, when lone striker Salomon Rondon was first to Morrison’s ball over the defence, chased by Jan Vertonghen. Thankfully Rondon fired his effort woefully wide. Harry Kane had a shot blocked at the other end, but it was taken from well outside the box, and not a great threat.

Spurs took the lead with a moment of rare quality in this game in the fifteenth minute. Alderweireld had hit a great ball over the defence, and Alli got their first, beating Myhill with a right footed shot. It was Alli’s third Premier league goal of the season.

I don’t have any notes of any significant action until the West Brom equaliser in the 39th minute. Fletcher got the bye-line in the inside right position, and hit the perfect cross for James McClean to head home in the middle of the goal area. Spurs fans had been singing their version of “Hey Jude” (not very savoury), and the home fans quite merrily got their own back with their rendition. Sessegnon had to go off before the break with injury and was replaced by Craig Gardner. That was the only substitution made by Tony Pulis, who had three strikers on the bench, including former Spurs target Saido Berahino. Rondon did a better job as the lone chaser today, and had far more success than he had at Upton Park last week.

Early in the second half, Jonny Evans brought down Dele Alli, but was subject to "words" only from the lenient referee. Dembele led a Spurs break, and Dele Alli chipped a ball over the defence for Harry Kane whose shot did not have enough power and was srambled clear for a corner by the West Brom defence.

Dembele, Rose and Lamela combined and Lamela's final ball was deflected for a corner, taken by Eriksen and headed by lamela into the goalkeeper's arms.

West Brom wanted a handball given against Spurs on the edge of their box, but Spurs came forward through Eriksen and Lamela, with Lamela winning another corner.

Ten minutes into the half, Danny Rose made a great saving tackle after Jan Vertonghen had struggled against an aerial ball. West Brom fans wanted Rose penalised, but referee Jon Moss was happy Rose had made a clean tackle to win the ball. Spurs had an opportunity to make a quick break, but allowed “The Baggies” defensive lines to re-form to hold them at bay. Dembele did hit a shot, but this was an even worse effort than that of Rondon in the first half, and best forgotten.

Dembele had a better effort on goal after good work by Lamela on the right, and a final pass by Harry Kane inside him. Goalkeeper Myhill had to save, but was comfortable. Lamela was replaced by Son, who took up a position on the left, with Eriksen and Alli shifting sideways to the right. Spurs then played the passing game, and held possession for a long time, but with no end result. Today was one of those days when we moved the ball backwards from our opponents’ half, which is so frustrating for this observer.

That Lloris save from Olsson, pushing his effort brilliantly over the bar, came after a free kick on the left. Dembele had committed the foul, and Gardner was booked for trying to take the kick too early. However, the second kick led to the attempt on goal. Both sets of fans felt they had cause to be upset with the referee, and at the other end, Harry Kane got nothing from more rough treatment, getting booked for chasing and taking revenge upon Dawson.

Walker made a timely and vital intervention when Rondon was seeking to take advantage of a one on one versus Lloris. A poor ball inside from the right by Eriksen gave West Brom another opportunity, but they were called offside.

Dele Alli was replaced by N’Jie, who looked bright, but neither team made full use of their available substitutes. James McClean (a player many fans love to hate, not always for footballing reasons) was lucky to escape with a red card when he went in high on Dembele. Mr. Moss tried to allow play-on, but when he saw Dembele still on the ground he blew and booked McClean. Spurs best remaining chance came when Eriksen threaded a ball to N’Jie, but the player was flagged offside.

Spurs’ unbeaten run continues, and they are secure in fifth place for another week, with an advantageous goal difference, even if Liverpool win tomorrow. Our record is 6 wins, 8 draws, and 1 defeat. An away point is always welcome, but we do need to string a few wins together to truly challenge the top four.

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