Tottenham were hoist by their own petard in this thrilling 2-2 draw with
Wolverhampton Wanderers, as they succumbed after leading twice after the
shock of losing the opening goal. But Tottenham were lucky and
unlucky in turn as the game contained many twists and turns.
At the centre of the controversy, as is the
case in many games lately, was the referee - Mark Halsey. Spurs
came out of the game with three yellow cards and Wolves none. Two
of the Spurs yellow cards were harsh, while the other should have been
red and Wolves got away with some more than physical challenges that
might have lead to the game deteriorating had it been between two other
Not that that should have happened on
this day, when both sets of fans and clubs came together to celebrate
the short life of a player who graced both shirts and those of Bradford
City and Southampton too. Representatives of all four clubs,
including our own Ledley King stood in the centre circle before kick-off
to show their respect for Dean Richards, who died last weekend at the
age of 36. A player who made his first Spurs appearance in the 3-5
game against Manchester United at White Hart Lane in 2001 and today's
game had echoes of that match as the sides threw everything into attack.
Tottenham began with Defoe and
Pavlyuchenko up front, with a midfield of Modric, Jenas, Sandro and
Pienaar, that gave Wolves quite a few nervous moments, with their hard
work and creative passing. In the early exchanges, neither side
probed deeply enough into the other's defence and it left the
goalkeepers relatively unemployed. Hamill found Milijas' head when
the Serbian was unmarked in the box, but he put his header over the bat
from ten yards out and then Jarvis got onto the end of Hamill's ball
into the right hand channel in the box and his early shot flicked off
William Gallas' leg to go for a corner.
When Milijas struck it into the box, the
ball was headed away, but it came back to the corner taker and this
time, his ball in was to the near post, where Kevin Doyle got a free
header on it and with Gomes coming unconvincingly for the ball, the
glancing header flew past him to give Wolves the opener in the 20th
minute. It was sloppy work all round by the Spurs defence and once
more they would have to come from behind to get anything out of a game.
Within a couple of minutes Spurs could
have been on equal terms, as Luka Modric had provided Steven Pienaar
with a good chance but he failed to seize it, as the ball got away from
him and he was on the stretch to reach it, so ended up prodding it wide.
Then the little Croatian cold have levelled when Pienaar's effort was
blocked and the ball rebounded back to Modric, who shot first time, but
didn't get hold of it properly, leaving his effort a couple of yards
wide. Jermaine Jenas picked up the ball in midfield and went on a
typical run the length of half the pitch, but then finished in typical
style, with a scuffed shot that left Hennessey picking the ball up with
no effort required.
Then, out of the blue, something happened
that Spurs fans have been waiting a long time for. The ball was
worked left and then passed to Roman Pavlyuchenko on the edge of the
box. Pav was just to the right of the D and he touched the ball to
JD on his left, who moved it back right and then struck a sweet bending
shot that beat Hennessey all ends up to bulge the back of the net.
It had been a long time in coming, but a Premier League goal at last for
the little Spurs striker almost visibly lifted the weight of the drought
off his shoulders. It came ten minutes after Doyle's goal and then
five minutes later, Defoe had doubled his tally for the season, with a
similarly emphatic hit.
This time, Defoe picked up along ball on
the left and ran at Richard Stearman, who stopped his route to goal, but
Jermain rolled inside and managed to prod the ball to Luka Modric on the
edge of the box and tried to find Pienaar to his right hand side.
Instead a defender came in and knocked the ball back past him to Defoe,
who took a first time shot that bent into the same spot as his first
goal, with the keeper being unsighted by a defender in his way.
2-1 to Spurs and the game had been turned around, with two chances taken
for the visitors, but Wolves had not made their pressure into
The lead wasn't to last long, but the
arguments about the game were just about to start. A shot from
outside the box by Jarvis bounced off a player in front f him and the
ball skewed off to the left and Milijas ran in to try and make something
of it. Sensing the danger, Alan Hutton pulled him back just
outside the six yard box and the Wolves midfielder got to the ball, but
then, although Gomes saved the effort, Halsey pointed to the spot and we
all waited for the worst to happen, but the card he pulled out for the
Scottish full back was yellow not red. The home fans were not
happy, but that didn't last for too long either, as Doyle stepped up to
send Heurelho the wrong way from the penalty spot to tie it up at 2-2.
A late corner in the last minute of the
half saw Michael Dawson win a header, but he couldn't wrap his neck
around it enough to get any power in it and Hennessey caught the ball
The half time break gave us time to catch
our breath and there was plenty to talk about. No changes at the
interval meant that Spurs were going to keep Defoe looking for his 100th
Spurs goal and keep Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on the bench.
It was a good decision by Harry Redknapp,
who saw his side take the lead once more, three minutes into the half.
A ball forward saw Jermaine Jenas reach it on the left corner of the box
and stretch his leg to knock the ball to his right to Pav. The
Russian striker took the ball to his left and rifled a shot at goal that
would have been the keeper even if it had not taken a deflection off the
chest of a defender. It was a powerful shot that took the ball
past the keeper before he moved and it took Spurs into a 3-2 lead with a
large portion of the second half left.
Almost immediately, Wolves nearly got
back in it, with Jarvis picking out Ward's head at the near post, where
he was free, but the defender could only put the ball across goal and
off for a goal-kick. The game saw Wolves gain a lot of possession,
but not threaten the goal directly, although in the 65th minute, Milijas
took a low bobbling shot from just outside the area and Gomes got down
to his left well to get a touch on the ball that took it onto the post
and out for a corner. A long ball from Assou-Ekotto then put Defoe
away and he got beyond the last defender to go one-on-one with
Hennessey, but the keeper foiled his shot by closing him down.
Gareth Bale made his return to the side
ahead of Wednesday's match with AC Milan and ran George Elokobi ragged
on the right wing, out-pacing him and almost setting up Defoe and
Pavlyuchenko, before Jarvis did the same at the other end for Ebanks-Blake,
only for the substitute striker to hit it well wide. Milijas could
have been on the score-sheet, but his effort from Doyle's low cross saw
him slide in to fire the ball way too high. Bale almost added to
Tottenham's score when he raced into the Wolves penalty area to be
baulked by Henry, who then lost possession to the Welshman and Gareth
shot across the keeper trying to get it into the far corner, but it took
a touch off Hennessey's thigh and went off, but a goal-kick was given.
Ten minutes from time, Wolves thought
they had made it 3-3 and for a while confusion ruled. A ball in
from a dead ball taken by Milijas saw Gomes come for the ball and then
it was dropped behind him and in the net, with Stearman tangling with
the Spurs keeper. in real time, it looked like a goal and it
looked like Halsey had given it ... blowing his whistle and pointing to
the centre circle. However, on viewing the replay after the game,
it looked as though Stearman had made contact with Gomes before the ball
got there and then the Spurs keeper had hit the deck.
Spurs had another chance to wrap it up
when Sandro chased down a throw-in down the pitch to the dead ball line
and nicked it off Milijas. He pulled it back to Defoe, who struck
it well, but saw the ball come back off the post with no Spurs player
nearby. It proved costly, as three minutes from time, Jarvis
picked out another cross from the left and Fletcher got to it with
Dawson in front of him and Assou-Ekotto behind him, looping a header
back across Gomes that drifted into the net to equalise.
It was gutting to lose such a late goal,
but still Spurs went forward and Lennon got away on the left to pass
inside for Bale, who tried to take it first time, but he could not beat
his Welsh team-mate in the Wolves goal and the game was virtually over.
How this will affect Tottenham's quest
for fourth place remains to be seen. Letting in three goals in
each of the last two games against teams form the bottom third of the
table does not bode well and the lack of wins is also something that
must be reversed.
For the moment, the important thing will
be keeping a clean sheet on Wednesday. Goals are not a problem,
but at what end they arrive is.