A poit from a battling display earned Tottenham 16th place in the
Premier league on goal difference, but it could have been much more had
Darren Bent not contrived the miss of the season by a Spurs player from
a close-range header.
As it was, it
was left to former Pompey striker Jermaine Defoe to capture the
headlines with a goal that brought about a late charge that could have
seen Spurs take all three points.
The game started off quite open, with
both side finding space and breaking to make it end-to-end stuff, which
was strange, considering both sides were on bad runs and needed the
points. Traore broke through on the left, but severely sliced his
shot into the crowd in the first minute, then Bale hit a shot with the
same result, only he didn't slice it, just blazed it over the top.
Vedran Corluka popped up on the other side to cut in and have a shot
blocked by a defender before it could get to James, then a great opening
was presented to Defoe by a Sean Davis pass across the front of his
penalty area, but the Spurs striker took it too far left and smashed a
left foot shot wide, when perhaps concentrating on placement might have
brought him the goal against the side he recently signed from.
Lennon replicated Corluka's effort, but
it did bring a low save from the Portsmouth keeper and then Gomes was
called into action at the other end, with a palm away from Glen
Johnson's low cross-shot and then he had to react quickly to knock the
ball away with his hand, as Peter Crouch looked set to pounce at the far
post. However, James was the busier of the two goalies and a
snapshot from long-distance by Pavyluchenko kept him on his toes, then
Lennon repeated his shot and brought another save from the goalie in the
15th minute. It had been a hectic opening quarter of an hour.
Fortunately for Spurs, a lot of the
Portsmouth attacking came down their left, where on loan from the
Gooners Armand Traore was more intent on showing off his tricks than
damaging the Tottenham defence. He did get into a shooting
position, but hit the side-netting and when the ball dropped from Modric
for Aaron Lennon, he hit a first time effort at the other end from 20
yards and had James scrambling across his line to turn the shot away,
after not seeing too much of it until late on. Then Defoe blocked
Pavlyuchenko's volley at the far post from O'Hara's near post corner,
that Woodgate flicked on. Spurs went even closer in the 23rd
minute, when Lennon raced away from former team-mate Kaboul and crossed
from the right, straight onto the head of Jermain Defoe, a couple of
yards out and central in the six yard box. He rose to head the
ball at goal, but James dived upwards to tip the ball over the top.
As predicted, he was having a stormer of a match.
With the game being so stretched, there
were large gaps in the middle of the field and when Nugent got clear
away on the Tottenham left, he took the ball too wide to shoot and
instead pulled it back into the middle for Traore, but Corluka had
tracked his run superbly and got a block in as he hit a shot that would
have given Portsmouth the lead. It was conflicting feelings for
one of the Spurs forwards, as Roman was hit late from behind by Davis,
who got booked, but it was a much worse foul than some recent sending
offs have been. The Russian left on a stretcher and was replaced
by Darren Bent.
Just after the half hour, Corluka had
switched sides to cover for Bale taking a corner on the right wing, but
the ball came out to him and he put a cross in that arrowed towards goal
and it only took a flick from Ledley King to produce a fine diving stop
from James, who kept it out and Bent was denied the follow-up as he was
offside. Too often, Spurs were giving the ball away in midfield,
with Zokora and O'Hara both being guilty and these turn-overs of
possession quickly lead to chances. O'Hara's mistake gave the
visitors the chance to put Kaboul away and he hit the side netting, when
he should have done better. Then, a few minutes before the break,
Kranjcar set Nugent through, with King struggling with a hamstring pull.
The striker got away and through with only Gomes to beat. The
keeper had obviously come into the game with his groin injury playing
him up, so with a forward bearing down on him, it looked for all the
world that Pompey would go ahead, but the goalie made a very good stop
with his leg, as it should have been 1-0 to Portsmouth.
O'Hara had almost done the right thing at
the other end, with a quickly taken effort that had James worried, but
it hit the side-netting, luckily for the keeper. King's hamstring
meant he could not continue and Dawson came on for him, with just 44
minutes gone. Two subs used already and a keeper limping from
The injury time added on for all
Tottenham's woes brought Portsmouth another good chance, but as Nugent
was priming himself to shoot, Dawson dived in to put him off and make
him shoot over the bar. Even then, Lennon produced another shot on
target with James being required to dive to his left to stop the low
Unfortunately for Darren Bent, most of
what happened with Spurs going forward involved him. An early
Lennon cross that was missed by central defender Distin found our
forward not anticipating it and the ball hit him on the heel and bounced
away from him. But that was least of his contributions to Spurs
failing to win.
Within the space of a minute around the
57 minute mark, Spurs could have been 1-0 ahead, but ended up 0-1
behind. Zokora went on a run into the heart of the Pompey defence
and slipped a neat pass out towards Lennon. Aaron cut past Belhadj
and crossed low, but the bal hit Distin and went towards goal, where
David James changed direction rapidly and bundled the ball out at the
foot of his post. He threw the ball to Traore, who raced towards
the Spurs penalty area and when Corluka slid in to tackle him, the ball
went across the face of the Tottenham box and straight into the path of
David Nugent, who hit it first time and it flicked off the leg of Gareth
Bale before beating Gomes' dive and giving the visitors the lead.
It was a gutting feeling, as it was
against the run of play and demonstrated that when the luck is against
you, it is really against you. One deflection at one end stopped a
goal and one at the other brought one about. So, how would
Tottenham react ? Crouch has a header, but couldn't get it on
target. O'Hara won a far post header to Lennon's cross, but the
bal went harmlessly wide. Harry made his last substitution and it
was not one which gave you lots of hope, as David Bentley replaced Bale,
with O'Hara dropping to left back. The signing from Blackburn
Rovers had not done a lot to enthuse the Spurs fans, but injected a bit
of forward running and indicated that if he played like this more often,
he might be a useful part of the team.
In fact, it was only a couple of minute
after his entrance that Modric linked with Corluka, took a return pass
from Zokora and prodded sideways into the path of Jermain Defoe to rifle
a low shot through Sol Campbell's legs from outside the area and past
James to celebrate his first goal back with a roll on the floor and a
yell to the skies. He wasn't alone in the relief of his goal.
The goal breathed new life into the Spurs
side and Corluka made another advance on the right and cut inside to
curl a left-footer just outside the post with James beaten with twenty
minutes left. Bentley had already put a free-kick over the bar and
into row L, when he stepped up for another one. Much the same
result was expected, but as it cleared all the Spurs shirts in the box
it also almost cleared James, who had to tip it over the bar as it
looked as though it might drop over him. From the corner, Corluka
met it with a header that looped over everyone in the goalmouth, but
Davis was stationed on the far post to head the ball off the line.
Then came the moment that could have won
the game for Spurs. Bentley drove down the left wing and got a
yard of space to put over a leftfooted cross that left James grasping at
thin air. With no defenders around him and James nowhere, all Bent
had to do was put a header straight in front of him from about two yards
out. Unfortunately, from a central position, he managed to direct
it wide of the goal and not many who witnessed it could quite believe
what they had seen. To say it was a poor finish is a slight on the
However, Tottenham kept going forward and
Defoe hit a shot from outside the box that flew wide and then in added
time, Lennon freed Bent on the right, but he lashed his effort straight
at James, who made an easy stop. Earlier in the half, he had been
put through the middle of the Portsmouth defence and while he had a
defender either side of him, his touch was poor and he put the bal
straight through to James without getting a shot in.
Tottenham created enough chances to win a
couple of games today, but with wasteful and woeful finishing, they did
well to get back into it after going a goal behind to gain a point.
However, in this relegation battle, a point is not enough and we need
wins quickly. With games coming up against clubs around us, it
will help pull Tottenham away from the bottom and plunge them back into
it, but there will be tougher opposition than Portsmouth to come.
They were poor, but we couldn't find the
quality often enough to put them away.
Bellamy isn't the answer. It has to
come from within the players we have already, as I can't see someone
coming in and making an immediate difference from the names that have
been linked with Spurs.
Either that or Harry has to work some
more magic and quick.