|DATE||Wednesday 21st March 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
|Sorry, but no time to prepare a preview.|
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Stoke City 1|
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|STOKE CITY TEAM NEWS :|
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1 (0) Stoke City 1 (0)
Wednesday 21st March 2012 Kick off 19:45
White Hart Lane
|van der Vaart 90+3||Jerome 75|
Palacios (continued fouling) 43
van der Vaart (dissent) 82
|Crowd : 35,172||Weather : Dry, mild|
|Referee : Mike Jones (Cheshire)||Assistant Referees : D. Cann; C. Breakspear|
|Fourth Official : Anthony Taylor||
Match Delegate : G. Mackrell
Professional Game Match Observer : W J Norbury
|Stoke kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Stoke City :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
15 Saha (17 dos Santos 73)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Tony Pulis|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Britannia|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : adidas|
You can have a good bet at what you know you will get from Stoke. Effort. Tackles. Time-wasting. Such has become the needs of teams like them to stay in the top flight. We see it so often at the Lane and frankly, the supporters of those teams are welcome to it, as the way they went about this 1-1 draw was nothing more than shameful ... especially when Spurs made a slow start and could have been there for the taking had the Potters minds not be so focused on a point.
Spurs were frustrating in the extreme. The way that we have been playing we should be well in third and pushing hard on the heels of the Manchester clubs above us, but the profligate way we miss chances we create has cost us a place at the very top of the table. And that is against run of the mill teams like Stoke as well as the top sides.
The whole shock of Saturday's FA Cup tie might have been having an effect on the Spurs team, but their "Get Well Soon Fabrice" T-shirts were a welcome good news message compared to those sported by Liverpool following the Suarez-Evra affair. A minute's applause hopefully sent a get well from all the fans too.
The number of opportunities we had tonight compared with Stoke and we still finish 1-1 is almost beyond my comprehension. Yes ... they are a determined, battling side, but if we had taken half the openings we made, we would have won a couple of games. But we could easily have been behind early on, with our defence not reacting to the runs and flick-ons in and around our box. Our first attack saw Kranjcar hit a half hearted effort at goal and that summed up his contribution, so it was not surprising that he did not appear after the interval.
Five minutes in and Cameron Jerome might have done better with a half volley from outside the box, but he went for power and the ball flew wide and then he got on the end of a knock down by Peter Crouch and the ball sailed over, but already unhappy murmurs were coming from the home support. It was not only at our end that we were slow, when a corner came in and Begovic failed to hold it, there was nobody on hand from our team to seize on the loose ball. Our first real chance came just after a quarter of an hour, when Rafael van der Vaart took the ball off Wilson Palacios, who rode his luck with some of his tackling, before hitting a low shot to Begovic's left and the keeper got down to save. Then Bale slipped in Modric, but his shot went across goal and wide. The same pair linked up again after Crouch had shot wide, this time the ball took a deflection before going wide, but might not have gone in anyway. A few chances tonight were to fall to the little midfielder, who is not the best finisher.
Our poor record from our corners continued when Kaboul headed against the bar, but it was too good to be true and the ref gave a free-kick against him for pushing. Assou-Ekotto had already pumped a free-kick on the edge of the box over the bar and a couple of shots from Kranjcar (too high) and Saha (tipped over by the keeper) were not to threatening.
Just before half time Palacios got his customary yellow card for a block on Kranjcar after about seven fouls. Parker almost broke into the box in injury time, but couldn't sort out his feet to take Kranjcar's pass into a shooting position and that was it save for a Crouch header that went over, as did many of his efforts tonight.
The interval was a relief for the ball, which had been taking a bit of a kicking from the Stoke players. So, when the second half started and Spurs were pushing forward, it was nice to see it played on the floor for a little while, but nothing came of it except a van der Vaart shot that was well off target. When Spurs did get into the box, the massed ranks of red and white striped shirts got in the way.
When Stoke got up the other end they didn't look dangerous, with Walters missing a good opening just after the hour when Crouch flicked the ball on with his head and the Irishman could only get a weak effort straight at Friedel. Our corners failed to trouble Stoke and when Gareth Bale had a shooting chance in the 74th minute, it dipped and swerved leaving Begovic helpless, but the ball hit the face of the crossbar and bounced out. From that Parker fouled a Stoke player five yards outside the box and when it was swung in by Pennant, Huth was unmarked to head towards goal and Jerome was unmarked as he was first to react and prod it past Friedel from a couple of yards out.
The Spurs faithful were not happy. And rightly so, as we should have been ahead not behind at this stage of the game an the worry was that the way we had been playing, it was difficult to see where a goal might come from. Especially as the Stoke players were stepping up their time-wasting campaign, with Jones letting them get away with it. None more obvious than when Rafa was getting booked and one of their players just kicked the ball away to waste a few precious seconds.
Trying to defend the goal they had scored, Stoke pulled everyone back and invited Spurs onto them. This is usually a winning formula, but despite trying to kill time with the ball in the corner of the pitch, the five added minutes the fourth official displayed might have been a safe bet, as it looked like Spurs could have played all night and not scored.
Just into the added time, Bale fired in a shot that the keeper kept out, but the ball ran loose and a defender hacked it away before van der Vaart could get to it. But a minute later, he did get to it, when Bale put in a fierce cross and the Dutchman flew in between Huth and Shawcross on the edge of the six yard box to power a header past Begovic much to the relief of the Spurs fans. The roar was there to greet a point, but it might not be enough in the long run to get a third place finish, as news of Arsenal's winning position meant they would go above us if the results stayed the same.
It was odd that when Stoke had a throw near the Spurs box, they dawdled more than usual ... not that the referee noticed or did, but took no action. Right at the death a Bale run won a corner, but guess what, it was easily cleared and then the ref blew for full time.
As I said, a frustrating night and one that was emotional for the players after just four days since Fabrice Muamba's collapse, but maybe this will be good therapy to return to playing and while it could have been worse, a point is better than none. But once more, the games come thick and fast, so they will have to step up their game again on Saturday against Chelsea, in what is being titled as a game we can't afford to lose ... or it will cost us £30 million.
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|What you thought|
|Stan Chun||I would be pleased
if I never had to watch a Tony Pulis side again at White Hart Lane.
It is not Stoke as such, but their manager who I dislike and his
tactics are straight out of the lower leagues where he had such
A FA Cup final appearance and an ultimately capitulating campaign in the Europa League probably equals the level of success he strives for. One would hope that his board become bored of the football he plays and while the fans are all vocal in his praise, one wonders if this is what they aspire to.
|Other scores during this mid-week :|
|Aston Villa||P||Bolton Wanderers||P||Tuesday|
|Queens Park Rangers||3||Liverpool||2||Wednesday|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||29||10||6||14||35||37||36||-3|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||29||6||7||16||32||50||25||-18|
Position before match :
Position after match : 4th
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