Dramatic scenes late on at White Hart Lane sees teams share spoils in engaging game that both clubs will feel they should have won, as they needed points for different reasons
The Brazilian shot-stopper went from hero to villain in under a minute as penalty madness undermined Tottenham’s domination of the game, yet Jermain Defoe’s late equaliser kept the club’s slim Champions League ambitions alive.
The visitors were initially awarded a penalty late in the second half after Michael Dawson’s handball. Gomes saved well from Charlie Adam, before wildly undoing his good work, conceding another penalty from the following corner. Adam made no mistake second time around and rifled the ball home, yet with just minutes left, Defoe had the final word, smashing home from the edge of the box to level matters.
The draw was perhaps foreseeable, with Spurs finishing six of their last eight even and Blackpool now drawing three on the bounce. Yet both will feel aggrieved with the result after the home side dominated the game, withthe Seasiders looking as if they had snatched it.
There was good news before kick-off for both clubs, with Manchester City remaining catchable in fourth after going down to Everton as both Wigan and West Ham failed to capture three points in their afternoon games.
Ian Holloway’s threats to drop ex-Spurs target Adam to the sidelines proved empty, with the biggest surprise on the cards being Danny Rose’s start in at left-back – his first for over a year – as Defoe also came in to partner Roman Pavlyuchenko up top.
The hosts looked sharp in the game’s opening exchanges, with captain Dawson striding in to pick up a loose pass before sending a great effort from range that fizzed just over the bar.
Spurs continued to knock with Gareth Bale forcing Matthew Gilks into a smart, driving save with his low drive, closely followed by Younes Kaboul’s failure to connect with a header with the goal at his mercy.
It took just one slip in Spurs’ concentration to allow the visitors a guilt-edged chance to take the lead though; Luca Modric the guilty party after being robbed in possession and allowing Blackpool to swarm into the Tottenham box.
Sergey Kornilenko’s effort was blocked and when Adam hammered in the rebound with his left foot, the much-maligned Heurelho Gomes produced an astounding reactionary save to deny the Scotsman.
Van der Vaart’s tame shot from the edge of the box was typical of how stultified Spurs seemed by a galvanised Blackpool, who had suddenly got to grips with the battle in the middle of the park.
The hosts were always threatening on the counter though and were unlucky not to get something from Bale’s inviting driven cross that went straight across the face of goal, eluding both Van der Vaart and Defoe, who were lurking in the six yard box.
Few and far between was Gomes called into action but he did well to thwart Adam again, beating away the Blackpool captain’s vicious drive from range, immediately before Defoe had a goal correctly ruled out for offside after he was cleverly slipped in by Van der Vaart.
Spurs’ frustration was further increased as the effectual Bale took a massive hit from Kornilenko – a foul which earned the Ukrainian a booking and seemed to aggravate the winger’s knee problems.
As the first half ground to a halt, Spurs were ultimately left to rue their lack of predatory instinct in the final third after having dominated the game for large periods.
Down and out | Bale was forced off after clash with Adam
Jason Puncheon was brought on at half-time to replace Kornilenko, while Aaron Lennon was introduced to the fray in place of Pavlyuchenko.
The change almost had immediate effect as Spurs could and definitely should have taken the lead. Defoe’s horizontal ball over the Blackpool defence afforded Van der Vaart plenty of time to steady himself and shoot yet the Dutchman took an uncharacteristically poor touch and, under pressure from the recovering defender, fired it well over.
Bale then wasted another good opportunity when he fired a cutback to the edge of the box high and wide with his right foot as Spurs imposed themselves on a Blackpool side that looked jaded after coming out from the break.
However, David Vaughan was just inches from breaking the deadlock after he let rip with a fine strike from distance that flew just past the post with Gomes despairing.
Bizarrely, Blackpool afforded Bale the same chance to fire from distance, as they backed away from the clinical winger as he honed in on goal – yet his left footed effort arrowed just wide.
Spurs began to run their visitors absolutely ragged with sustained waves of pressure. Defoe went close with a snapshot, before Modric’s late arrival into the box saw his header land on top of the net with Gilks looking beaten.
Bale was then forced from the field of play after a tough challenge from Adam, leaving Spurs fans further frustrated. DJ Campbell fluffed his lines when presented with the opportunity to put the visitors ahead, rolling straight into Gomes when the ball was put on a plate for him in the six-yard box.
Then, unbelievable drama ensued as Blackpool took the lead totally against the run of play – with Gomes going from hero to villain in the short space of 30 seconds.
Dawson was penalised for handling in the box after succumbing to pressure from behind. Adam, who had yet to miss a penalty this term, struck his effort poorly, with Gomes pushing the ball out for a corner.
As the corner came in, the Brazilian keeper – seemingly full of excess energy - bounded after the ball with a rush of blood to the head, bringing down Taylor-Fletcher as he headed away from goal. Adam stepped up and made no mistake the second time of asking, rifling his spot-kick into the back of the net.
Then, just with it looking that all three points would be heading to the relegation-threatened club, Defoe stepped up in the 88th minute to spare Gomes’ blushes, rifling home from the edge of the box to send White Hart Lane into raptures.
With Manchester City losing, Tottenham have made slight headway in their chase for fourth but clearly have it all to do, as Blackpool will be left to rue two points lost.
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