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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
4 May 2013
• White Hart Lane, London
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 36190
G. Bale 86'
That's your lot from me @AdamMazrani, it's been a pleasure having you all. Stay with Goal.com UK for all the post-match reaction to today's Premier League action!
At this stage of the season, it's not about performances but about results and if Tottenham manage to finish in the top four, no one will care a jot about the poor quality of their play this afternoon. They got the win, that's all that matters and once again, they are in debt to Gareth Bale.
It's all over and thanks to Gareth Bale, Tottenham have eeked out three precious points. He did next to nothing else in the entire match but when it mattered, the Welshman came to the fore and his stunning strike has seen off a brave and unlucky Southampton side to keep Spurs' challenge for the top four intact.
90' + 3'
Just a minute to go here. White Hart Lane is jubilant.
90' + 2'
Southampton are pushing in the last couple of minutes but there's an air of resignation about their attacking play. It's a shame, they have been wonderful to watch at times today.
Four minutes of stoppage time added on here and the nerves are certainly jangling. The noise when that Bale strike went on was absolutely unbelievable. Spurs have the ball and are closing in on the three points.
It's extremely harsh on Southampton, who have been excellent today. They're pushing for an equaliser now and you have just have to think back to that Clyne chance in the opening period as one they really should have taken.
Spurs barely deserve their lead but they've got it and it just had to be Bale didn't it? Against his former club, he certainly showed no aversion to celebrating. What a massive goal that could be. Arsenal, who are kicking off in just under 15 minutes at Loftus Road, look like they will start that match out of the top four.
Assist Kyle Walker
Goal Gareth Bale
What an important strike that could be for Tottenham and who else could it be but Gareth Bale. He's had such an ineffective game but this is what Bale has been doing all season. Luke Shaw, perhaps tired after such a good performance, allows the Welshman to cut inside a little too easily and he rips a dipping, swerving strike past Boruc into the net.
Hooiveld has been superb at the back for Southampton today and he's just stepped in with a crucial interception to deny Defoe.
For the first time in the match, Southampton's defence is finding itself being put under real pressure but Spurs just can't find a way through at the moment. They look more likely to score than they have done at any point in the match though.
Screams for a penalty from the White Hart Lane stands as Bale goes down in the box after a trip from Cork. However, the calls are in hope rather than expectation. These are anxious times in North London.
Now a spot of goalkeeping madness at the other end when Boruc allows a Spurs corner to slip through his hands, causing a scramble inside the six-yard box. However, there are too many bodies in the way and the visitors manage to get it away.
My word! What on earth was Lloris thinking? He's had an extremely confident game and perhaps that has gone to his head a little as he takes chooses to take a touch and step inside of the onrushing Mayuka instead of just clearing the ball up the field. He gets away with it, but only just.
A quarter of an hour to play and Southampton are looking extremely comfortable. In fact they nearly fashion a goalscoring opportunity when Mayuka, who has looked lively since coming on, tries to find Rodriguez but his pass rolls just behind his striking partner.
Yellow Card Steven Davis
Less than 20 minutes now for Spurs to find some rhythm. Remember a win would take them above Arsenal into fourth place ahead of the Gunners' evening clash with QPR as well as level on points with third-placed Chelsea. A draw wouldn't even take them into the top four.
Yellow Card Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Sigurdsson's come on for Dempsey as Tottenham try and rejuvenate their attacking play. Southampton still look dangerous on the break and Dawson has to be sharp to clear away a Mayuka cross with Lambert lurking behind for the tap-in.
Adebayor's certainly had an impact since coming on and his mere presence looks to be causing Southampton problems. The former Arsenal and Manchester City striker has just had claims for a penalty waved away. He looks to have a case too, he was certainly being held in the box.
Spurs have their first real opportunity of the game so far and Adebayor's involved, cheekily backheeling a lofted Huddlestone pass into the path of Dempsey. However, the American's strike from just outside the box lacks precision and flies over when he really should have at least hit the target.
Slight break in play following an injury to Guly Do Prado, who looks unlikely to continue. White Hart Lane has found it's voice again and the Spurs players really need the boost. They have been so lacklustre this afternoon you would not think that the three points were absolutely necessary. But they are and they have less than 30 minutes now to find a winner.
Bale bursts into life but his cross is once again off target. Adebayor was completely free though so if the Welshman can find the right delivery, there will be chances for the hosts.
Incidentally, it was Lennon who went off for Adebayor. The winger was completely non-existent out there and that is in no small part down to the job Luke Shaw did on him. The 17-year-old has had an outstanding match.
Saints really piling the pressure on here with a succession of corners. From one, Lallana cleverly works himself into space and fires in a strike that is well blocked by Assou-Ekotto. Spurs react by bringing on Emmanuel Adebayor. He's had an extremely poor season so far but could he just make the difference?
If Lambert had pace, he'd play for England. The Saints striker is so much more than the target-man some would have you believe and he's just shown it again with a wicked, inswinging free-kick that just needed a touch to take it past Lloris.
Southampton aren't a side noted for their physical prowess but they're overpowering Spurs at the moment. The hosts' midfield simply can't live with the tenacity being shown by the visitors and Andre Villas-Boas is looking decidedly worried on the touchline.
Another chance for Southampton. Adam Lallana does brilliantly to flick the ball over the head of Dawson but the ball just runs away from him slightly and on the stretch, his effort can only trickle into the arms of Lloris. It was a very presentable opportunity though and Southampton really could live to regret all these missed chances.
Some of Tottenham's passing this afternoon has been frankly, atrocious. Andre Villas-Boas must be tearing his hair out as he watches Tom Huddlestone continually opt for the long ball with only the diminutive Defoe to aim at in attack.
Holtby belies his slender frame to show real strength in shrugging Jack Cork off the ball before finding an onrushing Bale. White Hart Lane holds it's breath but the Welshman lets the ball run underneath his feet.
Spurs need to start this half with a bit more urgency. They were far too sluggish out of the blocks in the first period and Southampton nearly took advantage.
Back underway at White Hart Lane.
This from our man at the Lane, Husmukh Kerai: Andre Villas-Boas spent most of the first half shaking his head. Tottenham were passive throughout the first period, their lacklustre performance epitomised by Gareth Bale, who barely even featured. Southampton, meanwhile, have been industrious and effective and should perhaps go in with the lead. Hugo Lloris' heroics keeps the scores level at the break.
Incidentally, Luke Shaw had an outstanding first-half. What a talent he is.
In the week that he has been voted double player of the year, Gareth Bale made a negligible impact in that 45 minutes against his former club. Is he still suffering the effects of that ankle injury? Let us know on Twitter via @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK.
Spurs have a few corners which come to nothing and that is half-time. All in all, it's a bit low-key here at White Hart Lane. Southampton could conceivably be 2-0 up. Clyne certainly should have scored while Lloris' save from Lambert's free-kick was excellent. Spurs have to improve after the break. Losing points here could be fatal to their hopes of reaching the Champions League, particularly with Arsenal playing a QPR side already relegated later on.
At last Bale makes an impact and he races onto an Assou-Ekotto pass but his cross can only find the safe hands of Artur Boruc. Spurs will certainly need their star man to do more in the second half.
Slight mix-up in the Spurs defence as Michael Dawson elects to hook away a bouncing ball despite the fact it was running comfortably into the hands of Lloris. They get away with it though and this is proving to be a quiet end to what has been, bar a few instances, a rather quiet half.
That just about sums up the way the half has gone for Tottenham. Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe try and attempt a one-two from the Welshman's throw but the Footballer of the Year isn't quite in tune with his team-mate and Defoe's chip trickles out of play.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto has had a difficult opening half and he's just drawn ire from the home fans with a rather aimless hoof up field despite the fact that Spurs' only striker, Defoe, was well inside his own half.
Southampton hit the post! Rickie Lambert's fierce free-kick is finger-tipped onto the post by Lloris before the Frenchman stays strong to hold onto a firm Steven Davis header after play is recycled. That really was an excellent save and one that saves Spurs from going behind. Southampton could be two or three goals up here, they have been excellent.
We've got a break in here play because Moussa Dembele, who only passed a fitness test to play at White Hart Lane this morning, is having to be replaced. Lewis Holtby, just as he did at Wigan last week, has come on for the Belgian.
Another promising Southampton break when Clyne wins the ball off Assou-Ekotto, who has had a poor afternoon so far, and tears away from the full-back. However, his cross is confidently claimed by Lloris.
Defoe has had difficult opening half-hour and the isolated striker is angry when his attempts at winning a corner are turned away by the assistant referee. When the England international receives the ball he is finding himself surrounded by anywhere between two and five Saints' defenders without a Spurs player in sight.
Again it's Southampton who look the more dangerous side and again it's Lambert who is at the heart of everything. The striker intelligently peels off the Spurs defence and upon receiving the ball, finds Rodriguez who cleverly shifts the ball past Dawson but elects to pass instead of shoot and the half-chance is gone.
Well that was close. Southampton are certainly not afraid to get stuck into their challenges in midfield and having won another one, Lambert picks up the ball and dissects the Spurs defence with a precise pass for Lallana to run onto. However, the midfielder is denied an opportunity to face Lloris by an offside flag, which looks on first viewing, to be a wrong one.
A moment of controversy here as Bale goes down in the centre-circle having clearly been fouled, only for referee Mark Clattenburg to let play go on. Southampton break forward with pace and it just looks for a moment as if Adam Lallana will be presented with a one vs one with Lloris, only for the pass from Rodriguez to be blocked by a last-gasp Dawson challenge.
Kyle Walker looks Spurs' most dangerous player at the moment and his pace from deep is troubling Southampton slightly, though their defence still look comfortable enough. Mauricio Pochettino will be pleased. Not much to talk about so far, but feel free on Twitter via @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK.
For a side with Bale, Defoe, Lennon, Dempsey and Dembele on the pitch Spurs look rather short of ideas at the moment. Bale in particular has not made an impression on proceedings so far and he's just failed to keep a Assou-Ekotto pass in-behind Clyne in play.
That chance just seems to have woken Tottenham up a bit and Clint Dempsey's fiercely-struck effort from the edge of the box is well-blocked by a Southampton defender. The fans seem just a bit edgy now. Perhaps they were under the impression this would be an easy three points for their side?
Spurs look half-asleep and they really should have paid for it there. Rickie Lambert is given far too much time in the middle of the park and he picks a superb pass in-between central-defender and left-back for Nathaniel Clyne to burst onto. On the bounce, he really had to hit it on the half-volley but with only Hugo Lloris to beat, the former Crystal Palace youngster can only fire wide of the post. That was a massive chance for the Saints to open the scoring and a huge let-off for Spurs.
Spurs just haven't clicked into gear yet. Their passing has been loose and they haven't got Gareth Bale on the ball yet at all. So far so good from a Southampton point of view.
This has been a very slow start. We haven't even had a sniff of goalmouth action. Surely it's going to get better than this? It does when Defoe rattles a first-time shot into the side-netting from a Bale lay-off.
It's been a tame start at the Lane. Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Adam Lallana have both overhit deliveries straight out of the play. There's a wonderful atmosphere in the stands however, the Spurs supporters are in good voice today.
We're underway here at last.
The players are just about to come out and we're finally set to get underway at White Hart Lane. Remember you get in touch with your thoughts in-match on Twitter via @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK, or on our Facebook page.
So who are the players to watch out for this afternoon? Bale, who in the last week has won both the PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year award (as well as the PFA Young Player award too), is the obvious choice. For Southampton though, I'm interested to see if Luke Shaw can add to his already very good reputation against the pace of the returning Lennon, while Jay Rodriguez has also been in very good form recently, particularly against the bigger sides.
Just under 20 minutes to go now until kick-off. There could be a few goals in this match today. Spurs look full of attacking talent while Southampton, as they have proved this season against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, are capable of causing anyone problems.
We're underway everywhere else in the Premier League but not yet at White Hart Lane. Highly frustrating times for everyone. Will this impact on the players?
So will Tottenham get the win that's expected of them, or will Southampton spoil the party with their attacking style? You can let us know on Twitter, via me @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK or via our Facebook page. Remember, we're delayed by 30 minutes at White Hart Lane.
As for Southampton, they look just about safe from the drop now as they sit in 13th position on 39 points. However, Mauricio Pochettino will not want his team to finish the season too disappointingly, having already gone three matches without a win. He will certainly be expecting a better performance than the one that saw West Brom cruise to a 3-0 victory at St Mary's last week.
Just a reminder, we're delayed by 30 minutes at White Hart Lane due to traffic problems in the surrounding area. That gives us more time to ponder, can Spurs revive a chase for the Champions League that is slowly running out of steam? Gareth Bale may have scored in his last two matches but he still has not quite looked fully-fit after his recent ankle injury. Three points at home here and they will go above fourth-placed Arsenal before the Gunners take on QPR later on this evening.
Two changes to the Spurs side that scrambled a draw at Wigan last week then, with Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon returning to the starting XI. Lennon's return could be vital, his side have certainly missed his pace in recent weeks. Gylfi Sigurdsson is a good player but with all due respect, he certainly does not have the same sort of impact Lennon has on that right wing.
The teams are in already though, despite the delay: Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Huddlestone, Dembele, Dempsey, Bale, Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Adebayor, Naughton, Sigurdsson, Holtby, Caulker, Carroll. Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Hooiveld, Fonte, Shaw, Cork, Steven Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Lallana, Lambert. Subs: Kelvin Davis, Yoshida, Forren, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka, De Ridder, Puncheon. Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England)
Important news from our man at White Hart Lane, Husmukh Kerai: Apparently there there has been a big accident on the M25 and that's the cause of the delay at Spurs. Kick-off moved until 3.30pm.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com UK's play-by-play coverage of Tottenham v Southampton from White Hart Lane. I'm Adam Mazrani and I'll be taking you through proceedings for the next couple of hours. Join in with the debate on Twitter via me, @AdamMazrani or @GoalUK, or via our Facebook page.
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