Tottenham chalked up another draw against Roy Hodgson’s workmanlike West Brom to leave their Champions League ambitions in tatters.
With Manchester City not in action until they travel to Blackburn on Monday night, Spurs had the opportunity to edge themselves into fourth place in the Premier League but a stunning late goal from substitute Simon Cox left the home side stunned.
Spurs were in the driving seat for the entire game, despite conceding an early opener to Peter Odemwingie, with great efforts from outside of the box from both Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe either side of the interval handing them the lead.
However, substitute Cox’s superbly bent equaliser levelled matters leaving West Brom on 40-points and with apparent Premier League safety.
Roy Hodgson opted to make one alteration from the team who ran out 3-1 losers to Chelsea last week, with on-loan striker Carlos Vela coming in at the expense of James Morrison, after the young Mexican came off the bench to produce an exciting cameo against the Premier League champions.
PFA Player of the Year Gareth Bale overcame his midweek injury fears to start for Spurs, with Harry Redknapp exploring the little-used combination of Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavyluchenko up top.
The game started in a haphazard manner perhaps befitting two clubs who were desperate for the points at this stage of the season. Though, as soon as the frantic opening pace settled down, Carlos Vela produced the first real moment of quality, which lead to West Brom’s opener.
The on-loan striker received the ball out of the left and did well to bend an excellent pass inside to Odemwingie. The Nigerian still had a lot to do, outmuscling Benoit Assou-Ekotto and striking the ball clinically inside the far post from the edge of the box.
Worse news soon followed for Spurs with the fact that Assou-Ekotto picked up a knock during the goal, with the home side forced to bring on Sandro to replace him, with Gareth Bale dropping back to fill in at left back.
Spurs looked shell-shocked from their slow start, with the home fans becoming increasingly frustrated as their side seemed unable to produce the quality needed to break down the visitors.
They went close several times, with Gareth Bale producing streams of probing deliveries before William Gallas misjudged his timing to head Rafael van der Vaart’s vicious free-kick over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Spurs' relentless pressure soon paid off just before the half hour mark when Pavlyuchenko shifted the ball onto his left foot from 18 yards out and smashed it in off the far post, giving Scott Carson absolutely no chance.
The chance to go one up moments later was missed when Bale bent his free-kick from a promising position just over the bar.
Van der Vaart then forced Carson into a smart reactionary save when he drove viciously with his left foot from an impossible angle and with the goal gaping, Pavyluchenko could only wastefully drill the rebound over.
The home side’s relentless pressure continued until the referee blew for half-time, with a weary looking Albion looking eager to regroup.
The second half quickly settled into the pattern that was firmly established in the first. However, West Brom sent out a firm reminder of how dangerous they are on the counter.
Odemwingie leapt well to send a firm header back across goal but Heurelho Gomes produced a quite fantastic save, plunging to his right, to claw the ball out and away from danger.
Much to Redknapp’s dismay, West Brom began to assert themselves and progressively got better as the game went on. Odemwingie continued to make a nuisance of himself, driving wide from the edge of the box and getting into some handy positions inside the Spurs’ box.
The introduction of Aaron Lennon on the hour mark sparked some much needed vigour into the home side’s play and within moments the nippy winger won a free-kick on the edge of the box. This time Van der Vaart stepped up but more-or-less replicated Bale’s first half effort from near identical range.
The breakthrough came almost instantenously, when Jermain Defoe picked the ball up and drove at the heart of the West Brom defence. He ably weaved in and out, before striking a left footed drive into the bottom corner of the net with aplomb.
The strike completed a century of goals in the Premier League and for Spurs for the forward who had looked short of confidence all afternoon.
James Morrison was brought on by the visitors with the hope of providing some new attacking impetus of their own and this nearly paid dividends if not for Michael Dawson’s brave block from the substitute’s close range effort.
The game showed no signs of grinding to a dull close though, with an invigorated Defoe dancing into the box but waiting too long to pull the trigger before Brunt went close at the other end when he flashed a shot just wide of the upright.
It took a moment of total class from substitute Simon Cox to bring the Baggies level though, stepping onto the ball on the edge of the box and sending his effort effortlessly into the top corner, leaving the White Hart Lane faithful in stunned disbelief.
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