After last week’s much-needed victory against Norwich I was confident we’d get something against Spurs – despite their impressive 5-1 demolition of Sunderland on Monday night.
The kick off at The Hawthorns was delayed by 7 minutes to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. The silence was observed impeccably by Albion’s supporters, yet marred by visiting Spurs fans who insisted on chanting as others paid their respects.
Pepe Mel was forced into one change from the side which beat Norwich with Chris Brunt coming in for the injured James Morrison – who missed out all together. Albion, for the second home game running, came flying out of the blocks. Seconds into the game, Albion were in front. Amalfitano did well down the right and Vydra fired home from close range after Lloris had failed to handle a cross.
It got better for Albion minutes later. Amalfitano’s cross was headed skywards, Brunt steadied himself and fired the ball expertly into the far corner. Spurs were shell-shocked and Albion looked completely dominate.
Albion should’ve been awarded a penalty in the 11th minute. Vydra ran on to a long ball and was about to volley goalwards before being bundled over by Vlad Chriches. Referee Neil Swarbrick waved away the appeals.
Spurs’ first opportunity came when Harry Kane could only bundled Danny Rose’s cross wide from point-blank range. In their next attack, Spurs were awarded a penalty. The ball was played to Rose who toed the ball away from Amalfitano and fell under his challenge. Swarbrick blew his whistle but was unsure whether to award a foul or penalty. After his linesman failed to signal a spot kick, the official pointed for a penalty. Adebayor stepped forward but his weak penalty was easily saved by Ben Foster.
After Amalfitano had shot straight at Lloris, Albion scored a third. Stephane Sessegnon sprinted past Chriches before firing underneath the Spurs ‘keeper. The Baggies were 3-0 up and coasting.
All Albion had to do was get to half time. See out the half and take the sting out of the game. But, in typical Albion fashion, Spurs went and scored to give them a lifeline. Kyle Naughton caught Liam Ridgewell napping and his cross was deflected over Ben Foster by Jonas Olsson’s out-stretched leg.
After the break
As expected, Tottenham started the second half on the front foot. Foster did well to palm Lennon’s cross around the post for a corner before making another excellent save when denying Christian Erikson from a free kick.
Pepe Mel had saw enough and called on Claudio Yacob for Sessegnon. It was a strange decision by Mel to change the shape of the side so early into the second half. I said at the time that Yacob had been brought on ten minutes too early. As it turned out, I was right after wave after wave of Spurs attack began with Vydra unable to hold the ball up front on his own. It was only a matter of time before Spurs scored a second.
It came in the 70th minute. Lennon turned Ridgewell and pulled the ball back for Harry Kane. The young English striker header somehow found the corner of the net with Reid and McAuley unable to scramble the ball away. It was going to be a long 20 minutes.
Berahino came on for Vydra but Albion really needed Victor Anichebe. Time and again the ball kept coming back as Albion struggled to hang on. A substitution did come, but it was Craig Dawson for the injured Jonas Olsson.
Albion looked like they were going to hang on. But the referee signalled six minutes of injury time. Yes, SIX! Four minutes in, the inevitable happened. Lennon drilled the ball across the box, Reid was unable to get tight enough to Eriksen who blasted the ball into the top corner. Heartbreak again for Albion.
Before the kick off I said I would’ve taken a point. However, the nature of the draw meant it felt like another defeat. Albion’s first half performance was excellent. The team played with purpose and intensity that Tottenham simply couldn’t match. However, once again this season, lady luck deserted us with the own goal. Had we held on to half time, it’s unlikely Spurs would’ve come back. But the goal gave them a lifeline.
Mel’s decision to bring on Claudio Yacob so early into the second half played in to Spurs’ hands. Sessegnon was playing well and Albion looked threatening on the break. But his decision to leave Vydra alone up front meant Albion could not stop the Spurs’ onslaught. As it was, we were unable to hold on for 30 minutes – even with a two goal lead.
Had we hung on, we’d have gone above Villa and onto 35 points. But with Fulham and Cardiff both winning, Albion are now only three points above the relegation zone and face Manchester City next. It really is squeaky bum time.
COME ON YOU BAGGIES
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