Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tottenham 1 Wolves 1

With four home games in January in the Premier League it was always likely to happen that Spurs would slip up somewhere through the month and so it proved against Wolves who battled well for their point, assisted once again by some basic refereeing mistakes.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Scorers:  Modric                                         Fletcher 

Team: Friedel; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto (Rose); Lennon (Defoe), Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart, Adebayor  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Kranjcar, Bassong, Liveremore, Pavlyuchenko 

Luka Modric
Disappointment, annoyance and frustration are the main feelings following Spurs home draw with Wolves.   Disappointment that two points were dropped against a team that Spurs should have beaten, annoyance that once again Spurs have lost points due to basic refereeing mistakes and frustration that those dropped points have prevented Spurs from sitting joint top of the League level on points with Manchester City and United.

Scott Parker's return to the side after injury in place of Jake Livermore was the only change from the team that defeated Everton on Wednesday evening.  Former Spurs schoolboy, Michael Kightly started his first League game of the season for Wolves after returning from a loan period with Watford.

Wolves showed their intent for hard work and endeavour from the start and Luka Modric also showed his early ambition of scoring a goal with a shot which passed just wide after four minutes.  The move had started with a good cross-field pass from Rafael Van der Vaart to Aaron Lennon who interpassed with Kyle Walker to set up Modric on the edge of the box.  As was to be expected Tottenham enjoyed the majority of the possession with Wolves working hard, high up the pitch, to deny them space and time.  The visitors tactics were very effective but Younes Kaboul was taking the game to them with powerful surging runs out of defence towards the Wolves area and from one of these runs after seventeen minutes he set up Emmanuel Adebayor who took the ball to the bye-line and pulled it back to Modric but as he tried to get control a defender managed to knock the ball away.

A minute later a Gareth Bale shot was deflected over for a corner as Wolves tackled quickly but the visitors were finding it more difficult to get out of their half as Spurs hemmed them in and started to build up some pressure.  On twenty minutes Modric again shot over following a good run by Lennon.

Then Wolves received just the boost their game plan needed.  On twenty one minutes Wolves were awarded their first, and only, corner.  Walker had carefully marshalled the ball out for a goal kick but the referee incorrectly gave them the corner.  Wolves play lives on corners and free-kicks so the defenders came forward and with poor Spurs defending Johnston got a header on goal.  Brad Friedel made a reflex save but it dropped to Steven Fletcher who poked the ball home from a few yards.  Spurs defenders should have coped with the corner but the referee's decision had cost Spurs and to add insult to injury it was the 1000th Premier League goal Spurs have conceded, the first club to reach that unwanted landmark.

Taking the lead inspired Wolves to maintain their hard work and for a time Spurs showed their annoyance with increased efforts on goal.  Two minutes later Modric found Bale in the centre but his shot went over.  Following good play between Van der Vaart and Adebayor, Bale had another shot blocked.  Van der Vaart had a long range effort deflected for another corner and then with over half an hour gone a Benoit Assou-Ekotto cross was headed out by a defender to Modric on the edge of the area but the goalkeeper saved his shot easily.

As Spurs pushed for a goal Wolves saw greater opportunities to counter attack and in the five minutes before half-time they had two goal scoring attempts - a shot wide and one over by Kightly.  Spurs retaliated with a shot from Kaboul which was saved and a goal disallowed for offside.  Bale had a shot which could possibly have been going in, touched into the net by Adebayor who was incorrectly given offside.  This is the third occasion since early December that Adebayor has had goals incorrectly disallowed for off-side - at Stoke and against Chelsea.

The half ended with a free-kick from Van der Vaart being caught by the goalkeeper.  Wolves had the interval lead when if the refereeing decisions had been correct Spurs would have been one goal to the good.

Spurs started the second half determined to get on level terms as Bale shot over but poor defending allowed Frampong a shot which Friedel saved.  Then on fifty minutes Modric scored.  It was a goal similar in creation to the one against West Brom.  Van der Vaart received the ball in the area and passed out to Bale on the edge of the box and he played it across the area for Modric to score from twenty five yards.

Three minutes later the goalkeeper saved Wolves when stopping a shot from Modric and the follow up from Lennon.  On the hour Bale headed a Assou-Ekotto cross over and then two minutes later he headed a Lennon cross towards the centre but neither Van der Vaart nor Adebayor could get a scoring touch.  Van der Vaart put a free kick just wide as Spurs searched for the goal to put them ahead.  Bale and Walker both shot over and then the goalkeeper saved with his feet from Jermain Defoe who had replaced Lennon with seventeen minutes remaining.

Spurs continued to press as Walker had a shot blocked and Modric shot over.  The last opportunity to get a winner came in the final minute of added time but Bale's free-kick sailed over the bar.

Wolves deserved their point for their determined play and looked dangerous when they broke from defence but there is that annoying thought that Spurs were deprived of the three points by refereeing decisions going against them.  All the papers today are focusing on the 'Spurs fall short' theme in their attempt to go level on points with City and United but overlooking the refereeing decisions.  Similar decisions against Stoke City and Chelsea have now cost Spurs seven points.

The result now makes next weekend's match even more important for Spurs as they need to prevent City opening up an eight point gap, unless Wigan can do a 'Wolves' tomorrow evening. 


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