Tottenham rely on Jermain Jenas as West Brom fall short
02 May 2009 06:31
Not that Tony Mowbray will take much solace from that. A week ago, his philosophy paid off against Sunderland but Albion reverted to type, playing neat, passing football and coming away with nothing.
Tottenham may have won the spoils - 1-0 is becoming a familiar scoreline at White Hart Lane - but if it hadn't been for Heurelho Gomes' saves and several lucky breaks, Tottenham's chase for an unlikely European spot would now be all but extinguished.
Middlesbrough's lunchtime defeat had given Albion something to bite on in their desperate quest to make up ground. Four early corners were a sign of their intent and when Jonas Olsson headed Chris Brunt's corner goalwards, only an acrobatic save from Gomes denied the giant Swedish defender.
With Spurs struggling to find their fluency, Albion took heart. They edged the first half yet ended it behind, Jermain Jenas' sweet strike finding the corner though Scott Carson appeared to be unsighted as he dived late.
If the visitors felt hard done by at the interval, they were the victims of more misfortune just after the break when Marc-Antoine Fortune's goalbound effort deflected off Vedran Corluka straight on to Gomes' post.
Mowbray's problem was not enough firepower and he ditched 4-5-1 and went two up front by bringing on Jay Simpson. As the game became increasingly functional, the Spurs crowd roared for a substitute of their own in Jermain Defoe and Harry Redknapp duly obliged though the decision to take off Roman Pavyluchenko was greeted with a chorus of boos. Odd since the Russian had contributed few telling touches.
West Brom cursed their luck again as Shelton Martis' header was cleared off the line by, over all people, Defoe. Gomes just managed to swot the spinning ball to safety, then rescued Spurs again from Robert Koren's deflected effort. Late on, Defoe had a rasping drive for 2-0 wrongly disallowed for offside while Aaron Lennon smacked a fierce shot against the bar. But that hardly told the full story.
'It was probably harsh on us,' said Mowbray. 'The difference today was game knowledge. Theirs was better than ours. But we do try to play forward and be brave in order to make up for this.
When you are a team like ours, sometimes you can't quite get it right because you simply don't have the quality. But you have to be true to your beliefs.'
At halftime, members of Tottenham's 1961 double-winning team were introduced to the fans. Spurs have played some exhilarating football under Redknapp but the great old-timers watched a fixture that hardly did justice to the club's great traditions.
'I've seen a lot of West Brom and they keep the ball very well box to box so they didn't surprise me,' said Redknapp. 'Tony has done brilliantly on limited resources. Who are half his players? He's picked them up without spending serious money. In terms of Europe, it's getting to hard for us. I think we may need six more points.'