Our hopes of closing the gap at the top of the Premier League table suffered a real blow on Monday night as we were held to a 1-1 draw by West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane.
Although we completely dominated the first half and took the lead through an own goal from Craig Dawson, it was a different story after the interval as the visitors grew into the game and found an equaliser when Dawson scored in the right goal with 18 minutes remaining.
We pushed forwards in the closing stages in search of the win but just couldn’t create that one chance we needed to snatch the points and had to settle for the draw, leaving us seven points behind Leicester City with just three games remaining.
It was no surprise to see Mauricio Pochettino name the same starting XI that beat Stoke City 4-0 seven days ago and, with a week’s break under our belts, we made a blistering start to the game.
Playing with our usual high tempo, we pushed the visitors back from the kick-off and for the opening 15 minutes, Albion were literally pegged back in their own half as we created a host of chances, with only Boaz Myhill preventing us from taking an early lead.
He made his first save after just five minutes, diving to tip Christian Eriksen’s 25-yard free-kick around the post, and the keeper produced another superb stop two minutes later. Harry Kane played the ball in to Dele Alli inside the area, received the return on the run and flicked goalwards but Myhill pushed the ball onto the post and the danger was cleared.
Eriksen went close again on 13 minutes from another free-kick, this time slightly wider left than the previous one and awarded after Stephane Sessegnon brought down Danny Rose. The Dane aimed for the far corner on this occasion but it was just too high and clipped the top of the crossbar.
Myhill was there again to deny Kane’s low 25-yard drive before the visitors threatened for the first time with 29 minutes on the clock. Dawson got down the right flank and cut a low cross back which found Craig Gardner on the edge of the box but he blazed well over.
Despite that opportunity we had completely dominated possession and chances, and finally made one pay on 33 minutes from yet another free-kick. Eriksen once again stood over the set-piece and sent a teasing cross to the edge of the six-yard box, Jan Vertonghen and Dawson both dived towards the ball and it touched off the Baggies defender and crept over the line.
It was just the breakthrough we needed and meant the excellent atmosphere cranked up a couple more notches as the home faithful enjoyed the performance the team were producing at this stage. But it also meant Albion had to come out a bit more and they showed a bit more attacking intent in the closing minutes of the half.
Claudio Yacob had two efforts blocked from a cleared corner, the second deflecting through to Hugo Lloris to make a comfortable save, before they threatened again in stoppage time, James McClean cutting onto his left foot on the edge of the area but seeing his shot blocked by Rose for a corner, which came to nothing as the half ended.
The visitors also had the first opportunities of the second period, Sessegnon’s shot deflecting out for a corner from which Jonas Olsson headed well over, while Gardner lined up a free-kick from 25 yards out which he got over the wall but it was straight at Lloris.
It was almost 2-0 on 57 minutes as we streaked forwards down the left flank. Erik Lamela found Alli who flicked it on to Eriksen, he burst into the area and delivered a pass which Lamela poked goalwards, beating Myhill but not the far post and Kane couldn’t get to the rebound.
Albion were certainly posing more of a threat than they had done in the first period and so nearly levelled the scores when Gardner sent over a cross from the left, Salomon Rondon climbed high to win the header but it went a yard wide of Lloris’ post.
At the other end, Eriksen and Mousa Dembele both fired shots just off target as the game started to swing from end to end. That was epitomised perfectly when Albion had a corner which was cleared and within seconds Kyle Walker had played a ball over the top for Eriksen breaking from deep but Myhill raced off his line to head clear 30 yards from goal.
Back came the visitors, Rondon rifling a blistering drive towards goal which Lloris did magnificently to tip over the bar but, from the resulting corner, Dawson beat everyone in the air to nod into the back of the net with 72 minutes gone.
It was a real blow and one from which we never really recovered. While we had plenty of the ball in the closing minutes, we were struggling to create chances and were almost caught on the break a couple of times, Sessegnon twice blasting wide.
We applied some late pressure but couldn’t find that second breakthrough and there was a real sense of disappointment at the final whistle.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier (Mason 76), Dembele, Lamela (Son 85) Alli (Chadli 90), Eriksen, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Davies, Trippier, Carroll.
West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Myhill, Dawson, Olsson, McAuley, Evans, Gardner, Yacob, McClean, Fletcher (c), Sessegnon (Sandro 90), Rondon. Substitutes (not used): Palmer, Chester, Anichebe, Lambert, Roberts, Leko.
Goals: Spurs – Dawson (OG) 33; West Brom – Dawson 72.
Yellow cards: West Brom - Evans.
Referee: Mike Jones.