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Nik of time!

Posted on 20 March 2010  - 12:00

Goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen and Niko Kranjcar secured a memorable 2-1 victory over Stoke City on Saturday.

Nik of time!

Goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen and Niko Kranjcar secured a memorable 2-1 victory over Stoke City on Saturday.

The two second half goals, either side of a penalty leveller by Matthew Etherington, were the product of a performance of both graft and guile - a display which makes it six Premier League away wins this season.

Two changes were made by Harry Redknapp for this collision on a wet and windy afternoon at the Britannia Stadium. Peter Crouch and Younes Kaboul were drafted into the side in place of the injured Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios, who started on the bench.

There was a Rory Delap sideline launch inside the first 30 seconds just to get his arms working - Michael Dawson dealt with the threat admirably.

The conditions at pitch level were blustery and the opening 15 minutes of the game was very much the same, lots of huff and puff from Stoke in their attempts to ruffle feathers in the early exchanges.

There was another injury scare when Gareth Bale, who appeared to be getting into his stride, slid and had to receive treatment for a knee injury. Thankfully he was quickly back in action.

Thomas Sorensen saw action for the first time on 18 minutes when Niko Kranjcar unleashed a shot from outside the area. The Dane got his body behind the shot but could not hold and only just grabbed second time around before the on-rushing Crouch got a toe to the ball.

Bale was on the receiving end of some robust shackling, with Ricardo Fuller booked for chopping him down - not the first time he was felled in the opening 20 minutes.

Abdoulaye Faye headed narrowly wide from a Dave Kitson flick on in what was probably the first real high alert.

Roman Pavlyuchenko pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem just after Heurelho Gomes was forced into a sprawling save to thwart a Kitson header. The Russian was replaced by Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Bale came mighty close to sprinting past two defenders just before the break and was only stopped in his tracks deep inside the Stoke area, a few moments before flighting over the bar from a free-kick.

After a fairly torrid first half, the second opened with Crouch lobbing in the direction of Gudjohnsen, who held off the challenge of Faye before smashing past Sorensen to send the travelling thousands into raptures.

Dean Whitehead, who was carded for a nasty challenge on Luka Modric in the first half, repeated the offence on the same player moments after the goal. A red card was duly issued for a spiteful raised foot.

Modric then exchanged passes with Gudjohnsen before sprinting through and firing in a shot that Sorensen did well to hold on to.

Danny Higginbotham threw his body in the way of goalbound Kranjcar effort after more fine work from Gudjohnsen, who was clearly in the mood for more goals - he was inches away from nodding home a Kaboul centre minutes later. Bale also just failed to connect with a devilish second cross from Kaboul.

After such a period of pressure it was a severe blow to see the scores level on 63 minutes - Benoit Assou-Ekotto was adjudged to have climbed over Kitson in the area. Former Spur Etherington finished calmly from the spot.

Stoke should have taken the lead on 69 minutes when Crouch headed a cross away straight to Delap, who miscued in the direction of Fuller and the big striker then shot wildly over with the goal at his mercy.

Bale was very close to making contact with a Kaboul drilled cross with 15 minutes remaining before the lead was taken again in scintillating fashion.

Bale played in Assou-Ekotto down the left and the full-back pushed on and squared away from goal in the direction of Gudjohnsen. The striker elected to cleverly decline the invitation to shoot and left for the on-coming Kranjcar who made no mistake, smacking past Sorensen to make it 2-1.

Stoke made a couple of changes but the next big chance fell to Bale after a dash down the left, the Welshman drilling across the face of goal.

Gomes came to the rescue when a Kaboul header back came up short and the goalkeeper's legs got there before substitute Mamady Sidibe.

The boys were having to brave it out as we entered stoppage time and even Sorensen was joining the attack. The outcome was a hard fought and richly-deserved three points.

Spurs: Gomes; Corluka, Bassong, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar (Livermore, 90), Modric, Kaboul, Bale; Crouch, Pavlyuchenko (Gudjohnsen, 36). Unused subs: Alnwick, Dervite, Townsend, Parrett, Palacios.