Our hopes of a top four Premier League finish were dealt another blow after we were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Blackpool at the Lane.
Manchester City’s defeat at Everton earlier in the day meant that victory over the Tangerines would have taken us to within four points of Roberto Mancini’s men ahead of our visit to Eastlands on Tuesday.
But after dominating for large spells, the spirited visitors took the lead 15 minutes from time through a Charlie Adam penalty – his second in quick succession after a first was saved by Heurelho Gomes.
Jermain Defoe’s strike two minutes from time, however, gave us hope of a dramatic comeback, with plenty of stoppage time allowed following a bad-looking injury to Gareth Bale midway through the second half.
But we failed to find the winner we so dearly needed in what was our sixth draw in the last eight league games, leaving us trailing City by six points and only one ahead of Liverpool, who play at Fulham on Monday.
The game represented a big chance for young Danny Rose, making his first appearance since that famous strike against Arsenal last April, starting at left-back.
Defoe also came back into the side to partner Roman Pavlyuchenko up front, with Aaron Lennon and Vedran Corluka dropping to the bench.
We looked well up for it from the start. This was summed up when captain Michael Dawson stole in front of Sergey Kornilenko to intercept, carried the ball forward and hit a deflected shot inches over after six minutes.
Bale then forced Matthew Gilks into his first save of the match on 13 minutes with a low shot, and Younes Kaboul was only inches away from connecting with Rafael van der Vaart’s cross following the resultant corner.
Ian Evatt then threw himself in front of Defoe volley inside the box on 17 minutes before Luka Modric had a shot from the edge of the area deflected just wide.
But around the 25 minute mark, the visitors did put us under a spell of pressure, with Sandro, Gomes and Dawson all forced to make stops from Kornilenko, Adam and DJ Campbell in quick succession, before Kornilenko headed Adam’s resultant corner over the bar unmarked in front of goal.
It was a storm that we weathered and we were soon back on top, going agonisingly close just after the half hour mark when Bale’s ball across the face of goal was just out of both Defoe’s and Van der Vaart’s reach.
And then, after Gomes had parried away a stinging Adam 30-yarder, we had the ball in the back of the net when Defoe latched onto Modric’s reverse pass and crashed home. Unfortunately, the striker was ruled offside.
Further dangerous balls went across the face of Blackpool’s goal before the end of the half, from both Bale and the impressive Rose, but nobody could connect with either and the score remained goal-less at the break.
After the interval we seemed to step up a gear in our efforts to break the deadlock. Aaron Lennon had been introduced for Pavlyuchenko and made an immediate impact when he broke on the counter and played inside for Van der Vaart, who lost his footing when shooting.
The Dutchman then turned creator when he beat two men to get to the by-line and pull back for Bale to fire over from inside the box.
But again, Blackpool showed that they had something in their locker when David Vaughan burst forward and hit a good effort inches wide of Gomes’ near post from 25 yards on 51 minutes.
Bale went similarly close, however, with a drilled effort from the edge of the box shortly afterwards, before both Defoe and Modric had chances leading up to the hour mark.
On 64 minutes came the game’s turning point. Bale advanced down the left wing and got through a challenge from Keith Southern before Adam came in to intervene.
His boot caught the Welshman on the ankle and seemed to turn it in the turf, leaving the winger stricken. It looked a nasty one, and he left the field on a stretcher to a great ovation. If it is to be the end of that man’s season, what a campaign it has been for the PFA Player of the Year.
Peter Crouch was the man to replace him but the atmosphere around the ground had become somewhat subdued when things went from bad to worse around 15 minutes from time.
We survived a scare when a Blackpool break down the right resulted in the ball being squared for Campbell in front of goal, only for Gomes to get down and make a terrific low save.
But from the resultant corner, Dawson handled and referee Lee Probert pointed to the spot. Adam stepped up, but his spot kick was brilliantly read by Gomes, who got down to his left to turn it round the post.
After that difficult afternoon for the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge a week ago, what a moment it must have been for the goalkeeper.
But it quickly turned sour when he struggled to claim the resultant corner and ended up bringing down Gary Taylor-Fletcher in the process. This time Adam made no mistake from the spot.
It knocked the stuffing out of us initially, and substitute Jason Puncheon could have put the game beyond our reach with three minutes to go had he not sliced his shot wide after good work from Campbell.
But suddenly, it was game on again when Modric teed up Defoe to crash a shot home from the edge of the box and level things up.
There was real hope when the fourth official’s board showed six minutes of added time thanks to Bale’s injury.
Niko Kranjcar replaced Rose – and we all know what the Croatian has up his sleeve when it comes to dramatic late winners…
But there was to be no such finale this time, and the scores remained level. A thrilling encounter, but a great chance to really put the pressure on Man City missed.
Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Kaboul, Gallas, Dawson, Rose (Kranjcar, 90); Van der Vaart, Sandro, Modric, Bale (Crouch, 65); Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (Lennon, 46)
Subs not used: Cudicini, Corluka, Bassong, Jenas
Goals: Defoe (88)
Blackpool (4-3-3): Gilks; Eardley (Beattie, 90), Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey; Southern, Vaughan, Adam; Taylor-Fletcher, Kornilenko (Puncheon, 46), Campbell
Subs not used: Kingson, Cathcart, Phillips, Reid, Ormerod
Goals: Adam (pen 76)
Referee: Lee Probert