MATCH REPORT: SPURS 4, VILLA 4
The 125 party nearly went flat at White Hart Lane as Aston Villa played the role of gatecrashers before a stoppage time goal from Younes Kaboul clinched a point on a night of drama in N17.
The 125 party nearly went flat at White Hart Lane as Aston Villa played the role of gatecrashers before a stoppage time goal from Younes Kaboul clinched a point on a night of drama in N17.Dimitar Berbatov ended his recent goals shortage and the evening appeared to be going with a swing, but the visitors hit back with three goals before the break and added to their advantage just before the hour mark.
There was a big surge to restore parity and goals from Pascal Chimbonda and a penalty from Robbie Keane raised hopes before Kaboul's thumping intervention.
There was a magical beginning to the night with the introduction of the legends back onto the Lane stage. Blue and white flags swirled in the stands and it really was quite a sight and a special time to be inside the stadium taking it all in.
There followed a minute's applause in honour of the great Bill Nicholson before the business of the game took over everyone's attention. It was nearly grabbed in some style by Teemu Tainio in the third minute when he galloped onto a Berbatov throughball and arrowed in a shot that unfortunately fizzed just over.
Villa then posed some problems with quality deliveries from the left with danger averted, but it was a set piece - as a result of a Craig Gardner chop on Gareth Bale - that bought a far more stinging delivery from Tom Huddlestone, one that Martin Laursen was forced to clear virtually off his line.
Paul Robinson then had to be at his best with a reflex palm away to divert Ashley Young's thumping effort away at the other end. Moments later Scott Carson was forced twice into action, but could do nothing when the deadlock was broken with 19 minutes on the clock.
A devilish corner from Huddlestone cleared the head of the advancing Michael Dawson before being met with clinical precision by Berbatov with a downward header that rattled the net and set the flags waving again.
The joy was shortlived - less than two minutes - as a Gareth Barry corner fell out of the clutches of Robinson, came off Laursen and onto Pascal Chimbonda, before coming back to the Dane to shoot into an empty net.
The party had a real dampener put on it after 32 minutes when an unmarked Barry crossed into the six yard box, which was followed by a header back across goal by Zat Knight and, almost in pinball fashion, the ball struck Laursen and he was able to claim another goal.
It got worse with 39 minutes on the clock when a long clearance from Carson found its way to the feet of Gabriel Agbonlahor, who then got the better of Dawson before driving low across Robinson and into the net.
Villa had the first chance of the second half from a Young free-kick that was half fielded by Robinson and hunted down by Luke Moore, who then went down claiming a penalty.
Confidence had drained away from the side and passes were going astray that were being pinged around with authority in the opening stages. It was time for Jermain Defoe and he was duly introduced with 53 minutes on the clock in place of Tainio.
Matters just got a whole lot worse on 58 minutes following a Younes Kaboul foul on Agbonlahor on the edge of the area. It appeared that Barry would be stepping up, but it was Gardner who charged through to take the kick and he proceeded to drill low past the wall to Robinson's right and into the net.
Defoe came close to cutting the deficit at the other end after being played in by Berbatov, but was denied by the feet of Carson. There was nothing Carson could do on 68 minutes when a Bale dash down the left resulted in a cross that was swept onto the inside of the post by Defoe. Thankfully the rebound fell kindly for Chimbonda to strike home from an angle and make it an interesting final 20 minutes.
Darren Bent came off the bench to replace Berbatov with the boys really rallying to try and salvage something from the evening. The summer signing could have netted his second of the season if he had connected with a Bale cross that fell almost under the crossbar, but Laursen managed to clear off the line.
It was game on with ten minutes to go when a penalty was awarded after substitute Marlon Harewood flattened Bent inside the area. Keane stepped up and calmly stroked past Carson to cut Villa's advantage to 4-3.
The party was back in full swing and Defoe did find the net, but from an offside position, before Steed Malbranque was the last change in place of Lennon. The boys kept knocking and stoppage time was ticking away - enter Mr Kaboul.