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Tough test

Darren Bent's header secured a hard-fought draw in Thursday night's friendly against Hercules CF in Alicante, Spain.

Darren Bent's header secured a hard-fought draw in Thursday night's friendly against Hercules CF in Alicante, Spain.

The third pre-season encounter of our Spanish training camp was always going to be the toughest and so it proved with the home side from the Segunda Division of La Liga ahead early and willing to put their collective foot in to defend that lead.

Aaron Lennon might disagree after taking the brunt of it in the first half, but it could be argued that a friendly with an edge to it and few feisty tackles flying about is good for the lads at this stage.

That was certainly the case at the Jose Rico Perez Stadium and it's doubtful that Lennon's marker - left-back Dani Carril - would have still been on the pitch in a normal league match after a couple of crude challenges, one that forced referee Mr Cortes to brandish a yellow card.

Lennon had the last laugh though. The free-kick from that tackle led to a corner, Lennon curled it in and Bent climbed high with Jonathan Woodgate to loop home a header into the far corner with 35 minutes on the clock.

That was the equaliser after we'd made a somewhat sluggish start and fell behind inside five minutes. It was somewhat fortuitous, however, as striker Addison failed to connect as intended with Javi Gonzalez's cross only to see the ball loop off his shoulder and beyond the reach of Heurelho Gomes.

We grew stronger as the half progressed with Bent, Lennon and Huddlestone all close before Bent headed home the equaliser.

Gomes produced the save of the night to deny substitute Santacruz from close range four minutes into the second half but all the notable chances fell to us from that point.

Dos Santos went close twice and Bent once before we created three match-winning chances in the final five minutes. Dimitar Berbatov curled the first just wide, defender Sergia Diaz denied dos Santos with a fine late block and finally, in added time, Jamie O'Hara's free-kick fell to John Bostock who had to take his chance quickly and lashed over.

Hercules CF: Unai Alba, Dani Carril, Sergio, Camara, Javi Gonzalez, Sendoa, Abraham Paz, Exposito, Moran, Adisson, Calero. Subs: Calatuyud, Ruz, Rodri, Farinos, Cesar, Dani Bautista, Sergio Diaz, Santacruz, Raul, Luisao, Sergio Serrano, Efren, Kiko, Celso.

Spurs: Gomes, Gunter, Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, Woodgate, Lennon, Jenas, Huddlestone, dos Santos, Bent, Berbatov. Subs: Jansson, Zokora, Archibald-Henville, Bostock, O'Hara, Townsend, Taarabt, Pekhart.