West Brom 1-1 Spurs
Report from The Hawthorns
05 December 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
It was honours even after a real scrap at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
A moment of inspiration from Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld in the first half was cancelled out by James McClean by half-time and that’s how it stayed at The Hawthorns.
West Brom sat in, got numbers back and made it difficult for us to create clear-cut chances.
We probed and probed away but our forward players were often crowded out while, at the other end, there was always the threat of a set-piece falling West Brom’s way.
That’s exactly what happened 15 minutes from time but Hugo Lloris was there to save the day, denying Jonas Olsson from point-blank range.
Mauricio Pochettino made two changes from the team that drew with Chelsea last weekend. Dele Alli returned from suspension to take the place of the injured Ryan Mason, while Erik Lamela was preferred to Heung-Min Son in attacking midfield.
The Hawthorns is known for being the highest ground of the 92 in the Premier League and Football League at an altitude of 168 metres and there was no escaping the biting wind on a wintry afternoon in the Midlands.
It was our first trip outside of London in the Premier League since October 25 following a string of London derbies, while the home side too are becoming accustomed to taking on teams from the capital after beating Arsenal and drawing with West Ham in their two previous fixtures.
We looked fairly comfortable in the opening exchanges but almost fell behind in the seventh minute when Salomon Rondon powered through to get on the end of a long ball but he blazed his shot high and wide.
Following his suspension last week, Alli looked fresh-legged and he broke the deadlock with 15 minutes gone.
Alderweireld has shown on several occasions this season his fondness for a raking diagonal ball and when he launched a trademark ball forward in the wind, Alli gambled to run in between the two central defenders and showed great composure to volley past Boaz Myhill. It was a fitting end to a perfectly weighted pass that caught the home side by surprise after long spells of patient build-up play.
There was a large number of travelling fans behind the goal we defended in the first half and they were in fine voice.
It was fairly even following the goal with our lads enjoying more of the ball but with West Brom looking a threat on the counter, although both teams were guilty at times of giving away possession sloppily.
The hosts had started to win the territorial battle and found a way to draw level with five minutes of the half remaining. They worked the ball neatly down the right-hand side and Darren Fletcher crossed for McClean, who thumped a header past Lloris.
It gave the home side a boost but they suffered a blow three minutes later when Stephane Sessegnon was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury.
Christian Eriksen fired over from distance in the dying stages of the half but the two sides went in level at the break with the game finely balanced.
We started the second half brightly and Harry Kane almost put us back in front when he latched onto Alli’s scooped pass but his effort was hacked behind for a corner as he went past Myhill.
Lamela then saw a header saved from a corner as we pushed forward in search of a second.
Danny Rose was on hand at the other end to spoil a chance for Craig Gardner with a quite brilliant saving tackle after Rondon had tangled with Jan Vertonghen.
It was certainly a more entertaining game in the second half with both sides leaving space for the other to exploit as the game ticked past the hour mark.
Mousa Dembele was becoming more of an authority in the middle of the park with his surging runs and he forced a good low save from Myhill with 25 minutes remaining.
That sparked our best spell of the game as we passed and probed deep inside the Baggies’ half.
The home side were a threat though and we were grateful for the reactions of Lloris, who produced a stunning close-range save to thwart Olsson on 75 minutes before Kyle Walker stepped in with a vital interception two minutes later to deny Rondon.
Lloris was again to the rescue on 78 minutes as he kept out a low shot from Rondon with the balance tipping firmly towards the home side.
Alli made way for Clinton Njie with 10 minutes to play but chances were still at a premium.
McClean's low cross for the Baggies evaded everyone in the area in the 90th minute and with no further score in stoppage time, the points were shared.
Mauricio Pochettino said
“We had a tough team in front of us and tough conditions to deal with,” reflected Mauricio.
“Every time we were in possession they had 10 men behind the ball and that made it difficult for us. The conditions didn’t help either.
“But you know, sometimes in the season you have games like this and you can win or lose. I think it was a mature performance from the players.
“The effort was brilliant from the team but we are all disappointed because the feeling is that we dropped two points. We’re not happy, not upset, but in-between.”
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Walker, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose; Dier, Dembele, Alli (Njie 79), Eriksen, Lamela (Son 65); Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Onomah.
West Brom (5-4-1): Myhill, Dawson, Olsson, Evans, McAuley, Brunt; Sessegnon (Gardner 44), Morrison, Fletcher, McClean; Rondon. Substitutes (not used): Lindegaard, Chester, Anichebe, Lambert, Berahino, McManaman.
Goals: West Brom – McClean 39; Spurs – Alli 15.
Yellow cards: West Brom – Morrison 57, Gardner 73, McClean 83; Spurs – Kane 75, Dembele 81.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.