Stoke cheated out of point
Attendance: 27, 243
After Frank Lampard`s clear goal against Germany in the World Cup, Fifa had hoped that the call for Video Technology would die down over the coming months but today only further demonstrated the need for assistance. Stoke lost 2-1 to Spurs today but all would have been different the referee had seen Jon Walters header late on that clearly crossed the line. Instead the ref, standing just five yards away with a clear view, bottled it giving Spurs their first win of the season and Stoke`s second defeat.
A frustrating game saw the visitors take the lead on two separate occassions thanks to terrible defending and some sublime finishing on Spurs behalf, with Gareth Bale grabbing both goals either side of Ricardo Fuller`s equaliser. Despite playing poorly throughout the Potters were unlucky not to score several second half goals as Tuncay went close twice. More bad news followed the game as it was revealed that Mama Sidibe will miss most of the season after snapping his Achilles tendon.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis made only one key change from the side that disappointed at Wolves last Saturday. He deemed Kenwyne Jones unavailable to make his home debut and instead handed a full debut to Jon Walters who signed from Ipswich in mid-week. Tottenham went in with several top players injured including strikers Jermaine Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane.
The hosts made a slow start to the game as Spurs controlled the ball and passed impressively as they made the extra man in midfield count with a 4-5-1 formation. Aaron Lennon, who was outstanding, and Gareth Bale had the better of full-backs Robert Huth and Danny Collins whose lack of pace caused all kind of problems.
Rory Delap had the first effort on goal as a deep cross found it way through to the Irishman who failed to control a difficult volley, sending it high and wide. Jon Walters also fired a volley from distance straight down the keeper`s throat and the Britannia faithful warmed to the new signing.
But Spurs took the lead after 19 minutes through Gareth Bale. A mazy run from Aaron Lennon had the Potters defence tied in a knot and he played a precise through ball to Bale, who timed his run to perfection. The Welshman`s shot was smothered by the onrushing Sorensen but Crouch was there to head it goal wards, unfortunately Ryan Shawcross, who cleared the ball off the line, headed it straight into Bale`s face and it nestled in the back of the net, A true fluke goal.
This woke Stoke up and within minutes they were level. A deep corner from Matty Etherington was knocked back across goal from Abdoulaye Faye for Fuller to stab the ball past Gomes from 6 yards out. This raised the atmosphere in the Britannia and the Potters looked to take the game to Spurs. Fuller had a fine first half performance and had a golden opportunity to grab his second moments later, when a neat turn bought him time and space in front of goal but his low shot was well handled by Gomes. We saw the best and worst of the colourful Jamaican as later he kicked out at England international Michael Dawson and so easily could have been sent off.
Stoke`s pressure came to nothing as an absolute stunning goal re-established Spurs lead. There was mixed feelings of horror at Stoke`s defending, but admiration for Bale`s fine volley. Again it was Lennon who created the goal as his pace and tight control allowed him to drift past defenders and a clipped ball to the back post found bale waiting. In acres of space, this makes you wonder 'Where on earth was Robert Huth?`, Bale cracked a volley into the top corner across Sorensen giving him no chance. A goal that deserved to win any football match by the in-form Bale gave Tottenham a sudden lift.
After the second goal the Potters sole aim was to survive to half-time but Harry Redknapp`s men should have added a third when Jermaine Jenas, a rumoured Stoke target, ghosted into the box unmarked but couldn`t convert Bale`s cross from close range. A scratchy finish to the half but nonetheless the Potters held on to within a goal.
Redknapp`s instructions were clear when his side appeared for the second half. There job was to sit back and protect the slender lead they had. The five men in midfield dominated their Stoke counterparts as both Glenn Whelan and Rory Delap had hugely disappointing games conceding possession way too easily for Premier League players. The form of Abdoulaye Faye was also questionable, with Shawcross being named captain we hope that Faye`s poor 12 months or so can be put behind him but he showed no sign of improvement today.
In the early moments of the second half Stoke continued to chip away without any success and so this brought upon the much needed introduction of Tuncay. The all-action Turk was at the centre of all things positive for Stoke in the second half. He replaced Whelan in a positional shake-up which saw Delap transfer to centre-mid with Walters taking up the right-wing slot allowing Tuncay to partner Fuller.
Tuncay`s energy was just what Stoke needed and he almost provided the leveller when he shot from distance. The effort took a huge deflection and the ball was looping in but for a giant Gomes hand to palm it over the bar. The most clear cut also fell Tuncay`s way when a corner went through to the far post, from 6 yards out he steered his header wide of the post much to the frustration of the Boothern End.
We weren`t to be dis-heartened though and kept on producing chances. Some neat interchange from Fuller and Walters saw the Jamaican 12 yards out with abit of space but his first time shot was comfortable for Gomes.
Pulis then threw on Sidibe in place of Delap but sadly he only lasted 5 minutes. A long-ball intended for him was over hit and as he turned to give chase he collapsed in a heap on the ground clutching his ankle. He was instantly stretchered off and it seems he has snapped his Achilles tendon, just like David Beckham recently, and will miss between 6-8 months.
More agony followed in the last few minutes when referee Chris Foy made a huge blunder. An Etherington corner was headed towards goal by Danny Collins and Gomes had to claw it away from the roof of the net. The quickest to react to the bouncing ball was Walters as he steamed in with a diving header that was destined for the bottom corner. However Peter Crouch got in the way and blocked the ball, with his hands, after the ball had crossed the line. But ref Foy didn`t see it that way and, ignoring the hand ball shouts, looked across to his assistant on the far side to decide if he should allow a goal, despite having a much better view of the incident. Stoke were enraged and Spurs closed out for a crucial win of them.
The Potters next travel to champions Chelsea before hosting Aston Villa after the international break. A tough start looks like its only going to get harder.