Spurs fightback ruins 150th celebration
12th May 2013 1.30pm
Attendance: 27, 531
Tottenham Hotspur kept hope their slim hopes of Champions League qualification and ruined Stoke`s party after coming behind at the Britannia Stadium to beat 10-man Stoke 2-1.
Stoke had taken the lead through Steven N`Zonzi`s first goal for the Potters, but it was cancelled out by a stunning finish from Clint Dempsey and a late winner from Emmanuel Adebayor. Prior to the winner, Stoke`s Charlie Adam was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
The victory keeps Tottenham in the hunt for a top 4 finish, but they still have to hope that London rivals Arsenal slip up in their two final matches to have any chance of Champions League football next season at White Hart Lane.
The atmosphere before the game was carnival like as Stoke celebrated their 150th year as football club, with several special events to mark the occasion.
A number of former Stoke players including Sir Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, Peter Thorne, Ade Akinbiyi and Mark Stein to name a few were given commemorative shirts by Stoke`s chairman Peter Coates.
Stoke fans were also given shirts to wear, which created a sea of red and white strips in the ground, along with the number 150 being wrote out in the stands.
With the Stoke fans buoyed and in full voice, Stoke flew out the blocks and were immediately in the lead. Charlie Adam whipped in an inviting in-swinging freekick from the right which was directed home by N`Zonzi for his first goal for the club. Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris should have done better with the effort, as he only parried the ball into his own net.
After the goal, the visitors started to settle, and from there on in, completely controlled possession. The likes of Bale, Parker and Huddlestone moved the ball around nicely, but with no real threat coming from them until they drove more directly at Stoke`s defence.
Gareth Bale did have a 25-yard drive well saved by Stoke`s goalkeeper Asmir Begovic though, who managed to tip the ball over.
American Clint Dempsey thought he had equalised for Tottenham when he flicked home expertly from a wayward shot, but the linesman flagged the former Fulham midfielder offside.
Tottenham were level moments later though as Scott Parker`s audacious pass caused mayhem in Stoke`s defence, Asmir Begovic came to claim the ball but Marc Wilson read the pass and managed to clear the ball into what seemed to be safety and away from the clutches of Aaron Lennon, but the ball fell to Clint Dempsey who reacted superbly and prodded the ball instinctively into the empty net from 30 yards, to get his goal.
Moments later, Stoke tried to get ahead immediately, Matthew Etherington, who was reinstated into the starting eleven ahead of Cameron Jerome, found space on the left and floated a deep ball into the far post where Charlie Adam steamed in to try and volley the ball home, but Jan Verthongen managed to get the ball away who was then upended by the Scot.
Adam was booked by referee Kevin Friend.
Just before half time, Gareth Bale nearly gave Tottenham the lead as he ran at Stoke`s defence and cut inside from the right flank, but his shot at goal was once again blocked by Potters` stopper Begovic.
Almost immediately after half time, Stoke were down to 10-men and the game ceased to be a contest. Charlie Adam, who was already on a booking stupidly jumped into a tackle just inside the Stoke half and took out Verthongten once again, Friend had no other option but to give the Scot his marching orders.
The tackle from the midfielder was needless and from there on, it was attack v defence.
Stoke sat deep, and allowed Tottenham the ball, and were hoping to keep out the London outfit for nearly 45 minutes. Stoke did continue to be a threat from set pieces and there were times they tried to counter attack at pace.
Clint Dempsey nearly gave Spurs the lead, when a drilled Gareth Bale corner fell to him in the six yard box but he could only flick his effort narrowly over the bar.
Next up to try and break the deadlock was Gareth Bale, who managed to switch his feet superbly in the box, but could only narrowly put the ball wide.
It was more of when Tottenham scored, not if.
That being said, Stoke nearly grabbed all three points. In a rare venture forward Stoke won a freekick near the corner flag, and flooded the box with all of their big players. Dean Whitehead floated a delicious ball into the box, which Robert Huth attacked but could not get his header on target.
The German should have done a lot better with his header, after he got himself into such a good position.
Stoke were made to rue this miss as Tottenham finally got their winner. Clint Dempsey, who had been a nuisance for Stoke all afternoon, managed to find space in the Stoke penalty area after a well timed run, and pulled the ball back expertly across the six yard box for Emmanuel Adebayor to tap home the ball and send the travelling support into raptures.
The game fizzled out, but there was a nice touch from the travelling Tottenham fans who sang out a rendition of Happy Birthday for the home crowd, who showed their appreciation with a round of applause.
In all though, Tottenham put a damper on Stoke`s special day.