Baggies buoyed by draw at Lane

Jermain Defoe’s 100th goal for Tottenham looked to have given the

home side the win after Roman Pavlyuchenko had equalised Peter

Odemwingie’s fifth-minute opener. But with nine minutes remaining,

Cox dipped a wonderful 20-yard shot over Heurelho Gomes’ head to

steal a point and leave Spurs one point behind fourth-placed

Manchester City, who play their match in hand against Blackburn on

Monday. The result was a bitter blow for Harry Redknapp and his

men, who had their tails up after Wednesday night’s thrilling

comeback against Arsenal. Spurs will now hope that

relegation-threatened Rovers will surprise Roberto Mancini’s men

and it may be that the Londoners have to win all five of their

remaining matches – which include tough fixtures against City,

Chelsea and Liverpool – to make it into the Champions League for

the second year running. Gareth Bale handed Redknapp a boost before

the kick-off when he overcame a knee injury to make a starting XI

that also included Younes Kaboul and Defoe, who had moved onto 99

goals on March 6. Wednesday’s north London derby may have been a

thrilling encounter, but the two points dropped gave Saturday’s

clash added importance, especially given that City were not in

action until Monday. Theo Walcott’s strike had put Spurs behind

five minutes into Wednesday’s 3-3 draw and it was the same scenario

again as Odemwingie latched on to Carlos Vela’s pass to outmuscle

Benoit Assou-Ekotto and curl a delightful 20-yard shot past Gomes

for his 13th of the season. Assou-Ekotto picked up what looked to

be a muscle strain in the challenge and was replaced by Sandro as

Bale dropped to left-back. Redknapp urged his side to find an

instant reply but the hosts’ play bore no hallmarks of the

high-tempo style they deployed to such good effect in Wednesday’s

comeback. Inconsistency in front of goal was also a problem.

William Gallas spooned a header over from five yards before

Pavlyuchenko miscued a diving header from the same distance moments

later. Redknapp cut a frustrated figure on the touchline but he was

punching the air after 26 minutes when Pavlyuchenko equalised. The

Russian stole the ball off a West Brom defender and rifled past

Scott Carson with a 20-yard strike that went in off a post. Spurs

then upped the pressure on their opponents as they looked to take

the lead. First Bale curled a 25-yard free-kick just over before

van der Vaart stung Carson’s palms with a fierce drive. The rebound

fell to Pavlyuchenko, but he blazed over from 18 yards while the

Baggies goalkeeper was struggling to get to his feet. Sandro was

putting in a steely performance since his introduction, breaking up

West Brom’s play as the hosts looked for a second. Defoe was

struggling to get into the game but skipped past two Baggies

defenders before being shrugged off the ball in the box. Five

minutes into the second half Nicky Shorey found Odemwingie unmarked

in the box but Gomes pulled off a top-class save to tip his header

around the post. The home crowd demanded the introduction of Aaron

Lennon and Redknapp heeded their advice and brought on the England

winger for Huddlestone just after the hour. Luka Modric slipped in

the box as he wriggled past his marker and Tottenham did not have

the same fluency that they displayed towards the end of the first

period. Lennon won a free-kick on the edge of the box but Van der

Vaart’s 25-yard effort sailed over. The home side’s frustration at

not finding a second ended after 66 minutes when West Brom paid the

price for backing off Defoe, who found the bottom right-hand corner

of Carson’s goal with a well-placed strike. Every one of Defoe’s

team-mates aside from Gomes ran across the pitch to congratulate

the striker on reaching his ton for the club. The strike was also

his 100th Premier League goal and was the club’s 1000th in the

division. The ball appeared to strike Michael Dawson’s arm as he

blocked James Morrison’s shot in the box in the 73rd minute but

Stuart Attwell did not give a penalty. Defoe breezed past three

Baggies defenders before being shrugged off the ball in the box.

Christ Brunt then picked the ball up at the other end before

smashing a 35-yard drive inches wide, with Gomes well-beaten. West

Brom had the shock equaliser nine minutes from the end when Cox

curled a shot that flew over Gomes’ head to make it 2-2 with his

first strike since October. Redknapp replaced Pavlyuchenko with

Crouch with three minutes left as Spurs desperately sought the

winner they needed to leapfrog City. Dawson’s frustration boiled

over just a minute later when he was booked for a rash challenge on

Odemwingie and the home side’s push for a winner petered out, much

to Redknapp’s frustration.