Stoke City 2
(Etherington – 13, 43)
Tottenham Hotspur 1
(Adebayor – 62 (pen))
(Kaboul s/o 82)
An Emmanuel Adebayor penalty wasn’t enough to continue Tottenham’s unbeaten run as a Matthew Etherington brace was enough to down the North London side, who had Younes Kaboul sent off late on for a second bookable offence.
Harry Redknapp made just one change from the 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers eight days ago, bringing Rafael Van der Vaart back into the starting XI at the expense of Jermain Defoe.
Nevertheless, it was Stoke who came flying out of the blocks as both teams exchanged opening blows with the Tony Pulis’ side going close in the first minute, Ryan Shotton’s dangerous throw-in was only half-cleared by Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Etherington’s fierce drive forced Brad Friedel into a low save.
Shotton himself attempted to test the American but dragged his shot wide before Etherington fired straight at Friedel but it wouldn’t be long before the winger got the better of the 40-year-old.
Another throw-in from Shotton made its way to Ryan Shawcross who failed to make a connection with the ball as Spurs tentatively cleared the blocks. However, the ball made its way back out to Shotton, whose deflected cross was brilliantly knocked into the path of Peter Crouch by Jon Walters.
The England man, with a hint of handball, took the ball down and, held off the challenges of William Gallas and Friedel before finding Etherington un-marked six-yards out to smash home.
The goal appeared to spark Spurs into life and the North London side crafted their first opportunity shortly after the opener, Luka Modric forcing Thomas Sorensen into action but the Dane was equal to the midfielder’s effort and successfully turned it around the post.
Another former Spur, Jonathan Woodgate, was booked following a foul on Aaron Lennon and he was lucky not to have received his marching orders in the mid-way point in the half after scything down Scott Parker on the edge of the box.
Chris Foy, however, opted to play on and with Lennon in possession, the pint-sized winger broke into the box but his deflected effort bobbled easily to Sorensen.
Adebayor found himself with space 30-yards, following an excellent turn on Marc Wilson, but his curling effort was easily held by the Stoke ‘keeper.
But, with half-time quickly approaching, Stoke doubled their advantage, somewhat arguably against the run of play.
Shotton again launched a missile throw-in in the danger zone, Walters flicked on and Etherington, despite not making the best of contacts, managed to find the back of the net and make it 2-0.
Redknapp threw Sebastien Bassong and Jermain Defoe into the mix for the second-half, at the expense of Assou-Ekotto and Lennon, switching formation to a 3-5-2.
However, Shotton continued to cause problem to the Spurs defence with his throw-ins, relentlessly peppering the 18-yard-box.
Yet, as the half wore-on, the away side began to assert themselves as Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker enjoyed the attacking freedom down either flank.
The latter turned in a dangerous ball from the right, evading both Adebayor and Defoe before Woodgate came close to turning into his own net.
And the pressure paid off after 62 minutes, Glenn Whelan adjudged to have fouled Modric in the box with Foy signalling for a penalty without any hesitation.
Adebayor made no mistake from the spot, sending the Sorensen the wrong way, and he could have doubled his tally moments later, cutting in from the left but his curling effort whistled just inches wide of the far post.
The Dane saved superbly from Parker’s long-ranged while Van der Vaart’s audacious chip was comfortably caught by the 35-year-old.
Spurs perhaps should have had a second penalty as the game sprung into life, Kaboul feeling as though he was pulled down by Ryan Shawcross in the Stoke box while Sorensen again denied Modric, who was on the receiving end to a chorus of boos from the home crowd.
And the drama didn’t stop there, Defoe going down under a heavy Stoke challenge and Kaboul had his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by the arms of Shawcross.
Foy, however, saw nothing wrong with the clearance and, despite Adebayor putting the ball in the net, his effort was chalked off for offside despite replays showing the Togolese front-man was clearly two-yards on.
Stoke were hanging on for all three-points but breathed a sigh of relief when Kaboul was sent off for a second bookable offense after stupidly bringing down Walters, his first was for dissent towards Foy.
Friedel tipped a Shawcross header over before the same player rattled the crossbar from the resulting corner and despite Spurs pressing in the dying embers of the encounter, the Potters held on for all three-points, condemning the North London side to their first defeat in 12 games.
What Redknapp had to say after the game
“Adebayor was a yard, two yards onside,” Redknapp told Sky Sports HD1.
“Younes Kaboul got a yellow for saying to the referee he had handballed it and he didn’t deserve a yellow for the second.
“We certainly deserved to get something from the game.
“When you see the replays, how the referee gave Adebayor offside and how he didn’t see the handball – in fact there were two handballs – I don’t know.
“We just started sloppy. At half-time we sorted things out and played with three at the back and dominated them in the second half.
“I just changed the system and decided to play Gareth Bale as a wing-back and play Rafael [Van der Vaart] behind the front two.
“We went with that and it suited us and in the second half we took control of the game.
“We’ve just got to go again now. This is a tough place to come. No-one gets an easy game at Stoke.”
Redknapp went on to criticise Foy following his performance, adding: “Yes I told him. I never go and talk to referees after a game, I accept defeat.
“I never complain about referees’ decisions – I have not done it in 30 years of management, never. But today, I’m afraid, he got some badly wrong.
“He hadn’t seen them, but when he goes home tonight and watches them, he’ll realise he got a couple badly wrong, and the linesman.
“When someone’s two yards onside, like Adebayor was, how’s the linesman not seen it?
“To be honest, from the start of the game, I felt like he wasn’t going to give us much today.
“I just felt like he was quite enjoying not giving us anything.
“He’s not made mistakes because he meant to, he is an honest guy, but today I just felt he had a bad day, and so did the linesman who missed Adebayor being two yards onside.
“He’ll look at it tonight, on TV, when his wife is making him a bacon sandwich and think, ‘Oh **** me, what have I done there?'”.
Man of the match
For Spurs, it has to be Luka Modric. After a lacklustre first-half, the schemer began to run things in the midfield and was perhaps unlucky not to get on the score-sheet today. However, overall Peter Crouch did well holding off the challenges of Younes Kaboul and William Gallas all afternoon and his link-up play was superb. Did excellently to set-up Matthew Etherington’s opener, despite a hint of handball.
Moment of the match
Where do I start? The three penalties Spurs should have had on top of their one, the onside goal incorrectly chalked off, Jonathan Woodgate not receiving his second-yellow card in the first-half, Kaboul’s red, it was hard not to shout a tirade of abuse at Chris Foy today and, after watching the replays of each and every incident, it was difficult to see why.
Nonetheless, Stoke’s second goals of the day sapped Spurs on confidence, made all the worse after the away team were looking to force their way back into the game.