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MATCH REPORT

Spurs end year third despite Swans draw

A late Brad Friedel error was capitalised on by Scott Sinclair as Swansea recovered emphatically to secure a point against a below par Tottenham Hotspur.

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Swansea City 1

(Sinclair – 84)

Tottenham Hotspur 1

(Van der Vaart – 44)

A late Brad Friedel error was capitalised on by Scott Sinclair as Swansea recovered emphatically to secure a point against a below par Tottenham Hotspur.

The former Chelsea winger was on-hand to bury home after the American could only parry Angel Rangel’s ball into the path of the wide man after Rafael Van der Vaart had opened the scores a minute before the close of the first-half.

Manager Harry Redknapp named an un-changed starting XI from the mid-week win over Norwich City, presumably hoping for a similar rampant performance to the 2-0 win against the Canaries.

Better news to the Spurs manager saw Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson return to the first-team fold, the latter involved for the first time since an Achilles injury four months previously.

The Swans began the game the brighter of the two sides as Friedel was forced into utilising his full 6ft 2in frame to deny to claw out Nathan Dyer’s 22-yard curling effort after just four minutes.

And the home side continued to dominate the early exchanges, Sinclair failing to connect with a corner routine while Stephen Dobbie fired straight at the 40-year-old.

Spurs had their fair share of the chances in the opening 45 however, Luka Modric firing just off target from 25-yeards while Emmanuel Adebayor and Benoit Assou-Ekotto failed to test the in-form Michel Vorm.

Dyer’s deflected cross skidded across the six-yard line and Sinclair continued to trouble the away teams back-four but to no avail, his 20-yard striker brushing the roof of the net.

But, it was Spurs who took the initiative on the brink of half-time with Assou-Ekotto marauding up the left-wing, turning Jazz Richards inside-out before firing low in the area. The ball fell to Van der Vaart who lashed home from close range, albeit, with the help of a deflection off Ashley Williams.

The second half kicked-off with the North Londoner’s pushing for a goal to double their advantage but Vorm was on-hand to ensure the scoreline was kept to a minimum.

The Dutchman did frightfully well to keep out Younes Kaboul, Gareth Bale and Van der Vaart in just the opening 10 minutes of the second 45 minutes as Spurs looked to kill the game early on.

However, Swansea were edging their way back into the fixture with Dobbie coming to inches away with a stinging volley while Danny Graham fired a glancing header just over.

Defoe and Jake Livermore replaced Van der Vaart and Scott Parker with 20 minutes remaining with Redknapp sensing the next goal would prove decisive.

Yet, it was Sinclair that looked the most likely player to make the difference on the day having twice seen goal bound efforts denied, first by Kyle Walker and then by Modric.

And it was hardly surprising that the Englishman was on hand to turn in Friedels parry in the 84th minute after good work from Rangel on the right.

Redknapp’s side huffed and puffed for the equaliser but they couldn’t find a way past Vorm late one, Bale’s deflected 25-yard free-kick caught by the Swans number one before the Dutchman was able to grasp the Welshman’s cross in the dying embers after the ball eluded Adebayor before ricocheting off Sandro and into his hands.

However, despite the draw, Spurs ensure the year ended on a high, finishing third in the league and with a game in hand, 2012 looks to be an exciting one for the Lilywhites with it all kicking off at home to West Bromwich Albion on the 3rd of January.

What Redknapp had to say

“It was a sloppy goal [to concede],” Redknapp said in his post-match interview.

“One or two of them [the players] switched off and we didn’t pick up [Scott] Sinclair, we have let him come in unmarked so it was a catalogue of errors, but that’s how it goes.

“It was a tight game, they are a good side, I like the way they play.

“The way they pass is amazing really. The belief Brendan [Rogers] has installed into them to play is top class.

“Anyone coming here and winning will do well, only [Manchester] United have won here and that was a tough game.

“You are obviously disappointed when you are winning and get pegged back, but the last 20 minutes they came on strong, and in the end, they deserved their equaliser.”

Man of the match

I wasn’t at the game, and couldn’t watch unfortunately, but @thekuntz69 assures me that the accolade firmly belonged to Sandro. With Scott Parker limping off in the second half, the Brazilian is expected to shield the back-four much like he has done to tremendous success in recent weeks. He continues to express and, with the right development, will become a mainstay in the starting XI for seasons to come should he continue his prominent rise in the world of football.

Moment of the match

That boy @thekuntz69 filling in for me again believes the moment of the match was Michel Vorm denying Younes Kaboul early in the second half. The Dutchman has been in instrumental form for the Swans following his summer move to the Liberty Stadium and he had to be at his very best to deny the immense Frenchman after the restart with our man believing that had it gone in, Spurs would have picked up all three points. 

Ben McAleer

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