Tottenham Hotspur blew their chance to claim a share of the Premier League’s top spot as they were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Mick McCarthy’s men stunned the home side by taking the lead in the 22nd minute when Steven Fletcher poked home. Spurs struggled to give Wayne Hennessey a real test until the second half and it took a 20-yard strike from Luka Modric to ensure they left with a point on an underwhelming afternoon that will do little to convince their doubters that they are credible title contenders.
Tottenham could have moved level with leaders Manchester City and neighbours Manchester United with a win, but they could now head into next weekend’s showdown at the Etihad Stadium five points behind the leaders, who play at Wigan Athletic on Monday.
For all the pre-match talk of Spurs being serious challengers, they played like anything but champions in the making, especially early on. McCarthy, whose Wolves team arrived in London without a win since 4 December, cut an animated figure on the touchline in the opening 15 minutes, but he had little reason to worry.
Fletcher fires Wolves ahead
Modric squirted a shot wide and then had a powerful effort blocked by a posse of Wolves defenders, before he blazed over soon after. Then, in the 22nd minute, White Hart Lane was stunned into silence by Fletcher’s opener.
Brad Friedel parried Roger Johnson’s header from a corner into the path of Fletcher and he made no mistake from eight yards. It was the first goal Spurs had conceded at home in 359 minutes.
Gareth Bale stung Hennessey’s hands with a low drive as Spurs looked for an immediate equaliser and Rafael Van der Vaart blazed over. Johnson blocked Van der Vaart’s goalbound effort and Modric volleyed at Hennessey as the Spurs onslaught continued, but Wolves’ defending was resolute.
David Edwards then found space in the Spurs box in a rare Wolves attack but he totally miscued his shot. The home crowd urged Spurs on and they thought they had equalised in first-half injury-time, but Emmanuel Adebayor’s toe-poke from eight yards was ruled out for offside.
Emmanuel Frimpong charged at the Spurs defence moments later and they backed off until Younes Kaboul got a block in. Already booked, the Ghanian was given his final warning after the break when he clattered into Modric, but the midfielder almost put Wolves 2-0 up moments later but his fierce volley was parried by Friedel.
The home supporters’ frustration grew after Bale skied a shot from the edge of the area, but they were on their feet moments later thanks to Modric. Van der Vaart skilfully turned in the box to square to Bale, who laid the ball off to the Croatian and he hammered home from 20 yards through a sea of defenders.
Hosts left frustrated
Aaron Lennon should have made it 2-1 moments later but he could only fire into Hennessey’s arms after the Wolves goalkeeper had saved from Modric. Frimpong hauled down Lennon on the edge of the box but did not receive a second yellow card. McCarthy was willing to take no more chances on the youngster, however, and he came off for Stephen Hunt with just over 20 minutes left.
Redknapp brought on Jermain Defoe for Lennon as he tried to find a way through. The England striker almost made an immediate impact, latching onto a clearance before firing a fierce low drive which Hennessey saved with his feet.
Kyle Walker ran 70 yards before seeing his deflected shot sail just wide as the game entered what promised to be a nervous final ten minutes. Modric fired a shot just over Hennessey’s bar from 25 yards and Scott Parker mishit an effort with the goal gaping with five minutes left.
Christophe Berra’s foul on Parker gave Spurs a free-kick 20 yards out with little over 30 seconds left but his curled effort went over and the game ended in disappointment as Harry Redknapp’s men had to settle for a point.
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