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Report: Spurs 0-0 Stoke City

White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur

Image by: Action Images

PUBLISHED

17:00 22nd December 2012

City came away with valuable point

STOKE CITY extended their unbeaten record in the Barclays Premier League to a record eight matches after a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

In a game of few clear cut chances, the Potters defended admirably to notch up their ninth clean sheet in 17 games and secure a point that will undoubtedly please manager Tony Pulis.

Tottenham pressed hard for a decisive goal in the second-half, but goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was only truly tested in the final moments when he made an acrobatic save to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Stoke could have scored themselves in an impressive opening 15 minutes, but will be happy to settle for a share of the spoils against a team who occupied a top-four spot prior to kick-off.

Pulis was forced to make one change due to the absence of Charlie Adam on compassionate leave following the death of his father; the surprise being that his place was handed to Ryan Shotton, who was available again after serving a one-match suspension.

Shotton’s presence on the right hand side in front of Andy Wilkinson was clearly designed to counter the threat posed by Gareth Bale on the left flank, with the Welsh star back from a three week lay-off with a hamstring injury sustained at Fulham.

City should have broken the deadlock inside the first minute when Kenwyne Jones was presented with a glorious opportunity after intercepting a crossfield pass from Kyle Walker, but with a clear path to goal, he lifted his shot wide of the upright.

The Potters did, however, maintain their promising start as Shotton tested out the Spurs defence with two long throw-ins which they cleared.

Sandro was booked for a challenge which left Glenn Whelan requiring treatment, but strangely enough it was Spurs who eventually gained a free kick.

That came to nothing and it was City who were retaining possession well and pinning Tottenham back in their own half for long spells.

Once again, the Potters were left holding their heads in frustration as another excellent chance to take the lead went begging.

Steven Nzonzi started the move by threading a pass through to Jones bursting down the right and his low cross was delivered to the incoming Matthew Etherington, but a deflection off Sandro prevented him from finishing the move off from close range.

The first real threat from the home side came when Emmanuel Adebayor drifted out onto the left hand side to whip over a menacing cross with Jermain Defoe lurking on the edge of the six yard box, and it took some last-ditch defending to clear the danger.

There was another anxious moment on the half hour and predictably Bale was the instigator with a burst down the left before delivering a low cross which skidded off the boot of the outstretched Ryan Shawcross and flew over the bar.

That was a relief to the City skipper after he had scored an unfortunate own goal in the draw with Everton seven days earlier, but there was more cause for alarm as Bale sent over a cross which Adebayor met with a firm header.

Fortunately for the Potters, it carried too much weight and cleared the bar quite comfortably, but it was sign Spurs were getting back in the game.

As the half drew to a close, Tottenham resorted to trying their luck from long range as they ran up against a brick wall; Mousa Dembele the first to fire a shot over the bar from 25 yards before Defoe was fractionally off target with a left foot shot.

Although Spurs were the first to threaten after the break as Defoe unleashed another thunderbolt from 25 yards which flashed wide of the target, it was City who were within inches of taking the lead as they responded with a counter attack.

In a slick passing movement, Etherington was released down the left hand side by Whelan and it was the Republic of Ireland international who desperately close to getting his head to the cross delivered to the edge of the six yard box.

Bale and Aaron Lennon had switched flanks in search of more success and the two wingers linked up to carve out a good opportunity.

Lennon cut in from the left to hoist a cross to the far post where Bale got above his marker, but his firm header cleared the bar.

City’s response was a swift one as Geoff Cameron weaved his way into the box and sent over a low cross which Shotton met with a first time shot, but it didn’t have sufficient power to trouble Hugo Lloris moving low to his left to gather.

As the game moved into its final quarter, Pulis rang the changes to introduce fresh legs with Dean Whitehead, Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch all brought on in quick succession as Shotton, Jones and Etherington made way for them.

City enjoyed a period where they withstood anything Spurs could throw at them and Jerome engineered an opening with some good work on the break, but Jonathan Walters failed to make the most of the opportunity with a poor cross.

Chances were few and far between as the Potters soaked more Spurs pressure, although Begovic had to move smartly to his right to save a long range shot from Dembele which took a wicked deflection off Whitehead.

As Tottenham laboured in their attempts to break down City’s resistance, Walker was the next to resort to a long range attempt at goal, but like the others before them, it was off target and failed to trouble City’s ‘keeper.

He was forced into the best save of the match, however, in the final moments as he dived sharply to his right to parry Sigurdsson's poweful header and ultimately secure his team the point.

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