Sport Soccer

Thursday 14 December 2017

Redknapp fumes over costly Spurs slip-up

Birmingham 1 Tottenham 1

Sandy Macaskill

Tottenham are almost starting to give the impression they do not want to consolidate their place in the top four.

With his first goal in five games, Jermain Defoe had found a way through the force field that has been the Birmingham City defence at St Andrews this season and put Spurs in a comfortable, if not commanding, position in the race for the final Champions League spot.

Then came the characteristic crash in concentration and Liam Ridgewell was allowed to make amends for a dismal performance with an equaliser from point-blank range in the 90th minute. As against Leeds eight days ago, Spurs let it slip at the last.

"They were never in the game until we scored, sat back and invited them to come at us," Harry Redknapp said. "It was like Everton away. That goal was horrendous. It was really poor defending."

Especially frustrating for the Spurs manager was the fact his side controlled much of the match. In the absence of Aaron Lennon, Spurs' right flank may resemble the crawler lane on a dual carriageway, along which David Bentley and Vedran Corluka trundle and splutter, but acceleration is not everything, as Ridgewell was discovering to his detriment.

Simple passing, good communication, astute positioning and a touch of trickery are just as good and, linking with Wilson Palacios, the pair worked their way through the blue shirts, rather than around them.

With Lennon suffering from a suspected hernia, Bentley has an opportunity to repair his reputation and his early deflected shot which should have got Spurs rolling, the ball spinning away to Luka Modric, who then missed from 10 yards.

By then, Birmingham should have been one ahead. Christian Benitez, the diminutive striker, brought the ball down on his chest on the edge of the area, flicked it to James McFadden, who supplied Lee Bowyer for a shot. It was a respectable effort but Heurelho Gomes was down quickly.

The goalkeeper cannot have believed his luck soon after, when Benitez produced a bumbling embarrassment of a strike after turning Michael Dawson inside out. He had the penalty area to himself, and time on his side -- chances like that usually only come along once a game. Defoe was more fortunate. He had two. The first he botched by allowing the ball to get caught under his feet after being sent clean through by Modric.

But he was more alert with the second, when Gareth Bale rounded Keith Fahey and his cross found a kneeling Peter Crouch's head. The ball flicked on to Defoe, who lashed it past an onrushing Scott Dann and an immobile Joe Hart for his 17th goal of the season. But as so often is the case, Spurs minds started wandering.

McFadden's late cross was allowed to be headed back across goal by Cameron Jerome, and Ridgewell was there, unmarked, at the far post. Alex McLeish felt Ridgewell's goal was poetic justice after City had been beaten by a late goal when the sides met at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. "When we played them there they hit us with a sucker goal in the last minute against the run of play and we felt very sore about that," said the Blues boss.

McLeish will worry that, again, it was someone other than one of his strikers who scored. Negotiations for Roman Pavlyuchenko -- kept from a place on the bench by a groin strain -- and Aruna Dindane have broken down.

"It looks like the deal is dead in the water for Pavlyuchenko," said McLeish. "It looks like we are not going to get the trophy signing we thought we might. But I think we have offered enough. "We may now try and get a trophy signing on loan with a view to a permanent deal in the summer. We are in a position where we don't need to break the bank with Carson Yeung's money."

Birmingham must bring in reinforcements by 5pm tomorrow. Spurs, meanwhile, have re-signed defender Younes Kaboul, from Portsmouth for £5m.

Redknapp admits attempts to sign goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from the Fratton Park club have hit a snag. "There is a big problem in terms of the goalkeeper and I think Stoke are in there. I think he has changed his mind. Maybe Stoke have offered him the chance to be the No 1 there. It looks like he has done an about-turn," said Redknapp.

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