SATURDAY 5TH MAY, 2018
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Livermore, 90 (+2)
Referee:- Mike Jones
Assistants:- Ian Hussin, Mark Scholes
Fourth official:- Andre Marriner
West Brom (4-4-1-1):- Foster; Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs; Phillips, Livermore, Brunt (Capt.), McClean (sub Krychowiak, 87); , Rodriguez (sub Chadli, 79); Rondon (sub Sturridge, 74)
Subs not used:- Myhill; Yacob, Evans; Robson-Kanu
Booked:- Hegazi (foul on Dele), Nyom (unsporting conduct), McClean (foul on Lucas Moura), Brunt (foul on Lucas Moura)
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen (sub Llorente, 85); Trippier, Wanyama, Eriksen, Rose; Lamela (sub Lucas Moura, 78), Dele (sub Son, 67); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Davies; Dier, Sissoko
Booked:- Rose (unsporting conduct)
Ex-Spur Livermore’s last ditch goal offers Baggies a glimmer of hope
The headline and the story of this match has to be the 92nd minute winner scrambled home by former Spur Jake Livermore which gave the desperate West Brom team which has been superbly invigorated by caretaker coach Darren Moore a glimmer of hope even now of survival in the Premier League. The Baggies were nearly relegated when Southampton led at Goodison Park in the tea-time game, but the cruellest of equalisers in the 96th minute does give West Brom the faintest chance of survival. For that to happen, I think they need Southampton to draw at Swansea on Tuesday night, and then both those teams to lose next Sunday whilst The Baggies have to win at Selhurst Park. The West Brom fans left The Hawthorns full of a hope that had not existed for so much of their season.
It was a hot (27 degrees) sunny day and after Stoke had lost at home at lunch-time to Palace, West Brom did still carry a chance of survival at kick-off. They did not over-commit in search of at least the one goal they would require, but instead packed the midfield, and hardly got out of their half in the early stages. Spurs had 74% of the possession but that counted for nothing with not enough in the way of threat, as their play was too slow, too predictable and lacked penetration. Indeed in a period approaching half-time, the home side did have some pressure and they did carry more threat than had Spurs.
Somewhat mysteriously, in view of the absence of such a strategy for so long this season, Mauricio Pochettino played three at the back, recalling Toby Alderweireld, who was one of our best players on the day. Mousa Dembele had not passed his late fitness assessment, which may have led to the tactical change.
West Brom kicked off and played towards the away end, but of course when any team kicks off these days the first movement of the ball is backwards! Spurs enjoyed a period of possession though and within the first minute or so, Toby Alderweireld hit a long diagonal ball which reached Danny Rose, advancing down the left. Nothing came of the move though. Danny Rose had only played twice in the previous 10 games, and he and Alderweireld had not played together since mid-February at Rochdale. Kieran Trippier also sent an early ball to Rose, but the cross was cleared. Spurs had a couple of corners and after the second Eriksen passed to Kane, whose effort was no threat to Foster. Victor Wanyama had got the nod today with Dier on the bench, and his ball to Trippier was fed to Eriksen who had a decent shot blocked. Wanyama himself had a good dipping shot well saved by Foster mid-way through the half, after a Danny Rose pass from the left. Rose himself fired wide after the corner.
Harry Kane’s best chance and best effort on goal came after 29 minutes. Alderweireld passed to Trippier who passed inside from the right. Kane hit a good rising shot which was well saved by Foster, although an element of the save might have been involuntary. Lamela was advancing on goal after 37 minutes and was subject to a cynical foul which brought no card from the referee. Eriksen’s free kick was blocked. West Brom were being given too much licence by referee Mike Jones with their physical approach to the game.
That spell of West Brom pressure came after Wanyama might have been harshly penalised, and after the free kick Rodriguez had a chance at the back post but his effort was headed over for a corner by Alderweireld. After more pressure and a corner by Phillips, Hegazi headed over from close range.
After the break, a Spurs attack broke down and West Brom countered with Rondon and Brunt who fired over. Trippier passed to Eriksen on the right, whose cross was met by Kane’s header which was way off target. A Spurs move from the back was progressed by Eriksen and Vertonghen, then Dele Alli, who passed across the area to Lamela, only for Foster to reach the ball first.
Hegazi was booked for stopping Dele Alli in his tracks as he raced forward in the West Brom half. This was the first card of the game. Eriksen took the free kick and Foster made an excellent save diving to his right to push the ball around his post. Soon after that, things got niggly when West Brom right back Nyom and Danny Rose had a contretemps. Rose did push Nyom in the chest, but Nyom’s fall to the ground and false writhing in pain drew chants of “Cheat” from the Spurs crowd. I think the referee was wise to the play-acting, but both players were booked. It took Nyom a long time to calm down with Spurs awarded a free kick, and Mr. Jones had words with the player and his captain.
Dele had a shot go wide after a pass from Lamela, and that was Dele’s last action as he was replaced by Son. Harry Kane very nearly scored an own goal from a West Brom corner and the ball just went over Lloris’s bar, thanks to a fine reaction save from our goalkeeper. Lamela was replaced by Lucas Moura, who did show a desire and ability to pass players. The trouble was those players wanted to stop him by hook or by crook (crook mostly) and both McClean and Brunt saw yellow over foul challenges. Mauricio Pochettino was going to replace Danny Rose with Llorente, but had to change his mind as Jan Vertonghen was struggling so he had to go off, with Rose remaining at left back.
Another chance fell to Spurs with Kane towards the left of the box feeding Rose, who went down and wanted a penalty. However, the ball had run to Son, whose shot was saved by Foster. Finally, as the game drew towards its close, West Brom tried to get men forward including another ex-Spur Nacer Chadli, who hasn’t played since last December. There had already been one goalmouth scramble in the Spurs area, before another took place following a corner from the left. It was Jake Livermore who got the final touch to get the ball over the line to cause roars of delight from the home crowd, and plenty of disappointment at the Spurs end.
Llorente did have a header on target following a ball from Rose, but Foster saved to his left, drawing cheers from the home support. A late Wanyama effort following a corner, hit the side netting.
Spurs are probably going to make us sweat now until next Sunday, but my good friend Declan Mulcahy points out the following:-
“Not a good result today.
However it is not all doom and gloom.
There are two home games remaining against Newcastle and Leicester.
Newcastle have now lost three in a row. Leicester have taken one point in the last five games.
If Tottenham win both and Liverpool don't win tomorrow then third place is guaranteed.
A win and a draw would probably yield fourth place except for the unlikely event that Chelsea scored ten more goals than Spurs in the next three games.
So there is still much to play for. If the team can't gain at least four points from the last two homes games then the club doesn't really deserve Champions League football next season.”
PS - West Brom's only other home Premier League wins against Spurs have come in seasons when they were relegated.
PPS - This was referee Mike Jones' last game as match referee before retirement.
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