After talking up the fact that his mission at Tottenham was to score goals rather than secure a Champions League place, one might have expected more from Tim Sherwood’s goalscoring Spurs at the Britannia. But Stoke still have a touch of the Pulis around this prettier Mark Hughes side, and they’re still able to defend – particularly at home. Yet after going down to ten men, Stoke were unable to pull one back, and Spurs left with what might have been a narrow win but certainly counted as all three points.
Aaron Lennon nearly put the visitors ahead before ten minutes had passed. It wasn’t intentional: a cross just sort of drifted toward the Stoke goal. But Asmir Begović came to attention, pushing the ball away before it could land in the back of the net.
It took about twenty minutes for Stoke to get into the match, but Hugo Lloris was there to make sure Spurs didn’t concede. The hosts came closest when Tottenham, apparently deciding Stephen Ireland was no threat, allowed the midfielder plenty of time to get in a shot. It landed wide, however.
Tottenham took the lead in the 33rd minute, after Emmanuel Adebayor ducked around Glen Whelan. He sent a cross in to where Danny Rose was lurking by the near post. The defender’s header flew past Begović and into the back of the net.
Stoke’s job was made all the more difficult shortly after the break, when Ryan Shawcross, already on a yellow, came in studs up on Rose. Andre Marriner sent him packing, leaving the Potters with ten men and forty minutes left to play.
The incident, felt by the Stoke fans to be harsh, showed why the Britannia is such a hard place for visiting teams to get a result. Fueled by a sense of injustice, the home crowd directed their ire at Rose, whom Sherwood had to replace with Zeki Fryers fifteen minutes later. Meanwhile the Potters pressed on, making every attempt to get an equalizer. Peter Odemwingie headed over, Steven N’Zonzi went wide.
But it was always going to be tough to find an opening with a man disadvantage, and in the end, Stoke just couldn’t get there. But they’re safe and they’ve still got a shot at a top-half finish, so they shouldn’t be too disappointed in themselves.
Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Wilson, Shawcross, Muniesa; Arnautovic, Whelan, Nzonzi, Odemwingie; Ireland; Crouch
Subs: Sorensen; Pieters, Palacios, Adam, Walters, Assaidi, Wilkinson
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Kaboul, Rose; Lennon, Chadli, Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane
Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Bentaleb, Sandro, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Soldado