STOKE CITY (2) vs TOTTENHAM (1)
TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp tore into referee Chris Foy after watching his side’s 11-match unbeaten run come to and end in controversial circumstances at the Britannia Stadium.
Matthew Etherington struck twice against his former side in a first-half almost exclusively dominated by the home side. Emmanuel Adebayor’s penalty halved the deficit just past the hour mark, before Foy and his assistants took over.
The referee failed to spot Ryan Shawcross, standing on the goal-line, using his arm to repel Younes Kaboul’s strike and then wrongly disallowed Adebayor’s goal for offside.
Jermain Defoe also saw a close-range effort blocked by the hand of Dean Whitehead and Redknapp’s frustrations were compounded with eight minutes remaining when Kaboul received a second yellow card for bringing down Jonathan Walters on a rare Stoke counter-attack.
“We came away with nothing because there were two blatant handballs on the line and Adebayor was two yards onside when the ball was played to him. That’s why we’ve come away with nothing,” fumed Redknapp.
“Unfortunately a couple of decisions Foy got completely and utterly wrong. I’m sure if you watch the TV you’ll see. Kaboul gets a booking for saying to the referee it was a penalty, then he gets another yellow card near the end for an innocuous foul.”
Redknapp, whose side missed the opportunity to move six points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea, admitted he spoke to Foy after the game and risked censure from the Football Association by suggesting the official was revelling in Tottenham’s downfall.
“To be honest from the start of the game, I felt like he wasn’t going to give us much today. I just felt like he was quite enjoying not giving us anything,” he said. “He’ll look at it tonight, on TV, when his wife is making him a bacon sandwich and think, ‘Oh **** me, what have I done there?’”
Though Foy certainly contributed to Tottenham’s first league defeat since August, it was their failure to deal with Stoke’s first-half physical onslaught that meant they were always playing catch-up yesterday.
Brad Friedel was forced into action inside the first minute to deny Etherington, but the veteran American was powerless to stop the former Spurs man opening the scoring in the 13th minute.
Ryan Shotton’s deflected cross was flicked into Peter Crouch’s path by Walters. Crouch chested the ball down, turned and fired against the near post before Etherington followed up to turn in his first goal of the season.
His second arrived two minutes before the break when Walters helped on Shotton’s throw and Etherington applied the decisive, if not the cleanest, of touches at the far post.
Tottenham responded after the interval and hit back when Adebayor converted from the spot after Luka Modric tumbled under a challenge from Glenn Whelan.
Thomas Sorensen saved brilliantly from Scott Parker and Luka Modric, before the Tottenham revival ran out of steam when Foy deemed Kaboul’s trip on Walters worthy of a second yellow card.
With a shattered Stoke side, who had already enjoyed the benefit of some generous refereeing calls, hanging on by their fingernails Spurs pressed for an equaliser that looked certain to arrive. However, Chris Foy’s decision to award Younes Kaboul a second yellow card for such a minor transgression – a slight nudge which sent Jonathan Walters crashing to the deck – sucked the life out of Tottenham’s comeback and made the closing stages much more straightforward for the home side.
“If they were penalties, they were penalties – you have to decide that. They had nothing to lose second-half. With that pace and power he is very close to having a team that could win the championship. We knew we had to come out of the blocks quickly, we didn't want them to settle.”
– Stoke manager, Tony Pulis
When the frustration subsides, Redknapp will no doubt ponder whether persisting with such adventurous team selections away from home is inviting trouble. Spurs were lucky to come away unscathed from recent trips to Fulham and Blackburn, while their most impressive away display of late came at West Brom when, in the absence of Rafael van der Vaart, anonymous yesterday, the more robust Sandro played a pivotal role. Spurs only gained a foothold against Stoke when they added an extra man to their midfield – food for thought.