Premier League - Wolves stall Spurs title charge

Sat, 14 Jan 16:57:00 2012

Wolverhampton Wanderers stalled Tottenham Hotspur's Premier League title charge with a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham 1 Wolves 1

Steven Fletcher scored a first-half opener against the run of play from close range before Luka Modric equalised with a low strike in the second half.

Wolves held on to keep Spurs two points behind Manchester United, who won at home to Bolton, and Manchester City, who have a game in hand and play at Wigan on Monday.

Tottenham dominated territorially in the first half, but Wolves defended their penalty area stoutly to plug all routes to goal. That led to a host of shots from distance by the likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Modric and Gareth Bale, most of which were off target.

However Modric almost bagged the opener on four minutes. Kyle Walker found Aaron Lennon, who passed on the ball to Modric and his low shot was inches wide of the far post.

Just when the pressure on the Wolves goal reached boiling point, they went up the other end and snatched a shock - and controversial - lead.

Walker successfully shepherded out a loose ball under the attentions of Roger Johnson, but the away captain claimed a corner - and it was awarded by Mike Jones. Johnson then won the header inside the six-yard box to force a save from Brad Friedel, and Fletcher was there to stab home from a yard out.

Wolves loanee Emmanuel Frimpong, whose parent club is Spurs' North London rivals Arsenal, was in the midst of a great deal of the action. He led several counter-attacks, smashed a clearance into the face of Van der Vaart early on and picked up a booking on 30 minutes for a late tackle on Bale.

With Tottenham increasingly frustrated, Johnson could have added a second when he arrived in the box to shoot first time but opened his body too much, causing his effort to fly wide of the far post.

Just before the break Spurs had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for offside against Emmanuel Adebayor. Benoit Assou-Ekotto cut back to Bale whose cross-cum-shot, on target, was finished into the top of the net by the Togolese. He was a yard off and Bale thought he should have left the ball alone, but Hennessey seemed to have it covered.

When Tottenham re-emerged for the second half, no doubt with Harry Redknapp's rallying call ringing in their ears, it was to continue their pressure on the Wolves goal. That left them open on the counter on 49 minutes, when Brad Friedel had to beat away a Frimpong volley after he arrived late in the box.

Within a minute Spurs were level. The ball was worked inside from the left and into the path of Modric, whose strike from just outside the box was too hot for Hennessey to handle. It was only his second goal of the league season, and extended Spurs' remarkable run of scoring into 20 consecutive league matches.

Three minutes on Lennon should have scored a second. Bale's cross from the left went all the way through to Lennon, who set up Modric for another strike; Hennessey could not hold it and Lennon had half the goal to aim at on the rebound - but struck his effort too close to the floored keeper.

Adebayor was busy throughout but wrong to dummy a Walker cut-back, with no one in a white shirt behind him, after Bale had sent the England right-back scurrying free.

The home crowd wanted a second yellow card for Frimpong after a couple of lively challenges, neither of which warranted one, before he was replaced by Stephen Hunt.

More wild strikes on goal from Spurs took their shot count into the 20s, while Wolves remained stuck on five. The home team's best effort came courtesy of substitute Jermain Defoe - who has now scored four goals in six Premier League appearances against Wolves, and was on target in a win at Molineux in September - whose hard low shot from 20 yards was saved by the legs of Hennessey with 12 minutes left.

Wolves held firm and were furious when, in the 90th minute, referee Jones decided to use a drop-ball inside their penalty area after Johnson was hurt following a clash with his goalkeeper Hennessey. What followed was surreal, with several players hacking at the ball before a foul was awarded to the away team.

One last chance came Spurs' way when the energetic Scott Parker was felled 25 yards out - but Bale whipped it well over the crossbar.

Some may claim that Spurs bowed under the pressure of all the title talk this week, but Wolves defended valiantly and were worth a point - despite the controversial nature of the corner leading to their goal.

Jonathan Symcox - on Twitter @jonathansymcox / Eurosport

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