Muted celebration for Spurs in comeback draw

Posted by John Crace

Half-full or half-empty? You really can take your pick. A 1-1 draw away to Hull isn't the worst result, especially taking into account the mauling at home to Manchester City three days earlier. Then again, these are precisely the sort of games that Spurs need to win if they are to make any sort of challenge for fourth spot in the Premiership. Both the result -- and the performance -- suggest that the best the club can hope for next season is the Europa League. Should that be the case, the gamble of trying to bed seven new players into the team can be said to have failed as several of them will almost certainly move on again.

- Report: Hull City 1-1 Tottenham

Tim Sherwood made three changes to the team that played Manchester City. The fit again Jan Vertonghen and Paulinho came in for Vlad Chiriches and the injured Mousa Dembele, while Roberto Soldado replaced Gylfi Sigurdsson as the formation reverted back to a 4-4-2. The switch didn't show any immediate dividends as Spurs fell behind inside 12 minutes. Michael Dawson and Vertonghen left a large hole in the centre of the defence, and Shane Long ran on to a flick and finished emphatically.

Long's goal came with a sense of inevitability. It was Long who had been mooted as a possible January transfer target to bolster the misfiring Spurs strike force, but chairman Daniel Levy declined to pay the seven million pound asking price. Hull snapped him up instead and within minutes he had begun to repay the outlay. It also won't have escaped Levy and Sherwood that Long and Hull's other new signing, Nikica Jelavic, appear to have developed an instant rapport with one another, causing problems for the Spurs defence throughout the game.

Seven months into the season Spurs are still waiting for their strike-force to develop any kind of understanding. Emmanuel Adebayor again worked hard but there is no hint of a partnership developing with Soldado. The Spaniard had another frustrating game; his heavy first touch and failure to find space betrayed his anxiety and lack of confidence. A yellow card for a petulant tackle towards the end of the game summed up the ineffectiveness of his performance.

Spurs' response to going a goal down was similar to many of their first half performances this year: Low intensity football with plenty of possession, almost all of which took place in areas of the pitch that offered little threat to the Hull defence. Steve Harper in the Hull goal had little to do for much of the first half; his only one slightly anxious moment being a long range effort from Christian Eriksen that flew just wide.

As expected, Spurs upped their pace after the break and began to create more pressure. Their equaliser, though, owed a fair amount to luck. Eriksen pushed a quick free-kick to Danny Rose, whose speculative shot somehow found its way to Paulinho indie the Hull area. If the build-up had been fortuitous, the finish was clinical. Up till that moment, the Brazilian had been largely anonymous on his return. A one touch knockdown and a clean strike showed what the Spurs midfield had been missing.

The goal fired Spurs into life. Their passing became quicker and sharper and for a while it looked as if Spurs might go home with all three points. But, as so often this season, Spurs lacked the killer edge. Hull wanted a draw more than Spurs wanted a victory and Hull might even have sneaked home with a win when a Jelavic flick hit the post and a Huddlestone free kick evaded everyone inside the six-yard box. A draw was a fair result, but the home side will have gone home the happier. The result wasn't a cause for Spurs to despair, but neither was the point worth more than a muted celebration.


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