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21:40 3th January 2012

INJURY-HIT Albion's arch-nemesis Jermain Defoe ended their three-match unbeaten away run with a 63rd-minute winner.

Defoe scored for the third successive game against the Baggies to finally end the visitors' stubborn resistance.

With as many as seven key players missing from the starting line-up, Roy Hodgson's patched-up side battled manfully to keep third-placed Spurs at bay until just past the hour mark.

And they put the Tottenham goal under considerable pressure during the closing stages, although an equaliser proved beyond them.

George Thorne was granted his full Barclays Premier League debut as one of three enforced changes made by Hodgson.

Simon Cox and Graham Dorrans were also elevated to the starting line-up, with injured duo Chris Brunt (ankle) and Shane Long (back), plus James Morrison (hamstring), who was only fit enough to make the bench, making way.

With seven first-team regulars missing, Nicky Shorey was named captain while Academy graduate Sam Mantom was on the bench for a league game for the first time.

Harry Redknapp made one change, with Defoe coming in for the injured Scott Parker.

The odds were stacked against Albion from the f

irst whistle, with Hodgson's depleted side travelling to an in-form Spurs team who had not lost at White Hart Lane since their opening home game of the term against Manchester City.

Tottenham were looking to close the gap on the top-two - and put the Baggies goal under early pressure.

With less than two minutes on the clock, Gareth McAuley did well to get in the way of Luka Modric's goalbound effort before Craig Dawson had to make a spectacular headed clearance from a Modric cross.

Moments later, Rafael van der Vaart headed weakly wide from a Modric corner and there was still only five minutes on the clock when Defoe advanced forward before shooting well wide from 20 yards.

But Albion weathered the pressure and the game's next incident proved a humourous one - when van der Vaart accidentally wellied the ball straight at referee Mark Halsey from close range! Although a little stunned, the Lancashire official saw the funny side.

Moments later, Albion launched their first real attack on the Spurs goal but Dawson was well off target with a header from Dorrans' free-kick.

Tottenham soon broke upfield and Gareth Bale saw an ambitious 30-yarder trickle into Ben Foster's arms.

However, Albion grew into the game as the half progressed and proved a tough nut for the hosts to crack.

Foster was called on to make his first real save on 26 when he tipped over a van der Vaart snapshot from Bale's pull-back.

A minute later, Albion suffered another setback when Thomas had to be replaced by Gonzalo Jara Reyes. But the injury curse was not limited to Albion, though. Because, on the half-hour mark, Sandro hobbled off and was replaced by Jake Livermore.

On 35, the Baggies won their first corner of the game but Cox was unable to keep his flick-header on target from Dorrans' flag-kick.

However, the territorial advantage remained with Spurs and Jara Rayes did well to deflect a Bale long-range effort away from Foster's goal.

Albion were restricting Spurs to shots from outside the box and Foster had no trouble in dealing with the North Londoners' last effort of the half - van der Vaart's 20-yard grass-cutter.

Redknapp's men picked up from where they left off after the break and after some nifty Emmanuel Adebayor footwork, Defoe volleyed well over from inside the box.

On 51, Dawson came to Albion's rescue when he deflected wide Defoe's prod from van der Vaart's centre.

There was certainly no questioning the Baggies' endeavour and concentration levels, but they struggled to get out of their own half as Spurs prodded and probed for a breakthrough.

However, on 54, they earned some respite by winning a corner and Dawson wasn't too far away with a downward header from Dorrans' flag-kick.

Spurs were soon back on the attack and Modric curled a 25-yard free-kick just over Foster's bar.

Yet Brad Friedel was the next keeper called into action, pushing away Cox's cross-cum-shot at his near-post after neat play by Dorrans.

However, Tottenham finally got their noses in front on 63. Following a slick move down the left, Bale fed Defoe in the box and the England striker swivelled smartly to guide the ball through a sea of legs and inside the bottom right-hand corner.

Spurs continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession and after a long spell of keep-ball, Bale curled a 25-yard shot straight at Foster.

Albion put together a neat passing move of their own in the 78th minute but Jara Reyes shot well wide from 25 yards.

Four minutes later, Cox also tried his luck from distance but was unable to repeat his wonder strike at the same venue last season, blazing well over from outside the box.

However, sub Somen Tchoyi went much closer seconds later when Friedel pushed away his stinging 25-yard strike.

Albion kept pushing for an equaliser and the nervous tension inside White Hart Lane in stoppage time was tangible - but a goal proved a bridge too far. 

TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Bassong 67), Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, van der Vaart, Sandro (Livermore 30 (Kranjcar 77)), Bale; Adebayor, Defoe. Subs not used: Cudicini (gk), Pavlyuchenko, Dos Santos, Rose.

ALBION (4-5-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Dawson, Shorey; Cox, Thorne (Tchoyi 80), Dorrans (Morrison 66), Scharner, Thomas (Jara Reyes 27); Odemwingie. Subs not used: Fulop (gk), Mantom, Fortune, Tamas.

GOAL: TOTTENHAM - Defoe (63).

BOOKINGS: ALBION - Thomas (foul 23), Jones (foul 47), Dorrans (foul 52), Scharner (foul 89), Cox (foul 90+3).

REFEREE: M Halsey (Lancashire).



    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.