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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
00:00 22nd June 2012

Mozza earns richly-deserved draw

JAMES Morrison’s dramatic stoppage-time strike earned the brave Baggies a well-deserved point.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s deflected 74th-minute effort appeared to have sentenced Steve Clarke’s side to their first defeat of the season.

The hosts had bossed the first half, even though Ben Foster was rarely troubled.

The second 45 proved a much more even contest and Brad Friedel had to produce the best two saves of the game to keep out sub Romelu Lukaku and Marc-Antoine Fortune.

However, Albion’s resilience was undone 16 minutes from time when Assou-Ekotto saw his 25-yard shot diverted past the wrong-footed Foster by Graham Dorrans’ frame.

But the Baggies were not to be denied and Morrison restored parity in the 91st minute with a cool 12-yard finish.

Clarke made two changes for his first competitive away game as Albion head coach.

Fortune and Dorrans were handed their first starts of the season in place of Peter Odemwingie, who suffered a knock in training, and the benched Zoltan Gera.

New signing Markus Rosenberg was named in a matchday squad for the first time and was joined on the bench by Billy Jones, who missed the opening game with food poisoning. Gonzalo Jara Reyes and Yassine El Ghanassy made way.

Andre Villas-Boas made two changes for his first home game in charge, with new arrival Jan Vertonghen and Rafael van der Vaart coming in for Younes Kaboul and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Albion, all in red, started confidently but it was the team who finished fourth last term that predictably asked the early questions, with Gareth McAuley and Claudio Yacob making vital interceptions during the opening exchanges.

In the eighth minute, Aaron Lennon sent Kyle Walker scampering away down the Spurs right and from his low cross, Gareth Bale, on the stretch, volleyed well over from just inside the box.

Tottenham, determined to bounce back from their opening-day defeat at Newcastle, were penning Albion inside their own half as they zipped the ball around with real conviction.

And they created their best opening yet on 13 when Gareth Bale charged to the byline before pulling the ball back to Lennon, who completely fluffed his shot from 15 yards.

A better chance came and went on 16 when Walker played the pacey Lennon in behind Liam Ridgewell and from his tee-up, van der Vaart pulled his ten-yard effort wide of the near post.

After the Baggies had finally enjoyed some concerted possession inside the Spurs, the hosts hit them on the break on 24 and really should have opened the scoring. Yacob took the sting out of Bale’s low cross but the ball sat up perfectly for debutant Vertonghen, who wastefully volleyed over from 12 yards.

Moments later, there was another scare when Lennon ghosted onto a low cross inside the six-yard box, but Ridgewell’s last-ditch challenge snuffed out the threat.

Albion earned some respite from the pressure when Youssouf Mulumbu won a free-kick 30 yards out. Steven Reid used the 32nd-minute set-piece to record Albion’s first shot of the game – but he was well off target.

After a scrappy passage of play, van der Vaart was equally ineffective with a 35th-minute free-kick from similar distance.

Albion did cause a moment of panic at the other end when Mulumbu’s clearing punt upfield was chased down by Fortune, whose diligence was denied by an alert Friedel, who scampered off his line to clutch Walker’s risky back-header.

And, in the final minute of the half, only Vertonghen’s last-ditch tackle to cut out Yacob’s sublime through-ball denied Fortune a clear sight of goal.

Albion had certainly underlined their resilience during the opening 45 minutes and, despite all of Spurs’ possession, Foster did not have to make a save until the dying seconds, when he easily gathered Jermain Defoe’s grass-cutter from 18 yards.

Albion were quicker in stamping their authority on proceedings after the break but the first shot of the half still came from Spurs, with Bale slicing high and wide from just inside the box.

Then, on 53, Defoe won a free-kick inches outside the Baggies penalty area and it took a fine finger-tipped save from Foster to keep out Assou–Ekotto’s dipping left-footer.

Dorrans, back in the frame after missing the league opener through family reasons, suddenly burst into life on 53. The Scotland international surged past both Walker and William Gallas down the left before testing Friedel with a fierce drive from an acute angle, which the American pushed to safety.

Back came Spurs and after a fine interception by Jake Livermore, Defoe had McAuley and Jonas Olsson backtracking before pulling his 20-yard shot just wide of the left-hand post.

Albion were packing more of a goal threat this half but Shane Long was unable to trouble Friedel’s goal with a downward header from Morrison’s free-kick.

Moments later, Fortune fired horribly over from 25 yards.

With both sets of fans in full voice, there was a crackling atmosphere inside ‘the Lane’ and Defoe did his best to pump up the volume even further among the home hordes on 61 – but shot straight at Foster from distance.

Long had run himself into the ground and was replaced by Lukaku on 63 – seconds after Emmanuel Adebayor had been granted his second Spurs debut in place of van der Vaart.

Defoe thought he’d put Spurs ahead on 64 and celebrated wildly – only for his goal joy to be nipped in the bud by an offside flag.

Albion broke upfield and after Lukaku had shrugged off Vertonghen, Friedel produced the save of the game thus far to keep out the on-loan Chelsea striker’s low 15-yard drive, which he diverted around his far post.

The action was flowing from end to end and Defoe again could only find Foster’s midriff with a 25-yard drive.

Albion created their best chance of the game on 69 when Fortune raced onto Dorrans’ defence-splitting pass and held off Gallas before seeing his goalbound stab blocked at point-blank range by Friedel.

Spurs were having to resort to long-range shots but Bale did trouble Foster on 74 with a left-foot rocket which the Albion No.1 patted wide.

However, Albion’s luck was out from the ensuing corner, which was headed clear by McAuley. Assou-Ekotto fired the loose ball goalwards from 25 yards and his effort took a huge deflection off Dorrans before flying into the bottom right-hand corner, giving Foster no chance.

Albion did not throw the towel in and Fortune and Lukaku both gave Spurs worrying moments with mazy runs. Rosenberg was granted his debut as a replacement for Fortune on 78.

There was real Albion agony on 89 when McAuley saw his header from Morrison’s corner headed off the goalline and onto the Spurs bar by Assou-Ekotto.

Incredibly, moments later, Gallas cleared another Albion effort off the line - this time from Lukaku.

But Albion's refusal to accept defeat finally paid dividends in the first minute of stoppage time. McAuley teed up Morrison who converted Albion’s late pressure into an equaliser when he slid home through a crowded goalmouth from 12 yards.

SPURS (4-2-3-1): Friedel; Walker, Vertonghen, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Sandro (Sigurdsson 73), Livermore; Lennon, van der Vaart (Adebayor 63), Bale; Defoe (Jenas 76). Subs not used: Cudicini (gk), Caulker, Naughton, Townsend.

ALBION (4-2-1-3): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Morrison; Fortune (Rosenberg 78), Long (Lukaku 63), Dorrans (Brunt 75). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Jones, Gera, C Dawson.

GOALS: TOTTENHAM – Assou-Ekotto (74). ALBION - Morrison (90+1).

BOOKINGS: TOTTENHAM – Vertonghen (foul 48). ALBION – Mulumbu (kicking ball away 29), Reid (foul 81).

REFEREE: M Dean (Wirral).

ATTENDANCE: 36,166.

ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu.

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