Live Commentary: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Southampton - as it happened

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring against Manchester City on April 21, 2013
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Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the Premier League clash at White Hart Lane as Tottenham Hotspur record a 1-0 win over Southampton.

Tottenham Hotspur welcomed Southampton to White Hart Lane on Saturday needing the three points to continue their push for the top four.

It was Southampton that dominated the first period, but neither side could make the breakthrough as it remained goalless at the interval.

The Saints continued to enjoy most of the possession in the second period, but a thunderbolt from Gareth Bale in the latter stages secured a vital win for Spurs.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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2.01pmAfternoon all! Well, we are getting to that stage of the season where there is simply no room for mistakes. Spurs have been guilty of some poor home performances this season, but three points this afternoon are a necessity if they are to continue their push for the Champions League. That said, Southampton will not be in the mood to provide any favours.

2.04pmSpurs will enter the match full of confidence having won nine of their last 11 previous league matches with Southampton at this stadium, although they did suffer two defeats in that period. Andre Villas-Boas’ side will also hope that the Saints already have their eye on next season with their league status secured for another campaign.

2.07pmThe statistics suggest that we will have an open match this afternoon. Both teams have scored in 25 of Tottenham’s league games this season, more than any other club. Meanwhile, the capital outfit have now gone nine Premier League fixtures without keeping a clean sheet, which does seem extraordinary for a team searching for a place in the top four.

2.10pmIt does appear that the home side will have to be at their best to breach this Southampton defence, however, which has gone 281 minutes away from home without conceding a goal in the league. Many questioned the club’s decision to sack Nigel Adkins, but there is no doubt that Mauricio Pochettino has steadied the ship. Right, the team news is just filtering in.

2.13pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Big boost for the home side this afternoon with Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembele both returning to the team. Jermain Defoe also starts in attack, while Tom Huddlestone keeps his place in midfield. Southampton are without the suspended duo of Danny Fox and Gaston Ramirez, but Jay Rodriguez does start alongside Rickie Lambert. Full teams to follow.

2.16pmAs mentioned, Southampton have also lost just one of their last seven league matches, although that reverse came last time out against West Bromwich Albion, where they had two players dismissed. However, they have been extremely impressive in recent wins over Chelsea and Reading, before picking up a point at Swansea City.

2.19pmOf course, this afternoon will also see Gareth Bale take on his former club. It seems a long time ago that the lanky youngster moved to White Hart Lane, but he has now emerged into one of the best players in the world. He also cannot stop winning awards, picking up both accolades from his fellow professionals in addition to the Football Writers’ award on Thursday.

2.22pmSouthampton will have to keep a keen eye on Bale in this match, with the Welshman scoring in each of his last three league matches. The attacker has also scored more goals outside the box (seven) than any other player in the league this season. I wonder whether he would celebrate if he found the back of the net this afternoon?

2.25pmLet’s take a closer look at how each side has fared in the league this season, starting with Spurs. As it stands, they sit in fifth position in the table, two points behind Arsenal and three behind Chelsea. They have played one more game than the Gunners, but that clash is against Chelsea. That could yet prove to be the defining match of the season.

2.28pmMissing out on the Champions League last season would certainly have hurt the club, but they were safe in the knowledge that they had been one of the top four teams in the league. I think it would hurt more this time around if they finished just outside the Champions League positions. Three London clubs fighting for two positions, something has to give somewhere. Apologies, a slight technical issue has delayed the full team news for this match, but I can provide you with it now.

2.31pmTEAMS:

SPURS: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Dembele, Huddlestone, Dempsey; Bale, Defoe

SOUTHAMPTON: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Shaw; Cork, S. Davis, Guly, Lallana; Rodriguez, Lambert


2.34pmSpurs have won nine of their 17 home matches this season, but five draws and three defeats have cost them valuable points. Especially when you see that Chelsea have taken six more points on their own patch than Tottenham this season. It could be argued that this afternoon is their most important match of the season.

2.37pmBREAKING: Today's kickoff has been delayed until 3.30pm due to traffic problems around the stadium. That news has indeed been confirmed by Tottenham's official website. Well, that has thrown a spanner in the works. More time to enjoy my commentary mind.

2.40pmDespite Spurs' patchy form at home, their record on the road has been quite sensational. In fact, only Manchester United have taken more points or indeed won more games than Spurs. The London outfit have won nine of their 18 matches, drawing four and losing five times. Had they turned some of their home draws into wins, they would already be home and hosed for the Champions League.

2.43pmSouthampton, meanwhile, currently sit in 13th position in the table. They are seven points clear of the drop zone, which although still gives them a mathematical possibility of dropping down, it would take a quite extraordinary turn of events. I think it would be safe to say that the Saints can now start preparing for another season in the Premier League.

2.46pmA place in the top half of the table is also not entirely out of the question with just three points separating them from ninth-placed Swansea City. It would be unfair to suggest that Adkins would not have taken them into such a position, but there is no question that Pochettino has impressed since taking charge of the club.

2.49pmThe Saints have won six of their 18 matches at St Mary’s this season, drawing six times and suffering six defeats. They have struggled on the road, however, with just three wins from their 17 matches. That said, they have suffered just eight defeats on their travels, which is less than West Bromwich Albion and the same as Swansea City.

2.52pmThere is no question that Southampton have struggled defensively at times this season. The Saints have conceded 57 goals in their 35 matches, which is the fifth worst record in the division. They have, however, found the back of the net 47 times, which is the most of every team outside the top seven in the table. Spurs, meanwhile, have conceded 43 goals, but scored 60 times, just one less than Manchester City.

2.55pmJust a bit of Championship news to bring you: Hull City will join Cardiff City in the top division next season after the pair shared the points in a 2-2 draw at the KC Stadium. A win for Watford against Leeds would have taken them up, but they could only pick up a 1-1 draw. Stick around the site for all the reaction.

2.58pmJust a reminder that kickoff has been delayed until 3.30pm this afternoon due to traffic issues surrounding the stadium. The players have just emerged onto the pitch for another training session before entering for their final team talk. Be sure to stick around for the next 30 minutes of build-up.

3.02pmLet's take another look at the team news this afternoon. Assou-Ekotto returns to the Spurs side, with Jan Vertonghen moving into the middle of defence alongside Michael Dawson. Mousa Dembele and Aaron Lennon also return to the side, but Emmanuel Adebayor and Lewis Holty must be content with a place on the bench.

3.05pmSouthampton, meanwhile, once more leave Jason Puncheon on the bench alongside Maya Yoshida, who has been struggling with injury this week. Exciting youngster Luke Shaw does start in defence, while there is a rare place for Guly do Prado, with Gaston Ramirez ruled out through suspension.

3.08pmNo goals in the 3pm kickoffs in any of the five Premier League fixtures that are currently underway. Just a reminder that the late start this afternoon sees Arsenal travel to Queens Park Rangers, who were relegated last weekend. The Gunners will certainly have an eye on what is happening at White Hart Lane this afternoon.

3.12pmReading have taken the lead against Fulham at Craven Cottage courtesy of a penalty from Hal Robson-Kanu. The Royals have shown more intensity in the opening 12 minutes of this match than they have all season. That remains the only goal in the Premier League thus far this afternoon. Fairly tetchy start to each fixture in the top division.

3.15pmRight, just about 15 minutes from kickoff at White Hart Lane, time for my pre-match prediction. I can certainly make a case for Southampton with the Saints unbeaten in their last seven league matches, but I just cannot see any way how Tottenham do not win this match. I can see Bale scoring in a 2-0 home victory. Spurs supporters will hope that it is that straightforward.

3.18pmEnd-to-end affair at the Hawthorns with West Bromwich Albion hosting Wigan Athletic, who are in deep relegation trouble. Just a reminder that Queens Park Rangers and Reading have both already dropped out of the division, but a host of clubs are involved at the bottom. None more so than Newcastle, who are currently drawing 0-0 at Upton Park.

3.22pmJust a reminder that three points for Spurs this afternoon would move them above Arsenal into fourth position, level on points with Chelsea, who face Manchester United tomorrow afternoon. You just get the feeling that Spurs' clash with Chelsea next week could ultimately decide who makes the Champions League next season.

3.25pmIt is a bit of a free hit for Southampton this afternoon, however, with the Saints comfortably in 13th position in the table. Three points could take them as high as 10th, depending on other results. When you see the struggles of Reading, Southampton have to be praised for their showing this season.

3.28pmHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Still just the one goal in the 3pm kickoffs in the Premier League with Reading leading Fulham at Craven Cottage.

0 minRight, 30 minutes later than expected, we are ready to get the action underway at White Hart Lane. Both sets of supporters have managed to make it to the stadium in their numbers despite the traffic problems, with those present creating a wonderful atmosphere. Only three points will do for Spurs as they chase the top four. Right, the away side get the action underway on this mild afternoon in London.

2 minBright start from the away side as Luke Shaw bursts down the right before delivering a low cross into the Spurs box, but Dawson is across to make the challenge. Defoe is the target for a Huddlestone pass down the other end moments later, but Hooiveld comes across to clear. You can almost sense the tension inside the stadium.

4 minThe home supporters are in wonderful voice in the early stages of the match, while it must be said that the pitch is in fine condition. Half-chance for Southampton as Davis is felled by Vertonghen outside the box, but Lallana can only fire the free kick straight over the crossbar. That is poor from the Saints skipper.

6 minSlightly bitty period of the match in the last couple of moments with the referee forced to deal with a number of late challenges. Confident start from Southampton with Davis, Lallana and Cork seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages. However, we still await the first real chances of the match with six minutes on the clock.

8 minHalf-chance for the home side this time as Defoe collects a pass from Dempsey before striking an effort from close range, but it was always moving wide of the post. Southampton have possession down the other end moments later with Lallana, but Dawson is out early to quell the danger. End-to-end football in the opening stages at White Hart Lane.

10 minWell, we have not seen much from Gareth Bale in the opening 10 minutes, but I suspect that will change as the match advances. Well, I am certain it will. Again it's good work from Shaw as the Saints full-back delivers a low cross towards Rodriguez, but Dawson is out to make the challenge. Two well-matched sides on display thus far.

12 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for the away side as Clyne collects a pass from Guly before driving into the box, but he can only thump his effort wide of the post. Oh my word he just had to score. Spurs have been let off there. You can almost sense the nervousness inside the stadium as the home side struggle for meaningful possession.

14 minKeeping a clean sheet has been a big problem for Spurs this season, with just three shut-outs in the league at White Hart Lane. That is the second worst record in the division, quite incredible. Again Southampton threaten with Clyne, but this time his cross is cleared by Dempsey. Spurs cannot get out of their own half at the moment.

16 minTottenham really need their home supporters to say with them at the moment as Southampton continue to commit players forward to each attack. Defoe does have a half-chance moments later after good work from Lennon, but Fonte is on hand to make the block. Better from Spurs, but they still have not tested Boruc with 16 minutes on the clock.

18 minHalf-chance for Dempsey this time as the American collects a pass from Dembele before striking an effort on goal, but once more Fonte is on hand to make the block. A poor clearance from Boruc almost presents another chance to the home side, but Defoe just cannot react. Neither side is really in control of the possession at the moment with it split 50/50.

20 minNot too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of losing possession in the opposing half. We have not seen much of Lennon down the right for Spurs thus far, but Shaw has been forcing the England winger to perform his defensive duties. In truth, it has not been the best 20 minutes of Premier League football that we have seen this season.

22 minShaw is lucky to escape a booking as the Southampton left-back dives into a challenge with Kyle Walker, fouling the England international in the process. The resulting free kick is whipped wide to Dempsey, but Do Prado comes across to make the challenge. You can already sense frustration from the home crowd with no goals after 22 minutes.

24 minIt's good work from Lennon this time as the winger delivers a low cross into the box, but Fonte is on hand to clear under pressure from Defoe. Davis attempts to force the issue down the other end with a fine pass towards Lallana, but the Saints skipper just cannot gain control. Little over 20 minutes of the first period remaining.

26 minSpurs have just started to force the issue down each wing in the last couple of moments with Assou-Ekotto and Lennon both testing Southampton with crosses into the box, but Fonte and Hooiveld have been equal to the danger thus far. Spurs have certainly improved in terms of possession, but the London outfit have not yet tested Boruc in the Southampton goal.

28 minIt's really bright work on the counter attack from Southampton as Lallana combines with Rodriguez before attempting to find Lambert, but Dawson was across to clear at the vital moment. The away side again threaten moments later as Clyne delivers a low cross towards Lambert, but Dawson is across to make a fine challenge.

30 minIt is hard to not be impressed by the way Southampton have played in the opening 30 minutes of this match. Another half-chance arrives as Lallana appears to beat the offside trap before collecting a pass from Lambert, but the lineman raises his flag. Although replays have suggested that the skipper was indeed level with the final defender. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, with the scores still goalless.

32 minIt just isn't happening for Spurs at the moment with Bale once more surrounded by three defenders. Defoe does collect possession in the box moments later, but the flag is raised. It has been a bit like that in the opening 32 minutes. Just the one clear chances for either side with Clyne firing wide for Southampton in the early stages.

34 minIt is the Southampton supporters that are making the noise as we approach the final 10 minutes of the first period. First real involvement for Rodriguez as the Saints forward drives into the box, but he just cannot find a shot on goal. Spurs continue to look long, but Defoe has been left chasing shadows.

36 minThat just about sums up Spurs' half thus far as Defoe calls for a corner following contact with Shaw, but the referee points for a goal kick, which brings huge groans from the home crowd. Southampton have enjoyed 52% of the possession up until this point, which is not a surprise. Very limited involvement from the likes of Bale, Lennon and Defoe thus far.

38 minAgain it's bright work from Clyne as the Saints full-back delivers a dangerous cross into the box, but Lloris comes out to claim under pressure from Lambert. The away side have a free kick outside the box moments later, meanwhile, as Huddlestone fells Lallana. However, Lambert's effort is over the crossbar. Spurs are forced into a change here as Dembele is replaced by Lewis Holtby. Big blow for the home side.

40 minSAVE! Southampton think they have scored as Lambert whips a dangerous free kick towards the top corner, but somehow Lloris is across to make the save to push it onto the post. The Saints players bundle into the box, but the danger is cleared. Southampton should be ahead here make no mistake about that.

42 minIt is a case of 'anywhere will do' for Spurs at the moment as they continue to pump the ball into the Southampton half. Well, this was certainly not in the script. Southampton remind me of the Swansea City of last season, who passed teams to death at times. Little over three minutes of the first period remaining. Still goalless at White Hart Lane.

44 minMore frustration for the home side was Defoe is penalised for a push on Fonte in the penalty area. It would have been a real chance for the striker had the play been allowed to continue. Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few moments, but Bale and Dempsey have swapped positions for the home side.

45 min+1Spurs attempt to force the issue down the left as Assou-Ekotto delivers a low cross into the box, but once more Boruc is on hand to collect. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional two minutes at the end of the first period, we are indeed into the first of those.

45 min+2Half-chance for Spurs in the latter stages of the half as Caulker meets a free kick from Huddlestone, but he can only flick his header over the crossbar. Better from the home side in the latter stages of the half.

45 min+3HALF-TIME: Spurs 0-0 Southampton

4.18pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. In truth, it has been the away side that have dominated proceedings in terms of possession and indeed chances. It has been a frustrating afternoon for former Saints youngster Gareth Bale thus far, but there is still a lot of football to be played.

4.23pmSTATISTICS: Southampton have had more of the possession with 52%, while they have had four attempts to Tottenham's two. The away side have also had the best chance of the match by some distance, with Clyne firing just wide from inside the box early on. Spurs need to find another gear in the second period.

4.28pmBENCH WATCH: The home side have a host of attacking options on the bench in the shape of Adebayor, Sigurdsson and Carroll. Meanwhile, Southampton have the likes of Mayuka, Puncheon and Ward-Prowse in reserve. The match is just so delicately poised ahead of the second period.

46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. No changes for either side at the interval which is not too surprising at this stage of the match. As it stands, Spurs would remain in fifth position, while Southampton would sit 13th. Right, the home side get the half underway.

48 minIt is difficult to put into context just how important this second half is for the home side. They have really struggled to pick up points on their own turf this season. Bright start from Spurs as Huddlestone whips a dangerous cross into the Southampton box, but Boruc comes to collect. A goal for the home side would just settle everyone down in the stadium.

50 minSlightly bitty start to the half with the referee forced to deal with a number of late challenges from both sides. Spurs attempt to force the issue as they pass and probe outside the box, but Bale is challenged by Clyne. It has not quite happened for the Welsh winger thus far, but there is still a lot of time for that to change.

52 minBale attempts to beat the offside trap as he collects a pass from Huddlestone, but once more the Welshman is frustrated by the flag. There is a lot of space behind this Southampton defence that is for certain. Not too much from the away side in terms of an attacking threat thus far, but they are always dangerous on the counter.

54 minJust a reminder that Arsenal are in action later this afternoon as they travel to Queens Park Rangers. What a boost it would be for the Gunners if Southampton secured something from this match. No real flow to the match at the moment with both sides guilty of poor passing in the final third. Lallana does have a half-chance, but his effort is straight at Lloris from close range.

56 minBetter from Southampton in the last few moments with Lallana and Clyne both testing the home side with low crosses into the box, but Dawson is on hand to quell the danger. Shaw is involved down the other side moments later, but Walker clears the danger. Little under 35 minutes of football remaining at White Hart Lane.

58 minJust a reminder that Spurs have already been forced into one change with Holtby replacing Dembele in the first period. However, Southampton still have all three substitutions remaining should they wish. It is the away side that are forcing the issue as we approach the final 30 minutes. It really is nervous times for the home side. They simply have to find a winner here.

60 minHalf-chance for the away side once more as Lambert whips a dangerous free kick into the box, but it just flashes past the far post. Lloris was calm enough, but I am not sure that the supporters behind the goal were convinced. Spurs just cannot get the ball at the moment as the Saints continue to force corner after corner.

62 minAnother half-chance for the away side as Lallana dances into the box before striking an effort towards the bottom corner, but Assou-Ekotto is across to make the block. The resulting set piece is delivered straight under the bar, but Dawson makes the challenge. Adebayor will soon join the action for the home side.

64 minSpurs do indeed make the change with Adebayor introduced in place of Lennon. In truth, it has been a really quiet afternoon for Lennon, who has only just returned from injury. Just the one change remaining for Spurs. Adebayor has not really been a fans favourite this season, but a goal this afternoon would make him an instant hero. Little over 25 minutes of football remaining in London.

66 minBetter from Spurs in the last couple of minutes with Bale and Defoe starting to have an effect on the match, but they just cannot find that final pass into the box. Bale does threaten on the counter moments later, but Defoe falls over at the final moment. End-to-end football as we approach the final 20 minutes. Wonderful excitement at White Hart Lane.

68 minSouthampton are forced into their first change of the match as the injured Do Prado is replaced by Mayuka. Not the best technically, but he has a lot of pace to burn. Wouldn't it be just like football if he popped up with a winner here. The match is so stretched at the moment with both teams committing players to each attack.

70 minJust a reminder that Spurs have one change remaining if Villas-Boas should wish to change things in the final moments. It certainly has been better from the home side in the last few moments, but they just cannot find that final pass. A half-chance does fall to Dempsey, but he can only fire his effort over the crossbar.

72 minNot too much for the away supporters to get excited about at the moment with their side coming under serious pressure. However, it is all very narrow from Spurs, when they do go wide, the cross is too powerful for the men in the middle. You could cut the tension inside the stadium with a knife. Little under 20 minutes of football remaining.

75 minHalf-chance for Southampton this time as Lallana delivers a dangerous cross into the box, but Lloris comes out to claim under pressure from Lambert. Meanwhile, Spurs make their third change of the match as Dempsey is replaced by Sigurdsson. It is all or nothing now. Villas-Boas has played his final card. Spurs desperately need a late goal here.

77 minNo chance of Southampton settling for a point here as they commit both central defenders to each set piece, but Spurs manage to clear the danger. Davis enters the referee's book for a late challenge on Defoe, but it was certainly a 'good foul'. Scrappy period of the match in the last few moments with Clattenburg busier than he would like.

79 minBoos erupt around the stadium as another long pass from Huddlestone is collected by Fonte. Almost a half-chance for Rodriguez down the other end, but the striker just cannot collect under pressure from Dawson. No real quality on display from either side as we approach the final 10 minutes of action.

82 minSigurdsson attempts to force the issue once more with a deep cross into the box, but Clyne is across to clear the danger. Walker is involved down the right moments later, but Cork is across to clear. We are going right down to the wire here. Boruc comes to claim the resulting corner, he gets nowhere near it, but Clyne manages to thump clear.

84 minSouthampton make their second change of the match as Puncheon replaces Lallana, who has not stopped running this afternoon. Spurs just have not threatened anywhere near enough to deserve to be winning this match. Bale has been wonderful this season, but his side need another piece of magic in this match.

86 minBale wants a penalty as the Welshman is felled in the box by Jack Cork, but the referee is not interested. Bale again attempts to force the issue moments later, but his effort comes off the head of Fonte before dropping straight into the arms of Boruc. All one-way traffic as Spurs force their fifth corner of the match.

86 minGOAL! Spurs 1-0 Southampton (Bale)

87 minOh my word! It just had to be him! Bale has come back to haunt his own club here as he takes control of possession outside the box before thumping an effort into the bottom corner. That is just stunning from the Welshman.

88 minGood grief. That is a wonderful goal from a wonderful player. Replays have shown that it took a deflection, which moved it away from the goalkeeper. It is so harsh on Southampton, who have been the better side. Little under two minutes of football remaining at White Hart Lane.

90 minThe job is not done for the home side as Southampton continue to pump high balls into the box, but Dawson is on hand to clear twice in quick succession. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes at the end of the match.

90 min+3Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few moments with Spurs keeping control of the ball. Oh my word what a big result it would be if they managed to hold on. However, you cannot help but feel for Southampton. Little over one minute of added time remaining. Spurs have possession.

90 min+4FULL-TIME: Spurs 1-0 Southampton

5.22pmSo there we have it. Huge three points for Spurs as they move above Arsenal into third position in the table. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to remain with us for all the reaction. Until then!

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring against Manchester City on April 21, 2013
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