Live Commentary: West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur - as it happened

West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke during the match against Stoke City on December 1, 2012
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live coverage of today's Premier League clash between West Brom and Spurs.

Tottenham Hotspur travelled to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion looking for their first win in the league since New Year's Day.

A Gareth Bale strike was enough to give them all three points in a match that also saw Goran Popov sent off for allegedly spitting at Kyle Walker.

The win moves Spurs to within one point of third-placed Chelsea in the Premier League table.

You can read how it all unfolded with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.


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12.30pmGood afternoon! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for today's match between West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur. Let's get straight down to business.

12.32pmThe Baggies were the surprise package during the first half of the season, keeping up with the likes of today's opponents and causing some people to speculate that they may even be in with a chance of finishing in a European place. However, they have fallen away in recent weeks after a poor spell of form.

12.34pmSteve Clarke's men have picked up just one point from their last five league games, losing to the likes of Fulham and Reading in that spell. It is their worst spell of the season and Clarke will be desperate to stop the rot today and try and work his way back up the table.

12.36pmThat poor run of form has seen West Brom fall to ninth in the Premier League table, where they now sit level on points with Swansea City.

12.38pmSpurs are also suffering from a hiccup in their form at a time when they really can't afford to. They have drawn their last three league games and, if you extend their form to all competitions, they are without a win in four.

12.40pmAndre Villas-Boas will be keen to get back to winning ways today as the race for the Champions League spots begins to heat up. Not only will they be looking to take full advantage of Chelsea's poor form, but they also need to keep distance between themselves and the chasing pack of Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool.

12.42pmAs things stand, Spurs are level on points with Everton and just one clear of North London rivals Arsenal. However, a win today would extend that lead to four points, as well as cutting the gap between themselves and Chelsea to a solitary point. Plenty of incentive for them then!

12.44pmA win for West Brom, however, would see them move back up to seventh, overtaking Liverpool who play Manchester City in the 4pm kickoff.

12.46pmRight, time for some team news I think. The news coming out of the Hawthorns for the hosts is that they will make three changes to their side, bringing in Steven Reid, Claudio Yacob and Shane Long.

12.48pmSpurs, meanwhile, are unchanged as Clint Dempsey continues in the hole behind Jermain Defoe, with extra support coming from Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on the wings.

12.49pmWEST BROM STARTING XI: Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Popov; Dorrans, Yacob, Morrison, Brunt; Long, Lukaku

12.49pmWEST BROM SUBS: Myhill, Ridgewell, Thomas, Jones, Rosenberg, Fortune, Tamas

12.50pmTOTTENHAM STARTING XI: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Dembele, Parker, Lennon, Bale, Dempsey; Defoe

12.50pmTOTTENHAM SUBS: Friedel, Gallas, Naughton, Huddlestone, Livermore, Sigurdsson, Holtby

12.52pmNo real surprises in the Spurs lineup, then. Holtby makes the bench which means that he will have to wait a little bit longer for his full Tottenham debut.

12.54pmWest Brom will be fully aware of Tottenham's dangermen, and most of them are on show at the Hawthorns today. Gareth Bale showed exactly what he can do against Norwich during the week, and when he is on form he is unplayabale. Aaron Lennon can also be very difficult to stop when in full flow, while Jermain Defoe is still one of the league's deadliest finishers. Add the threats of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey to that and you have a formidable attacking outfit.

12.56pmThe hosts have threats of their own, however. Romelu Lukaku is enhancing his burgeoning reputation with every passing week, drawing comparisons with Chelsea legend Dider Drogba already. Shane Long has also reminded people what a good goalscorer he is, popping up with some important strikes so far this season.

12.58pmOne player conspicious by his absence for the Baggies is Peter Odemwingie. The striker was involved in one of the most bizarre transfer stories ever on deadline day as he drove to Queens Park Rangers believing he had permission to speak to them, only to be refused entry to Loftus Road! Expect a plethora of Odemwingie chants from the visiting fans today!

1pmOn a more serious note for the player, it remains to be seen what will become of him for the remainder of the season. He was sent home from training the day after the transfer debacle and some of his teammates are thought to be annoyed at his behaviour.

1.02pmOf course, we've seen players reintegrated into squads before (Carlos Tevez springs to mind), but it remains to be seen whether that can happen in this case. Or, indeed, whether the fans want him back! There is no doubting his quality as a player, but fans don't take kindly to such blatant shows of disloyalty.

1.04pmSpeaking of the fans, these two clubs are more evenly-matched now than they have been in years, so both sets of supporters will believe that they can come out of this one with a win.

1.06pmSo, we know the present situation of both these sides, but what does history tell us about this fixture?

1.08pmWell, it is surprisingly even. Of the 105 matches between these two clubs, Spurs have won 41 to West Brom's 40, with 24 draws. West Brom have just edged the goal count, however, scoring 157 to Spurs' 156. It doesn't get much closer than that!

1.10pmThe more recent history stacks more conclusively in Tottenham's favour, however. The Baggies haven't beaten today's opponents in the last six meetings, with their last win coming in 2008 courtesy of goals from Roman Bednar and Craig Beattie.

1.13pmThe most recent meeting ended 1-1 thanks to James Morrison's 90th minute equaliser. Both he and Benoit Assou-Ekotto - the other goalscorer form that game - are on show today.

1.15pmWhat will make this clash even more intriguing is the fact that West Brom have a good home record and Spurs have a good away record so far this season.

1.17pmThe Baggies have picked up 23 points from 12 games at the Hawthorns - the fifth-highest tally in the league - while Spurs have won 20 points on their travels, a record only bettered by the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea.

1.20pmRight, we're 10 minutes from kickoff, which means it's time for the prediction! I can see this one going either way. Spurs, on their day, are among the most exciting teams in Europe, but don't let West Brom's poor form fool you into thinking that they don't possess qualiity themselves. I'm going to go for a 2-2 draw and, as a bonus, I'll predict that Bale will get himself on the scoresheet.

1.24pmThe players are now in the tunnel and ready to come out on the pitch.

1.26pmThose who have seen Tottenham's kit will know how tight it is, and Kyle Walker doesn't seem too comfortable in it! He is desperately trying to stretch his shirt just before he makes his way out onto the pitch!

1.28pmLong and Lukaku have been two of West Brom's best performers so far this season but, surprisingly, today is only the second time they have started a match together. Steve Clarke has changed his formation to accommodate the duo.

1.30pmThe players are set up, the ref is ready, we're just about good to go at the Hawthorns.

0 minGareth Bale and Jermain Defoe get us underway.

0 minImmediately you can see attacking intent from the hosts. Morrison gets the ball in the middle and Brunt sets off down the left straight away. Morrison delays his pass a fraction too long, however, and Brunt is offside. Brave tactics from West Brom against such a dangerous attacking team like Spurs.

2 minSpurs, meanwhile, have set up with Bale just behind Defoe and Demspey out on the left. Don't expect it to stay that way for the whole match, though. Spurs have plenty of interchangable players in that position.

3 minCHANCE! There's the first example of Lukaku and Long linking up. Lukaku beats Dawson in the air with a towering header which sends Long racing through on goal. His first touch isn't great and makes the chance a lot harder, and his second touch is even worse as he tried to take it round Lloris but only succeeds in hitting it out for a goalkick. Should've done better.

5 minThe Baggies have a corner after some nice footwork from Dorrans created a bit of space to cross, but Assou-Ekotto was on hand to put it behind.

6 minSHOT! The first piece of action for either keeper sees Lloris save low from a Lukaku shot. Walker just stood of the striker, who had been found by Brunt.

7 minCHANCE! That is a really good chance by Dempsey's standards! Lennon shows tremendous acceleration and pace to beat Popov down the right before standing a ball up to the back post. Dempsey peels off his man but his header is poor when he should've done a lot better. He may have not been expecting it to reach him.

10 minIt's been a bright opening 10 minutes from the hosts, with Lukaku and Long already showing glimpses of working well together.

12 minDembele just orchestrated a lovely Spurs move, getting the ball before sweeping it out to the right, then getting it back and trying to slide Dempsey in, but his pass is just a touch too heavy.

14 minCHANCE! Bale's first run at the West Brom defence almost brings the opener. He turns on the gas and powers past three defenders into the box. He is forced a bit wider than he'd like to be, however, so tries to cross it, but McAuley nods it behind for a corner. That's Bale at his very best.

16 minHalf chance for Spurs as Bale's header beats the defence and looks like sending Defoe through, but Foster is very quickly off his line to get to the ball first. Great example of the sweeper keeper there from the West Brom man.

18 minSpurs have begun to control this match, taking the sting out of West Brom's bright start. They are enjoying most of the possession now and are creating chances too. Dangerous signs for the Baggies.

19 minSHOT! It all opens up for Dembele from about 30 yards out, so he lets fly. His shot is horribly sliced, however, and flies a long way over and even further wide.

20 minCHANCE! Dorrans threads a perfect pass through to Long with the outside of his boot. This time Long's touch is good, setting up a chance to shoot, but Lloris was out quickly to close the angle and deny the striker.

22 minWest Brom have now started to wrestle a bit of control back from their visitors. This has been a good, open match so far and you get the feeling that either side could score on any attack.

24 minThe Baggies have a corner as Dorrans and Morrison link up. Brunt's cross looks destined for the head of McAuley, but Lloris just gets a fingertip to it to clear it away.

25 minBale bursts away on the counter attack and takes on Popov down the right. His cross, with his weaker foot, is good but there is no-one in the box to take advantage of it.

26 minSHOT! Again a Spurs midfielder isn't closed down around 25 yards from goal. This time it is Dempsey, who doesn't get hold of his shot as it trickles harmlessly wide of Foster's post.

28 minJermain Defoe has struggled to make any sort of impact on this one so far. The England international couldn't stop scoring earlier this season, but he is suffering from a bit of a drought at the moment.

30 minDorrans sweeps a long ball over to Long, who has peeled off his man only to be flagged offside. Good movement for the striker, who was found brilliantly by Dorrans. The Scotland international has been impressive in this half so far.

31 minYacob puts in a poor, late tackle on Vertonghen, but refreshingly the defender gets straight back up. There was nothing malicious in the tackle and Mark Clattenburg is right not to produce a yellow.

32 minYacob should probably get a yellow there, however. He brings down Defoe right on the edge of the box, and Spurs have a free kick in a very dangerous position...

33 min...but it's one to forget from Bale. He goes for pure, unadulterated power to try and beat the keeper on his side, but gets it all wrong as it swings and swerves high over the bar.

34 minDefoe has started to come into this one a bit more, but the striker is down hurt at the moment. They can't afford to lose him - he is the only recognised striker at the club until Adebayor returns from the African Cup of Nations.

36 minHe is back up but moving very gingerly. He twisted his ankle when reaching to win the ball. They're always painful, but it remains to be seen whether he can continue. He is receiving heavy strapping on it now.

38 minPlay continues on the field with Yacob comitting yet another foul, but Defoe will not be able to carry on.

39 minTOTTENHAM SUB: Lewis Holtby is the man to replace Jermain Defoe. Spurs now have no recognised striker on the field.

41 minBale has gone over to the left following that change.

42 minCHANCE! Lukaku is released and looks to be through on goal, but his first touch just slowed him up slightly allowing the defence to get back and causing him to blast his shot over the bar.

45 minWe'll have a minimum of three minutes of added time here.

45+2 minSAVE! Brilliant from Bale. He carries the ball from the left side of the pitch to the right side, with Yacob in attendance the whole way, but he just drops a shoulder to beat his marker before unleashing a curling effort that Foster needed to tip over.

45+3 minHALF TIME: West Brom 0-0 Tottenham

2.20pmThe 0-0 scoreline does not really do this match justice so far. It has been an entertaining match, with both teams playing exciting, attacking formations. However, neither side has been able to find an opening so far.

2.22pmSteve Clarke will be happy with his side's performance in the opening period. They had less of the ball, as expected, but created a few good chances and have plenty of positives to work on. Spurs are playing a very high defensive line, and Lukaku and Long have been close to taking advantage of this with their pace. Don't be surprised to see a lot of early through balls played in the second half. The counter attack looks like the Baggies' most likely route to a goal.

2.24pmAndre Villas-Boas, meanwhile, will be confident that his side will find a breakthrough. They have enjoyed the lion's share of possession and have the players to make the most of that in the second half. One worry for Spurs, however, will be that their only shot on target came right at the end of the half through a piece of individual brilliance from Bale and, with Defoe being forced off with an injury, they have no recognised striker on the pitch.

2.27pmDespite Tottenham having the better of the possession it has been quite an even game. I'd be surprised if we were still locked at 0-0 at full time, but both sides could score and this one, based on that opening 45 minutes, could really go either way.

2.29pmIf this one does end 0-0, however, it will be the first goalless draw between these two sides at the Hawthorns. Ever.

2.32pmSpurs may have to think further ahead than the next 45 minutes in terms of goalscoring, however. Defoe's injury - a twisted ankle - is the kind that could keep him out for anything between three days and three months. Adebayor is currently away at the African Cup of Nations and no new strikers were brought in during the transfer window so, in a worst case scenario, Spurs could be without a recognised striker for a few games.

2.34pmRight, the players are spilling back onto the field for the second half. Will we see some goals? I suspect so. Only Manchester United have scored more away goals than Spurs this season.

45 minThe hosts get us back underway at the Hawthorns.

46 minAn early example of the quick through ball to Lukaku I was talking about, but the striker has gone too early and is offside.

47 minRED CARD! Oh, out of nothing Goran Popov has been sent off! The West Brom man took a chance by trying to take Walker on instead of clearing it out of defence and he eventually wins a goal kick. There are some words exchanged between the two, and Popov appears to spit in the direction of Walker. Clattenburg immediately shows him the red.

49 minIt's hard to tell whether Popov was spitting at Walker or just spitting forward, but Clattenburg clearly thought that it was the former and - if that is the case - was right to give a red. There is no place for that in the game.

50 minBale and Lennon pry and probe for a way through the defence, with the former eventually working half a yard to shoot, but his effort is blocked. Bale is so good at working space to shoot on his left, he just needs half a yard and it is impossible to defend against.

51 minWEST BROM SUB: Steve Clarke is forced into a change following that red card. Laim Ridgewell replaces Lukaku, which is bad for the game as the Baggies' attacking prowess has been significantly lowered with that.

53 minSAVE! Holtby is released down the left by Assou-Ekotto and tries to disguise his shot at the near post, but Foster is equal to it.

54 minLong now has the thankless task of playing against the Spurs defence all on his own. It is interesting that Clarke chose to bring Lukaku off instead of Long, however. You'd think that Lukaku would be more adept at holding the ball up.

55 minA Spurs corner is cleared only as far as Assou-Ekotto on the edge of the box, and the left-back goes for a highly ambitious first-time volley that flies over the bar.

56 minWalker is now being booed by the home fans after his part in Popov's red card. Presumably most of them are bemused as to the reasons behind the red as it was not easy to see on first viewing.

57 minBale clips a ball into the near post where Holtby just tries to help it on its way, but Foster bundles it out for a corner.

58 minAnother corner for Spurs is only cleared to the edge of the box, where this time Walker is waiting. He is off balance anf facing the wrong way as he takes the volley on, and sure enough he skews his effort wide of the post.

59 minCHANCE! Bale refuses to give up on a ball over the top, finding a way past McAuley who was trying to shepherd it back to his keeper. Bale just gets a toe to it, but Foster is there to smother the chance.

62 minIt's attack after attack after attack for Spurs at the moment. The latest one ends up with Vertonghen having a dig from all of 35 yards out, but his effort deflects off McAuley on its way out for a corner.

64 minIt's one way traffic at the moment. You have to wonder whether Villas-Boas is thinking about bringing on another attacking player for a defender. They have Gylfi Sigurdsson on the bench, remember.

65 minWest Brom have a decent spell a fabulous bit of one-touch football, but Ridgewell doesn't hold his run when looking all the way down the line, resulting in a free kick to Spurs.

66 minGOAL! West Brom 0-1 Tottenham (Gareth Bale)

67 minSuperb goal. Bale does what he does best, making a yard for himself on the edge of the box before smashing his effort past a helpless Foster. The Welshman is world class in those situations, and it is impossible to defend against him there.

69 minBale comes straight back on the attack, producing a string of step overs before going for goal with the outside of his boot, but McAuley gets the block in.

71 minSpurs almost pick their way through the West Brom defemce again as Dempsey gets into the box. The American goes down under a challenge from Olsson, but even the travelling fans don't appeal for that one. Never a penalty.

73 minThe visitors now want a backpass after Olsson slides in to deny Lennon inside the box and Foster picks it up. Clattenburg laughs off the appeals, however.

75 minClarke faces a tough decision with 15 minutes of this one remaining. They are not creating anything in an attacking sense at the moment, and haven't since the red card and Lukaku's subsequent substitution. Does he changes tactics in search of an equaliser or is it a case of damage limitation for the Baggies? At 1-0, you'd have to be inclined to go for the former.

77 minSAVE! Dawson's clearance deflects fortuitously into the path of Dembele, who slips Dempsey in, but the Ameircan can't beat Foster from a tight angle.

78 minTOTTENHAM SUB: Off goes Kyle Walker to a chorus of boos, and on comes William Gallas.

79 minShane Long just has a hint of an opening, but it is swiftly closed by Dawson's good defending. A bit of a warning sign for Spurs, though. This one isn't over yet.

79 minSHOT! The Baggies are beginning to create a bit more now. Brunt does well before slipping in Long, whose first-time shot is easy for Lloris to collect.

80 minWEST BROM SUBS: A double change from Steve Clarke as Rosenberg and Fortune replace Yacob and Dorrans. Attacking subs from Clarke - he is going for this one!

82 minThe Baggies now have a free kick in a good crossing position, this could be their best chance to nick an equaliser...

82 min...but the cross fails to beat the first man. Disappointing.

84 minSpurs are knocking the ball about nicely at the moment, just trying to tire the ten men of West Brom out. Pretty much every player gets a touch of it before Lennon cuts inside to shoot, only to see his effort blocked.

85 minTOTTENHAM SUB: That will be Lennon's last action as he is replaced by Sigurdsson.

86 minSigurdsson gets straight into the action, swinging in the first dangerous corner we've seen all day. Bale gets his head on it, but he can't keep it down.

88 minThe Baggies are now leaving three up front at all times as they look to break away at every available opportunity.

89 minMeanwhile, Tottenham win yet another corner - their 16th of the day. No team has won more corners in a match this season and, remarkably, I think only one has actually gone to one of their own players!

90 minWest Brom will have four minutes of added time to try and find an equaliser.

90+1 minSteven Reid puts in a very strong tackle on Gareth Bale. He gets the ball but it still doesn't look pretty. The ref, correctly, doesn't give a foul but Parker puts the ball out as Bale stays down.

90+3 minWest Brom will have one last chance to put this one in the box and Foster is coming up for the free kick!

90+3 minThe free kick is claimed by Lloris, however. Bit of an anti-climax, that.

90+4 minFULL TIME: West Brom 0-1 Tottenham

3.25pmThere we have it! Spurs pick up a vital win that puts them to within one point of third-placed Chelsea.

3.27pmIt was an entertaining match, but the turning point was the sending off of Popov early in the second half for allegedly spitting in the direction of Kyle Walker. The first half was very even, but from the red card onwards it was all Tottenham and they deserved their win. Bale produced another special display, and his goal - his eighth in 11 games - was superb.

3.30pmRight, that's it from me today! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for an entertaining match that saw Spurs move to within one point of Chelsea, while West Brom's poor form continues. I leave you with Sian Cowper's match report, and be sure to stick with us for match analysis, which should be on site within half an hour. If you haven't had your fix of live commentary, however, we have coverage of Manchester City vs. Liverpool here. Goodbye!

Leighton Baines, Billy Jones
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