Tottenham and Stoke City played out a dull, scoreless draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday, stalling Spurs’ pursuit of a top four place.
In a game of few chances, the home side struggled to break down Stoke’s organised defence, which has now kept nine clean sheets this season and conceded just 13 goals.
Stoke could have opened the scoring in the opening minute after Kyle Walker carelessly gifted the ball to Kenwyne Jones on the edge of the box, but the striker blasted over the bar.
Struggling to play their usual brand of free flowing football, the Spurs players frequently called foul play, with Mousa Dembele in particular wilting in the face of Stoke’s physicality.
Defending manfully, Tony Pulis’ side also looked dangerous on the break. Jones’ deflected shot appeared to be rolling into the path of Matthew Etherington, but Sandro managed to clear the ball off the line.
The returning Gareth Bale grew into the match and gave Spurs energy going forward, his cross finding Emmanuel Adebayor at the far post but the Togo strike could only head over.
The second half continued in much the same vein, with both sides scrapping and battling for superiority. Bale, switching between flanks, was an invigorating presence once again and rose to head just over at the back post.
Stoke had the best chance of a dull second half when Ryan Shotton collected the ball unmarked in the box, but Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris caught his tame shot with ease.
Spurs pressed for the winner late on to little avail, with Dembele’s deflected shot from 25-yards representing their best effort of normal time.
There was a late moment of controversy though, as Bale appeared to be bundled over inside the box, but the referee waved the appeals away, a decision that riled the home support.
Cheered on by the White Hart Lane crowd, Spurs poured forward with greater abandon as the match entered injury time, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, on in place of Aaron Lennon, almost grabbed a winner but for a great save from Asmir Begovic.