Assou-Ekotto confronts fan as Wolves enjoy golden day

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp has banned Christmas parties from Tottenham this year, although this defeat probably would have taken the edge off any festivities this week. Not that it meant there were not any turkeys on show.

If this was not a stuffing by Wolves, who won thanks to Kevin Doyle's third-minute touch with the faintest of headers, it would have felt like it. Benoît Assou-Ekotto possibly showed how the rest of his team-mates felt when he confronted an angry fan by the dugout, and pushed him in the chest, probably under provocation, before trudging down the tunnel. A Spurs spokesman said: "We are looking into it and the police are speaking to everyone involved."

More damning than conceding that early goal, set up by Nenad Milijas's inswinging free-kick, was Tottenham's underwhelming response. Perhaps they remembered Stoke and felt paralysed, as if all their efforts would be in vain.

That was the case when they hosted the Potters in late October and dominated but lost to a last-minute goal. Redknapp seemed to try to write this off as a bad day at the office, but his reference to only one home loss last year under him threw into sharper focus that they have now lost twice there before mid-December.

Redknapp said: "That's how it goes, you have days where it doesn't go your way sometimes. I didn't think their goal was a foul for the free-kick. They made it difficult for us and didn't attack."

Redknapp went with Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe as his strike pair but by the time the Irishman was hauled off, with an hour gone, they had mustered only two shots between them, one, by Keane, blocked by Jody Craddock, who contributed another towering performance.

Craddock was an equal partner in a Wolves back four that has learned to defend since they last visited the capital and lost 4-0 at Chelsea three weeks ago. Back then, Mick McCarthy told his players they were in a relegation battle – if they had not already twigged – and although they lost their next game at home to Birmingham City, they have responded with two wins. The Wolves manager was aware of the rarity of that feat. He said: "That's the first time we have won two in a row for about 300 years." It's actually 26, but his point was well made.

Wolves's sensible plan once they had taken the lead was to defend in numbers although that invited pressure in the first half that Tottenham failed to convert into chances. Defoe and Keane had efforts of sorts within two minutes of each other and the only other attempt of note before the interval came from Tom Huddlestone, but he shot just wide.

McCarthy altered things slightly after the break by getting his players to protect the defence by asking his midfield to push and press higher up the pitch. It was a successful ploy. Marcus Hahnemann did not have another save to make until Huddlestone tried again eight minutes from time from 20 yards.

Tottenham's previous home game saw them demolish Wigan 9-1, and the home fans must have been salivating at the possibility of another mauling. By the end, however, those supporters would have been just as excited by one goal. Instead one got frustrated enough to infuriate Assou-Ekotto into a reaction.

This was not the best time for Luka Modric to make his first appearance since the end of August although his first touch showed what has been missing, picking out his Croatian team-mate Niko Kranjcar from 40 yards.

Modric's probing and Peter Crouch's aerial strength were not enough for the hosts, for whom victory would have put them third. Instead, the visitors pulled out of the bottom three.

On a bad week for a Tiger, it feels good to be among Wolves.

Attendance: 36,012

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Man of the match: Craddock

Match rating: 6/10