Gardner prunes Spurs' growing ambitions

Birmingham City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Midfielder earns Birmingham point as Redknapp sees dominance wasted

Harry Redknapp has seen more comebacks than Frank Sinatra this season but was last night cursing the dramatic late intervention of Craig Gardner.

Spurs have become known as the comeback kings this term and Gardner gave him a taste of their own medicine to save Birmingham. He levelled nine minutes from time to frustrate the Spurs manager and leave him again fearing it will be the defence that ruins an unlikely title bid. Sébastien Bassong had given Spurs the lead after 19 minutes and they looked on course to become only the second visitors to win here in 15 months. But Gardner rewarded Birmingham's late pressure with an emphatic header.

Redknapp is still waiting for his first clean sheet in the Premier League since the opening day of the season, and he knows it is wrecking his dream of a crack at challenging the likes of Chelsea.

He said: "Not only did I think we would win this game today, by half-time I was sure of it. We had enough chances before then to win the game. But give Birmingham credit – they gave everything for their manager and got something out of the game."

Spurs had only won once outside the capital before yesterday and Birmingham's excellent record at their fortress must have made Redknapp fear a frustrating afternoon. However, the visitors were ahead after 19 minutes following a moribund start.

Inevitably, it was Gareth Bale who was involved as he bent over a delicious free-kick from the right that created panic and Ben Foster's failed punch allowed Bassong to show off a swift turn for a centre-half, before hammering home as the Blues' defence stood motionless.

McLeish had admitted earlier in the season that a successful cup run would be rendered irrelevant if his team suffered relegation. That fate appears unlikely although the compact nature of the Premier League at this stage ensures Birmingham are still peering nervously over their shoulders at the drop zone.

Their lung-busting efforts against the old enemy in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night clearly affected them in the early stages. McLeish opted for a five-man midfield in an attempt to eradicate the threat of Bale and it was not until the 33rd minute that the hosts produced their first snarl of defiance, with Gardner arrowing a 20-yard drive inches wide.

Gardner was involved in a needless clash with Wilson Palacios soon after, appearing to aim a tame kick at the back of the midfielder.

The second period yielded no improvement in fortune from Birmingham, with Gardner heading a Liam Ridgewell cross straight at Heurelho Gomes. Redknapp named two goalkeepers, Carlo Cudicini and Stipe Pletikosa, on the bench after an injuryto David Bentley on Friday but not even Gomes was required for most of the afternoon.

And Spurs had chances to ease the need for nailbiting with Crouch and Jermain Defoe both wastefully placing efforts wide. Bale cleverly manoeuvred himself some space in the 72nd minute to bamboozle Stephen Carr but Foster redeemed his earlier error with a fine reflex save from the Welshman's fierce drive.

Gomes, finally, was called into action late on and did brilliantly to deny Ridgewell from close range. He was powerless, however, to deny Gardner. The Birmingham midfielder had appeared the one player capable of unsettling Spurs and he was in the right place to nod into the corner from Nikola Zigic's headed cross.

McLeish said: "The Villa game took unbelievable energy out of us, it was an emotional night.

"Harry might have thought we were here for the taking after that, we were tired and a lot of players running on empty. The one thing that we can't deny is our phenomenal spirit. We've got a reputation here at St Andrew's and at half-time I told them to preserve that."

Attendance: 25,770

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Modric

Match rating: 5/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor