Ridgewell leveller frustrates Redknapp

Birmingham City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Birmingham live up to their 'hard-to-beat' tag with late goal that puts dent into Tottenham's Champions' League hopes
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The Independent Football

As Harry Redknapp put it: "It was our game to lose. Well, to draw." The truth was it felt like a defeat for Tottenham as their hold on fourth shrank to a measly point over Liverpool. When the Champions' League places are decided in May it is surely occasions such as this that will prove decisive.

With hindsight, Redknapp may look back and conclude that a point at St Andrew's is not such a calamity. Alex McLeish's men have not been beaten at home since September. And that is despite three of the present top four having visited. McLeish was keen to stress the cyclical nature of the League. "We got hit by a sucker goal at Tottenham in the last minute and I must say it was against the run of play," he said. "We were sore about that defeat. Harry will probably be feeling now like I felt then." For his part, the Scotsman looked extremely relieved.

So he should, because when runs come to an end they have the ghastly habit of proceeding to leg it in the opposite direction. Birmingham supporters probably feared as much. They had gone 15 games and three months without a defeat. And they were on the brink of two in four days.

But teams that are difficult to beat do not earn that tag through giving up. The electronic board showing added time had just been raised when the Blues poured forward. James McFadden crossed to the far post, Cameron Jerome headed it back across and there was the unlikely Liam Ridgewell to poke it away inside the other upright. And so another member of the elite had been thwarted.

In fairness, this was not the most outrageous of draws. Birmingham presented some value for the point which kept them in eighth. They had the equal of the goalmouth action in the opening period when Lee Bowyer and Christian Benitez were presented with one-on-one opportunities on Heurelho Gomes. Both fluffed. Spurs obviously had their chances, too. None were more inviting than the rebound which fell to Luka Modric. His wide effort summed up a profligate afternoon.

In the second half, however, the visitors dominated and there were a few performances to cheer Redknapp. David Bentley and Gareth Bale were the forgotten men of the Lane, but both have impressed in the last four days, first with the 2-0 win over Fulham. The latter particularly stood out with his manager labelling him "fantastic". "He is looking the great player we all knew he was," crooned Redknapp.

The Welsh defender set up the Tottenham goal in the 69th minute, his cross being met at ankle height by Peter Crouch. His flick across was met by the flashing boot of Jermain Defoe, clinically converting his 17th goal of the season. Oddly, Redknapp chose to take off Defoe and Bentley.

But with the Birmingham attack ineffectual the threat seemed minimal. Cue Ridgewell and what Redknapp called some "horrendous" defending.

Afterwards there was confusion whether Tottenham had signed Younes Kaboul from Portsmouth. The Spurs website said the deal had been completed, the manager thought it hadn't. As far as Redknapp was concerned it was meant to be "a double deal" and had been scuppered by the decision of the Portsmouth goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, to go to Stoke.

It was Redknapp who was wrong. Kaboul is indeed on his way to White Hart Lane and because of it, Portsmouth fans can rest a little easier. Redknapp emphasised just how vital it was for Pompey to bring in the £5m before the transfer deadline. "Peter Storrie said this morning if they don't sell Kaboul they will go into administration on Monday," he said. Disaster averted. For now.

There was no disagreement over Roman Pavlyuchenko. Both Redknapp and McLeish admitted the Russian would not be joining Birmingham. Apparently the £10m offer was not enough for the striker who cost Spurs £15m. "We won't get the trophy signing," said McLeish, before letting on they may yet make "a trophy loan signing". With a top-class marksman they could be even more dangerous.

Attendance: 27,238

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Man of the match: Bale

Match rating: 6/10