28/10/2012: Saints 1-2 Tottenham

Saints remain in the bottom three following a 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham. Spurs dominated the first half and could have been out of sight before the break. Nigel Adkins' men put in a much more spirited display in the second half however, and were slightly unfortunate not to come away with at least a point.

Adkins named pretty much the strongest starting line-up available, with Danny Fox and Rickie Lambert coming back into the side. Defensively Saints were a lot more solid in terms of shape. Even Adam Lallana tracked back at times. Spurs' movement was so quick that they were still able to create plenty of openings, though. Fortunately for Saints Jermaine Defoe didn't have his shooting boots on. The Tottenham front-man squandered a number of decent opportunities. Saints had plenty of possession during the first half, but were far too predictable and slow on the ball. Brad Friedel was barely troubled. Spurs in contrast moved the ball about with devastating effect. They went 1-0 up on 15 minutes, with Tom Huddlestone providing the cross for Gareth Bale to head in at the far post against his former club. Spurs were superior to their opponents in every department during the first-half. The gulf in class was scary at times. It was 2-0 on 39 minutes. Aaron Lennon threaded a beautifully weighted through-ball into the path of Jermaine Defoe, who poked it past Boruc. The ball trickled along the line, with Jose Fonte slipping before getting a touch to the ball, only for Clint Dempsey to arrive and tap in. Adkins made a few minor tactical tweeks during the first half, with Lallana and Jason Puncheon swapping flanks and Jay Rodriguez drifting into different positions. None of these changes made much of a difference however, with Spurs in complete control going into the break.

Saints improved slightly at the start of the second-half, with Rickie Lambert dropping deeper in order to receive the ball. Lambert barely got a sniff in the first half, but looked much better when linking up with the midfield. Spurs had a few great chances to wrap the game up early in the second-half. Defoe and Lennon both squandered decent openings. The momentum really shifted on 58 minutes when Emmanuel Mayuka replaced Puncheon. The Zambian added a bit more verve to the Saints attack. The hosts' new-found bravery was rewarded in front of goal. Saints were creating more chances, and soon pulled one back. Rodriguez bundled the ball in from a corner, after Fonte had his flick on parried by Friedel. Saints were really on the front-foot at this point, although Spurs were also a threat on the break. The home side committed men forward, which left them vulnerable to the counter. Luckily Fonte and Yoshida were equal to any challenge they had to face. Saints had a number of decent efforts on goal during the final half-hour. An incisive piece of play between Mayuka, Schneiderlin and Lallana could have resulted in something, only for Lallana's cross to be cut out by a Spurs man. Rodriguez had a further two efforts go wide, while substitute Guly also had shot blocked. In the end, Spurs hung on by the skin of their teeth.

A real mixed bag from Saints today. The first half was depressingly poor, but the way we finished the game has given everyone plenty of encouragement. Defensively we are slowly but surely getting better. Maya Yoshida put in his best showing to date, and looks to have the makings of a solid partnership with Fonte. In the second half we created plenty of chances against one of the best sides in the league. Rodriguez and Mayuka were particularly impressive. Both looked much improved. If we can take the positives from this game into the next few then we will be in for a good set of results. With Gaston Ramirez, Jack Cork and Tadanari Lee set to come back into the fold, there is plenty to look forward to in the near future. It's only a matter of time before we start picking up points.

Attendance: 31,944 (3,151 Tottenham fans)

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 6. Still looks a bit shaky, but a slight improvement on his West Ham display.

Clyne: 7. Had it tough against Bale, but battled very hard and often got the better of the former Saints man

Fonte: 6. Slightly unfortunate with the slip for the 2nd Tottenham goal. Distribution was disappointing at times, but defensively fairly decent, especially in the second half

Yoshida: 7. Best display in a Saints shirt today. Decision making and timing generally good. A few excellent sliding tackles too.

Fox: 6. Tried his heart out, even if not everything he attempted came off.

Schneiderlin: 7. Below his very high standards early on, but ended the game strongly, shielding the ball and creating space

Davis: 6. Not quite at his best, but a few moments of real quality

Puncheon: 6. Worked hard, but didn't really create enough going forward

Lallana: 8. Never stopped running, always looked like making something happen. Speed of thought on par with Tottenham's best players, very quick feet.

Rodriguez: 7. Much improved, movement was decent throughout. Confidence should be boosted with the goal

Lambert: 7. Anonymous in the first half, but much better in the second, dropping deeper. Link-up play decent

Substitutes:

Mayuka: 7. Made a really difference to proceedings, adding some much needed spark to the Saints team

Guly: Held the ball up well

Reeves: Tidy in possession, kept it simple