Ramos, Spurs hit rock bottom
Juande Ramos was pushed to the brink as nine-man Tottenham hit a new low in a 2-1 defeat at Stoke. Ramos faces a fight to save his job after the beleaguered manager watched on in horror as Spurs crashed to their sixth defeat in eight league games to make it the club's worst start to a season. Tottenham remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and, already five points from safety, they are in danger of being cast adrift. Danny Higginbotham opened the scoring for Stoke with a penalty kick after Gareth Bale's professional foul; Darren Bent drew Tottenham level, but Rory Delap won it for Tony Pulis's side after half-time. As if that was not bad enough for Ramos, Spurs had Bale and Michael Dawson sent off and Vedran Corluka taken to hospital after a clash with his own goalkeeper.
Ramos once again sent Spurs out in a cautious 4-5-1 formation with Bent the lone striker and Roman Pavlyuchenko on the bench. That defensive line-up should have given Spurs some solidity but they were nervous from the start. Delap burst through the middle after good play by Mamady Sidibe and Dave Kitson and laid the ball across to Tom Soares who should have scored but hit his shot too close to Gomes. But Bale allowed Soares to muscle him off the ball in the 18th minute as they chased Higginbotham's free kick and the Spurs defender was forced into a lunge that sent his opponent crashing to the turf. Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot and, to add insult to injury for Spurs, Bale was the last defender, so a red card quickly followed. After the ball had been blown off the spot several times, Higginbotham managed to make it stay still for long enough to slot his penalty past goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Down to ten men against fired up opponents, the outlook looked bleak for Ramos and Stoke fans began taunting the Spaniard with chants of "you're getting sacked in the morning." But six minutes later Spurs were level thanks to an opportunistic strike from Bent. When Alan Hutton's shot was blocked, two Spurs players looked offside, but the ball found its way through to Bent, who finished from close range. Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen was forced into a one-handed save to keep out Aaron Lennon's fierce 20-yard strike as the visitors pushed forward despite their numerical disadvantage.
Roared on by a sell-out crowd, the hosts pushed Spurs back in the second half and punished more slack defending to regain the lead in the 53rd minute. Sidibe struck a cross to the far post where Delap was left in acres of space to finish from close-range. Seyi Olofinjana brought a sprawling save out of Gomes from 25 yards before Stoke were forced into a change with Steve Simonsen coming on in goal for Sorensen after the Dane had been caught in the head by Hutton.
Spurs defender Corluka suffered an even worse injury when he was caught twice caught by Gomes within a minute. The Croatian suffered a blow to the ribs and then after coming back on to the field caught the keeper's knee full on his chin. A lengthy medical attention on the pitch followed before Corluka left on a stretcher wearing an an oxygen mask. He was taken to a pitch-side ambulance, which took him to hospital. Soares should have wrapped it up when Soares seized onto Didier Zokora's hesitation but he scooped the ball over the bar.
Corluka's injury left 11 minutes of injury time to be played. Soares won a penalty after being fouled by Jon Woodgate. Ricardo Fuller hit the post and Delap's follow-up struck the bar. Substitute Dawson was sent off in the last seconds with another straight red card for a foot-up challenge on Sidibe.