Pictures and analysis of West Brom 0 Tottenham 1

Perhaps Peter Odemwingie doesn’t have a monopoly on stupidity at West Brom after all.

Perhaps Peter Odemwingie doesn’t have a monopoly on stupidity at West Brom after all.

When it comes to acts of brainlessness, Goran Popov proved he can run Albion’s wantaway striker close by robbing his side of a fighting chance to end their winless run against Tottenham.

Steve Clarke will never know whether his 11 men could have backed up a solid first-half display by running Spurs close over 90 minutes yesterday.

And that, thanks to Popov’s ugly spitting at Spurs full-back Kyle Walker, meant another day of frustration for Baggies fans to end a week of anger and shock at the hands of Odemwingie.

A section of the Hawthorns crowd made Walker the target of their ire as they saw a decent chance to return to winning ways blown apart by Popov’s moment of madness. But the majority, along with the Macedonian’s angry manager and team-mates, directed their fury straight at the shamed full-back, who faces a lengthy ban and a heavy club punishment after spitting towards Walker following a heated verbal exchange just three minutes into the second half.

After Odemwingie’s week of ranting and raving and Popov’s loss of control, at least the Hawthorns coffers will be swelled significantly next week by a weighty deposit of income from fines.

That will offer little comfort for Clarke, however, whose side are now winless in eight games after the solid first-half foundations they laid yesterday finally gave way to Gareth Bale’s sledgehammer once Popov’s act of petulance removed a vital brick.

In the wake of Odemwingie’s bizarre meltdowns in deadline week, another loss of control from a crowd hero was the last thing Clarke needed – especially with his side threatening to rediscover something like their early-season form during a hugely encouraging opening 45 minutes.

The head coach was bold in naming a two-man forward line against one of the top flight’s most dangerous sides.

And, had Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku shown a little more composure at key moments before half-time, the policy might well have paid off handsomely.

The pair combined effectively as early as the fifth minute when Long raced onto a Lukaku flick and looked primed to score, but his first touch took him away from goal and his second knocked the ball out of play as a good chance went begging.

Clint Dempsey headed harmlessly wide after a good run and cross by Aaron Lennon for Spurs and Baggies keeper Ben Foster had to be alert to race out and clear after Jermain Defoe had raced onto a long ball.

But it was the Baggies who looked the more likely scorers and they should have been in front midway through the first half. A clever pass from Graham Dorrans released Long in the box, but the Irishman failed to connect firmly enough with his shot and Hugo Lloris made a smart, low save. Long was denied again by the Frenchman while Lukaku blazed over from a decent position, although the half ended with Foster pushing Gareth Bale’s dipping effort over the crossbar.

A combination of discipline and invention meant things looked promising as the players retired for the interval and Clarke required more of the same after the break. Regrettably, Popov did not get the memo.

With fans still taking their seats for the second period, he battled for the ball then exchanged words with Walker.

Then, inexplicably, the Macedonian appeared to spit in the direction of the Spurs full-back with referee Mark Clattenburg wasting no time in showing an instant red card.

That forced Baggies boss Steve Clarke to sacrifice striker Lukaku in bolstering his backline with Liam Ridgewell and the balance of the game shifted completely.

The visitors ratcheted up the pressure and, with the Baggies dropping deeper by the minute, the dam broke on 67 minutes.

Albion appealed for offside against Lewis Holtby but the flag rightly stayed down, the move continued and Bale evaded the challenge of James Morrison before hammering a left-footed shot into the top corner. There was no way back for the Baggies who, with players out on their feet, never threatened to trouble Lloris in the visitors’ goal.

There was still time for Jonas Olsson to lose his head, too, aiming an angry gesture at fans in the Halfords Lane Stand as frustrations boiled over.

It was simply another moment of madness for Clarke to deal with in a week when the boss’s players have done him few favours.

By Steve Madeley