LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham's Premier League title hopes are fading as they again struggled to break down a defence-minded team at Wembley.
For normally smooth Spurs, this was another afternoon of jagged edges against supposedly inferior opponents at their home for this season, with draws against Burnley, Swansea and now the Baggies.
"We deserved to win, but we moved the ball so slowly in the first half," lamented manager Mauricio Pochettino, who conceded that the "massive" points gap to Manchester City was unlikely to be bridged.
"Our reality is that we play here while we're waiting for our new stadium, but we need to improve, to be more consistent and to be more clinical in the final third."
His troubles started after only four minutes when Dele Alli dallied in controlling Kieran Trippier's throw-in. Former Spur Jake Livermore robbed him and set loose Salomon Rondon, who shrugged off a half-hearted Davinson Sanchez challenge and rolled in his second league goal this term.
Alli's shoulder-shrugging error encapsulated his team's showing and many attacks broke down before Ben Foster was in peril.
- Points Tottenham have dropped playing at Wembley this season, losing to Chelsea before drawing with Burnley, Swansea and now West Brom.
As if the ghosts of their defeat at Arsenal were still making mischief, Spurs' customary fluidity remained elusive and, until the goal, neither Harry Kane nor Christian Eriksen made sustained meaningful inroads against the rock-solid Jonny Evans and Ahmed Hegazi.
So when Alli found himself in space for the first time on 74 minutes, he grabbed the chance.
His cross came off Kieran Gibbs and, for once, Evans reacted slowly and Kane poked the ball through Foster's legs - only their second goal in four matches.
Now the pressure was relentless. Alli and Kane went close, but not as close as Rondon in stoppage time.
It may just be his first game, but it would have done caretaker manager Gary Megson's chances of replacing the sacked Tony Pulis no harm after plotting their fifth away point this season with a classic backs-to-the-wall performance Pulis would have revelled in.
Megson, though, said: "I've never said I wanted this job. After being battered by Chelsea and Tony leaving, today could have been a disaster, but it's whetted my appetite for something I think I'm good at.
"I'll prepare the team to face Newcastle on Tuesday but, if there's a new man and I'm not involved, I won't be upset. It's for the board to decide and I'll go back to golfing and travelling."
REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON