The run of victories had to come to an end at some point and it's perhaps not entirely surprising that it did so at the Britannia Stadium. Eighth-placed Stoke were themselves coming off the back of two league wins and had already knocked Spurs out of the Carling Cup earlier in the season. The Spurs old boys in their side would certainly have been up for the game and, in the event, it was one of those, Matthew Etherington, who supplied their two goals.
If any one person could, however, be given credit for Stoke coming out on top, it was referee Chris Foy - a fact not lost on Harry Redknapp, who rightly pointed to some poor decisions:
"When he goes home and watches them, he will realise he got a couple badly wrong. To be honest, from the start of the game I felt like he wasn't going to give us much. I just felt like he was quite enjoying not giving us anything."
Redknapp has now been given a warning for his comments by the FA and, in the circumstances, he can consider himself quite fortunate, since his remarks implied bias on the part of the official. They also provoked some amusement, since Harry prefaced them - as he inevitably seems to do - with an assertion that he never complains about referees' decisions; "I have not done it in 30 years of management, never". On this occasion, it would appear that his pre-emptive strike has convinced no-one, least of all the football authorities.
While Chris Foy undoubtedly had a nightmare, Younes Kaboul was also at fault, in the sense that he presented a known card-happy referee with the opportunity to give him two yellow cards. Players will sometimes commit a professional foul and take a booking for the team, but a yellow card for dissent is simply foolish. Kaboul's claim for a penalty was valid enough, but his lack of self-control let him down. Worse still, his sending off came with what turned out to be almost fifteen minutes still to play and Spurs chasing the game. With his dismissal, the chances of an equalizer fizzled out.
In fairness to Kaboul, the damage had already been done by a lackluster first-half display overall, with several players looking well below their best. It was somewhat ironic, given the events of the summer, that the one who showed the most heart and desire throughout was Luka Modric. In addition to threatening the Stoke goal and winning the penalty that brought Spurs back into the contest, Modric was tigerish in the tackle and full of purpose. He is now being touted as the solution to Man Utd's current malaise but he is proving himself - as ever - to be a vital component of the Spurs machine.
After Spurs play the newly energized Sunderland and Chelsea, they then face Norwich, Swansea, West Brom, Everton and Wolves - a fixture list not unlike the one that propelled them into the top four. If they can recreate the run that has just ended, it will help ensure that they are still there at the end of the season.