WHO needs Jonathan Woodgate? Certainly not Newcastle United, now sitting proudly in second place in the Premiership, on the evidence of this late, late show.

Jermaine Jenas' goal was timed at 89 minutes 35 seconds and it came after Newcastle's much-maligned defence had resolutely defied wave after wave of Tottenham Hotspur attacks.

Jenas' strike, which slithered slowly past a helpless Kasey Keller and over the goal-line, lifted Newcastle above Manchester United.

But just as important was the fact that this game showed that perhaps Newcastle do have the resilience that has been absent from so many limp away performances this season.

A third successive clean sheet - and a rare one on their travels - would suggest Newcastle's defensive ills might not be all that serious after all.

The mistakes that littered the defeats at Bolton Wanderers and Wolverhampton Wanderers were conspicuous by their absence last night.

With Leeds United still thinking over an £11m bid for Woodgate, Newcastle may be forced to soldier on with the defenders already at Sir Bobby Robson's disposal.

And yesterday Titus Bramble and Nikos Dabizas, so often the Newcastle scapegoats, provided a formidable barrier that Tottenham Hotspur could not break down.

Brian Kerr, preferred to Nolberto Solano in the starting line-up as Robson sacrificed style for substance in midfield, was rarely found wanting in a defensive capacity.

So what if Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy scarcely got a sight of goal all evening?

When Shearer did get a chance in the 84th minute, Keller could not hold his drive and Jenas screwed the rebound just wide of the far post.

And after Bellamy had seen his shot parried out by the goalkeeper, Jenas reacted fastest to prod the loose ball into the net.

For Newcastle, this match was all about standing toe to toe with Tottenham and refusing to be cowed as the visitors' defence withstood a testing examination.

It wasn't pretty, but Robson will not care one jot this morning after seeing his side pull off a classic smash-and-grab raid.

The result leaves the Magpies one point clear of Manchester United and right on course for a place in next season's Champions League, which must be their realistic aim.

Certainly in the early stages, Newcastle did not look like a side that harboured genuine hopes of forcing their way into the title race.

Indeed, they did not manage a serious effort on goal until the 35th minute, when Olivier Bernard dropped his shoulder to evade Darren Anderton before unleashing a fierce drive that the diving Keller beat away.

By then, Newcastle had survived a handful of scares as Tottenham - buoyed by two successive wins since their humiliating FA Cup exit at Southampton - bossed proceedings.

The Magpies were living dangerously for much of the first half, and Ledley King and Dean Richards both went close with headers inside the first seven minutes.

Simon Davies and Robbie Keane also squandered very presentable opportunities when they miskicked with the goal at their mercy as Tottenham found holes in a Newcastle defence that welcomed back Bramble after a three-month lay off, Shearer and Bellamy got little change out of a Tottenham defence that was being impressively marshalled by Dean Richards.

Laurent Robert was reduced to a couple of hopeful long-range efforts that never looked like troubling Keller, while Kerr rarely got forward in support of his strikers.

They fared little better in the opening exchanges of the second half as Gustavo Poyet, so often Newcastle's nemesis, almost gave Tottenham a deserved lead on two occasions.

First, Poyet saw Given acrobatically turn away his ambitious effort from 35 yards after the goalkeeper's clearance had struck Andy O'Brien and ricocheted to him. Then, the Uruguayan had a "goal" disallowed for offside - and within a minute of that fright Newcastle ought to have scored as the game became stretched.

Bellamy raced clear of the Tottenham defence, but he had trouble getting the ball under control and his shot hit Stephen Carr before rebounding to safety off Keller.

Bramble and Dabizas continued to frustrate Spurs, and as the game went on Newcastle looked more and more likely to nick a goal.

They did just that at the death, and the Magpies go into Saturday's derby at Middlesbrough in jubilant mood.

Result: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Newcastle United 1.

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