By Steve Jones
There was a sense of the inevitable about the final moments of Spurs' dramatic recovery at White Hart Lane today.
After winning the spot kick himself with 95 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock, even when Harry Kane missed initially, it still felt almost certain the rebound would come straight back to him to knock home. That's the way it's falling for him at the moment.
Tottenham toiled and toiled. It was a sight familiar to fans at the Lane, who in recent seasons have been accustomed to seeing the team come within touching distance of achieving something, only to labour and disappoint when expectations were raised.
Take the 1-0 defeat at Norwich that came a year ago this weekend. Devoid of ideas and leadership on the pitch, Tim Sherwood's team were undone by a side that would score only 28 goals all season. It was the kind of performance that - twinned with the embarrassing collapses to their top-four rivals - summed up why the club has failed to permanently break into that elite group.
The story was the same today for 80 minutes, albeit against a far better side. When a superbly drilled West Ham went 2-0 up, the sense of bewilderment among a team of established internationals was palpable.
But Kane, still only 21, is the difference this time around, and so it proved today - albeit very, very late. Not just a goalscorer, Kane is already a leader too, in the Alan Shearer or Thierry Henry mould. While his teammates could be seen kicking the turf after Diafra Sakho's goal, Kane was at the centre spot, eyes forward.
In terms of ability, the forward now has all the attributes required to do what Shearer did year in, year out. But he's not there yet.
For large parts of today's game he struggled to make an impact, crowded out on numerous occasions as he was squeezed between the Hammers' pincer-like defence and midfield. Too often he tried to spend too long on the ball in a bid to open up play. It's a luxury he'll not be afforded regularly at the top level.
Nonetheless, you felt that if the home side were going to make their way back into things, it would come through that man. On the occasions he was able, the way Kane opened his body up when receiving the ball, with one express intention - head toward goal - shifted momentum and lifted the home support in a way that his team-mates just didn't seem capable.
The last time Tottenham finished fourth a man named Gareth Bale pretty much dragged them there. Kane has showed that he is willing to bear that same responsibility, and as a Spurs man through and through (despite what some childhood photos may suggest), he may just be able to take them to the next level, and keep them there.