Jermain Defoe’s early strike was enough for Tottenham to see off Fulham and move up to fourth in the Premiership table.

The decisive moment came in the eighth minute when Defoe danced away from Zat Knight to reach a long ball from Ledley King and fire past Tony Warner for his first goal in five games. Fulham were largely toothless in attack but stubbornly kept plugging away as they realised there was an opportunity to pinch a point. Moritz Volz went close with a rising drive before Claus Jensen swapped passes with Steed Malbranque and hit the bar from the edge of the box.

Martin Jol became increasingly anxious – fearing another poor result after Spurs’ League Cup exit at the hands of Grimsby Town – and the fear factor around White Hart Lane only grew when Paul Stalteri was forced into a last-ditch challenge to block Brian McBride’s goalbound shot.

Spurs still looked threatening going forward but Warner did well to tip over a Mido drive and push away a powerful strike from Edgar Davids after the Dutch midfielder found room on the edge of the area. The home side continued to pile forward in the second half but still lacked a finishing touch in the final third. Mido sought to square for Defoe instead of taking a shot on himself when he was in a great position and the lively Aaron Lennon was denied by a couple of brave blocks from Fulham defenders.

Mido wasted a great chance, electing to try to pick out Defoe with a pass instead of shooting when the temptation was almost too much.

Stalteri got forward onto Aaron Lennon’s pass and there were screams for a penalty when he went down in the box from Luis Boa Morte’s challenge.

But TV replays showed the Portuguese winger’s tackle was perfectly legitimate, winning the ball.

Lennon, once the youngest player to turn out in a Premiership match for Leeds – at Spurs – was making a great job of standing in for the injured Wayne Routledge.

Spurs’ still narrow lead ensured a tense finale but Fulham couldn’t force an equaliser and the lack of goals must be a worry for Coleman, whose side have won just once so far this season.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Naybet, King, Lee; Lennon (Reid 71), Jenas, Pedro Mendes, Davids; Defoe (Keane 75), Mido (Rasiak 89). Subs (not used): Cerny, Kelly.

GOAL: Defoe (8).

FULHAM (4-4-2): Warner; Volz, N. Jensen, Knight, Bocanegra; Diop, C. Jensen, Malbranque, Boa Morte; McBride (John 75), Radzinski. Subs (not used): Crossley, Christanval, Leacock, Elrich.

BOOKED: Knight, Diop, John.

REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).