Never an FA Cup tie to get the blood coursing through veins, which was
what was needed on a chilly January afternoon, but Spurs turned this
into a useful exercise in how to break teams down when they come to
defend and ended up with a 4-0 score-line in their favour too.
With a reasonably strong side put out by
Harry Redknapp, it looked like he was taking this seriously, while the
noisy Posh supporters obviously thought that a shock was on the cards.
But with four clean sheets behind them, the Spurs team looked as if they
were willing to face up to the challenge and Peterborough never really
threatened the Tottenham goal throughout the match.
Heurelho Gomes only had to make one
serious save and that came after 65 minutes when he dived across to palm
away Craig Makail-Smith's drive from outside the penalty area. The
visiting supporters obviously thought they were in with a chance when
George Boyd struck and early 30 yarder, but like many of the away team's
efforts, it flew too high, although it dipped just as it passed wide ...
and just to show that it is not just Championship sides who can do that,
Wilson Palacios hit a similar effort wide of the mark from a long way
Spurs were settling into a good rhythm
and Peterborough dropped a lot of men behind the ball, deploying a lone
forward, with ex-Spur Charlie Lee in between him and midfield.
However, Lee was continually pulled back to help out the midfield and
left Makail-Smith isolated up front, mostly freeing Alan Hutton and
Gareth Bale to rampage down the flanks and provide service into the
area. While Bale showed what a good attacking full back he can be,
Hutton's failure to find a white shirt with his final ball was a little
Some good defending by Bennett stopped
Palacios getting onto the end of Bale's cross and then, when Modric's
shot was blocked by Bennett and the ball dropped in the six yard box,
Jermain Defoe crashed a shot against the bar from very close in, when
that looked harder than scoring. Spurs were to be regularly denied
by Peterborough's England Under-21 keeper Joe Lewis and he produced a
dive to his right to beat away Huddlestone's free-kick on the left hand
side of the box and then reacted extremely well to a 27th minute shot
from Kranjcar after Defoe had back-heeled the ball to the Croat 10 yards
out and he smashed his shot at goal, only to see the goalkeeper touch
the ball upwards against the bar and out. Posh did make an
attacking play, winning a corner off Bassong, but from it Whelpdale put
his header wide of the Tottenham goal.
Kranjcar was enjoying his role in the
same side as Luka Modric for the first time and a couple of shots had
flown wide, as he was finding his aim and in the 35th minute, he did.
Modric's pass allowed Niko to cut inside to the edge of the box and just
inside, he let fly with a shot that arrowed away from Lewis' effort to
stop it and hit the inside of the side-netting to the keeper's left.
it was a fine strike from a player who is in good form at the moment.
Spurs sensed the game was there for the
taking and followed the goal with more attacks. Lewis saved well
at Defoe's feet and then made a second stop as Palacios followed up on
the loose ball, then the keeper was at full stretch to push aside Bale's
drive as he came in from the left. A minute later, he was doing
the same to prevent Tom Huddlestone getting on the score-sheet, with a
trademark rocket of a shot.
Frustration set in for the Peterborough
players at the end of the first half, with both Boyd and Lee receiving
yellow cards for rash tackles.
The half-time parade of FA Cup winning
ex-Spurs featured Paul Miller, Paul Allen and Cliff Jones and their love
of the club still shows through, despite a varying of number of years
since they played for the team. Their words might have been
heeded, when they preached the need to finish the game off in the second
Spurs started the half as they finished
the first one, as Lewis had to make himself big to block Robbie Keane's
shot following Defoe putting him in on goal. Kranjcar then laid
the ball into Keane's path, but he skied his shot from the edge of the
box, when one on target may well have brought him a goal. With ten
minutes of the half gone, Keane put Bale in for a shot, but the ball
went wide enough for Hutton to get to it and put it back in and
Huddlestone should have done better than putting it over the top.
But in the 57th minute, nerves were
clamed with a second goal. Keane put a well-weighted ball down the
left hand side of the box and Gareth Bale ran on to it, sliding a first
time cross back along the six yard box to find Kranjcar sliding in to
guide the ball home. At 2-0, the game was effectively over, as
Peterborough rarely looked like scoring one, let alone more than that.
Their one decent effort followed the Spurs goal, but after that there
was little to trouble the Spurs keeper.
Bale took a heavy knock and just when it
looked like he might be making way, he was released down the left to put
another low ball into the box and it found Defoe, who flicked out a foot
to put it past Lewis and make the score 3-0 in the 70th minute. It
was a well crafted goal and put Bale in line for a man of the match
winning performance that will boost his confidence now that he will get
a run in the team following Benny's injury.
Gomes had to knock the ball away as a
cross came in, but when Bale and Defoe went off, the tempo went out of
the game. Pavlyuchenko came onto the pitch, after eventually
getting his shirt on and his first action came straight away when he
headed a very good chance wide from a corner. Substitute Danny
Rose was keen to make an impression and he got a yellow card for a foul
on former team-mate Charlie Lee (from when he was on loan at London
Road)and then showed his pace to set up Roman, although the ball was a
bit too far away from the Russian striker.
Tottenham did have the ball in the back
of the net at the start of the added four minutes, as Modric did really
well to free Keane, who finished with assurance, but he found the
lineman's flag raised to rule out his goal. He needn't have
worried, because when the ball went into the Tottenham area and
Peterborough substitute Shaun Batt went down under challenge from Kyle
Naughton and Tom Huddlestone, the ref waved play on and Spurs broke
away, with Rose's pace tricking Whelpdale into a rash challenge in the
area and earning a penalty. Keane stepped up slowly to put the
spot-kick just out of the keeper's reach although he guessed right and
dived to his right to wrap up a 4-0 win, with the final whistle sounding
just after the re-start.
So, what did this game prove to us ?
Spurs might have learned that they need to be clinical in the finishing
and that patience is sometimes the key to winning games where the
opposition are not that worried about winning. The squad depth ahs
been tested and even though it is not hard to see how Peterborough are
bottom of the Championship, they still have to be beaten and Spurs went
about the job professionally. Bale did well, Hutton was OK, Rose
showed he might develop into a bundle of pace down the line and that
Modric and Kranjcar can both operate in the same side, much as they do
for their country.
So, another cup run starts and hopefully,
the use of the squad will mean that it does not impinge upon the good
league form that needs to be carried through until the end of the