This League Cup tie against Watford was one of those games which you are
pleased to get out of the way, with the pitch bumpy, the night cold and
the team not playing at the top of their form. Despite creating a
lot of chances, the team restricted the scoring to just two of them, but
it was enough.
started the game the better of the two teams and took advantage of the
lack-lustre Tottenham opening, the goal by Tamas Priskin failed to upset
Spurs too much. Having lost possession, Spurs allowed Tommy Smith
to take on Michael Dawson on the left wing and pull a ball back into the
penalty area, where Priskin received it with his back to goal and two
Tottenham players around him. Jermaine Jenas drifted past him as
the Czech turned and Jonathan Woodgate failed to get close to him,
allowing him the space to hit a shot with his good foot low inside Gomes
post, with the keeper's dive not near enough to stop it going in.
Even before the goal in the 13th minute,
Priskin had tested Gomes, who grabbed a low shot to his chest, as the
bobbly pitch made passing the ball on the ground difficult.
Straight from the kick off, Watford passed the ball back to a defender
and it bounced up even though the ball had been rolling along the floor.
With parts of the pitch turning white before kick-off, the hardening
surface made it difficult for players to keep their footing.
Jermaine Jenas lost his feet when McAnuff took them from under him and
got a yellow card for the cynical foul.
Tottenham's first chance had come in the
10th minute with Pavlyuchenko lazily prodding a shot way over as a
corner dropped in the box to him, but then Spurs were soon a goal behind
and Watford had put themselves about by getting in shots on goal and
getting in Tottenham's players' faces. The response by Tottenham
would mark out how they might approach the rest of the game.
Zokora fed Lennon on the right and faced
by Jon Harley, the winger cut inside him and from inside the penalty
box, hit an early shot with the outside of his right foot. The
ball seemed to be arcing into the far corner of the goal, but Scott
Loach dived to push the ball wide for a corner with a very good save.
Jenas put in a burst of pace into the box, leaving Watford's defenders
unable to tackle him for fear of conceding a penalty, then dinked a
cross that Fraizer Campbell headed over. A couple of times Aaron
Lennon had got into similar positions, but his balls in carried too much
pace for the forwards to get on the end of.
Loan midfielder Leon Bridcutt from
Chelsea had a good start to the game and tried his luck from way out,
but a half-block took the sting out of the effort and left Gomes a
routine stop to execute. At the other end, Gomes' opposite number
Loach was keeping Tottenham out and Lennon in particular. His save
from Lennon's drive as he raced past Harley, went up in the air and as
it came down the keeper got back to grab the ball as Campbell went in
for it. Bromby was with the Spurs striker and it looked as though
he might have had a hand or two on him to stop him tapping the ball over
the line as it was coming down.
Roman Pavyluchenko almost got Tottenham
level in the 44th minute, when the ball zipped off the turf past Bromby
and the Russian striker set himself and hit a shot that beat the goalie,
but not the crossbar. As Watford launched the ball upfield,
Priskin stopped a promising move by handballing a pass to him, which put
him in the clear. His caution by the ref and the resulting
free-kick saw Spurs take the game up the other end and while they worked
the ball well on the left, when it came into the area, Jermaine Jenas
took charge of possession and as he shifted the ball between his feet,
Ross Jenkins's attempt to take it off him resulted in contact with the
Tottenham midfielder's leg. With Phil Dowd nearby, there was only
one decision for him to make and he pointed to the spot. Into
injury time at the end of the first half, this would be the last chance
of the half.
Up stepped Roman Pavlyuchenko to stroke
the ball to Loach's left and although the keeper guessed right, he could
not reach the shot along the ground and the ball hit the net to put
Spurs level at the break. While they had a rough start, the
score-line was probably a fair reflection of the number of chances in
The second half was lower on thrills, as
the home team failed to get forward as regularly and failed to trouble
Heurelho Gomes. They were also hampered when muscle-bound central
defender Jay DeMerit pulled something in his groin and they replaced him
with Lloyd Doyley, possibly an even worse player. This made the
task of the Tottenham forwards a bit easier,
They made better runs and had as many
chances in the second period, with the first 20 minutes being a bit
scrappy. Shots came in and corners were won, but the keepers were
not seriously troubled. It was after 20 minutes that Campbell made
way for Darren Bent. Woodgate got in the way of a Priskin effort
and left little power in the shot for Gomes to save and then when
Tottenham won a corner, Dawson was alone in moving for the ball as it
entered the six-yard box. He was only accompanied by Mariappa, as
other players were all near or far post and his run looked to have been
impeded by the Hornets defender's tug on Michael's shirt.
Tottenham were now testing Loach and
Jenas (twice) and O'Hara tried their luck from outside the area, but
failed to get sufficient power in their shots, then from a corner,
Jonathan Woodgate rose highest at a corner and Williamson headed the
ball away from the goal-line with 15 minutes left. It looked as
though the goal was coming and so it proved. Pav held the ball up
and as Bridcutt moved in to dispossess him, he only succeeded in
diverting the ball right to Bent on the corner of the area. He
took an early shot and the ball was suddenly in the back of the net, as
it skidded past Loach at his near post. It was a goal out of
nothing and the sort of goal Spurs could do with more often to turn
games in their favour.
Watford's new manager Brendon Rodgers
decided to bring on John Joe O'Toole, who is a chunky midfielder with an
eye for a shot at goal. And he did just that after coming on, with
a long range shot that Gomes moved smartly to stop. Lennon fizzed
a low cross along the six yard box with no Spurs player on hand to get a
touch that would have taken it in and then set up Bent, but his volley
lacked venom. With two minutes left, Bromby threw a long throw in
and as the ball was half-cleared, it was Hoskins who was first to the
ball and his shot came through a number of players, but Gomes collected
safely. And that was the last serious chance of the match.
It finished with the Spurs fans
pre-empting the semi-final draw on Saturday by claiming they were going
to Wembley. Hold on lads !! We have to beat Manchester
United in the semi first !! With Derby County and Burnley both in
there, it will be an interesting last four draw, but there is no reason
why it couldn't be our opportunity to go to Wembley again, but if we do
draw United, we will have to play better than this over the two legs.
It was a performance that contained enough quality to beat Watford, but
we know not all the teams left will be of the same level as Watford.
But for the moment, it is a third
semi-final in three years in what is becoming our new favourite