without a bit of trouble, Tottenham took extra time in overcoming Port
Vale in this League Cup tie to gain a ninth game unbeaten and having
taken the chance to blood come youngsters in the process.
With a considerable number of changes from the
Chelsea match - only Michael Dawson remaining from Sunday's line-up - it
made the pattern of play for Spurs a different one to Sunday, but they
adapted really well and created a number of chances, but they were not
taken. With reserve striker Andy Barcham making his debut,
alongside other first timers in the first team, Steed Malbranque and
central defender Dorian Dervite, Phil Ifil was in at right back, with
Young-Pyo Lee at left back.
Barcham nearly made a dream start, as he took
the ball around Goodlad, but found a defender in the way when he hit the
ball towards goal.
Phil Ifil started for the first time in a while
and in the sixth minute, his cross was hit on the volley by Defoe, but a
defender blocked it, but a clear opportunity presented itself to Jeff
Smith, when Leo Constantine's touch wrong-footed Michael Dawson and the
wide-man hit a shot on goal, but only found the side-netting.
Defoe looked sharp, but perhaps a little anxious to score, making power
a priority rather than placement and thus missing chances and being
denied by Goodlad in the Vale goal, who appeared to have a personal
vendetta against the Spurs forward. He hit one wide, then the
keeper had to scramble back to push away a lob after 23 minutes, as
Jermain saw him off his line and just before the break, the goalie
stopped another effort.
Lee was frustrating with his crossing early in
the game, but with a quarter of an hour gone, he struck a shot from
Murphy's short corner and Goodlad pushed it out and the follow-up phase
of play saw Dervite strike his shot over the bar. That was where a
good opportunity for Port Vale ended when Constantine got between our
two centre-halves and he was unable to control his shot and the ball
sailed too high. Barcham had played half a game against Harlow
Town on Monday night, but showed his appetite for the game, although the
ball rarely fell for him to show what he can do. He did battle for
a ball on the 'D' and produced a shot that Walker had to hack away from
Ifil had a hand in two incidents at either end,
with a deflection off Abbey's free-kick, which looped safely into
Cerny's hands, while he got forward up the right wing to hit a high
cross, which almost dropped under the crossbar, but Goodlad was there
again to tip over. Huddlestone was a strong presence in
midfield and opponents bounced off him as they tried to dispossess him
and he also got forward enough to trouble the Port Vale defence and hit
a low shot that skidded off the grass to go just wide, with Goodlad
stranded for once. This left Spurs without anything to show for
their first half domination at the turnaround.
Davids continued the onslaught on the Port Vale
goal after the break with a 25 yard shot wide (as most of his efforts on
goal were tonight), while Constantine popped up to throw himself into a
spectacular volleyed scissor kick that went wide, with Cerny diving to
cover the attempt. Goodlad was in action again when Defoe produced
a shot with little back-lift, but the keeper threw out a strong hand to
palm the ball out for a corner.
Just after the hour, the expected replacement
of Malbranque, who had tackled well and passed effectively in his first
time in a Spurs shirt, with Aaron Lennon. It was thought that this
change would swing the game in Tottenham's favour, but when a clearance
was headed back into the Spurs box by Sodje, Leo Constantine stretched
out a longer leg than Dawson to direct the ball through Cerny's legs and
into the net to give the League 1 side a shock lead.
When Barcham hit s shot over the top a minute
later, this precipitated the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov for the
youngster. His first involvement was to get on the end of
Huddlestone's flighted free-kick which the goalie kept out with a
stretching save. Then Ghaly came on for Murphy and all the subs
had been used up with 70 minutes gone. When Ifil started to hold
his leg, it looked a hasty move by Jol, but the defender carried on and
played through the pain. His fellow defender Dervite was gaining
in confidence and strode forward to strike a shot over from 25 yards,
while Goodlad once more produced a fine stop to keep Defoe's drilled
shot out and then the Spurs man struck another shot wide.
When Huddlestone played another straightish
free-kick into the area, there looked no danger, but it went over
everyone's head, with Dervite the closest to it from a Spurs point of
view. Contantine got closer and touched the ball, which then
bounced up off the post, the keeper's hand and into the net for the
Tottenham midfielder's first goal. With ten minutes left, it
proved a turning point in the match for Spurs.
Defoe showed that his eagerness to score was
concentrating on trying to bust the net, but his shot went over before
the end of the 90 minutes and the game was taken into extra time.
Spurs looked the stronger side and Ghaly's
languid style looked effective when he produced a good ball in to
Berbatov, who struck the ball first time from close range, only to see
Goodlad throw out a hand to palm the ball over the top with a super
reflex save in the first minute of extra time.
However, Tottenham were not to be denied and
with eight minutes of the half hour gone, Tom Huddlestone picked up the
ball after Dervite had done an impressive bit of skill lobbing the ball
over a Vale attacker three times. The big man strode forward and
30 yards out he decided to hit a drive on goal and a deflection took the
ball past Goodlad to give Tottenham the lead. The relief was
palpable among the players and the crowd.
An out of character moment came when the
defence kept playing the ball back to Cerny, whose final ball out went
to a Vale player, who was robbed and as the ball ran loose, Dawson dived
in to foul an opponent with a rash challenge, for which he got a yellow
A triple substitution by Vale just before
half-time in extra time almost had the same effect as Tottenham's third
replacement, with Harsley going down under challenge and having to have
a lot of treatment.
A minute into the second period, the game was
sewn up. Phil Ifil took the ball on the right wing about halfway
into the Port Vale half. He looked up, swung in a cross that was
curling away from the goal on the edge of the six yard box and all
Jermain Defoe had to do was make contact, which he did with a side-foot
volley, to make it 3-1. He could have made it four, but, as had
happened all game, when Lennon played the striker in, his low shot was
kept out by Goodlad's leg to keep the score respectable.
The victory had come in the end, but Port Vale
had shown a good work ethic and Martin Foyle had set them out to make
things difficult for Tottenham. They did have chances, but the
lack of clinical finishing left them hoping the one goal would be
enough, but in the final analysis, it was the class and extra fitness of
Spurs that won out. With such a large number of newcomers in the
side, it was a useful work out for them and a win to take Spurs through
to the quarter-final of the competition, which still has some good teams
left in (Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool), but others who are beatable
(Wycombe, Southend, Charlton, Newcastle).
We will see on Saturday who we will have to
beat to progress any further.
MEHSTG TOP MEN : - MICHAEL DAWSON & TOM