While debut scorer Andros Townsend and two-goal Jermain Defoe should
take the headlines after this functional 3-0 win for Spurs over Charlton
Athletic in the FA Cup Third Round, it is surely Luka Modric, who will
once more take the plaudits for a stunning display which turned the
match with a fifteen minute spell of spell-binding play that won the
match for Tottenham.
Croatian magician weaved his spell and his way through the red shirted
defence of the South London visitors to make the chances that took Spurs
through to a meeting at Craven Cottage with Fulham, but also created a
number of other chances that could have racked up a large score-line in
Tottenham's favour. However, Carlo Cudicini made three good saves
to preserve a clean sheet.
Harry Redknapp had made a number of
changes to the side that finished at Everton, with Rafael van der Vaart,
Jermaine Jenas, Alan Hutton, Luka Modric and Aaron Lennon all on the
bench. In came Vedran Corluka, Sandro, Andros Townsend, Niko
Kranjcar and Roman Pavlyuchenko to face the League One side, who had
just lost their manager Phil Parkinson.
It was an indication of the early
kick-off and the extreme searching procedures put in place that there
was a subdued start to the game with the empty seats gradually being
filled, as the queues outside held up people getting in and the noisy
Addick fans set out to enjoy their day out. The fact that there
were few songs coming from the Spurs sections was about all they had to
sing about, as the mixture of hardy regulars and those who don't often
come to the Lane sat down to experience the less than Inter Milan
quality opposition. The presence of Johnnie Jackson and Gary
Doherty reminded us of Christmases past and a potential star of
Christmas future soon made an impact on the game.
Fresh back from his loan at Ipswich Town,
Andros Townsend was working the right wing with the step-over or five
thrown in for good measure, as he gave West Ham loanee Matt Fry a
roasting fit for any given Sunday. With a minute gone, he beat his
man for what was to be the first of many times and put in a low ball
across the penalty area, but there was not a white shirt on hand to make
something of it.
Spurs were not playing with great
fluency, but managed to pout Charlton under pressure form the start with
Townsend almost getting on the end of a dropped Defoe free-kick which
had been deflected up off the wall and from another free-kick in the
13th minute, Kranjcar curled a shot feet wide of the goal from 22 yards.
However, the visitors were trying to make inroads into the Tottenham
box, with Simon Francis going on one long run, which left Kranjcar
trailing behind him, but his ball into the box was intercepted by
Dawson. Wagstaff appealed for a penalty, when he ran at
Assou-Ekotto and ended up on the floor, then Ayinsah made a good move on
the right wing to cut inside and reach the edge of the area before
deciding to let go a shot. Unfortunately, his standing foot
slipped and it touched the ball thus making his left foot striker the
ball a mile wide. It was a move which was meant to look very
skilful, but ended up looking hilarious.
In between the two Charlton efforts came
a Pavlyuchenko shot that keeper Elliott palmed out, but Defoe couldn't
get to it to have a shot, so pulled it back for Wilson Palacios, who hit
it wide off the leg of a defender. When Townsend played the
ball to Pav to set up Defoe, he looked as if he was about to score,
until Christian Dailly, the veteran West Ham defender got in the way.
Racon tried a volley from about 28 yards out, but it did not cause
Cudicini much trouble and then a low ball into the box from Wagstaff
produced a bit of pinball and in the end Dawson had to clear it out of
harm's way. With 10 minutes to half-time, Jackson got some space
on the left side and he created a chance with a low ball in for Wagstaff
once more, but the striker could not get his try on target, despite some
histrionics claiming a corner.
While not being in the thick of the
action, Pav had a header that went over the angle from Andros' header
back across goal and this had followed a chance when a cross from Sandro
was flicked on by JD's head and the Russian was beyond the far post on
the left to hit a volley that Elliott did well to beat out.
As the whistle went for half-time, it
signalled the end of a poor half of football, with Charlton showing a
lot of effort, but no real direction, while Spurs had a few chances, but
no real cutting edge. The ref called Dawson to him as they left
the field and probably told him that Sandro would be in the book for his
next foul after getting away with a few ... although none were
malicious. The appearance of Gary Mabbutt with his daughters
during the interval to talk about FA Cup success of the past was a nice
touch. The other good bit about half-time, was Clive Allen coming
out of the tunnel to call Luka Modric into the dressing room.
And the Croatian appeared in place of
Palacios after the interval. His introduction produced an
immediate effect, as he was happy picking up the bal land running at the
opposition's midfield with it. His movement and short passing made
the tempo of the game higher and gave Charlton problems both picking him
up and keeping up with the forward momentum that was built up.
Four minutes in, Sandro played a ball forward to Townsend centrally and
he stepped inside to unleash an early right footed shot that skipped low
off the turf and beat Elliott's dive to hit the bottom right hand corner
of the keeper's net in the 49th minute. it was a fantastic moment
for the young winger and one which he deserved for his performance.
At 1-0, the game was not yet won, but
when Fry strode forward and struck a 30 yard shot that had some power,
Cudicini could take no chances and dived to his left to push it wide of
the goal as it travelled a long way through the air. Then it was
Elliott who was saving, from Pavlyuchenko when he hit a shot from a
tight angle, which the Charlton goalie did well to keep out, although he
had no chance when Corluka and Modric worked some space on the right
hand corner of their box and Modric was played inside to take the ball
past Dailly and then hurriedly shoot. Unfortunately for Tottenham,
what would have been a great goal ended with the ball going past the
upright as Modric cut into the six yard box.
Then ten minutes after the turnaround,
Defoe managed to get a shot away, but it was a bit of a toe-poke after
he was played in by Kranjcar, but the ball missed by a foot or so.
But it was merely delaying the inevitable, as in the 58th minute, he
took Kranjcar's touch on, ran across the penalty box from left to right
and as Doherty and Dailly tried to close him, hit a left foot shot that
wrong-footed the keeper and nestled the ball in the same corner as
Townsend's goal. And before Charlton could settle, it was 3-0 with
a goal two minutes later. The little striker got the ball near the
centre circle and ran at the heart of the penalty area, with defenders
expecting him to release it to a team-mate, but the striker had the
taste for goal now and hit a shot that was blocked by a defender's leg
and with the keeper diving to cover it, he was not able to get up
quickly enough to react to Defoe's shot from the rebound and the ball
was soon in the back of the Charlton net again.
Fifteen minutes into the second half and
Spurs were on their way to the Fourth Round, thanks to the spark added
to the engine room by Modric. Sandro was soon in the book for an
innocuous challenge, but one he had bee warned about, before Townsend
zipped away from Fry again and put the bal on a plate for Modric, but
the shot that resulted was blocked away by a lunge from Doherty.
Everyone wanted to get in on the act and Benny popped up on the right
side of the area and let go a low drilled effort from 25 yards that hit
the advertising boards with some venom, just missing the goal, but then
the next effort produced a two fisted punched save from Cudicini, as
substitute Kyel Reid struck a drive from 28 yards that looked like it
might sneak past the Italian. However, he got enough on it with an
unorthodox save to concede the corner.
Townsend was enjoying his afternoon and
after beating Fry, his cross picked out Pavlyuchenko's chest and he took
the ball down for Modric to hit a shot, but with a defender right in
front of him, he could not get a clean hit on it. Then the
compliment was returned with Modric playing Townsend in for a shot that
sneaked across goal and missed the far post by inches in the 79th
A flowing move across the pitch involving
the three Croatians opened up a chance for Corluka to knock a low ball
into the six yard box and a scramble occurred, but the ball was cleared
away. When Semedo brought a ball out, he pushed it a little to far
ahead of him as he reached the centre circle and he went full length,
face first into the turf and stayed there for a while ... probably
hoping no-one would see his embarrassment.
Spurs had been awarded a number of
free-kick son the edge of the box, with Kranjcar taking most of them,
but had not got one on target, so with two minutes left, Benny took on
just right of centre and he forced Elliott to a full-length diving save
to palm the ball out. Then, with three minutes of injury time
being indicated, Charlton almost got a consolation, with Sodje turning
Bassong in the box and hitting a fierce shot that Cudicini could only
push aside. With a corner coming in during added time, the Ginger
Pele got his head to it first and it took a sharp reflex save from the
Spurs keeper to knock it out and keep a clean sheet for the team for the
third time in four games.
The visiting supporters had sung their
incomprehensible songs and saw their team have a few chances, but the
difference on the two teams in the end was clinical finishing and
someone like Modric to create things. Townsend had a promising
debut, but needs experience at the top level and might benefit form a
loan spell at a Premier League club like Walker. It was a useful
exercise in that several fringe players got a run out and that is
important should they ne required in the coming weeks. And Spurs
move through to a game against Fulham away in the next round.
Momentum is important and winning becomes a good habit to pick up.
With Manchester United at the Lane next
Sunday, it looks as though Spurs might not have David Beckham for the
match, but with only six subs on the bench today, perhaps they are
starting to believe they can win games when not at full strength.