A shadow of each side played out a dull first half, but the second
started with a penalty in the first few minutes for Spurs and the game
became much more open, leading to Tottenham running out 3-1 winners,
although not without a late scare.
Starting with a 4-4-2 formation in an
attempt to win it on the night, Harry Redknapp obviously took the view
that if Spurs lost and the system didn't work, at least it meant less
games to come. However, the ball was worked well in some moves and
not others, but the solid and more familiar set-up seemed to work, with
Modric and Pavlyuchenko especially seeming to thrive in it.
The first half was scrappy and
disjointed. Both sides were out of touch and good moves were at a
premium. Wigan had the first chance in the fifth minute when
Camara rose to put a free header to Valencia's cross wide, when he
really should have hit the target at least. A neat one-two a
little later saw Pavlyuchenko play in Modric, but it fell to the little
midfielder's left foot and he dragged it wide from 20 yards out.
Both sides were restricted to shooting from distance, with O'Hara
hitting one from 25 yards that bounced just in front of Kingson and Kapo
hitting one from even further out that must have bounced about twenty
times before Gomes took it very easily.
Camara tried an overhead kick, but Dawson
got in the way, while Bent managed to get over the top of Boyce to win a
header, but it dropped gently for the keeper to pick it up. Then
Spurs had a good opportunity from a dead ball situation, when Michael
Brown took Pavlyuchenko's legs and Bale stepped up to curl a shot from
25 yard a couple of feet wide of the goal. Following the next
Wigan attack, Gomes caught a cross and threw it to the halfway line to
Bentley, who was fouled. He took the resulting free-kick and hit
the wall with it (failing to beat the first man as he did on a number of
occasions), but got the second ball and put it in at the near post,
where Kevin Kilbane completely sliced his clearance about a foot past
his own post.
On 23 minutes, Darren Bent seemed to pull
up after being challenged as he paid the ball off and he struggled on
until he had to leave the field to be replaced by Fraizer Campbell three
minutes after the original knock. It meant that Spurs now had some
more pace up front. He almost made an immediate impact as
Pavlyuchenko spread the ball from left to right, where Bentley hit a
good cross into the near post, where Campbell dived in, only to see his
header go off Bramble for a corner.
Then Gomes was called into action when
the ref awarded a soft free-kick and de Ridder dipped it over the wall,
leaving the Spurs keeper to dive low at his post to palm the ball away
from the in-running forwards. There was a comic moment when Dawson
thundered a clearance away, but Zokora, who was ten yards away could not
get out of the way of and took it right in his stomach, much to the
amusement of his team-mates.
Just before half-time, O'Hara was out on
the left and half-hit a cross that Roman stepped over and it went
through to Modric in the middle of the penalty area. The Croatian
only half-hit his shot and Kingson made an easy save. Then Bentley
went past Brown and hit an early shot that ripped into the side netting
with the Wigan keeper getting down to it a bit late.
The second half had to get better didn't
it ? Well, After Boyce had been booked for the third bad foul he
had committed, Bale made a good run forward from the halfway line and
played the ball down the left hand channel for Fraizer Campbell to run
onto. As Bale was being tumbled over behind him, Campbell suffered
the same fate as Kingson raced out and was rounded by the Spurs forward.
As there was a defender covering the goalie, it was only a yellow card,
but the penalty that was awarded was calmly steered inside the side
netting by Pavlyuchenko to give Tottenham the lead in the 52nd minute.
This seemed to give both Roman and the
Tottenham side in general a lift and his run on the right saw him put in
a fine cross to the far post, where it was met by Campbell diving in to
head at goal. Kingson took off and made a good diving save to his
right to beat out the effort.
When Dawson did an "air header" as a long
ball bounced through, Camara looked like he would level the scores.
He was centrally placed and inside the area, when Woodgate stuck out a
leg to divert the ball away from him as he was about to shoot and did so
without fouling the Wigan forward. From the corner, the ball
dropped kindly for Scharner and his shot was blocked a couple of yards
out by Dawson, making up for his earlier error, then when the ball came
back in, the same Athletic player headed over the top.
In the 64th minute, Dawson cleared long
out of defence and with the Wigan defence pushing up, Pavlyuchenko
latched onto the ball beyond them and got there just before the keeper,
lifting the ball over him, but unfortunately, it bounced before the goal
and went wide and high of the target.
Wigan made a double substitution to try
and shake things up (and probably to save their players for next week),
but it was Spurs who were pushing now. Another slipped pass into
the area saw Roman get there ahead of Kingson, but as his touch went
past the keeper, it also went past the post on the wrong side for
Tottenham. However, it was only a temporary escape, as in the 76th
minute, Jamie O'Hara found himself in space 25 yards from goal in the
middle of the pitch and struck a fine shot that beat Kingson, but
bounced back off the post. The crowd were disappointed that O'Hara
hadn't repeated his goal against West Ham, but as it bounced back into
play in the penalty are, Modric, who had been following the shot in and
had fallen, got up to his knees and headed back into the net to make it
With a two goal lead, it was much more
comfortable for Spurs, but Wigan came back into the game and when the
ball was struck on the turn by Camara from around the penalty spot,
Gomes was quick to dive on the ball and seven minutes form the end, he
made an even better save, as Kapo headed a corner from Valencia
downwards in textbook manner, requiring the Tottenham goalie to make a
sharp diving save to push the ball wide, which is a difficult save for a
big man like Gomes.
Interestingly there was a contrasting
reaction to two substitutes warming up. Having been booed when his
name was announced before the game, Hossam Ghaly produced even more boos
when he stripped off his tracksuit and waited to come on. The
corner for Wigan made Redknapp consider it was not the best time to
bring on the midfielder, but the shirt-throwing incident in Jol's day
has obviously stuck in the mind of some Spurs fans and the Egyptian sat
down again, probably making it the last sight of him in a Spurs shirt
you will see. Conversely, when Wigan brought on Erik Edman to make
his first appearance since his knee injury in his first game for the
Latics, he received a good ovation from the Tottenham crowd.
Unfortunately, his introduction came just
before the visitor scored with two minutes left. Valencia got in
behind Bale and his low cross was met by substitute Cywka, who mis-hit
his effort, but the ball dropped to Camara off a defender and he shot in
from just outside the six yard box to make the last few minutes nervy
ones. Things might have been worse had Camara made a better
contact to Palacios' chest down, but his shot lacked any conviction and
Gomes could gather it without any trouble.
The keeper's quick thinking saw him throw
the ball out to the right wing to Bentley and he launched Tottenham on
another attack, but it came to nothing. Just before the end of
added time, Zokora won the ball at the back and ran forward with the
ball, which was something he had not been doing in the previous 92
minutes. As he entered the Wigan half, he passed through to
Pavlyuchenko, who tried his luck from 20 odd yards out. He had a
go from the same distance earlier and hit the top tier of the Paxton
Road, but this time he hit it sweetly. As Bramble ducked out of
the way and Kingson got his positioning all wrong, the ball ripped past
him to make to 3-1 and fourth round here we come.
Wigan had changed their side more
substantially than Spurs, so this will be no guide to how the league
game will go in eight days. But it was a useful exercise in using
the 4-4-2 system, which, against a weakened Wigan team, worked OK.
Maybe, this is a precursor to the new Spurs team we might see after the
transfer window. But that will be decided by how much we have to
pay for players and not by the crowd, who were constantly singing for
Jermain Defoe, who it appears, might now be out of our financial reach,
just a year after selling him.