What had looked a tricky tie in the first
match, seemed an easy task in the replay despite the game being played
in a veritable war zone with helicopters, riot police and police horses
along with enough fluorescent jackets to man a dozen normal games down
With three minutes remaining in the
match, Cardiff had their first shot on target and it lacked enough power
to trouble Robinson. Ferretti had wriggled into the area before
scuffing his shot, but by then, the game had been dead for a
considerable amount of time.
That was thanks to two goals in three
minutes, which saw Cardiff players arguing among themselves, as the lack
of success stretching back to 11th November kicked in and Spurs strolled
through the second half despite the physical approach from the
Bluebirds. The visitors had stamped the way they were going to
take the game to Spurs in the first minute, when Gooner Gilbert went
right through Keane from behind. He seemed to have psyched himself
up by saying he would get stick from the Tottenham crowd as an Arsenal
player, but I am not sure how many people would have heard of him
without him publicising himself. he couldn't take the stick but
wanted to hand it out, including a rabbit punch to Anthony Gardner after
a first half clash. He was regularly rounded by Spurs players and
showed a lack of composure when distributing the ball. I am sure
he will be welcomed back at Highbury.
Dimitar Berbatov unleashed a shot that
skipped a ball-width past the post with Alexander stranded after 10
minutes, then Zokora hit a trademark shot wide four minutes later.
Spurs were opening up Cardiff on Gilbert's wing, with Benoit
Assou-Ekotto making strides down the left wing and Malbranque got on the
end of the full-backs pull-back, but Alexander got to it and Keane
couldn't reach the rebound first.
However, the goal was imminent and on 26
minutes, a Cardiff set-piece led to Aaron Lennon hitting the opener.
Breaking forward at pace, the little winger passed to Zokora in the left
hand channel, where he passed towards Robbie Keane, who was offside.
Chopra had chased back to take Zokora after he had laid the ball off and
the Cardiff defence stopped expecting a whistle for the foul on Didier
or for offside against Keano, but he let the ball run and Lennon was
there to slot the ball between the keeper and his near post to give
Spurs a useful first goal in the game.
It seemed to encourage Tottenham to push
on for a second and Berba had one ruled out for offside, but the
Bulgarian strolled into the penalty area, turned Loovens and calmly
picked out a low pass to Keane, who whacked the ball high into the
roof of the net from about four yards out. It was a sublime piece
of unselfish and stylish play by Dimitar, who is coming into his own as
he shows that forwards do not always need to score themselves.
Perhaps Keane could take a leaf out of his book. Too many times,
he tries to do something clever without it coming off and when other
players cannot supply him with a pass exactly where he thinks he wants
it, he remonstrates with them. As captain, it is not the best way of
The shots were flying in, with Malbranque
trying his luck from the edge of the box and McNaughton stuck out a leg
and nearly diverted it into his own net, if not for the Bluebirds goalie
making a good reflex save. But Steed didn't have to wait too long
for another opportunity, when a good break, with some neat one touch
football, freed BAE on the left and his low pass inside was struck early
and powerfully from 20 yards out, leaving Alexander groping for the ball
as it flashed past him at his right hand post. Malbranque is
becoming a useful member of the team, as he has a nice touch, good
passing ability and he works much harder than I realised he did when
With a 3-0 half-time lead in a FA Cup
tie, it is not a time for Spurs fans to hold the greatest confidence,
but the opposition today rarely threatened our goal and the more likely
threat would be to our fans from the exuberant Welshman who sung
incomprehensible songs and seemed to think that the fact that they were
singing when 0-3 down was a particularly good thing.
Anyway, on the pitch, it was more of the
same as Hud picked out Chimbonda's run, but the full-back did not read
that the ball was going over the defender's head and when it did, he was
not prepared for the shot that went wide. Defoe was one of many
substitutions made in the second half, showing that he is confident in
his goal-scoring ability by trying to set up Keane, who was put off as
he was going to shoot. Three minutes later, Jermain showed him how
it should be done, as Ghaly ran forward and smashed a shot that
Alexander could not hold. As the ball ran loose, Defoe was onto it
the quickest and while the keeper got something on his shot, the ball
still was up for grabs and Jermain found it at his feet in front of goal
and prodded it in for 4-0.
Keane did come close after Tom
Huddlestone picked him out with just one of numerous delightfully judged
passes he played throughout the game. Robbie's volley was hit true
and hard, but Alexander was equal to it and pushed it away.
The game showed that Tottenham can go on
to kill teams off and it was a useful exercise for tougher opponents in
the future. The passing was good and the movement better, with
players looking eager to make an impact on the game. The tempo in
the first half carried Tottenham to a 3-0 lead, but the pace dropped in
the second half and Spurs were still unable to get Aaron Lennon into the
game as much as they would have liked, but the Cardiff resilience was
weak and now we face familiar opposition in Southend in ten days time.
Between now and then, we will have a good idea on how the course of our
season will run, but more performances like this will help shape that
MEHSTG TOP MAN : STEED MALBRANQUE