With the inability to defend set-pieces still obvious, Tottenham managed
to get past Middlesbrough reserves with a two-goal blast in five minutes
halfway through the second half to see them progress to Round 4 of the
The goals came just
after some of the Spurs fans roundly booed Martin Jol for removing
Jermain Defoe from the action, to be replaced by Robbie Keane.
Tottenham had missed a large number of chances up until that time, but
then stuck two away in double quick time to see off the Tees-siders.
Firstly, Spurs broke with Keane playing a
ball forward from the left to Gareth Bale, who took the ball on, rounded
Boro keeper Brad Jones and squeezed it in from a narrow angle as a
defender slid in to try and stop it in vain. Then, from the next
attack by the visitors, Robinson kicked accurately up to Lennon on the
right wing, where he easily outpaced the porky Rochemback and then
dinked a cross for Tom Huddlestone to rise and nod the ball down back
past where the keeper had come from.
From the first minute free-kick, which
Bale took hitting it into the wall and then smacking the second shot
just wide after it had taken a deflection. From that narrow
escape, the Boro goal was under pressure for most of the game.
This lead to three successive corners, but they came to nothing and as
Boro broke away, they made their first attack with Rochemback striking a
low shot that bounced just in front of Robinson and he had to push the
ball aside for a corner to make sure it didn't sneak past him off the
Either side of the ten minute mark, Spurs
went close. Firstly, Defoe lifted pass over the Boro defence and
Jermaine Jenas ran through, but tried to place the ball over Jones into
the top corner and over-cooked his effort, placing it over the bar.
Then Tainio played in Defoe, but the goalie was out to his feet to clock
his shot very quickly.
Michael Dawson nodded a Jenas free-kick
into the side-netting, then fed a long cross-field ball to Bale on the
left wing and he got around Boateng easily, but as he cut inside, he hit
a right foot shot that flew well wide. Defoe looked desperate for
a goal, as he lashed a loose ball in the box with great force, but
little accuracy, while a flick header from Younes Kaboul to Bale's pacy
free-kick produced a very good low save from Jones, who pushed the ball
out after seeing it late.
Just before the half hour, Berbatov
brought down a long ball and smashed a shot just wide and then Defoe
broke away taking on defenders in the right hand channel, but rather
than trying to score, he picked out a lofted cross to Tainio, who tried
to get some power on the header, but only succeeded in making contact
with his shoulder and the ball looped gently into the air for Jones to
Spurs came the closest yet in the 36th
minute, as Hud fed Tainio and his shot ballooned up into the air and
Defoe reacted quickest to head the ball goalwards, but Jones arched
backwards to get a hand on the ball and push it onto the crossbar.
The failure to convert these chances nearly cost Tottenham dear as the
ball dropped from a free-kick and was thrashed at goal by Riggott, but
he could not keep it down and it flew over to the relief of Spurs fans
in the stadium.
The half-time break did not draw boos.
This was saved for Defoe's substitution in the 69th minute. By
then, Downing had his shot blocked wide by Dawson and Craddock fired
wide when well placed. On the hour, Lennon burst into the area and
Wheater made a rash challenge, which looked to take Aaron's legs from
under him, but the referee was only willing to give a corner and even
then only after the linesman had corrected his original award of a
goal-kick. Stroud was suckered in by Rochemback's easy falls too
many times and a string of free-kicks that caused Spurs problems.
Just before Defoe went off, he headed
Chimbonda's cross to the far post downwards and Jones once more plunged
to the turf to keep his effort out. Jol obviously felt that
Jermain had had his chance and brought on Keane in his place, while
Jenas made way for Zokora to come on.
Within three minutes, Spurs were ahead
and three minutes later, it was all over.
In added time, Zokora was put through by
Tom Huddlestone and with his first goal looking a cert, he fired a left
foot shot (!!) a mile wide. A consolation was almost won by
Wheater, when he rose to head a corner just wide, with nobody marking
him as Downing's ball came in.
A win was what the team need, as they
start to put some results together (three without a defeat now), but it
was a less than clinical performance against a very inexperienced
Middlesbrough team and one where it needed late goals to take the tie,
but a full strength Spurs eventually came out on top.
So, one more point proved by Jol and a
place in the last sixteen of the competition saw Tottenham supporters
leave happy (well, most of them anyway), as the boos for removing JD
turned to supportive chants for Martin Jol shortly after. Fickle ?
Spurs fans ? Never !!
BENNY THE BALL