|More than any other time in my
life watching Tottenham, I felt comfortable in seeing them go about
their business in this FA Cup replay at Forest. Never did I think
we were not going to win, although the pace and passing accuracy was
missing from our first half showing before the team picked up and eased
to the Sixth Round in the second 45.
With seven changes from Saturday's match,
it was perhaps unsurprising that the side failed to click in the first
half, when Forest parked their bus and tried to hit on the break, but
did so rarely. Maybe that was because they were without their main
playmaker from the first game, Kris Commons. It was only when
Evans broke a tackle on the edge of the box and fired a hard shot at
head height at Robinson did they threaten. Then the England Number
One had the opportunity to thrust out a great big hand to push the ball
away from the goal, but then this was in the 44th minute. The lack
of forward momentum in the Forest side would have had Newton relatively
pulling his hair out. They seemed tied by the same length of rope
that Jacques Santini used to tie our full backs to our goalposts with.
Gary Megson is obviously a believer in
organisation over style and perhaps that will serve his side well in
their battle to pull away from the foot of the Championship (strange to
say "Championship" when you might be relegated from "the
Championship"), but here all it served to do was give Tottenham's
eleven an easy run-out at little more than training ground friendly
standard. While it took Spurs a while to get going, they warmed to
their task in the second half as the temperature dropped.
The first period had seem Spurs toil to
string passes together and the final ball into the box was usually one
which favoured a red shirt. This wasn't helped by Robbie Keane's
lack of interest in trying to head the ball when in the penalty
area. When Atouba pushed forward from left back, he came inside,
where most of the Forest defenders were, but spotted Kanoute looking to
move into space in the left hand channel inside the penalty area.
His pass was spot on, but Fredi's first touch took the ball wide and
when he swung a left foot at it, the ball sliced off his foot and went
well wide. It had taken 20 minutes to get that close.
Forest made a couple of forays forward,
without troubling Robinson. They seemed to be winning the corner
count, but did little with them. One flew across the goal, while
another attack opened Spurs up, with the ball being played across to the
in-running Robertson, who hit his shot first time, but hurriedly wide.
It took half an hour for Spurs to make
Gerrard make a save in the Forest goal. The ball was worked down
the left flank and Atouba hit a high ball into the area. Fredi
chested the ball into Keane's path and he took the ball down before
screwing a shot under the defender closing him down, but the Forest
goalie made a good stop, low down with his outstretched hand, while
going the wrong way. The ball was kicked away, but Davies knocked
it back in and Keano just failed to connect, when perhaps he should have
done, with a volley as the goal was yawning in front of him.
When a Spurs player did meet the ball on
the volley, it nearly broke the deadlock. From a right wing
corner, Simon Davies knocked a good ball in to the edge of the box and
Reto Ziegler struck a volley that zipped past the post by about two
yards, but could have caught a deflection on the way.
When half-time came, it must have been a
relief for Forest, but Jol probably told Spurs to keep playing the same
way, but with a bit more pace. The way the players were running in
the second half made it look like the pitch was hard and they were
concerned about going over on it. The team came out and straight
away started moving in on the home goal with Kanoute and Kelly both
getting shots away, before the first goal arrived from a corner.
Ziegler took it from the right and the
natural in-swing found Pamarot getting to the ball first at the near
post and glancing it past Gerrard to score his second Spurs goal.
His run came from deep, where he lost Powell and was always going to get
to the ball first. The goal helped Spurs settle and play, as
Forest tried to open up their own game a little. Ziegler broke on
the right, with two other Spurs players to his left, but he cut inside
and hit a shot that Gerrard saved and the Forest goalie was once more
kept busy, when he prevented Keane dinking the ball over him as he broke
on the left of the area.
When another corner was awarded on 71
minutes, the ball was flicked on at the near post by a defender and
Robbie Keane was standing right on the goal-line in the centre of the
goal when the ball landed at his feet to fire into the net. It was
as easy a goal as he will ever score and when you are on a scoring
streak, the ball really falls for you.
Spurs rang the changes. Some
enforced, some not. Mendes limped off and Atouba had been limping
and holding his thigh, but Mido for Fredi was a straight swap. An
outrageous Mido back-heel nearly put Robbie in, but when he got away,
Gerrard again was called on to produce a good stop. When a cross
came into the Tottenham box right at the end of the match, it fell to
Perch, who was 12 yards out, whose shot on the volley could have been
placed anywhere in the goal, but he put it wide of the post. It was a
costly miss, although it wouldn't have made a lot of difference in the
Spurs broke again. The ball sat up
nicely for Michael Brown, who had run all over the pitch like an
energetic streaker, to hit a drive that beat Gerrard all ends up, but
the ball hit the bar. It bounced down in front of the goal and as
it did, Mido moved in to head home the bouncing ball and to finish off
the tie. There wasn't time to restart and the goal put the icing
on top of a game that threatened to be snow-affected like 1996.
With the game slipping away from Forest,
the way Spurs controlled the game was impressive. They kept
possession (60% of it during the match) and kept trying to make the
play, while the home team were content to try and take Spurs to
penalties. I am not sure if Megson really believed that he could
get his side to hold out for that long, but he must have done, as they
never looked like scoring.
Jol got it right and the chants of
"You're Spurs and you know you are" rang out to remind him of
where he is well off. With a Sixth Round FA Cup tie ahead and a
chance of moving up the league into a European place, Big Martin would
be crazy to leave for Ajax, when he could clean up at Tottenham.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - NOE