|COMPETITION||FA Cup Fifth Round Replay|
|DATE||Wednesday 7th March 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Spurs struggled to get their game together at Broadhall Way in the
original FA Cup tie, with the bobbly pitch and a determined
Stevenage side making life difficult for them in a ground full of
excited home supporters (and a number of others who don't normally
go to the games). At White Hart Lane, there will be a full
away section, but the pitch will be a carpet and the number of Spurs
fans will outnumber those of the League One side.
Since that first meeting, Stevenage have failed to win a match and Spurs have suffered a couple of big set-backs in recent weeks. So there may be two sides who are not at their best, but Spurs will be looking for a win that would both get them off their poor run and to get them into a Sixth Round, where Bolton Wanderers are waiting for the winners.
There will be plenty of effort in the visitor's game, with their strikers looking to upset the Spurs back line. A physical presence in the shape of big Ben May, lumbering Don Cowan and the short, but strong on the ball Luke Freeman might try to give the Tottenham defenders a test, but they might be ready for them this time after the initial shock of the first tie.
The midfield will try and close Spurs down, something they did very well at Stevenage and get stuck in to try and put our players off their game, but with the likes of Michael Bostwick, Joel Byrom and Robin Shroot who have good ability when it comes to shooting may give the Spurs keeper trouble if they get within range - which could be anywhere within 30 yards. Shroot has been scoring a few goals and the midfield and defence have contributed their fair share ... perhaps more than their strikers. Lawrie Wilson will play on the right, working up and down the line, having had a good game in the game at Broadhall Way.
The defence features ex-Spur Ronnie Henry, who had decent game against Gareth Bale and Scott Laird also stood firm as Spurs pressed forward. With set-pieces likely to be their best chance of scoring, the defenders will pile forward to try to exploit any weakness in the air. Darius Charles and Jon Ashton are both regulars in the Stevenage side, so might fill the other defensive berths in front of goalkeeper Chris Day, who will be returning to where he started his career. A sound keeper, who is tall and good on crosses, but can be beaten by low shots, as he is approaching the veteran stage and is sharp, but perhaps his reflexes are not what they were.
Spurs will be looking for a high tempo game, which they were unable to play at Stevenage, leaving their opponents chasing them, rather than the other way around.
Using the width, which was lacking apart from Danny Rose's left wing play in the first game, may be the key to getting through the League One side's back four, so Harry might need to put out Lennon and Bale from the start to stretch the defence and get the ball into the box on every occasion. A reasonably strong side fielded by Spurs should do enough to get through ...
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 3 Stevenage 1|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs welcome back Gareth Bale (virus), Rafael van der Vaart (ankle) and Scott Parker (Suspension), with William Gallas standing an outside chance of playing after a long standing calf injury.
Louis Saha and Ledley King (both knee) will miss the tie.
|STEVENAGE TEAM NEWS :|
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
3 (1) Stevenage
FA Cup Fifth Round Replay
Wednesday 7th March 2012 Kick off 19:30
White Hart Lane
Adebayor (p) 55
|Byrom (p) 4|
Bostwick (foul) 48
Roberts (foul) 54
|Crowd : 35,757||Weather : Dry, chilly|
|Referee : Michael Oliver (Northumberland)||Assistant Referees : Mr. A. Garratt; Mr. S. Ledger|
|Fourth Official : Mr. J. Moss|
|Stevenage kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Stevenage :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Gary Smith|
|Sponsor : Investec||Shirt sponsor : ServerChoice.com|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Puma|
A shocking start and a shocking decision made the journey for Tottenham to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup a harder task than they might have been expecting, but playing the officials as well as the determined League One side, Spurs finished 3-1 winners, but the tie was closer than that score-line reads.
Harry Redknapp picked an attacking side with Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart returning to the side, with Danny Rose at left back, Younes Kaboul at right back and Dawson and Nelsen inside them. In midfield Parker and Kranjcar took the middle positions, with Lennon on the other side to Bale and Defoe partnered Rafa up front. Cudicini filled the goalkeeper's gloves as he tends to in cup matches.
Stevenage had a slightly changed look about them and coming into the match off the back of a winless run since the first meeting, perhaps that was to shake the side up a bit. Freeman was missing, but the rest of the side the same, with Shroot introduced in attack. And the change gave the away side the impetus to make a fast start. A ball across the box from the left to Byrom saw a challenge come in from Ryan Nelsen, with the ball appearing to follow the direction of his tackle. But, despite the linesman having a better view than the ref and being much closer ... and not flagging for a penalty, Oliver pointed to the spot. The Spurs were players were incensed; the Stevenage players hardly raised a peep for a pen.
But give it he did and Byrom got up to give Stevenage the lead from the spot after just four minutes.
Spurs were rattled. They couldn't get their game going and with two wide men, they couldn't get the ball to them. Conversely, Stevenage were attacking on the flanks with the long haired Wilson throwing himself into the game so whole-heartedly, he managed to fling himself to the floor about an hour before a tackle came in on one occasion. Meanwhile Beardsley put in an ugly jump at Dawson without looking at the ball and when the Spurs centre-half landed, he was in obvious pain, which brought the stretcher on to carry him off with an ankle problem. With Walker coming on in the captain's place, Kaboul shifter inside to centre half and the latest Spurs England international slipped into his usual right back berth.
But Stevenage kept pressing with Byrom going too high and Bostwick too wide with shots and from a corner, Bostwick won a free header that went over the bar, leaving Kaboul and Walker discussing the finer points of who should have been picking him up. And then Spurs started to move the ball to feet and Lennon was getting past his man, but the final ball was lacking in accuracy. Following another fruitless Stevenage attack with Ashton heading wide from a free-kick when unchallenged, Cudicini played the ball to Bale in the left back position. Looking up, he fired a pass that dropped into Defoe's run. Taking a touch that took the ball to the left of Ashton and without waiting, JD hit a shot with his left foot from level with the top of the D that skidded past Day's right hand before he could set himself to save. It was an instinctive finish that Defoe is noted for and we were glad of.
The equaliser had come after the side had started to put things together and it was a perfect long pass from Bale that picked out Defoe. The striker threatened again when Day dropped a cross and the keeper had to block the follow-up shot and then Lennon almost got on the end of a slipped pass through the defence played by Scott Parker at pace, but it had a little too much on it and the winger appeared to pull up a bit quickly. Soon after, he fell to the floor and had to have treatment before limping off to be replaced by Adebayor in the 38th minute. Five minutes before half time, things looked even worse for Tottenham, with Bale running from left to right across the box and unleashing a right foot shot that went a long way wide, but he pulled up and stood with his hands on his knees before holding his stomach.
van der Vaart fired a shot over when players were available inside him, then Bostwick charged forward with the Tottenham defence backing off and his shot from the right edge of the area went harmlessly wide way off to the left. Even deeper into added time, Roberts had to make a well-timed challenge to stop Adebayor scoring and a couple of corners that followed (unsurprisingly) failed to produce a goal.
The half time whistle came with boos for the referee and to a certain extent Stevenage's reputation under former manager Graham Westley was being carried on with a physical approach bordering on the illegal and time wasting from the start of the game, as well as some unsubtle simulation. We hoped for more in the second half.
The half time "entertainment" was the GB women's hockey team being interviewed as the fans chewed over the first half's fare. No changes for either side at half time was perhaps unsurprising, as Stevenage were going to be keen to carry on their tactics and Spurs could not really afford to sub Bale, with only one replacement left. For Spurs, the second half started the better to begin with. Manu got into the box to have a shot blocked and it might have hit a defender's arm on the way out, then Danny Rose raced away from the lumbering Stevenage defence, causing Bostwick to hack him up in the air and get a yellow card. Kyle Walker was finding a bit more space down the wing and when he played a low ball in from deep on the right wing, Defoe made a run to the near post that saw him back-heel the ball in past a stunned Day, but the linesman, who had failed to signal for Stevenage's penalty managed to raise his flag for offside.
Also offside was Beardsley when he had a chance from a scramble and Roberts failed to poke the ball past Cudicini, hitting it straight at him after it dropped kindly from a corner. As it was, a corner at the other end almost produced a goal for Spurs as Bale made a near post runt hat met VDV's ball in and the ball flashed across the face of goal, with Defoe unable to run it in at the far post. Then, a good move saw Bale pick up the ball on the right side just outside the box. He took on his man, Roberts, and as he shaped to cross, the ball took an inadvertent touch off his left foot and he missed his kick with his right. However, Roberts had followed through and caught his kicking foot, prompting the linesman to flag for a penalty. The Stevenage players complained Bale dived, but he didn't and perhaps it was a harsh award, but no more than the penalty they got themselves.
Despite some sad attempts to put him off by players trying to tell him where to put it, Adebayor kept his cool and slotted the ball to the keeper's right as he dived left and Spurs were ahead.
Just before the hour, Bale picked up the ball and ran forward. With little else on he hit a 25 yard shot that looked for all the world like it was going to continue to rise over the bar. However, at the last minute, it dipped savagely to bamboozle Day and leave the crossbar shaking as it struck the face of the bar full on and bounced out and away.
In the 63rd minute Roberts went forward looking to redeem his error at the back and hit a low shot that Carlo Cudicini had to touch wide and from the corner a header from Laird came down off the underside of the bar and off Cudicini's back, but did not cross the line before Kaboul hacked it clear.
A quick throw-in taken by Bale in the 75th minute freed Jermain down the left. Taking the ball into the penalty area, he was faced by Laird and Roberts, but he cut back to a position wide of the six yard box to the left of the goal and level with line before curling a hard shot past the two defenders, who failed to close him down quickly enough and also past Day's despairing dive to make it 3-1. Some said that the score-line flattered Spurs, but they could have had a number more goals, while Stevenage were limited to a few direct chances.
Bostwick tried his luck from long range and his effort went just wide, with Adebayor suffering the same fate when he set himself up for a home made volley that had plenty of power, but not much direction. A couple of times low crosses into the six yard box were played in and Defoe missed one and got to the other, but might have been better leaving it for Rafael, as the ball squirted away across goal instead of in it. The game ended with Bale looking strong an leading a break that might have ended in a goal if he had fed Adebayor or Defoe rather than shot and force Day to a save.
So, the this was the third team in succession we have faced for whom it was their cup final and this time we got a win.
Stevenage fans will have had a lot of fun and not many of them will turn up at Broadhall Way for their next home game, but they will have something to tell their grand-children about. As for Spurs, they go on to face Bolton Wanderers in the quarters at WHL in a week's time.
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|What you thought|
|Stan Chun||Not the greatest
game, but a gritty performance having had to change the side during
the game because of injuries.
We need to get our flowing game moving again and with Lennon out for a while the twin wing attack is back out of the window. Moving the ball through the Stevenage midfield was not easy, but the movement came in the end and Spurs managed to break them down.
It will be a similar game on Saturday at Everton and maybe we will see the return of Sandro in the middle with Parker to try and counter the swamping of it by blue shirts.
|Other replay scores this week :|
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