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FA Cup Fifth Round

Sunday 20th February 2005

Having bought Forest's two most promising players in the January transfer window, Tottenham unknowingly might have made their task a little easier in this Fifth Round tie.  Although Reid and Dawson are both cup-tied for Spurs, they will also be missing from the Forest line-up too, along with suspended first choice keeper Paul Gerrard.

Since Gary Megson took over from Mick Harford as boss at the City Ground, he has been seeking to bring in new talent - Mike Pollitt (Rotherham keeper), Bradley Wright-Phillips (Man City striker), Eyal Berkovic (midfielder) and Brett Ormerod (SCBC forward) - but all have failed.  They have brought in Daryl Powell until the end of the season and Plymouth striker David Friio.

Left without their first choice keeper, Forest might field Colin Doyle rather than Barry Roche and both are untried.  The defence in front of them will feature Matthieu Louis-Jean, Andy Melville, Alan Rogers, Wes Morgan and Chris Doig.  Melville and Rogers have Premiership experience, while Morgan came from Kidderminster Harriers and Doig from the youth team.  They will be a rugged combination, but without Dawson as their focal point, they might lack cohesion and the Spurs forwards might find some joy getting amongst them.

The midfielder who has taken the eye recently is Kris Commins, who scored a long range goal in the Third Round against QPR.  He is a skilful player, who is full of energy, but the team-mates in the midfield might not hold up with him.  John Thompson, Former Brentford man Paul Evans is noted for his powerful and long range shooting, with a degree of box-to-box play in his game, he might cause Spurs some problems in breaking down moves, but I think he will be out of his depth a little.  Eoin Jess is someone we have come up against before with Coventry and Bradford, but although a promising youngster, he never really fulfilled his potential as an attacking midfielder.  Former West Ham and QPR man Andy Impey was a speedy winger in his day, but reports from Forest fans is that his day is long gone and that he is not a player they wanted to see in their side.  Taking Andy Reid out of the midfield has left the side bereft of creativity and spark.

Up front former Plymouth striker David Friio got a hatful of goals as the Pilgrims marched up through the leagues, but how he will fit in at Forest remains to be seen.  One player you would  have thought was a first choice is David Johnson, but he fell out with Megson very soon after the former WBA manager arrived and has been sidelined since.  This leaves ex-Millwall man Neil Harris, former Gillingham striker Marlon King and Burnley and lots of other clubs forward Gareth Taylor.  Harris has played seldomly, while King is the mainstay of the attack.  Pacy and with a good finish, he once caught Tottenham's eye, but he slipped through that net and found hitting another in the Championship more attractive after a spell ion jail for driving stolen cars.  Taylor is a honest, hard-working striker, who will pose problems in the air and he links up well with King.  Let's hope our King is the one who reigns on the day !!

Everyone is looking at the omens about this year's FA Cup run.  They all seem to mimic 1981, but there is one that has perhaps been overlooked ... the last time Forest knocked out a higher division side was the 0-1 defeat of Spurs on 8 January 1975 in a third round replay at White Hart Lane when the Midlands club were in the old Second Division.  It was an appalling match and the little football that was played was by the debutant manager Brian Clough's team.

While not wanting to pour cold water on the Tottenham parade, it should be remembered that it was only a late Keano goal that eased our way past Brighton in the Third Round and Forest, for all their lowly position, should not be taken lightly.  I am sure that Martin Jol will not do so, nor will he experiment with a new formation as he did in the replay against West Bromwich Albion that brought us through to this match, but the team need to approach the game as if it was against one of the big clubs.  Only such top mentality will see Spurs through.  

The Dutch coach will have prepared the team well and I think that they will come out on top ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Nottingham Forest  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Andy Reid (cup-tied); Michael Dawson (cup-tied); Sean Davis (not match fit); Anthony Gardner (knee); Dean Richards (ear); Noureddine Naybet (groin); Pedro Mendes (cheek)

NOTTINGHAM FOREST :  Paul Gerrard (suspended); Adam Nowland (hamstring); David Friio (cup-tied)


TV :  
Other countries live coverage click here.

Radio :   
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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Nottingham Forest   1      (Half-time score : 1-0)
FA Cup Fifth Round Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 20th February 2005 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :  35,640 Referee :  Steve Bennett (Kent)
Weather :  -  Cold, dry, after some very light sleet flurries
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur


King (c) 

Ziegler (Keane 66)

Kanoute (Mido 66)

Unused Subs: 

Nottingham Forest



Evans (Thompson 74)
Commons (King 90)


Unused Subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur Nottingham Forest
Scorers : -  

Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 45

Nottingham Forest

Taylor 56

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  


Michael Carrick (foul) 68


Nottingham Forest


Morgan (foul) 37
Melville (dissent) 45


Match Report : -  

Having set out their stall with a packed defence and midfield with one man up front, Forest went about their task very well.  The negative formation worked to their advantage, with some crunching tackles and a few breakaways, they posed problems for Tottenham's lacksidaisical approach to the tie.

Jol did not do the tactical trick today, as the side Gary Megson sent out had more hunger and more determination to see the task through, while Spurs looked like they expected to walk through this tie with ease.  The Championship side did not let that happen and could have walked away with the game, much like Albion could have done in the previous round. 

Tottenham looked to have settled well, with Carrick shooting over with the first effort of the match, but Forest passed the bal well and moved in support of lone striker Taylor up front.  In stark contrast, Tottenham's movement was non-existent and this lead to passes being misplaced or picked off.  Such a move broke down and Kris Commons found Rogers in space on the left wing.  Kelly came to close him down, jumped at the ball and missed, leaving Robinson to make the first of several important saves, this one at his near post, to keep Spurs in the tie.

Even when Perch took a ball in the face and had to leave the field, Spurs found it difficult to break down the ten men, with only a blocked Ziegler shot to show for almost permanent encampment in the Forest half during that time.  The Swiss lad was also involved in what was a bizarre situation, when he blocked Melville's clearance, which looped up towards Defoe on the penalty spot, but his control was not certain and the keeper grabbed the ball before the Spurs striker could react.  Fredi was making a nuisance of himself, twisting and turning ... more often to little effect, but when he did so in the box, he found himself with a shooting opportunity.  Unfortunately, he scuffed his shot making the save easy for Doyle.  Then Kanoute set up Brown, who his a 25 yard curling effort that Doyle held at the post.

Commons had a fine game and troubled Spurs all match.  He nipped the ball away from Naybet and ran past Kelly before firing in a shot that Robinson could only block with his legs in the 25th minute.  Strangely, this sparked Spurs into a period of good passing, but the crowd were frustrated by the lack of directness displayed.  This might have been because the make up of the crowd included a number of irregular attendees, who do not appreciate the need to be patient in the build-up on some occasions.  It's not all route one you know !!  This was proved when they finally opened up a shooting opportunity for Davies from 25 yards and for once, he didn't fall into the trap the rest of the side had, in trying to walk the ball into the net.  He drilled the ball low towards the bottom left corner and Doyle did very well to get a good hand on it to divert it round the post, as it arrowed towards the inside of the goal.

Spurs had obviously been working on free-kick routines on the training ground and another saw Carrick fake to take a free-kick and it was set up for Defoe from 25 yards out and this time, his drive went a yard wide.  Another free-kick was wasted on 35 minutes, when Morgan got booked for dragging back Defoe as he got away from the huge centre-half, with a question over whether he was the last man.  Taylor got in a header on Rogers' cross at the other end and it was straight out of the textbook, being headed down, but it took a lot of the pace off the ball and it was straight at Robbo, who grabbed it after initially parrying the ball upwards.

Then Spurs had their best chance of the half.  Ziegler ran into the box on the left and turned a defender, who fell to the floor.  The ball got caught up in a flurry of arms and bodies, but ref Bennett showed little interest in it and when the ball came out to Michael Brown, he hit a fierce shot that left Doyle standing and left the post shuddering.  It came out quickly to Defoe, who was unable to react quickly enough to knock it in, only succeeding in putting it over.  

Jermain was to be luckier right on the stroke of half-time, when his free-kick cleared the wall, but the shot did not have a great deal of pace on it and Doyle moved his hands up to stop it.  Unbelievably, he let the ball slip through his hands and over the line for a Tottenham goal.  He looked sheepish and unlike at Old Trafford, the officials noticed it had crossed the line and we got our goal.

A half-time switch saw Commons pushed alongside Taylor to provide some closer support for him.  He produced a shot that Robinson stopped, but Ledley had to boot away, while at the other end, everything seems to be going too high.  Brown hit a half-volley from a cleared corner over the top, then ten minutes after Ziegler volleyed well over when neatly set up by Kanoute and much later Carrick could not keep his shot down.  In between the first two, the unexpected happened.

With Commons looking lively and the best chance of Forest grabbing something likely to be from a set-piece, the equaliser on 56 minutes was a weird one.  Rogers floated a long ball over the defence and as Ledley ran back and Robinson ran out, they both went for it near the edge of the area, but it was Taylor who rose highest to nod it past the two colliding figures.  He then had the simple act of putting it into an empty net ahead of him.  It was a sloppy goal to give away, but then Forest had better chances before that.

When Jol brought on Mido and Keane for Kanoute and Ziegler, it looked like a desperate move.  The three striker thing doesn't work (how many times have we said that ?) and with the move to 4-3-3, it narrowed the side even further, thus limiting the opportunities to swing the ball in from wide.  Especially when the crossing had been poor all game.

Carrick picked up a yellow card for a hack on Powell, after he was allowed to run 30 yards unchallenged and from the free-kick Commons was released down the left and his cross looked like it might elude Robinson, until he threw out a big hand and pawed it away.  Then play swung to the other end and Defoe got past Morgan with a neat touch and hit a low shot that Doyle kept out with his legs.

The ball was moving at quite a pace now, compared to the stultifying slow first half.  As the ball flew up off a Spurs defender Perch volleyed it goalwards, but it went across the face and Powell just did not have the legs to get on the end of it at the far post.  Perch had some joy on their right wing against Atouba and the leggy Cameroonian found himself twice nut-megged by Perch and Commons.  Ledley started to realise that the congestion in front of him could not be overcome by hopeful passing and broke forward from inside his own half, to hit a 30-yarder that flew a couple of feet off target.  Kelly then put in a low cross that bounced past a couple of defenders and Mido got something on it, but the ball went straight at the keeper from three yards out.  Davies then hit a shot way over the goal before Forest might have won it at the death.

Perch and Commons were trying to run down the clock by winning corner after corner, but Atouba, Brown and Defoe wanted to put a stop to that.  Atouba won the ball and nudged it down the line, but then, inexplicably, failed to chase the ball out, allowing Perch to toe-end it to Commons.  He then moved from his position on the right hand corner of the box, past four "tackles" to a central position, where he hit a shot.  Luckily for Spurs, he did not get great purchase on it, allowing Robinson to block it and keep Spurs in the competition for the second round in succession.

So, it's all back to their place on Wednesday 2nd March for the replay.  Once more, Spurs should go through, but like today, they will have to earn the right to progress.



The Funky Phantom




With one England number one and one keeper who is hardly number 44 in a Championship side near the bottom fo the table, it looked like a foregone conclusion about who would be the busiest.  That is the thing about foregone conclusions ... they never turn out how you think.

Robinson had more saves to make and did so well to maintain Tottenham's interest in the competition going, although his one aberration cost him a goal.  A headstrong rush out from goal ended with a bash into King and Taylor got his head to the ball first, leaving him alone to tap the ball into the goal.  It was a really bad piece of communication that left the two Spurs players floored and our FA Cup chances almost going the same way.

Lucky then that rookie keeper Colin Doyle dropped a clanger when he dropped Defoe's tame free-kick into his own net.  It didn't look a tough shot to save, but it proved to be a lifeline when Spurs had not shone in the first half.  Only Davies' low drive tested the keeper up until then.

There was too much over-playing when a simple pass would have sufficed.  Too many seemed to want to score the goal fo the season, when a simple finish would have done.  They must not make the same mistake twice in the replay, where they will have to finish off the moves they come up with.  It might help Spurs, as Forest could feel that they have to come out and attack a bit more.  That could leave Spurs space to move into, which was something they failed to do in this tie.

Davies and  Ziegler neither got very wide nor got the ball there.  The forwards lacked movement to pull the defenders away from the centre of the box, leaving that area congested and difficult to play through.  When Spurs did get wide later in the game, they did cause a couple of sticky moments for Forest, but the crosses that were put in were either into the keeper's arms or too low, making it easy for the first defender to clear the ball.  The fact that the ball was knocked around easily at the back frustrated a large portion of the crowd ... many newbies, who might not be accustomed to the possession game.  For Spurs, it should have been the prelude to opening up Forest, but their dense defence and busy midfielders got in the way to break things down.  Too rarely did Spurs exploit the positions they found themselves in.  Brown hitting the post, Defoe knocking one just wide, Mido hitting the keeper near the end and Davies' first half effort.  It was too little to show for having the ball so much.

Forest used their sparing possession to greater effect.  They hit on the break and Rogers had the first opportunity to bring a save out of Robbo, then Commons took over and hit the target regularly, with Spurs being lucky that the target was well protected by Robinson.  When Atouba, who had been slack at the back all afternoon, let Perch nip in ahead of him in the closing stages to set up Commons for a run that ended with Paul stopping the ball with his chest.

It might have been Forest's Cup Final, but unfortunately, Tottenham didn't approach it the same way !!

The Heathrow Spur


Other scores this weekend :
FA Cup Fifth Round


1 Sheffield United 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Fulham 0 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 1 Leicester City 2 Saturday
Everton 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
SCBC 2 Brentford 2 Saturday
Burnley 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Chelsea 0 Sunday


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