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Watford v Spurs
Carling Cup 5th Rd - 03.12.08


Watford scorer:-
Priskin, 13

Spurs scorers:-
Pavlyuchenko, 45 (pen)
Bent, 76

Referee: - Phil Dowd

Attendance: - 16,501

Watford (4-4-2):- Loach; Mariappa, Bromby, Demerit (Capt.) (sub Doyley, 58), Harley; Williamson, Jenkins (sub O’Toole, 78), Bridcutt, Mcanuff (sub Hoskins, 83); Priskin, Smith

Subs not used: - Lee; Robinson, Bangura, Henderson

Booked: - Mcanuff, Priskin

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, O’Hara; Pavlyuchenko, Campbell (sub Bent, 65)

Subs not used: - Cesar; Gunter, Bale; Huddlestone, Bentley, Boateng

Booked: - Ekotto

Spurs survive the Hornets’ sting

Spurs overcame the early onslaught from the home side last night to march through to another Carling Cup semi-final in which they will face Man Utd, Burnley, or Derby – to be decided by Saturday’s draw. Watford’s new coach Brendan Rodgers deployed the fast return system, meaning that every time the ball went out of play, a replacement appeared instantaneously. I thought this trick had been “outlawed” by the football authorities, but as a result the early tempo brought pressure upon a strong Spurs side, and an early goal for the Hornets.

With the condemned wooden main stand empty apart from executive guests and officials, the three sides of the Vicarage Road ground were packed for an exciting night on a cold night where the ground was frost-bitten. The only change to the Spurs defence was the replacement of Ledley King by Michael Dawson, whilst Jermaine Jenas made a welcome return to the midfield, where Huddlestone and Bentley sat on the sidelines. Darren Bent was also held in reserve, in favour of Pavlyuchenko and Campbell, but he was to score the winner with 14 minutes of the game remaining.

The traffic was all in Spurs direction in the early stages, with an early corner to the home side, and a shot on target by Tommy Smith that was held by Gomes, who is gaining confidence and re-gaining form all the time. Mcanuff took an early yellow card for his late and cynical challenge on Fraizer Campbell who was making a dangerous break near the half-way line. Watford’s lead was not a surprise in view of their start. Former Chelsea man Jon Harley got the better of Aaron Lennon down Watford’s left flank, made the bye-line and sent the ball back to Priskin in the middle. Priskin turned Jenas with ease and hit a low shot past Gomes.

Spurs settled down into some rhythm and more often than not it was Jamie O’Hara who was pulling the creative strings. However, Zokora sent Lennon away with a good ball down the right, and Lennon’s shot was punched away by the keeper for a corner. Then came some great play across the middle from Spurs right to left, with O’Hara feeding Ekotto for a cross which reached Pavlyuchenko, whose shot was deflected for a corner. At the other end, Pavlyuchenko came off worst in a challenge with Bridcutt after a Watford throw. Bridcutt hit a good shot on target, but Gomes was once again equal to the challenge.

Jenas picked up the ball about 35 yards out and went on a goalward run, but hit his shot straight to goalkeeper Scott Loach. A good ball from Pavlyuchenko to Lennon was followed by a good Lennon shot, parried by the keeper and cleared with Campbell trying to follow up. Pavlyuchenko then received a ball from Ekotto, managed a good exchange with Campbell despite close marking, but then failed to score, hitting his shot over via the bar. Spurs were rewarded for their enterprise when Jenas was clearly tripped just inside the box, and the referee awarded a penalty in added time. Pavlyuchenko hit the ball confidently past Loach to his left.

Watford pressed again as the second half got under way, without offering any real threat. Spurs bided their time before going on the attack, and Bent replaced Campbell with just under half an hour to go. Dawson appeared to be cut down when trying to convert O’Hara’s corner, but no penalty was forthcoming. O’Hara and Ekotto then combined again, before Jenas hit a weak shot on target that was saved. With 20 minutes to go, Lennon, O’Hara and Jenas were involved in a good move which ended in another weak shot by Jenas, although well-directed. O’Hara then hit a good shot that was held by Loach. A Woodgate header from another O’Hara corner was cleared in front of the line.

The winning goal came in the 76th minute. Lennon was responsible for bringing the ball out of defence. The final ball went to Pavlyuchenko, who was challenged by the defender. The ball ran off diagonally nicely for Bent, who hit a fine low shot that crept into Loach’s goal just inside his left-hand post in front of the celebrating away fans.

Watford completed the use of all three subs, but Harry Redknapp was content to leave his remaining 6 men on the bench. Despite the efforts of the home side, comfortably repelled by the Spurs defence marshalled by skipper Woodgate, it was Spurs who might have added to their tally after good play when Pavlyuchenko won a header, then Bent and Lennon were involved in the move that ended with an almost involuntary shot by Bent to the goalkeeper.

The Spurs fans went away happy, but the home fans were rightly proud of their team’s performance. For both teams, survival in their respective leagues is the clear priority, and on this form that aim is likely to be achieved. Spurs have the added bonus of another quest for Wembley on the horizon.

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