FA CUP THIRD ROUND
FRIDAY 2ND JANUARY, 2009
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0) WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 (0)
Pavlyuchenko, 52 (pen), 90
Attendance: - 34,040
Referee: - Alan Wiley
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate (Capt.), Bale; Bentley, Modric (sub Lennon, 90), Zokora, O’Hara; Bent (sub Campbell, 27), Pavlyuchenko
Subs not used: - Alnwick; Gunter, Ghaly, Taarabt, Boateng
Wigan (4-4-2):- Kingson; Boyce, Scharner (sub Figueroa, 73), Bramble, Kilbane (Capt.); de Ridder (sub Cywka, 73), Brown, Palacios, Valencia; Kapo (sub Edman, 84), Camara
Subs not used: - Pollitt; Taylor; Routledge, Holt
Booked: - Palacios, Kingson
Roman Paving the way to Wembley
Spurs achieved two more Cup firsts last night. They played a major cup match for the first time on a Friday night, and thus became the first team to qualify for this year’s fourth round. Wigan were missing key individuals such as Heskey, Zaki and first choice keeper Chris Kirkland, but Steve Bruce also chose to “use his squad”. Wigan matched Spurs in a tame first half, but Spurs (who were also missing key players such as Ledley King, Ekotto and Jenas) played star player Luka Modric in a 4 man midfield with two strikers. Darren Bent had to be replaced mid-way through the first half by Fraizer Campbell, but a bright second half performance and two goals by Roman Pavlyuchenko, with one from Modric ensured our path to the fourth round – to be drawn on Sunday afternoon.
Gareth Bale came in for Ekotto, whilst Jamie O’Hara played the left side of midfield, with Bentley being allowed the freedom of the right wing. Once again Bentley’s delivery disappointed too often in the first half, but if he can maintain his second half performance, Spurs will see a much improved player in the rest of the season. Despite Pavlyuchenko’s two goals (and he too got better and better as the game progressed), it was Luka Modric who was Spurs’ star turn for me, with only a rare pass going astray, and plenty of incisive footballing skills. There were a couple of moves in the first half where he, O’Hara and Bale combined brightly down the left flank.
With his two main strikers missing, Steve Bruce pushed forward midfielder Olivier Kapo (who he signed from his old club Birmingham) to partner the trick Henri Camara. It was Camara who had the first chance of the game with a header that flew just wide of Gomes’ left post after a cross by Valencia from the left. Bruce did have his ace midfielders Valencia and Palacios available, and also gave a start to the popular ex-Spurs player Michael Brown, who battled well all night.
Spurs’ first chance came after 6 minutes after a cross from the right was poorly defended and Pavlyuchenko fended the ball back to Modric. Modric should have done better but with a left foot shot, he hooked the ball wide. O’Hara was fed by Bent and hit a decent curving shot that third choice keeper Richard Kingson held. Kingson was also a former Bruce player at Birmingham.
Bale and Bentley haggled over who was to take a free kick outside the box on the right side after 18 minutes, before Bale hit a threatening kick just wide. On the other hand, Bentley took one from further out and despite being opposed by a one man wall, managed to hit that barrier! The ball fell back in Bentley’s favour though and his cross was deflected by Scharner against his own post and out for a corner. Darren Bent collapsed in a heap after a challenge in the middle and had to be replaced by Campbell. Campbell nearly scored on the end of a great Spurs move from the back. Modric passed to Pavlyuchenko who was just in his own half on the left. Pavlyuchenko hit a great long pass to Bentley, whose cross was met by the diving header of Campbell, which was deflected for a corner.
Gomes held a free kick by de Ridder after 32 minutes, but there followed a dull period of play. Just before the break, Campbell made a good run to take the ball down the left, passed to O’Hara, whose cross was teed up for Modric by Pavlyuchenko. Modric’s shot was saved. Bentley then hit a decent long range effort that hit the side netting.
After the break, Palacios got an early booking for his foul on Modric, but nothing came of the free kick. Bale went on a powerful run from the back into the midfield, and his forward ball got a favourable deflection into the path of Campbell who got into the area and was clearly brought down by Kingson. The referee awarded the penalty, and showed a yellow card to the keeper who may have been fortunate, with Bramble adjacent to him, not to see a red card. Pavlyuchenko stepped up and coolly slotted home the spot kick for what looked like being the crucial goal.
Spurs played with more verve and confidence, with some skilful displays by Bentley and Pavlyuchenko amongst others. Bentley got the ball to Pavlyuchenko who was on the right side. He crossed and Campbell hit a strong header that Kingson saved well. At the other end, skipper Jonathan Woodgate came to the rescue of Michael Dawson with a fine tackle to prevent a certain goal. There followed a two minute period of some pressure from Wigan, chasing the equaliser in front of their paltry support of no more than 250 fans. The “Latics” managed no telling shots in this spell though.
After 64 minutes, Pavlyuchenko latched onto a long high ball, and successfully chipped Kingson but saw his effort go just wide of the post, shepherded by the defence. Campbell provided Pavlyuchenko’s next chance which was into the hands of Kingson. Another good Spurs move down the left side, started by Bale led to a dummy by Modric and a shot by Bentley that was held.
Pavlyuchenko put in the extra bit of effort to stretch and reach a ball by Campbell, hitting a poked shot just outside the post. Then Spurs doubled their lead with a great team goal. Gomes sent a quick and accurate throw down the right which Bentley chased and carried into Wigan territory. Bentley hit a good low pass to O’Hara, who hit a low drive from a good 25 yards that rebounded off the post. Modric reacted with a daisy-cutting dive to head home for his third goal in five matches.
Gomes made a good save from Valencia, and shortly had to make another decent save from a close range header by Kapo after a Wigan corner. Around this time, Harry had prepared Hossam Ghaly for coming off the bench. Harry was no doubt surprised to hear boos ringing around the ground, and a chant of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt”. The passage of play did not allow Spurs the opportunity to make that change, and Ghaly put on his top again, maybe never to be seen on the pitch at White Hart Lane again. He was one of the players that Ramos had not recognised, given a squad number by Harry, but Harry learnt a lesson about Ghaly’s shirt throwing history at this point.
On the other hand there had been excited chants for Jermain Defoe by the Park Lane crowd, and former Spur Erik Edman got a rousing reception when he came on for his come-back game after a horrific injury last March.
Wigan ensured that there would be some nail-biting for Spurs fans with an 88th minute goal, scored by Camara, as the ball was worked in from the right, and he finished from short range. Pavlyuchenko provided a fitting end to the game though after receiving a good ball from Zokora, and beating the keeper with a fine measured shot from 25 yards, sending the crowd home to the sound of a justified “Glory, Glory Allelujah.
The squad and the crowd will be in good spirits for Tuesday night’s Carling Cup semi-final, and just maybe Harry Redknapp will have added a recruit eligible to play up front in this game! (He’s a yiddo, you know)
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