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Spurs v Cheltenham (FA Cup Rd 3), 07.01.12

(3 P.M.)

Defoe, 24
Pavlyuchenko, 43
Giovani, 87

Attendance:- 35,672

Referee:- Lee Mason
Assistants:- Mr. A. Watts & Mr. N. Hobbs
Fourth official:- Mr. J. Linington

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Livermore, Dawson (Capt.)(sub Carroll, 88), Bassong, Rose; Giovani, Kranjcar, Pienaar, Lennon (sub Bostock, 82); Defoe (sub Falque, 76), Pavlyuchenko
(Armband to Bassong)
Subs not used:- Gomes; Kaboul; Parrett; Van der Vaart

Booked:- Dawson (foul on Duffy)

Cheltenham (4-4-2):- Brown; Jombati, Bennett (Capt.), Elliott, Garbutt; Low (sub Smikle, 58), Summerfield, Pack, Mohamed; Penn (sub Goulding, 77), Spencer (sub Duffy, 62)

Subs not used:- Book; Lowe, Andrew; Graham

No Bookings

Comfy win for Tottenham

The hordes of Cheltenham fans that almost filled the South Stand must have enjoyed their day, and their team was certainly not disgraced against a Spurs side for whom only Jermain Defoe started on Tuesday night against West Brom. It took Spurs nearly 25 minutes to score, adding a second just before the break. It was always a comfortable win for Spurs after that, which is only right and proper. After all, there were 67 league places between the sides, and despite the fact it was a Spurs second string, a shock was never on the cards.

Apart from the 5,000+ strangers from Cheltenham, there were plenty of new faces in the stands as many children were able to attend, thanks to the club’s decent pricing policy of £5 per ticket for juniors. Thus they have groomed plenty of future regular attendees. I still don’t understand why so many regular fans don’t bother with these games, but it was almost a full house, unlike the threadbare attendance seen earlier in the televised game between Birmingham and Wolves.

We welcomed back Michael Dawson for the first time since August, and he got 88 precious minutes under his belt. Dawson did attract the one booking of the game though, when he fouled the advancing Darryl Duffy outside the box in the latter stages. Cheltenham were not exactly pinned in their own half, you see, and they did have several efforts on goal, most from distance though. Jake Livermore played in an unfamiliar right back position, but otherwise the team was as anticipated, with Aaron Lennon also returning to action. He lined up for kick off on the left flank, but he and Giovani regularly switched flanks during the game. Niko Kranjcar enjoyed his game in the middle, where he was partnered by Pienaar. Niko sprayed some rather good passes around too.

Cheltenham had not come to defend. After all, they had nothing to lose here. It was Kaid Mohamed who had the first chance on goal, hitting a cross/shot from the left flank, which Cudicini collected. Mohamed is one of “The Robins” top scorers so far this season. Summerfield was next to try his luck from distance, but the ball was well over the target. Spurs had been probing down the wings, but it took eleven minutes for a meaningful chance to arise. Livermore cut the ball back from deep on the right, and Pavlyuchenko hit a right footed shot from the near post, that skimmed the bar. Next up was Lennon with the pass and Kranjcar with the shot, which was blocked for a corner.

Kranjcar sent a great long ball to Lennon down the right, and he fed the ball to Giovani, who was halted by the referee’s whistle as he fouled a defender. Spurs were now using the flanks to great effect. Cheltenham had another shot from distance on the break. It was hit by Penn, and took a slight deflection to win the visitors a corner.

Spurs took the lead after a break led by Livermore, before Kranjcar picked out Giovani. Gio had what should have been his goal nicked by Defoe really, because the Mexican’s chip over Scott Brown was goal-bound, but Jermain touched it over the line for good measure, and a goal bonus! Shortly after that, another good ball from Kranjcar gave Giovani a run into the area. He went down in the box, but there was no penalty, and no great appeal for one either.

Danny Rose was getting deep down the left wing and sending in dangerous crosses, which were somehow cleared by the Cheltenham defence. They didn’t manage to clear just before the break though, as Giovani and Defoe combined to lay on the ball for Pavlyuchenko, who converted from close range to make it 2-0. The visitors did get a shot on goal before the half-time whistle though when Mohamed took a run at Dawson, had a shot, and saw it saved by Cudicini.

Early in the second half, Giovani passed inside to Livermore, who hit a good right footed shot that won a corner. Kranjcar sent another good ball to Pavlyuchenko, who turned and skied his shot. Livermore was upset, because he was in space and was the logical choice for Pavlyuchenko really. Pavlyuchenko collected another long ball, and fed it to Defoe, who in turn passed to Kranjcar. The final pass was to Giovani, whose shot went over the bar. After 56 minutes, Brown made a great diving save to his left to deny Defoe, who had been the beneficiary of a great pass by Pavlyuchenko.

Cheltenham manager Mark Yates made a couple of changes, one of which was another top scorer for his club, Darryl Duffy. However, Spurs were in control, and playing within themselves. Giovani passed inside to Kranjcar, whose shot got a touch from the goalie for another Spurs corner.

Penn had a good effort, again from a good 20 yards out, that passed over the goal in front of his fans. Danny Rose had allowed a bit too much room here for the cross which gave Cheltenham that chance. Now Spurs began to give younger players some game time. Yago Falque, who has of course featured in our Europa League campaign, came on for Defoe, and looked lively. After a Spurs corner, taken by Kranjcar, a Pavlyuchenko effort was blocked and the ball fell to Bassong, whose shot was saved by Brown.

After the Dawson foul and a failed free kick move by the visitors, Spurs broke out of defence to great effect, with Giovani and Falque involved on the right flank, before Pavlyuchenko’s cross failed. John Bostock got a rare appearance, before Spurs cemented their win with a goal by Giovani to cap a good day for him. Rose had crossed and Gio’s shot looked as if it was half blocked by the defender, looping over the goalkeeper into the net.

When Carroll came on for Dawson, he took over at right back, and Livermore moved to central defence. Spurs only had to see out three minutes of added time, which did include a couple of efforts that pleased the visiting fans, but it is Spurs who will be lucky number 8 in today’s fourth round draw. Now we can look forward to that game in hand on Wednesday night against Everton!

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