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Carlisle v Spurs, 26.09.12

(7.45 P.M.)

Vertonghen, 37
Townsend, 53,
Sigurdsson, 89

Attendance:- 12,625

Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- Mr. M. McDonough & Mr. A. Halliday
Fourth Official:- Mr. E. Ilderton

Carlisle (4-4-2):- Gillespie; Simek, Livesey, Murphy, Chantler; McGovern (sub Symington, 61), Berrett, Thirlwell (Capt.) (sub Noble, 61), Robson; Higginbotham (sub Beck, 60), Cadamarteri

Subs not used:- Collin; Edwards; Potts; Madden

No Bookings

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Cudicini; Smith, Caulker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen (sub Walker, 65); Huddlestone, Mason (sub Carroll, 70); Townsend, Sigurdsson, Falque; Dempsey (sub Obika, 75)

Subs not used:- Gomes; Lennon, Sandro; Defoe

No Bookings

Spurs comfortably through

Spurs made 8 changes from the team which had started against QPR on Sunday, and included two debutant starters (right back Adam Smith, and midfielder Ryan Mason), along with three other young players, whose appearances are still in single figures (Caulker, Townsend and Falque). The team was ultimately still strong enough to put League One Carlisle away by a three goal margin. After the superb second goal by Andros Townsend (a fine solo effort), the match took on the appearance of a practice game, but Spurs had not had things all their own way by any means.

Spurs have only ever played Carlisle 7 times before, and four times at Brunton Park. This was my first trip, and with flood reports and alerts all over England, those not in the know held fears about this game even going ahead. Our trip to the far north-west started in dull and wet weather; passed through several heavy showers, but by the time we reached the southern part of The Lake District, a strange yellow orb brightened our path to the very north of the district, and we had a fine, moonlit, clear evening.

Brunton Park is over 100 years old, but it is a spacious ground with perhaps one of the larger pitches in the country, allowing plenty of room for expressive football. One stand behind the north goal is kept empty, but that consists of low level terracing only. The away fans (and there were about 1400 of them) were accommodated at one end of the Carlsberg Stand. As you would expect there were plenty of attendees from Cumbrian, Northern and Scottish Spurs, along with plenty of die-hards who had made the trip from the south. The attendance was Carlisle’s best since May 2008, when United were edged out of the League One Play-Off semi-final by Leeds, who no doubt brought a strong contingent of fans.

The Carlisle side included former Everton star Danny Cadamarteri and skipper Paul Thirlwell, who started his football life at Sunderland, played at Sheffield United and Derby, but has been in these parts for nearly six years.

Carlisle took the game to the visitors from the outset. During the early stages, spurs looked like a side capable of scoring at any time, but also capable of making that one expensive error at the back that would have fired up the home crowd so much. Carlisle stuck to an attacking formation, with Cadamarteri attacking down the left flank and Higginbotham in the middle, with right winger Jon-Paul McGovern always ready to join in. Michael Dawson was making his first start of the season, and sacrificed his favoured right side of centre slot to Steven Caulker. Vertonghen was again impressive and played well from the left back slot. Adam Smith was less comfortable against Cadamarteri.

Yago Falque, who could hardly get game time whilst on loan at Southampton last season, had an excellent game in my view, linking with his team-mates as if he had known them all his life. I was surprised to see him working on the left, with Townsend on the right, rather than vice versa, but Andros can work effectively on either flank, and I think he surprised the Carlisle defence with his left foot goal that sealed the win in the second half.

Huddlestone’s passing was sometimes not up to his usual standards, and Clint Dempsey looks a little out of sorts to me so far in his Spurs career. Ryan Mason showed plenty of skill beside Huddlestone.

An early cross by Cadamarteri was defended firstly by Dawson, then passed out of defence by three more Spurs players. Spurs responded with a counter attack, which ended with Yago Falque’s right foot shot held by goalkeeper Gillespie. Vertonghen sent Falque away with a good pass down the left. Falque hit a powerful shot that was well saved by Gillespie, pushing the ball over the bar for a corner. A mistake by Simek led to a corner from which Gylfi Sigurdsson hit a shot outside the post. A Falque cross passed dangerously across the area.

Ryan Mason fed another Falque forward run, and Falque was goalside with a chance to score, but the effort was blocked. Dempsey’s follow-up was also blocked and the attack fizzled out.

Carlisle had been getting forward enough, but Cudicini was not sorely tested. Spurs took the lead, which had been a long time coming, in the 37th minute, when Sigurdsson swung in a free kick from the right, and that man Vertonghen scored with a powerful stooping header from close range. It was Vertonghen’s first goal for the club, but it won’t be his last!

Michael Dawson did well to get in the way of Cadamarteri’s fine left footed shot, which was deflected over for a Carlisle corner.

Spurs upped the tempo early in the second half, and Sigurdsson sent Vertonghen away down the left side. His cross beat everyone in the Carlisle box. Spurs’ second goal was the highlight of the game, and without doubt the best solo effort so far this season. Townsend picked up the ball deep on the right wing, and made a fine run, cutting inside, beating two players, before unleashing a fine low left footed shot that hit the net just inside the goalkeeper’s left-hand post. Justifiably, Andros ran the width of the pitch towards the bench and leapt about 6 feet into the air with delight! Many Spurs fans did that too.

Carlisle manager Greg Abbott perhaps sensed that the game was out of reach, and made all three of his substitutions on the hour, giving game time and experience for as many of his team as possible against the flair-filled Tottenham side. That is not to say Carlisle gave up, because they took the game to Spurs at every opportunity, and whilst Carlo Cudicini was kept more busy, he dealt comfortably with everything that came his way.

Adam Smith stood up a good cross from the right and Falque’s header was cleared in front of the line, and cleared from the feet of Clint Dempsey. Vertonghen was replaced by Kyle Walker, who took over at left back. Mason sent a fine pass to Townsend, whose cross was met by Sigurdsson, who seemed to chest the ball rather than head it. Gillespie made a good save under the bar. Mason was replaced by Tom Carroll, making his first appearance of the season, and Dempsey was replaced by Obika, also appearing for the first time in Spurs’ colours since the 2008-09 UEFA Cup campaign. Obika is now 22, and I feel that this season will be make or break time with regards to a spurs career.

There was some nice Spurs defending, with four accurate headed passes that ended with a run by Townsend from deep on the right flank. His pass to Falque was just intercepted by the Carlisle defence. Spurs made it 3-0 with a minute of ordinary time remaining. Kyle Walker got all the way to the line on the left, and chipped a fine cross that was perfect for Sigurdsson to head home for his first Spurs goal.

The draw for the fourth round was made soon after the game ended, and Spurs have a trip to Norwich, which I anticipate will be played on Wednesday October 31st, as we play at Southampton on 28th October. The match date has yet to be confirmed.

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