FA CUP THIRD ROUND
SATURDAY 5th JANUARY, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (3) COVENTRY CITY 0 (0)
Dempsey, 14, 37
Referee:- Mr. M. Naylor
Assistants:- Mr. L. Betts & Mr. D. Robathan
Fourth official:- Mr. D. Sheldrake
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Caulker, Assou-Ekotto; Parker (sub Dembele, 80), Huddlestone; Sigurdsson (sub Carroll, 79), Dempsey, Bale (sub Townsend, 70); Adebayor
Subs not used:- Lloris; Vertonghen; Lennon; Defoe
Coventry (4-2-3-1); Murphy; J. Clarke, Wood, Edjenguele, Adams; Bailey (sub Thomas, 59), Jennings (sub Fleck, 71); Baker (Capt.), Moussa (sub Barton, 50), McSheffrey; L. Clarke
Subs not used:- Dunn; Cameron, Elliott, Christie
Booked:- Bailey, Baker
Cosy win for Spurs.
There was no upset at The Lane today, as Spurs ran out cosy winners in one of the "romantic" meetings of this round of the FA Cup. Coventry had sent a full contingent of away supporters, and as expected sang their hearts out about the one episode of glory in their history, when Spurs legend Gary Mabbutt had the misfortune to get his knee in the way of a cross to give the Sky Blues their one major trophy in 1987.
To this day, Mabbutt gets requests from Coventry fans to kiss his knee, and get an autograph, and gracious as he is, "Mabbsy" accepts.
Coventry are a different team these days, playing in the third tier of English football, and desperately seeking a way back to The Championship, never mind any thoughts once again gracing the Premier League, which they left in 2001.
Poor old Mark Robins, who has done a sterling job in transforming the "Sky Blues" from relegation contenders to promotion challengers, had to make do today without top scorer David McGoldrick, whose loan deal with Nottingham Forest ended this week. Thus Leon Clarke, a travelling salesman of a footballer, found himself challenging the Spurs defence as a lone striker, supported by a three man midfield, matching Spurs' 4-2-3-1 formation.
Andre Villas-Boas was able to rest the players who have played most minutes so far (Vertonghen, Lennon, Walker, Sandro, Defoe) and accommodate 7 name changes to the starting line-up, with Friedel, Caulker, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Parker, Bale and Dempsey making starts today. It was still a strong and formidable Spurs team, which is only what you'd expect of a team sitting in third place in the Premier League.
There was a full house at The Lane today, aided by Coventry's full contingent of 4,500 supporters, who came to enjoy their day and dream of victory. Those dreams came to an end after 37 minutes, by which time, Spurs were three up, and out of sight. It was all pretty low key stuff on the field of play.
Sigurdsson was getting a rare start and played on the right side of the three-man midfield supporting Adebayor. The Icelander had a shot blocked after 5 minutes, from which Scott Parker skied his attempt on goal.
Spurs were clearly the better side, but played within themselves, taking the lead after a free kick from the right by Sigurdsson, which got as far as Dempsey in the 6 yard box, who made no mistake.
Huddlestone played beside Parker in front of the defence, and is still seeking that first competitive goal since he vowed he would not cut his hair until he scores in a competitive game. Honestly, I am willing him to score, but he took a shot after Spurs had taken the lead, which went out of play for throw-in! Still, back in the old days, Bobby Charlton used to do the same sometimes.
Gareth Bale, who has had a one game rest, due to suspension, took a run down the left channel, hitting a good attempt wide across the goalmouth, in front of the Park Lane stand, predominantly full of Coventry fans. After a Spurs throw on the left, Dempsey fed Bale, who again shot wide across goal. After 25 minutes, it was actually Adebayor who blocked Clint Dempsey's on-target effort.
Spurs were playing some good football, without over-exerting themselves. Sigurdsson showed good skill, getting the ball to Kyle Naughton, who crossed inside for Dempsey, whose shot was blocked.
Spurs went two up in the 33rd minute, when Dempsey took a shot from the right of the area. The shot was blocked, but looped the path of Gareth Bale, who happily finished off at the back post.
Four minutes later, Dempsey scored again, with a header from a corner, which looped over the defence and the keeper, into the net at Dempsey's far post.
Coventry actually mounted an attack before half time, and Kyle Naughton defended well. Bale hit a right footed effort wide from the right side of the Coventry box, and then Dempsey displayed great skill from the right of the area, playing keepy-uppy with a couple of touches, before hitting a good shot that passed wide of the keeper's right post.
After the break, Adebayor seemed to take a clear shove in the back in the area, but got no reward. Caulker had a header go wide from a free kick taken on the left by Huddlestone.
Coventry made a couple of early substitutions and after all, had nothing to lose, but generally, Spurs were happy to play within themselves, with that three goal lead.
Bale did get a free kick for a shove in the back outside the box, but fired the free kick wide. The army of Coventry fans regularly sang "He dives when he wants" at Bale.
There was not a great deal happening now. Adebayor failed to get goal-side of the defence when one might have expected better. Coventry keeper Joe Murphy made a good save with a dive to his left to push Bale's shot out for a corner. This came after a headed clearance by Michael Dawson fell in favour of Bale, who was then replaced by Andros Townsend for the last 20 minutes. Tom Carroll replaced Sigurdsson, and Mousa Dembele took over from Scott Parker, who had played comfortably.
Townsend challenged the defence with one or two runs, hitting the side netting with one shot. After a run forward by Caulker, and a Coventry foul, Huddlestone took the free kick, which Dempsey fired wide. Townsend also had another decent effort on goal, after a Dempsey ball.
Coventry did get the ball in the net in added time, but the offside flag was clearly raised, and Spurs' path to the fourth round was assured.
QPR drew their game at home to West Brom today, which means that our game scheduled for Monday night 14th January will now be played out in front of Sky's cameras next Saturday lunchtime at 12.45. See you there!
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