Saturday, January 07, 2012

FA Cup Tottenham 3 Cheltenham Town 0

Spurs progressed to the FA Cup 4th Round with a comfortable win over League 2 side, Cheltenham Town.  Two ahead at the interval through Defoe and Pavlyuchenko, Spurs added a late third from Giovani Dos Santos.  Cheltenham battled throughout, especially in the second half.

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Cheltenham Town 0
Scorers: Defoe, Pavlyuchenko, Giovani

Team: Cudicini; Livermore, Dawson (Carroll), Bassong, Rose; Lennon (Bostock), Kranjcar, Pienaar, Giovani; Pavlyichenko, Defoe (Falque)  Subs (unused): Gomes, Kaboul, Van der Vaart, Parrett
Tottenham eased through the 3rd Round tie with a team showing ten changes from the one which started against West Bromwich Albion last Tuesday evening.  Only Jermain Defoe remained from that team but Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon had recovered from injury to bring further first team experience to a team containing eight internationals.  Only Carlo Cudicini, Jake Livermore and Danny Rose are not full internationals in a team which had too much experience for their League 2 opponents.

Cheltenham started at a pace with Kaid Mohamed taking Livermore by surprise with his pace in the opening seconds.  They worked hard and were quicker to the ball but without ever threatening the Tottenham goal.  Roman Pavlyuchenko worked himself a good chance after fourteen minutes when he curled a shot over from 16 yards.  The opening goal came after 23 minutes when Niko Kranjcar played Giovani through and he lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and looked to have scored until Defoe poked the ball home from virtually on the goal-line, much to the Mexican's annoyance.  Defoe had scored Tottenham's 750th FA Cup goal, only the second club to reach that landmark.

Rose put in a dangerous cross on thirty two minutes which caused the goalkeeper problems but he did well to get back and keep it out.  Just as it looked as if Cheltenham were going to get to half-time without any more difficulty, Spurs struck suddenly with a good team passing movement which resulted in Giovani putting in a clever through ball to Defoe who squared for Pavlyuchenko to score from six yards.  It was Pavlyuchenko's eighth goal from eleven FA Cup appearances.

Cheltenham had a chance in added time when Mohamed intercepted Kranjcar's pass and ran at Dawson.  He shot early but Cudicini dealt with it.

After half-time Cheltenham increased their enderavour and worked hard to restrict Spurs although any chances fell to the home side with Scott Brown making a number of good saves for Cheltenham.  Defoe was put through but his shot was saved from a narrow angle with Pavlyuchenko unmarked.  The Russian had a chip go over and Giovani had a shot over after good work by Defoe and Kranjcar.  On the hour Brown made a good save from Defoe having been put through by Pavlyuchenko.  Then Livermore shot over from 25 yards.  

Kranjcar had a shot saved and Giovani's follow up was blocked.  Then Russell Penn shot over for Cheltenham after Brian Smikle beat Rose on the right.  Defoe was replaced by Yago Falque after 75 minutes and Brown saved from Sebastien Bassong.  Cheltenham won their first corner after eighty minutes.

As Town tired and with four minutes remaining, Rose intercepted a pass and played in Giovani to complete the scoring with a shot which deflected off a defender and looped over the goalkeeper.  It was hard on Cheltenham to concede another goal after all their hard work in the second half.  Marlon Pack had a late opportunity to score a consolation goal but shot over.

The attendance was 35, 672 - the biggest crowd ever to watch a Cheltenham Town game.
Cheltenham Town's manager, Mark Yates summed up the match perfectly, "Tottenham are quality but we have done ourselves so proud today.  It was a learning curve and we've given them a game."

Before the game, knowing that Harry Redknapp was going to rest players, Yates said, "I went to Ireland to watch them and saw a similar team beat Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League and we know the quality they have beneath the first XI.  Whatever team they put out it will be a massive step up from what we've been playing."  And so it proved.

I 'watched' the game on Twitter with a BBC Radio Gloucester commentary.  Thanks for all the tweets to keep us informed.

For Spurs it's Everton on Wednesday evening while Cheltenham play Aldershot next weekend.  They deserve a warm welcome home from their supporters next Saturday.

FA Cup 4th Round Draw: Tomorrow evening - 5.30pm ITV - Tottenham Hotspur No. 8


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