Category Archives: F A Cup

One man doesn’t make a team or does he? Tottenham 3 Charlton 0

At half time Gary Mabbutt told us that one man doesn’t make a team (only very nearly) when talking of Gazza in 1991 so Harry put on Luka Modric just to prove him wrong. Within five minutes we had taken the lead and the creativity missing in the first half was available in spades for all to see. In a 15 minute period Charlton were put to the sword time and again and following Townsend’s opener with a perfectly placed drive into the corner Defoe managed a brace to put the game to bed.

His first after a long cross field run in which a succession of defenders kept him going right before he unleashed a shot and scored anyway and the second a nonchalant volley after his original effort was blocked and came back out to him.

But the scoring should not have stopped there. There was a succession of attacks from which Modric could have had two goals; Pav had opportunities, Townsend more shots and Charlton defending in numbers managed to hold us at bay.

In the first half things had been a little different. Palacios and Sandro had been entrusted to central midfield with Townsend on the right and Kranjcar on the left – or was he? Whatever it didn’t work as Sandro and Wilson were competing to do the same thing. That coupled with the fact that we had no aerial ability up front and therefore needed to get round the back of Charlton and did not suggests we made hard work of it.

Wilson will no doubt get plenty of stick but I thought he played ok. The trouble is his game is not what he was being asked to do and so the passes both he and Sandro played were too conservative allowing Charlton to get back in numbers. Kranjcar roamed across the midfield but failed to unlock the defence. When he covered so effectively for Modric last season he had the opportunity to roam from the left but then we had Tommy in central midfield and he has no problems in trying to play a long ball. 

Today it just did not work and whilst no one was awful no one was great and Pav and Defoe had nothing to work off. 

In the second half Modric changed all that. Delicate and perfectly weighted chips were sent to both wings, men were taken on and beaten and Kranjcar was forced to play more on the left flank to accommodate his countryman. He also hit Corluka who in turn sent free Townsend and he ran his marker ragged in the second half. 

The lad had a very decent afternoon but it was against a League One side and how that might translate to a Premier League clash is debateable. To most present he was the biggest surprise of the afternoon but his loan period at Ipswich has clearly given him more confidence than the rest of their 7 goal ravaged squad at Stamford Bridge. Without Beckham and if Bentley drifts away to Birmingham Townsend may make the bench a few times in the second half of the season.

Another surprise was Cudicini as we had been lead to believe that his shoulder injury had him sidelined until February. He had a decent game and even caught the ball a couple of times as it came across the area. As the end of the game approached he was called into action and made a decent save from a fierce shot. Decent enough performance to unseat Gomes? Had it not been Man Utd next week I might be convinced to say yes but I’m easy either way.

What of Charlton and particularly old Spurs Doherty and Jackson? Jackson was involved in the first half but inevitably drifted out of it when they went behind and Doherty was relatively tidy but unable to keep us out when we got going. In the first half they kept their shape well and pressed us at every opportunity and actually had a couple of decent opportunities which passed them by one when the man lost his footing in the area. They also finished quite sharply with us defending stoutly to keep the all important clean sheet.

A decent work out for some of the reserves but a side in which only Dawson and Bassong are comfortable in the air that needed extra creativity to get going. So the draw takes us to Craven Cottage which could be better, could be worse. I would expect the big guns to be back for that match as it proved today to unlock a defence you need a magician and in Luka Modric we certainly have that.

When the Year ends in 1: Tottenham V Charlton preview

The year ends in 1 so Tottenham should mount a decent challenge in the FA Cup. Today’s result couldn’t have helped more. Arsenal held at home by Leeds United, no testing visits to the North East after brilliant wins for Stevenage Borough, Notts County and Burton Albion. West Brom and Blackpool also lost and Stoke were held and either Liverpool or Manchester United departs as they play each other.

So plenty of lower sides exist as future opponents and all we don’t have to do is make hard work of Charlton Athletic when they visit White Hart Lane. After the Everton game and with Manchester United up next I am sure that Harry will be resting some of our main starters to ensure no knocks are picked up and allow them to rest before the onslaught.

I’m also interested to see if the Ginger Pele gets a game for them as his face has been on all the local match advertising. The man tried hard when he wore our shirt but I’m hoping that similar defending in a Charlton shirt will erode those deep rooted nightmares that he put in my head.

Our biggest risk is that the game is a sideshow to the David Beckham show and it’s likely that he will get paraded at White Hart Lane before the match. I think it’s already becoming a problem with Harry defending himself and pointing out that we need someone to put a cross onto Peter Crouch’s head and Beckham’s ability to bring players on. 

I thought we already had David Bentley but he’s had little opportunity this year and hasn’t taken it when he has. Surely he is one man who could do with some Beckham coaching as he already has the skills but no we loan him to Birmingham so he can get games. 

Having gone off on Wednesday night I would not expect to see Gareth Bale tomorrow and therefore expect Kranjcar to take his place. He must do better then his previous showings this year but to fair he can do no worse. We could also see Sandro being given a cup tie to cut his teeth. He did well against Arsenal in the Carling Cup so I hope he comes through this one as his Premier League starts have needed some work. 

Whether JJ continues or Palacios comes back into the team is anyone’s guess. I’d quite like to see JJ have a run out and Modric given a rest remaining on the bench. 

I think that Dawson will play alongside Bassong and Charlie may get another game to protect Hutton for next week and having brought Walker back from QPR why give him straight to Aston Villa when we could have played him in this game first?

Up front I fancy Defoe will come back in. He needs goals before Manchester United and this represents a decent chance. I fancy Pav will also get the nod. The team for the game I fancy will be as follows:

                             Pletikosa

      Corluka       Dawson      Bassong      Ekotto

Lennon           Sandro            Jenas            Kranjcar

                    Defoe                          Pav           

Prediction: I’m going for 3-0 but a win will be sufficient seeing the fortunes of other Premier League sides today. This is a cup we can win and we must do our best to do so.    

Two wheels on our Wagon: Portsmouth 2 Spurs 0

When I was a kid you often heard the New Christie Minstrels singing about “a mile down the road there’s a hidden cave” and after extra time yesterday one could quite easily have crawled into it. A welcome place to avoid the mobile going like crazy as we eventually left the Wembley car park with good wishes from West Ham and Arsenal supporters.

During the wait we were serenaded by a number of delighted Portsmouth fans clearly enjoying their moment and why would they not. However it comes a win is a win and for them it might prove to be their cup final with Chelsea waiting for them. Whatever the outcome we were not prepared for Spurs fans fighting amongst themselves after the penalty as they jostled to leave the ground. Yes it is important but at the end of the day it is only a game and those involved should be ashamed of themselves and 100% more considerate to those women and children around them in future.

As the teams were read out we welcomed back Corluka, Dawson and Huddlestone to make us nearly full strength. Unfortunately Dawson had a difficult afternoon making a couple of unforced errors in the first half before slipping on the appalling playing surface in attempting to make a clearance that then turned into the first goal.

I’m devastated for Michael as he will be haunted by that goal. He shouldn’t be as it was the accident waiting to happen for one of the players. Gareth Bale started off flying down the left side before slipping over following which the remainder of the first half he was subdued as if frightened of serious injury. Huddlestone too took a tumble in our own area which could have caused us similar problems.

Then we had a referee who conspired to rule out what looked like a decent equaliser and then give a penalty and yellow card against Palacios which rules him out of the Arsenal game come Wednesday. Both incidents were at the Portsmouth end and looked incorrect. Subsequent texts to balanced Spurs supporters watching at home confirmed the case so maybe an argument exists for Spurs being robbed.

Unfortunately it was one of those days when whatever happened the ball was not going to cross the line. David James surely must take the shirt in South Africa after another fine performance and some excellent saves. I cannot remember seeing us have more corners without actually creating a goal. And that’s how it went in a nutshell. Portsmouth adopted the two lines of four and in true Spurs style we failed to be clever enough to breach it.

Crouch took some stick for his efforts but he did get the ball in the net and force James into some decent saves. Defoe was anonymous for much of the afternoon apart from contributing some trademark blasts into a crowd of players. To be fair to him he did try passing the ball but it was a difficult afternoon for him. How he has missed Lennon’s pace down the right flank since our lightening winger picked up an injury.

His replacement David Bentley was once more substituted but I felt he played OK and his replacement Kranjcar did little to suggest that the team improved as a result. Bentley does stick to the line so adds width which was lost once he departed. He also put in a number of decent crosses for Crouch to attack without much reward for his efforts.

When we look back over this season we may well rue the fact that too many of our players form appeared to dip at the business end of the season. When we thought we would miss Modric Kranjcar came in and did really well complementing Lennon on the left and after Aaron’s injury Bentley was really good on the right. Both are now not at that level of performance and after having some excellent games Modric’s form has now also drifted.

That leaves our left back as the most potent attacking option that we have and after a while teams get the idea and take steps to reduce his effectiveness. Having said that, once again most of our best chances came from the boot of the flying Welshman and the thought of seeing Bale and Lennon operating on opposite flanks whets the appetite for next season.

Up front the goals for the strikers who were scoring for fun have dried up. Once again Defoe was eliminated after failing to convert a chance early on. Pav came on as his replacement and tried hard but as the openings came late in the game and in extra time the ball would not run our way or a pass was over hit.

So what was wrong and who was to blame?

Harry for his team selection? No I think he turned out the best side he could and Pav for Defoe was a good call. Kranjcar made us narrow but he has come off before as a sub.

The pitch? It played its part but it equally could have been a Portsmouth man who went down at a crucial moment.

The officials? Again they did not help but we really needed to score to take them out of the equation.

Not our day? That just about sums it up for the longer it went the more likely a defeat on the break became. Like other games earlier in the season just one goal would have brought them out but it was not to be.

So one wheel off at Sunderland, a second at Wembley and our three most difficult games to come. I could reach for the Freddie Mercury CD for Great Pretender but its still been a great season and I’m sticking with those New Christie Minstrels for the coming fixtures in the hope we can play our part on the title story “singing a higgity, haggity hoggety, high our Pioneers they never say die, about a mile down the road is White Hart Lane where we can beat those Arsenal boys come Wednesday night!”