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Better late than never

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Tottenham 3

(Defoe – 24, Pavlyuchenko – 43, Dos Santos – 87)

Cheltenham 0

Goals from Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Giovani Dos Santos were enough to see off a valiant Cheltenham Town side to progress to the next round of the FA Cup.

As expected, manager Harry Redknapp made wholesale changes from the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion with only Jermain Defoe retaining his place in the starting XI.

Aaron Lennon and Michael Dawson both returned from injury in a game where Spurs should have won by more than just the three-goal margin.

However, it wasn’t until the 12th minute when the home side managed to grind out the first opportunity with Lennon finding Jake Livermore on the edge of the box before the youngster picked out Pavlyuchenko. Yet, the Russian could only curl his effort over Scott Brown’s goal.

And three minutes later Cheltenham were on the back-foot again, Steve Pienaar’s strike was diverted wide for a corner by Steve Elliot. The defender was again on-hand to block the resulting Danny Rose cross over the bar once again.

The away side managed to get their first shot away after 20 minutes but Russ Penn’s 25-yard drive was always rising and never going to test Carlo Cudicini in the Spurs net.

Minutes later and it was 1-0 to Spurs, Niko Kranjcar threading a ball through to Dos Santos on the left. The Mexican lifted the ball over Brown and Defoe was on-hand to smash home from a yard out.

The advantage was doubled just moments before the break, Pavlyuchenko burying from inside the six-yard box after some good work by Defoe and Dos Santos.

Cheltenham again threatened just before the break as Kaid Mohamed led a breakaway for the Robins but his curling effort was comfortable for Cudicini.

Spurs began the second-half in dominant fashion once again with Defoe goal bound effort saved by Brown before Livermore saw a shot deflected for a corner only for Dawson to head over the bar.

Redknapp’s side continued up the ante to push for the third, Dos Santos fired under pressure, Defoe’s effort was parried by Brown, who in turn denied Kranjcar while Dos Santos’ follow up was blocked by Sido Jombati.

The League two side then forged out their best chance of the game after 73 minutes, substitute Brian Smikle got free down the right but after finding Penn in the area, he fired over.

The third goal came in the dying embers of the encounter as Dos Santos ran onto to Rose’s ball and his shot deflected off Elliot and over Brown in the Cheltenham net.

However, there was enough time for Cheltenham to threaten again after Sebastien Bassong’s clearance fell nicely to Marlon Pack but his shot failed to test Cudicini as Spurs comfortably overcame the Robins to face Watford in the next round.

What Redknapp had to say

“We scored some good goals and I thought we played some good stuff,” reflected Harry

“It was great to have Michael back, he’s a fantastic professional. Aaron was back as well and there were a few lads that needed to get a game.

“Jake Livermore slotted in at right-back, he’s never played there before and he did a great job. He always does, wherever you ask him to play.

“The two midfielders Pienaar and Kranjcar were outstanding. Niko was class and he’s a fantastic footballer. They kept the ball and moved the ball around great for us.

“It was a sell-out crowd, a full house and great atmosphere. The fans loved it and they were brilliant, as usual. It was a good day.”

Man of the match

Having not seen any highlights from the game, Niko Kranjcar appears to have taken the man of the match accolade after a seemingly impressive display in the FA Cup encounter. The Croatian was in top form against Cheltenham who recently stated he wants to stay at White Hart Lane and find for his place in the side.

Moment of the match

Michael Dawson led the Spurs team out for the first time since the humiliating defeat to Manchester City back in August. The England international suffered an Achilles problem and looked assured upon his return to the starting XI. His recovery couldn’t have come at a better time with Ledley King now set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring problem on Friday. 

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