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Deadly Defoe sends Spurs through

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Tottenham Hotspur 3

(Defoe – 26, 75, Adebayor – 55 (pen)


(Byrom – 4 (pen)

Tottenham Hotspur survived an early scare to book a FA Cup quarter-final berth after an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty sandwiched between a Jermain Defoe brace was enough to cancel out Joel Byrom’s early penalty.

The England striker was making his first start since late January and was one of nine changes made by Harry Redknapp from the side that succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

The likes of Michael Dawson, Rafael Van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Scott Parker were the notable returnees while Ryan Nelsen was drafted in to make his home debut.

However, disaster struck for the New Zealander after just three minutes after Byrom was sent into the box only for the veteran defender to foul the midfielder and concede an early penalty. The 25-year-old stepped up to the spot and made now mistake from 12-yards, sending Carlo Cudicini the wrong way to make it 1-0 to the League One side.

And things went from bad to worse just four minutes later after captain Dawson went up for header, but was nudged by Chris Beardsley before landing awkwardly on his knee. After making one attempt to get to his feet, the England international was eventually stretchered off and faces the real prospect of missing the rest of the season having just returned from a campaign stalling Achilles problem.

He was replaced by Kyle Walker which saw Younes Kaboul revert back to centre-back having started the encounter on the right of the back-four.

Any action around the six-yard box was at a minimum and despite Spurs’ possession stats far outweighing Stevenage’s, it was the away side that came close to doubling their advantage after Michael Bostwick’s header looped over the bar from Byrom’s free-kick.

Harry Redknapp’s side were level again after 26 minutes after Gareth Bale picked out the run of Defoe and lofted a delightful 50-yard ball to pint-sized hitman. He worked enough space on the edge of the box before lashing home passed Chris Day to draw the teams level.

Spurs were hit with a second injury blow late-on when Aaron Lennon was forced off with, what appeared to be, a hamstring problem. He was replaced by Adebayor just minutes before half-time, which ended with Bostwick dragging an effort well wide of the mark from 22-yards.

The home side started the second half brightly and had the ball in the back of the net after Kaboul picked out Defoe in the box for the striker to flick home, but the goal was chalked off for offside.

Cudicini was again forced into action after the ball fell to Mark Roberts from a corner, but the Italian was on-hand to deny the defender from point-blank range.

And Roberts was involved again in the next goal, however not the way he would have liked. Bale looked to deliver from the right by-line, Roberts threw himself into the challenge and upended the Welshman and Michael Oliver had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Adebayor stepped up and sent Day the wrong way to give Spurs the lead for the first time.

Bale crashed a 30-yard dipping effort onto the crossbar, Adebayor saw his header deflected onto the roof of the net and Niko Kranjcar fired just wide from 18-yards as Spurs looked to increase their advantage.

Stevenage had the best chance to draw level after the hour mark after Scott Laird powered his header from Byrom’s onto the underside of the crossbar, but the Spurs back-line managed to clear after an initial panic in the box.

Defoe added his second, and his side’s third, with 15 minutes to go after Bale picked out the front-man’s run with a long throw. He managed to work the ball back onto his right foot before smashing past Day into the far corner.

And he could’ve added a third late-on after some good work from Bale on the late, but he miss-timed his kick in front of goal after Adebayor lashed a volley over from the edge of the area while at the other end, Craig Reid was denied by Cudicini as Spurs ran out 3-1 winners and secured a quarter-final encounter at home to Bolton Wanderers in a little over a week’s time.

What Redknapp had to say

“It was a difficult game, just what I expected. People said ‘you’ll smash them, beat them five or six’. Not a chance,” Redknapp told ESPN after the game.

“It was a difficult game, but we came through okay in the end.

“The lads showed good character to come back from 1-0 down.”

Man of the match

Jermain Defoe was in electrifying form upon his return to the starting XI and took his two goals excellently in the FA Cup replay. The England international now has 116 goals for the club and is just one away from securing a place in Spurs’ all-time top ten goalscorers. His return to goalscoring form, after netting late-on in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, will surely have appeased interim England manager Stuart Pearce after Darren Bent was ruled out for the remainder of the season ahead of Euro 2012.

Moment of the match

Michael Dawson landing awkwardly early in the first-half saw the England international stretchered off. Having just returned from an Achilles problem, his latest injury will be a big blow for manager Harry Redknapp and the defender, who was looking for an extended run in the team ahead of Euro 2012. His second serious injury of the season means the Spurs stalwart has made just seven appearances in all competitions this season and his latest blow, which appears to be knee and ankle ligament damage, will surely rule him out for the remainder of the campaign.

Final thoughts

It was nice to return to winning ways after a frustrating few weeks in the game. The victory not only sees Spurs take a big-step closer to Wembley, but will also instil confidence throughout the team after two demoralising defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United. Ahead of a tough trip to Everton, the victory will surely raise the player’s belief in the hope that the club can return to winning ways.

Jermain Defoe’s return to the starting XI couldn’t have come at a better time for the striker, who has netted three times in the last 100 minutes of football. Will feel aggrieved to have found himself on the bench in recent works due to the form of Louis Saha, but grasped his chance with both hands with a superb double either side of Emmanuel Adebayor’s penalty.

Finally, the blow to Michael Dawson will be a significant one to Harry Redknapp who had been hoping the England defender could return to full fitness in time for the run-in for the end of the season. However, with him now likely to be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, the veteran tactician will be hoping to keep Kaboul, Nelsen and Ledley King fit during the fabled business end to the season. Fortunately, William Gallas found himself involved in the first-team for the first time in 2012 and Redknapp will be eager for the defender to gain match fitness quickly in order to soften the blow suffered with Dawson’s injury.

Ben McAleer

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