With the constant rain and being in Cardiff,
it could have been like the League Cup final of 2002 all over again.
However, the team of then and the team of now are different animals and
today's side gritted their teeth and were up for the battle, which was
just as well, as they returned to London with a 0-0 draw and another
match to play.
It will of course necessitate the
movement of the League Cup semi first leg, but home advantage might
prove of use to Spurs if they can reproduce some of their better home
form. This game, once more, showed their away form as a dismal
return for the amount of possession they had and the few chances made,
but there was still enough opportunities to stop the need for a second
With Danny Murphy coming in and Zokora on
the bench, the midfield was set up to work and pass the ball.
Lennon's place on the substitute's list gave hope that he would be able
to make inroads into the home defence if required, although the
continued absence of Ledley King causes concern despite Davenport doing
well in his place.
In the early stages, Tottenham looked
happy to try things to open a way to goal. Defoe produced a cheeky
back-heel to Berbatov, but it was a yard too long and there were some
other touches that you might have hoped to see when we were a few goals
ahead. Jermain looked keen to play on the shoulder of the last man
and this tactic has pros and cons. The judgement of offside is
often a close call, so, when he got flagged when put through and was
onside, he could not really complain a few minutes later when his run
was a little early and he got away with it, latching onto Berba's pass,
but shooting across goal and wide.
YP Lee almost handed Cardiff with a goal,
when his headed back pass across his penalty area by-passed Davenport
and fell for Chopra to seize on, but Robinson rushed out to close him
down and the resulting shot was poked goal-wards, but went wide.
Spurs came closer halfway through the first period, when the ball
bobbled about the box until it came to Berbatov, who shot, but Purse got
his body in the way and took most of the sting off the shot.
However, he also deflected it and Alexander had to change the direction
of his dive to keep it out and then pounced on the loose ball before
Jermain could get to it.
Spurs experienced a period of pressure
when Cardiff won a couple of corners and flung some crosses across the
face of goal, but there were not the supporting players to get on the
end of them. Tottenham's only response was a snatched shot by
Malbranque, who hit his effort high over the bar.
Half time came and was an opportunity for
the players to get out of the rain for fifteen minutes. On their
return to the pitch, they found a Cardiff side willing to get the ball
forward quickly and one such ball into the area fell for Steven
Thompson, but his shot was rushed and went well wide. The same
happened at the other end, but was a better chance. A ball through
the heart of the defence from Malbranque sent Defoe away and he took his
shot after a touch and dragged it across the keeper from the right to
miss the left hand post by a foot. It looked like one of those
shots that he puts away when he strikes it early and rifles it past the
keeper without them having the chance to move. Except it didn't
end up where they normally do.
Cardiff didn't resort to long balls
forward, but tried to play the ball wide and Chopra was one who managed
to get out to the flank, putting in crosses and one fell to Joe Ledley
at the far post on the left, from where he struck a volley that went
well over the bar, when he had a bit more time than he thought.
The partnership of Berbatov and Defoe
looked like they could break through, but when the Bulgarian flicked a
ball on, the little England striker just failed to get to it before
Alexander grabbed it.
Half chances arrived for Thompson, who
blazed over and for Malbranque, who swivelled to hit a scissors kick a
couple of feet wide of the goal with the keeper scrambling to get to it
and despite a late flurry of attacking intent from City, the game
fizzled out as a damp squib.
Games such as these are always a banana
skin, but slippery as it was today in the soaking wet, Tottenham live to
fight another day. Whether there will be many more days in the FA
Cup will depend on the replay, but the home side showed that although
they like to play football, the killer touch was missing in this display
and they need to do more in the final third if they intend to push Spurs
harder on 17th January.