|Wrapping up what I think must
be our biggest away win in this competition with three goals in the last
six minutes might have been harsh on Oldham, but the gap between the
clubs fifty six places apart in the league set-up was evidenced by the
Oldham did give Spurs some trouble in the
first half, with Jermain Johnson's physical presence giving Anthony
Gardner some tough moments. He won a number of free-kicks by
backing into the tall Spurs central defender, who got drawn into giving
him a bump that the referee saw. A string of free-kicks and
corners rained in amongst the persistent rain, but the home side failed
to make many direct efforts on goal.
Keller was drafted in for his first game
of the season, along with Mabizela and Bunjy, but he rarely looked
comfortable. From the first minute when he raced out to the corner
of the box and let the ball sneak past him (through his legs), his
handling was shaky from corners and the opportunities that the Lactics
had came from his flapping at the corners.
The Northern Spurs were out in force and
they saw the moves founder as Robbie Keane slowed down the game when it
looked like Tottenham could break at speed. Passes went stray on
both sides and the skiddy surface did not always help the weight of
passing, with the ball gaining pace off the wet turf.
Robbie could have got on the score-sheet
in the 15th minute, when he volleyed Kanoute's cross back across goal
from the far post and then Spurs were denied a penalty when Davies'
cross was hit to the far post, where Brown was poised to head home
before a defender clattered into him with no hope of getting the
ball. It was weird that 17 minutes later OJ had a free-kick given
against him for exactly the same type of challenge but of course, it was
nowhere near the penalty area !!
In the 37th minute, Tottenham gained
their first corner, which was taken by Keano. Losing his marker on
the six yard line, Fredi found some space to head home the ball
unchallenged. But the lead almost disappeared in the next minute
when a low ball into the box fell behind King and Killen, standing five
yards out, swung a boot at it. Unfortunately for him and the home
fans, it was a little behind him and the ball hit his standing foot on
the way through, taking the pace of fit and leaving KK a simple grab at
a half hit ball.
Two minutes after the goal, Spurs next
corner was pulled back to Redknapp outside the penalty box, but his half
volley cleared the closing defender, the goal and the stand !!
Just before the break, Tottenham had an even better chance, when Kanoute
knocked a cross down in the area and Robbie got the blind side of his
marker. As he stretched for the ball, he tried to knock it in from
a couple of yards out, but could only get it over the bar.
So, the break came and with a one goal
lead, it could have been a nervous time in the second half. The
expected surge from Oldham did not arrive after the interval, leaving
Spurs to push forward.
Three minutes into the half, Kanoute
played the ball left to Jackson, who had trouble getting past his man
all night. He played it back to Brown, who curled an effort that
finished about a yard and a half wide. In the 51st minute Killen
and then two minutes later, Johnson both fired shots across the face of
goal. Play was more stretched now and Spurs broke to allow Keane
to set-up Fredi, who got through two Oldham defenders, but blazed his
shot high on the hour.
Then five minutes later, a long free-kick
from Keller was headed on by Kanoute into the Oldham box. The
keeper came for it, Arber, the former Spurs reserve defender, nudged the
ball past him and Robbie picked it up. He snuck towards goal and
blasted it past the man on the line from a narrow angle to give Spurs a
Keane was replaced by Jermain Defoe a
minute or two later and what followed was not in the script of either
team. A corner to Oldham floated into the box, Keller flapped and
the ball then pinged about the box with King and Mabizela blocking
shots. It finally got cleared to the right and the ball was played
forward and Jackson played a difficult ball out to the left, where Defoe
collected it and as the keeper came out, passed it past him into the
net, just under the foot of a defender and just inside the post.
The third goal killed Oldham off, even though there was still 20 minutes
Spurs went on attacking and Defoe struck
a quick-fire shot into the side-netting and Fredi had a shot
blocked. From a corner, Tottenham got a fourth from a most
unlikely source. The ball was flicked on at the near post by Eyres,
with his keeper right behind him, leaving the ball landing in the middle
of the area where Goran Bunjevcevic was standing. His left foot
volley found it's way through the vacant gap in the middle of the goal
for his first strike for Spurs in the 88th minute.
Weirder was still to come, as Gardner
nipped in front of Jack to collect a clearance from the Oldham defence
and strode forward unchallenged to hit a low shot off the greasy turf
from 20 yards that hit the stanchion inside the net for Tottenham's
fifth. But credit to Oldham, they still tried to salvage something
from the game and Eyres' injury time drive had to be tipped over by
Keller to retain the clean sheet from this tie.
But from the corner, Spurs broke away
once more and Ricketts played in Kanoute on the right corner of the box
and as the defender backed off him, Fredi let fly with a powerful drive
that ripped into the top right hand corner of the net.
It was a professional job well done and
although the first half saw Spurs stutter rather than fire on all
cylinders in the second, Oldham rarely threatened seriously and although
the goal rush at the end lakes it look like a heavier defeat than
perhaps Athletic deserved, it showed that given the chances you have to
put them away. So, a trot up to Bolton in the next round and I am
sure that Jacques will be getting his tactics worked out for that one
over the next few weeks.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING