Three first half goals from Tottenham took them to victory over Coventry City at White Hart Lanein their 3rd Round FA Cup tie. There was to be no repeat of the shock Coventry managed at Wembley in May, 1987 as Spurs progressed to the next round. Clint Dempsey scored twice with a third from Gareth Bale and while dominating possession and controlling the game throughout, they were grateful to a save from Brad Friedel midway through the second half to deny Coventry a consolation goal. Tottenham progressed comfortably and untroubled into the 4th Round with their fourth consecutive win in twelve days.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 Coventry City 0
Scorers: Dempsey (2), Bale
Team: Friedel; Naughton, Dawson, Caulker, Assou-Ekotto; Sigurdsson, Huddlestone, Parker, Bale; Dempsey, Adebayor Subs: (unused) Lloris, Vertonghen, Defoe, Lennon
As anticipated Andre Villas-Boas took the opportunity to rotate his squad and rest some of the players who have been most involved in recent weeks. Two long term absences, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Scott Parker made their first starts since the beginning of September and last season respectively. Friedel returned in goal and Kyle Naughton switched to his more favoured right back position. Tom Huddlestone partnered Parker in midfield with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bale. Dempsey and Emmanuel Adebator were the strike force.
Coventry in a replica kit of that worn at Wemblety in May, 1987 were hoping to emulate the success of that day but it took Tottenham only 14 minutes to take the lead. Spurs had dominated early possession but without any clear opportunities on goal – a shot from Sigurdsson blocked, a Parker chance sliced wide and a Huddlestone shot over. Clint Dempsey broke the deadlock following a Gylfi Siggurdsson free-kick into the area which was flicked on by Bale and fell to him inside the six yard box.
Tottenham continued to dominate with exhibition style football as they outplayed Coventry who failed to trouble Friedel in the home goal.
Gareth Bale added a second after 32 minutes when Dempsey’s shot was blocked but fell into his path to volley home from close in. Four minutes later, Dempsey scored the third with a looping header from Bale’s corner.
In the second half, Spurs continued with their free-flowing passing game and good play on the left from Assou-Ekotto ended with a cross into the area but no-one could get a final touch. Bale tormented Coventry with his pace and strength. After 56 minutes, Caulker headed wide from a free-kick by Tom Huddlestone when well placed and then Bale’s free-kick was just wide after he had been brought down on the edge of the area.
After an hour, Spurs eased off slightly and a poor pass gave Coventry a chance but Caulker blocked for a corner. Friedel then rescued Spurs with a great save from a header by William Edjenguele from the corner to the near post. Coventry then gave the ball away allowing Bale to make his way into the area but Murphy saved low down.
Andros Townsend replaced Bale with 20 minutes to play. Coventry got more of the ball but failed to trouble Spurs as the tempo of the match slowed. Friedel cleared from the edge of the area and dealt comfortably with a couple of crosses. Tom Carroll came on after 80 minutes for Gylfi Sigurdsson and Mousa Dembele replaced Parker.
For the last ten minutes, Spurs raised themselves and had claims for a penalty when an Adebayor cross struck Edjenguele’s hand. Then Dempsey got into the area but his shot was blocked before he played a ball to Townsend who hit the side-netting with a shot from the left. A Dempsey shot went wide from outside the box as he searched for his third and then Carroll shot wide.
In added time Coventry put the ball into the net but Gary McSheffrey was flagged for offside.
Spurs progressed to the 4th Round, having had 60% of the possession and 22 shots with 10 on target. They had given a number of players an opportunity to improve their fitness ahead of important games in the coming weeks so it had been a worthwhile exercise for Villas-Boas. Spurs took control from the start and were able to ease off after the interval. Could this possibly be the start of another Cup run for Tottenham? It’s been too long since the FA Cup spent twelve months in the White Hart Lane trophy cabinet.