Things were a bit ugly in the opening minutes for Tottenham Hotspur, but they recovered nicely and played very well in the final 65 minutes of the game after a poor opening 35. Spurs are on their way to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup with a 3-1 replay win over Stevenage at White Hart Lane.
The start of the match was downright disastrous. Ryan Nelsen took down Joel Byrom in the Tottenham penalty area just three minutes into the game, and the referee granted a penalty to Stevenage. Byrom stepped up and converted, and Spurs were in an early hole.
Four minutes later, it got worse for Spurs. Michael Dawson went up for a 50-50 header and landed awkwardly on his ankle as he came down. He immediately appeared to be in a great deal of pain and called for the trainer. He had to be substituted off, with Kyle Walker replacing him. Younes Kaboul moved from right back to central defense. Dawson's injury appeared to be a serious one, and he might not be seen in a Spurs shirt in a competitive match until August.
Spurs played poorly after that, regularly giving away possession until a psuedo-miracle struck in the 26th minute. Jermain Defoe, like he has on a regular basis this season, created a goal out of absolutely nothing. On a nice long ball from Gareth Bale, Defoe got between the Stevenage defenders and hauled the ball down, took one touch, then hit a great shot into the back of the net at the near post from 20 yards. The shot was a nice one, but Chris Day was extremely slow to react and should have done better.
Aaron Lennon became the second Tottenham player to go off injured in the 38th minute, when he appeared to aggravate a hamstring injury. Emmanuel Adebayor replaced him. The two sides would go into halftime tied 1-1, with Spurs not looking particularly good other than the goal.
They looked better, but not particularly fantastic in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Tottenham went close on a couple of set pieces, but couldn't find the target. In the 55th minute, they were given a gift to take the lead.
That gift came in the form of a penalty kick. While trying to cross the ball, Gareth Bale was impeded by Stevenage defender Mark Roberts. Roberts got between the ball and the goal legally, throwing Bale off his rhythm and causing Bale to kick Roberts instead of the ball. Michael Oliver pointed to the spot even though Bale was the player that initiated contact. Adebayor stepped up and converted the penalty, putting Spurs into the lead.
Stevenage had some chances to equalize, with Roberts hitting the crossbar on one occasion, but their attacks were few and far between. Tottenham would eventually find a clinching goal in the 75th minute, though they had plenty of chances to score before that. Bale had the best of the bunch, also hitting the bar. Defoe was the man who netted the third goal, finishing off a move after a very nice throw-in and some poor defending.
Though the defenders were aggressive for the final 15 minutes, they were unable to get themselves back into the game. Tottenham will be happy with their performance after a terrible start, and hopefully for them, they'll carry their momentum into the league match against Everton.
Spurs will host Bolton Wanderers in the quarterfinals on Saturday, March 17.