the spurs avoid replay-match

Watford are likely to start with Adrian Mariappa and Marvin Sordell who have both been linked with a move away from Vicarage Road in January. Sean Dyche has rid them of the ‘hoofball’ stereotype from Aidy Boothroyd’s tenure, but they are a side that can still exploit that side of the game should Spurs be resistant to a measured build-up play by the hosts. Tottenham should be set to play a second XI, with some youngsters mixed with the regular substitutes who are trying to prove a point. Defoe could be given the nod to start, but Scott Parker, Gareth Bale and Younes Kaboul are unlikely to feature. Tottenham will probably look to utilise their pace and technical ability to break through the home side’s defence as they try to avoid a replay. (

Harry Redknapp took a break from denying two counts of cheating the public revenue to watch his Tottenham Hotspur team progress rather fortuitously to the FA Cup fifth round. Redknapp, who has a further five days at least at Southwark crown court while his case continues, had been unable to take training all week and there was evidence in a lax display that his squad may have missed his exhortations at their Spurs Lodge base in the build-up to this tie.

Watford had written the tale of the first half, with Spurs' contribution barely a footnote until Rafael van der Vaart scored. Taking the ball from Kyle Walker inside home territory, the Dutchman wandered towards goal and from 30 yards unloaded a shot that bounced over the prone Scott Loach, who will be disappointed. Marvin Sordell had given Spurs an early warning as to what kind of evening to expect but troubled the visiting defence far less than the Sean Murray attempt moments later that had Carlo Cudicini unable to hold on to the ball before it was scrambled away to safety.

Redknapp had fielded a strong XI that included Luka Modric, Emmanuel Adebayor, Van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe, Michael Dawson and Scott Parker. They woke up momentarily after 13 minutes when Adebayor shrugged off Lee Hodson, the home right-back, and bounced a pass into Walker on the opposing flank who floated in a cross that the Togolese forward was crowded out from finishing by a clutch of Watford defenders. This was about as good as it got for Spurs until Van der Vaart's intervention. The hosts continued to worry Cudicini: Troy Deeney moved down the right and pinged in a cross that Sordell put wide; then a midfield mix-up allowed Prince Buaben to send an effort narrowly wide. There was more. Joe Garner, playing off Sordell in Watford's attack, dumped Van der Vaart to ground, then played in a pass to his strike partner that Walker had to clean up. (

Lying low in the Championship, Watford so nearly embarrassed a team flying high in the Premier League in a thrilling FA Cup tie. Spurs were as poor as Watford were good but Rafael van der Vaart’s strike still sent Harry Redknapp’s side through into the fifth round. Spurs were grateful to Lady Luck and a Dutchman. As Watford fans screamed themselves hoarse, Sean Dyche’s men delivered a performance in the very best traditions of the Cup. Marvin Sordell, one of six Watford Academy products on view, was marvellous, running Spurs defence ragged, justifying the good reviews he has received this season. (


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