Date:Monday January 8 2007
Cardiff City produced a solid performance and were never outclassed against their Premiership opponents yesterday. Tottenham fielded a strong side and the inclusion of Berbatov and Defoe up-front was a slight worry for City fans. On the bench for Spurs were Zakora, Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon highlighting the strength of squad available to the visitors.
The pitch was exceptional given the conditions and the greasy surface suited both teams who like to get the ball down and play. Both sides had periods of prolonged pressure and several decent chances apiece. Michael Chopra latching onto a poor Lee backpass but poking wide, and Defoe also shooting wide at the start of the second half when put through.
Passes went astray for both sides and there was no-one on either side who could get hold of the ball and dictate play with both teams missing a strong driving force in midfield to add the impetus to attacks.
Man-for-man, Cardiff matched the expensively-assembled Spurs team and can be proud of their performance. Loovens and Purse were excellent while Gilbert and McNaughton solid and efficient and both tried to get forward whenever possible. The midfield failed to dominate but functioned effectively nonetheless, Cardiff missed the pace and attacking threat of Paul Parry but Willo Flood did a tremendous job of harrying and hustling Tottenham showing some nice touches along the way. Chopra and Thompson combined well and the goals will surely come, they are likely to have some serious competition for their place soon and this should inspire them to reproduce the early goalscoring form they showed this season.
If the team were scoring goals recently then City could have quite easily won the match, whilst at the same time Spurs could have taken one of their half chances and stole the game. In that way it was a good quality cup-tie between two sides fighting to break away from mid-table mediocrity and launch an assault on the top sides in their respective divisions. The fact that Tottenham are currently a division above reflects well on Cardiff and offers hope in their continuing promotion campaign.
The return fixture (Wednesday January 17 at 8pm)will be a tough ask for Cardiff City with Tottenham`s home record far better than their away but another gutsy performance from Cardiff could see them grind out a result and possibly earn a place in the next round. Either way, a well earned draw and financial boost from the away leg provides a useful return from this years cup - and its not over yet.
Date:Monday January 8 2007
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