Praise the gods of the FA Cup draw for Cheltenham, Watford and Stevenage for with respect to those three; if we’d drawn anyone of a higher status then we surely wouldn’t be looking forward to a home quarter final against Bolton.
This was another average at best cup display in which Defoe’s goals stood out like Peter Crouch at an Oompa Loompa convention. As we know to our cost in the other cups, if you play a below strength team you’ll get a below par performance and the cynic might say that the injuries to Dawson and Lennon rescued us by forcing Redknapp into playing a stronger side than he wanted to initially. Nelsen began an undistinguished home debut by giving away the penalty that left us looking at an ugly looking scoreboard until after twenty odd minutes Defoe collected an enormous and perfectly executed long ball from Bale with his first touch and smashed home left-footed from 25 yards with his next. Great stuff and totally out of keeping with what had gone before.
We improved slightly during the rest of the half but still weren’t making life at all uncomfortable for the Stevenage back, erm, eight? After the break though we were much the better side as Adebayor, Bale and Defoe got into their stride and especially as the game wore on, made use of the space available as the well drilled Stevenage players tired. Adebayor converted a pen after Bale had been floored and then after the Welshman delivered a quick throw-in to Defoe, the latter again looked a different class as he rattled the third past Day.
Stevenage did make chances, and were dangerous from set pieces as was widely predicted. They hit the bar at 2-1 and Cudicini also made a good low save.
The mood at the end was jovial but for the majority of the game the crowd were underwhelmed and anxious and the nerves weren’t settled until Defoe’s second. Still, the magic of the FA Cup has been enhanced, the good people of Stevenage have had a night out but most importantly, we’re in the next round.
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