Bent puts Spurs back on track
3rd December 2008
Despite the antics of Burnley and Derby, Watford failed to make it a Championship triple, despite going taking an early lead against Spurs, going down 2-1 in the Carling Cup Quarter Final.
The Hornets were well worthy of the 1-0 lead, all thanks to a beautiful turn and finish from Tamas Priskin after 16 minutes, and were heading for a comfortable half time advantage until ref Phil Dowd(y) decided it was time to intervene.
The Premier League ref pointed to the spot - bang on half time - to award Spurs an undeserved penalty after a 'nothing` challenge from Hornets teenager Ross Jenkins on any 1 of 4 Spurs players who hit the floor!
It took 5 Sky Sports replays to determine quite what Dowd(y) saw in a split second but that didn`t stop Roman Pavlyuchenko lashing past Loach from 6 yards on the stroke of half time.
In truth, the £16m Russian hitman had rattled the bar when clean through 5 minutes earlier but was well marshalled by Demerit during the first 45 whilst Frazier Campbell looked a shadow of the man who terrified Watford during Hull`s Play-off success.
Watford knocked it about a bit and played some pretty football (mostly sidewards) - with Jenkins, Smith and Priskin the pick of the bunch - but failed to test Gomez, who on last nights showing had a save pair of hands in tough conditions.
Lennon on the other hand saw a top corner flyer dramatically tipped away by an impressive Loach as the wideman ran Jon Harley ragged each time Spurs got forward.
With Rodgers` ringing in their ears, the Hornets put in another 10 minute spell of pressure at the start of the second period without really creating anything to note whilst Spurs upped the pace.
Jenas tested Loach with a rasping drive, Harley cleared off the line from Lennon and Doyley, who came on for the injured Demerit, showed good composure to clear under pressure from O`Hara.
The inevitable breakthrough (and yes, it was inevitable as the game wore on) came courtesy of substitute Bent. The in-form striker, who has this habit of scoring at the Vic - stole in on the left hand side of the Watford defence, beat Harley for pace and smashed home at the near post.
Loach will be disappointed not to have got anything on Bent`s effort but by that point - and with the Pavlyuchenko winning everything in the air - Tottenham`s winner was deserved as the Hornets backed off.
On came Hoskins (for the out of sorts Jobi McAnuff). On came O`Toole (for Jenkins) and it was the young Irishman with an eye for goal who`s last minute drive forced Gomez into his only save of a downbeat 2nd half.
Brendan Rodgers said he 'was proud and encouraged` by Watford`s performance - it was no doubt better than Doncaster but truth is Spurs were simply a little too good.
The Watford number 9 has had his critics but he ran his socks off last night, scored a quality goal and put in some lovely link-up play with Smith. Young Tam looks 5 times the player he was now the ball is knocked into feet.
All this despite getting no protection from ref Dowd(y) as a right ol' battering from the uncompromising pair of cloggers in Dawson & Woodgate was dished out.