Spurs capitalise on injuries to quell Colchester hopes of upset
Colchester Utd 1 Tottenham 4
Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30
If you are to cause an FA Cup shock then a favourable alignment of the stars is a clear prerequisite. So, when Colchester United, bottom of League One and already brittle in confidence, lost both of their centre-backs to injury within 21 minutes, it was clear enough that this tie was only heading in one direction and Tottenham, clear-headed and authoritative throughout, put them to the sword in near-total comfort. Two goals for Nacer Chadli, a fortunate Eric Dier strike and a volley by Tom Carroll completed the job and Mauricio Pochettino's side were never in genuine bother.
At the outset, this was both an away banker and textbook upset material.
Colchester's 3-0 defeat at Scunthorpe last week was their 11th in 13 games and the one bright spot for Kevin Keen's side has been the abandon with which they have approached matches with no points at stake. That shone through here in a third round win over Charlton and the hope was that a repeat would unsettle Tottenham, whose selection of Harry Kane, also named captain, in a reshuffled side suggested an appetite to get the job done.
The plan was, presumably, for Colchester to come out brimful of purpose but they were checked within two minutes when their centre-backs, Alex Wynter and Tom Eastman, clashed heads challenging for a high ball with Kane. It became clear straight away that Wynter could not continue; after a four-minute delay in which players from both sides were visibly concerned, he was stretchered off and replaced by Frankie Kent, while Eastman disappeared down the tunnel for treatment.
By the time a bandaged Eastman returned seven minutes later, Tottenham had warmed to the task of exposing a fractured back line. A Christian Eriksen volley had been repelled by a diving Jake Kean, who saved from Nacer Chadli shortly afterwards, while Erik Lamela had clipped the far post with a whipped 20-yarder. It only took a few minutes more of the same, during which Kane volleyed a Kieran Trippier cross into the side netting, for Eastman's recovery effort to have been judged in vain. Matthew Briggs took his place and, with under a quarter of the game played, an already brittle home defence had been decimated. There seemed scant hope of Colchester holding out for long. Eriksen ran from left to right before clipping just over from 20 yards and then, in Tottenham's next attack, Lamela supplied Chadli in a similar area. This time the finish, curling away to Kean's right, was unerring.
Kane missed narrowly again before Kean made his best save of a half that had at times amounted to shooting practice, deploying fine reflexes to parry the striker's header after Ben Davies' delivery.
The danger was that Colchester would slip away with little resistance. Owen Garvan, Darren Ambrose and George Moncur, all impressive technicians, saw more of the ball towards the half's close but their skittishness was summed up when Gavin Massey, having held up his own counter-attack with some unnecessary trickery, promptly presented the ball straight to Kane.
Better news at half-time was that Wynter, who had lost consciousness briefly after the collision and suffered a mild seizure, was sitting up in hospital. Perhaps he was lucid enough to see Lamela, released by a Kane chip, squeeze a clear chance past Kean's right post with the second period's first serious action.
That seemed to be the cue for something resembling the cup tie that had been billed. Colchester stretched their opponents for the first time when Ambrose, profiting from a masterful piece of control and composure from Moncur on the right, saw an 18-yard shot deflected narrowly wide. Garvan, finding his range, released Massey with a fine long pass and Michel Vorm saved for the first time; Ambrose then centred tantalisingly for Chris Porter but the striker, choosing to lead with his foot, could not make contact in front of a gaping net.
When Chadli, located on the hour by a Kane centre, battered the crossbar from eight yards, the brief thought was that Tottenham might yet suffer for not having shut the occasion down. It was quickly proved a flight of fancy in a manner that spoke of Colchester's ill fortune. Eric Dier, who had rarely been extended at centre-back, carried the ball forward and, speculatively attempting to score from 25 yards, watched a heavily-deflected shot change direction and spin past a wrong-footed Kean.
The home substitute Marvin Sordell struck the base of Vorm's far post from after a one-two with Massey, before Chadli's second goal, a near-post header 11 minutes from time after another Trippier delivery, extended Tottenham's lead. Colchester's second-half efforts merited some reward, though, and it came instantly when Massey shot firmly against the same upright, the ball this time being deflected in off Davies.
It was of little consequence. Tom Carroll restored the margin, finishing Chadli's cross smartly, and the only shock here was to be that Tottenham did not score more than four. Observer
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