Robbo goal lights up Lane
By Alex Dunn. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
An unremarkable game at White Hart Lane was privy to a remarkable goal, as one England goalkeeper beat another, in a 3-1 win for Tottenham that edges Watford all that bit closer to the Premiership trap door.
Ben Foster's displays this season have seen calls for his inclusion in Steve McClaren's first XI, but it was current England No.1 Paul Robinson that had the widest grin in North London, as his free-kick from just outside his own box bounced in front of his goalkeeping rival, before looping over and in for the most unlikely and comical of goals.
Tottenham were made to work hard for a first half lead that arrived four minutes from the interval, when Jermaine Jenas headed in his seventh of a productive season but thereafter and it was the proverbial stroll in the park against a Watford side surely now doomed.
Hossam Ghaly scored the game's best goal in the 85th minute, before Darius Henderson concluded the scoring in offering Watford the scantest of consolations a minute from time.
A Tottenham side shorn of their principal attacking trio, Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon were all benched with Monday's FA Cup replay in mind, showed little of the sparkle that has illuminated their recent displays in a drab first half.
Watford, as ever, were Trojans in terms of how they applied themselves but just as predictably, were woefully short of the quality required to cause Tottenham even a smidgen of consternation.
Robinson was as much as a spectator as those in the stands for the entirety of the first half, but to be fair to Watford, Foster at the other end was rarely tested either. At the hub of the occasional beacon of light that shone through the mediocrity was Steed Malbranque, and it was from a willing foray down the right that the Frenchman conjured a half chance for Mido, who given a rare opportunity to impress, did not, in pulling his shot high over the top.
Jenas could perhaps have done better as he dragged a half volley wide of Foster's far post, after some good defending from Lloyd Doyley had thwarted Jermain Defoe, but for the most part, Watford were solid enough in containing their hosts.
Defoe brought a low save from Foster after taking Jenas' cleverly disguised pass into his path on the angle, before the latter produced a moment of class that elevated proceedings beyond what had preceded. Pascal Chimbonda's looping cross from the right was impressive and after hanging in the air, Jenas' header more than matched it in opening the scoring.
Clever feet from Defoe ended with a stabbed effort just wide at the end of the half and after the break it was one-way traffic. Prior to Foster's aberration and Defoe had gone close with an instinctive dink at goal that drifted wide, while Malbranque and Mido brought saves with a shot from distance and header respectively.
Robinson's goal came in the 63rd minute and Foster can have no excuses for a mistake so out of keeping with the rest of his season. Danny Shittu could perhaps have headed clear when the opportunity presented itself, but in letting the ball bounce, Foster committed a cardinal sin.
Tom Huddlestone's jackhammer of a strike brought a brilliant save from Foster, before the deflated keeper nearly embarrassed himself again, when spilling a tame drive, only to pull off a brilliant stop to deny Mido on the rebound.
The best move of the game produced an excellent goal, when Ghaly found a clever stabbed finish from just inside the box, to conclude a concise spell of possession involving Defoe and Lennon with Tottenham's third.
In the final minute Watford substitute Henderson gave his side consolation when he tapped in, after Tommy Smith had robbed a sloppy Chimbonda on the right, but it will do little to alleviate the mood in a dressing room that must now realise relegation beckons.
Tottenham v Watford player ratings
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Name||Watford|
|10||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||1|
|6||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||0|
|5||Total Fouls Conceded||8|