Three unanswered goals ensured we safely negotiated a potentially tricky FA Cup third round tie against League Two Cheltenham Town on what turned out to be a comfortable afternoon for the lads at the Lane.
First half goals from strikers Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko were added to by a late Giovani Dos Santos and the margin of victory could have been greater had we taken more of the many chances we created on the day.
As anticipated, Harry Redknapp made wholesale changes to the side which beat West Brom here on Tuesday, 10 in total with only Jermain Defoe retaining his place, and the manager was able to call on the services once again of Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon on their returns from injury.
Although we enjoyed plenty of early possession, it took a while for clear opportunities in front of goal to arrive.
Cheltenham, cheered on by around 5,000 supporters in the Park Lane end making for a real cup tie atmosphere, got men behind the ball at every opportunity and made it difficult for us. But with Niko Kranjcar pulling the strings in centre midfield, we kept playing our passing game and eventually got the rewards.
Our first real chance came on 12 minutes as Lennon found Jake Livermore on the right edge of Cheltenham the box, he slipped a ball across the area to Pavlyuchenko who showed good feet to work a yard of space but curled his effort just over Scott Brown’s goal.
Three minutes later a well worked move saw Steven Pienaar’s shot from 12 yards deflect off Steve Elliott for a corner and the Robins defender was involved again shortly after when Danny Rose drilled a low ball across goal which cannoned off Elliott and over the bar.
The visitors, on a great run of form in League Two having won nine and drawn one of their last 10 away games, saw their first chance fall to Russ Penn on 21 minutes but his 25-yard drive was always rising and didn’t trouble Carlo Cudicini.
On 23 minutes the breakthrough came and it was the impressive Kranjcar who created the chance. His passing was outstanding all game and it was a typically incisive pass that eluded Elliott and found Giovani in on goal down the left, the little Mexican lifting the ball over goalkeeper Brown and, although his effort was probably going in, Defoe made sure from a yard out.
And we doubled our advantage just before the break with a neat move involving Pavlyuchenko and Giovani, he found Defoe inside the area down the left channel and JD’s fizzed cross was tapped home by Pavlyuchenko inside the six yard box.
Cheltenham threatened again in first half stoppage time as Kaid Mohamed led a breakaway, but his attempted curler was comfortable for Cudicini.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first as we dominated possession and the chances came with it. Just two minutes after the interval Pienaar released Defoe whose shot was saved by Brown, Livermore then saw a shot deflected for a corner and from the set-piece Dawson headed over.
On 54 minutes Giovani shot over under pressure, Brown then made a smart save to deny Defoe after he was put clear by Pavlyuchenko’s neat pass and in quick succession, Kranjcar’s effort was saved by Brown and Giovani’s shot from the rebound was blocked by Sido Jombati.
Full credit to Cheltenham though who continued to play their own neat football when in possession and their best chance on the day came in the 73rd minute when substitute Brian Smikle got free down the right, cut the ball back to Penn but he couldn’t keep his shot down and fired over.
Our deserved third of the game came three minutes from time when Rose threaded the ball into Giovani and his shot on the turn deflected up off Elliott, looped over Brown and went in.
There was still time for the Robins to threaten again when Sebastien Bassong’s clearance fell kindly to Marlon Pack on the edge of the area but his shot cleared Cudicini’s crossbar and with it went the visitors’ opportunity of troubling the scorers, but they can head back to Cheltenham with their heads held high after a decent display.
For us, it’s on to round four – and the draw is tomorrow at around 5.30pm on ITV1.
Spurs (4-4-2): Cudicini; Livermore, Dawson (Carroll 88), Bassong, Rose; Lennon (Bostock 82), Pienaar, Kranjcar, Giovani; Defoe (Falque 77), Pavlyuchenko. Substitutes (not used): Gomes, Kaboul, Parrett, van der Vaart.
Goals: Defoe 23, Pavlyuchenko 43, Giovani 87
Cheltenham (4-4-2): Brown; Jombati, Bennett, Elliott, Garbutt; Low (Smikle 58), Pack, Summerfield, Mohamed; Spencer (Duffy 62), Penn (Goulding 77). Substitutes (not used): Book, Lowe, Andrew, Graham.
Referee: Lee Mason