They struggle for hot water from time to time at Brunton Park, as the Carlisle manager, Greg Abbott, revealed on the eve of the visit of Tottenham, and indeed there was none for Andre Villas-Boas, at least not metaphorically speaking.
Reading, Queen’s Park Rangers and now Carlisle do not represent the greatest of tests for the young manager on his return to English football, with Stamford Bridge scars still to fully heal, but there is at least a sign of growing confidence, from him and his new players.
Last night his team made relatively light work of Carlisle’s honesty and endeavour and a fairly raucous 12,000-plus crowd, when an English cup tie under floodlights felt like some people understood what one actually meant.
Avoiding banana skins is a job in itself, but this, aside from an early flurry, never looked to be one. Villas-Boas could even ease Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone back into the action, and the determination of the former (who was captain for the evening) after the summer attempt to sell him was admirable.
Their star however, was the 21-year-old winger Andros Townsend. He caught the eye and was central to Spurs advancing to face Norwich in the fourth round.
Clint Dempsey had missed two good chances when Townsend sent over a right wing free-kick in the 37th minute that Jan Vertonghen headed into the Carlisle goal for his first for the club. Eight minutes after the restart, Townsend turned finisher himself, cutting in from his position on the right to fire a 25-yard low drive past Mark Gillespie.
With time almost up, Gylfi Sigurdsson followed Vertonghen with a first goal of his own, heading a Yago Falque cross into the home goal.
“It wasn’t easy in the first half,” said Tottenham assistant manager Steffen Freund. “Carlisle played very well, but we created chances and deserved to win the game.
“Townsend scored a great goal. He is quick with the ball at his feet, he just needs more belief but it was a great performance. Michael Dawson played well as a skipper today. I’m really happy because we played well and kept a clean sheet.”
Abbot conceded the gulf in quality had proved telling. “If he [Villas-Boas] wants a glass of wine he might be struggling but we’ve got Yorkshire bitter in the fridge and we’ll put the toasting machine on and see what we can rustle up. He can have what he wants.
“I was really pleased with how we acquitted ourselves but the gulf in class showed and once we went behind, it was tough for us.”
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