Bent strike stops Watford joining upstarts

Watford 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

To the undoubted relief of the Football League’s top brass Watford last night failed to join fellow Championship clubs Derby and Burnley in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup. Much as the League likes its clubs to prosper in its own competition, it needs high-profile finals to maintain the cup’s attraction to sponsors and television companies. Tottenham v Manchester United would fit the bill nicely.

For 35 minutes it did seem that the struggling Hornets, who languish in 20th place in the Championship, would provide their new manager, Brendan Rodgers, with a memorable first victory – and a congratulatory text from his mentor Jose Mourinho. But Thomas Priskin’s 12th-minute goal was cancelled out in first-half injury time by a Roman Pavyluchenko penalty. Darren Bent then came off the bench to ensure the holders progressed to the last four with a 76th- minute winner.

“I thought we showed terrific character,” said the Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp. “We battered them in the first half [after going behind] and it was a case of sticking our chances away.” Of his match-winner he said: “Darren’s not done so well in the last few weeks as he did at the start when he was scoring goals. I think he took his foot off the pedal a bit. So I told him to get back to how he was two or three weeks ago.”

Rodgers said: “I’m proud of the performance. I thought we were very good for the first 25 minutes. We made a great start, created a wonderful goal, then we stopped passing the ball and that wee bit of |quality that Spurs have came through.”

For his second match in charge Rodgers made one change from the XI which drew at home to Doncaster Rovers. That was the return, following injury, of defender Leigh Bromby. Redknapp made four changes to the team which lost at home to Everton. The team was only marginally weakened but the absence of the rested Ledley King was quickly felt as Watford took the lead with both centre-halves at fault. Jon Harley robbed Aaron Lennon to instigate an attack which flowed to the left wing, where Tommy Smith beat Michael Dawson to cross. Priskin, having drifted off Jonathan Woodgate, dummied both him and Jermaine Jenas before drilling a low shot on the turn inside Heurelho Gomes’ right-hand post.

Tottenham’s lift in form following Redknapp’s arrival has dissipated recently but with Watford apparently content to sit on their lead the holders settled and began to create chances. Twice Lennon cut in dangerously from the right. Scott Loach turned his first shot acrobatically over the bar but the second he could only parry and the goalkeeper needed Bromby’s intervention to prevent Campbell forcing the ball in. In between Pavyluchenko had a shot deflected over by Bromby and Jenas, having pounced on a sloppy pass, drove powerfully but too close to Loach.

When, with half-time approaching, Pavyluchenko clipped the ball from 10 yards it seemed Spurs would go in to the break trailing. But in injury time Ross Jenkins brought down Jenas in the box. Pavylucheko rolled in the penalty for his seventh goal of the season, four of them in this competition.

Tottenham remained in command but their final ball was so poor that extra time loomed. It needed a stroke of fortune, and an error, to break the deadlock. Lennon fed Pavyluchenko who was challenged by Liam Bridcutt as he sought to turn with the ball. It ran to Bent who, to Loach’s embarrassment, shot sharply inside the goalkeeper’s near post. “He’ll be disappointed but he’s only 20 years old, with fantastic potential,” said Rodgers of his goalkeeper. Watford pressed for an equaliser but Gomes was barely |troubled.

Redknapp insisted Premier League survival remained his priority but admitted, “once you get this close [to winning a cup] it is important to try and go all the way.” He added he would “like to avoid Man United” in Saturday’s draw. The League’s high command will concur.

Watford (4-4-1-1): Loach; Mariappa, DeMerit (Doyley, 59), Bromby, Harley; Williamson, Jenkins (O’Toole, 78), Bridcutt, McAnuff (Hoskins, 83); Smith, Priskin. Substitutes not used: Lee (gk), Robinson, Bangura, Henderson.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, O’Hara; Pavlyuchenko, Campbell (Bent, 64). Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Bale, Gunter, Boateng, Bentley, Huddlestone.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture