Match Report: Clint Dempsey and Gareth Bale double act crush Coventry City's hopes of reliving the past against Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Coventry City 0

white hart lane

The 1987 FA Cup final this was not. For all
of those hoping for a repeat of the best final of the modern era, there was
just the mild frustration of a mismatch and a fair result.

Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City are not on an equal footing any more. This game looked like what it was: third in the Premier League hosting 12th in League One. There was not much drama, tension, accident or, permit the word, magic.

There was just a strong Spurs side, led by Gareth Bale, who scored one and made two, and Clint Dempsey, who scored two and made one. They were 3-0 up at half-time and breezed into the fourth round.

"In the first half we were different class," Spurs' assistant manager, Steffen Freund, said afterwards. "The players deserved it, it was a great performance. We have won the cup eight times and we want to go all the way."

Spurs could also welcome back Scott Parker to their midfield for his first start of the season and Benoît Assou-Ekotto at full-back for his first since September. The quality of the hosts was simply too much.

"We knew it was going to be difficult," Coventry's manager, Mark Robins, reflected. "But when we saw the teamsheet we realised it was going to be even more difficult. We hoped they would hit a bit of a dip but they didn't.

"They are a real class act and the players were outstanding. It shows what we have to do to get up there."

Coventry came to White Hart Lane with the intention of frustrating Tottenham. Their 5,000 loud fans proudly reminded Spurs of the '87 final and cheered gleefully when Garry Mabbutt was brought on to the pitch at half-time. They did not get much new material for warming memories.

Their tight 4-4-1-1 system was well designed to limit the space available to Spurs' dangerous players. In open play it was effective for 12 minutes, but their focus had to be perfect and constant, and it was not.

Coventry failed to defend a free-kick and that, really, was that. Parker was needlessly tripped on the right-hand side. Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped the ball in, Bale flicked it on at the near post and Dempsey, grateful for the space, finished from close in.

It was a shame that Coventry's hard work would be let down by a failure of concentration rather than ability.

Once Spurs were ahead it was a different game. With the anxiety sucked out of the occasion, it became a simple test of technique, and at that Spurs were naturally superior. Bale was as threatening as ever and nearly scored the goal of the season when he collected the ball on the half-way line and burst past Carl Baker, Jordan Clarke, Steven Jennings, Richard Wood and William Edjenbuele before shooting inches wide of the far bottom corner.

Minutes later Bale had to settle for scoring a goal that was merely very good indeed. Like everything good Spurs did, it came from a combination between Bale and Dempsey. The American midfielder spun on the edge of the box and shot. When the ball deflected off Edjenbuele it flew high and wide and it was Bale who reacted first, volleying the ball in from a tight angle.

The best of the Bale and Dempsey double-act was yet to come, however. This time there was no third party, neither a Sigurdsson free-kick nor an Edjenbuele deflection. It was just the two of them and it was brilliant.

Bale swung over a high corner kick. Dempsey, at the far post, ran away from goal, suspended himself in the air and – with remarkable neck-power – headed the ball back over everyone and just inside the opposite corner of the goal.

Spurs' 3-0 lead at half-time was an accurate reflection of their superiority in terms of possession and chances. The second half, unfortunately, was not much of an event. Tottenham were not over-exerting themselves in pursuit of a fourth goal but did have chances from set-plays. Huddlestone's free-kick was headed wide by Steven Caulker before Bale clipped one just off-target from 20 yards.

Coventry's fans deserved something more current to celebrate and Robins's side did give them a flurry of chances to cheer. Leon Clarke shot wide, Conor Thomas was blocked by Caulker and Edjenbuele's header was saved by Brad Friedel. But that was as close as they got. Those old memories will have to do for a while longer.

Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Friedel; Naughton, Dawson, Caulker, Assou-Ekotto; Huddlestone, Parker (Dembele, 80); Sigurdsson (Carroll, 80), Dempsey, Bale (Townsend, 70) ; Adebayor.

Coventry (4-4-1-1): Murphy; Jordan Clarke, Wood, Edjenbuele, Adams; Baker, Bailey (Thomas, 59); Jennings (Fleck, 71), McSheffrey; Moussa (Barton, 51); Leon Clarke.

Referee: Michael Naylor.

Man of the match: Dempsey (Tottenham)

Match rating: 4/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
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

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy