Tottenham Hotspur narrowly overcame a spirited Watford performance to beat the Hornets 1-0 in the FA Cup fourth round. Rafael van der Vaart scored the game’s only goal in the 42nd minute.
Spurs enjoyed a lot of possession throughout, but it was Watford who created most of the chances.
Redknapp’s charges made the brighter start, with Watford struggling to keep hold of the ball. Watford quickly started making chances, however.
Within four minutes, Marvin Sordell had forced Carlo Cudicini into his first save of the match. Sordell made a run down the right before cutting inside and firing a shot on goal. His effort went straight at the keeper, however.
Minutes later Sean Murray took advantage of a rare mistake from Luka Modric and forced a good save out of Cudicini. Captain John Eustace then hit a poor shot wide.
Watford created another chance in the 15th minute, when Sordell almost turned in a Troy Deeney cross. Prince Buaben then unleashed a powerful shot from distance but it drifted just wide.
The chances kept coming as Hodson fired wide in the 24th minute and Joe Garner mishit his shot from close-range moments later.
Spurs’ impotency in the final third was exemplified by their inability to get a meaningful shot on goal until the 29th minute. Some neat interplay between Emmanuel Adebayor and van der Vaart saw the ball drop to Jermain Defoe at the edge of the area, but his shot was easily saved by Scott Loach.
Watford were made to pay for not taking their chances when Rafael van der Vaart gave Spurs a 42nd minute lead after a beautifully struck 30 yard shot.
Kyle Walker made a good run down the Spurs right flank before passing to van der Vaart. The Dutchman moved forward before striking a sweet shot into the bottom right hand corner of the Watford net. Scott Loach may feel he could have done better in the Watford goal, however.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with Watford enjoying the lion’s share of the opportunities.
Watford’s best chance of the match came four minutes into the second half, when Murray should have levelled for the hosts. The Hornets had started well and both Buaben and Eustace shot over.
Within moments Murray found himself one-on-one with Cudicini. The youngster hit a beautiful curling shot towards then far corner, but Cudicini did well to fingertip the ball onto the post. Deeney followed up but could only shoot wide from an angle.
Spurs responded well and slowed down play and had two good chances to finish the tie as a contest. Van der Vaart wasted a decent free kick opportunity in the 52nd minute, but the Dutchman and Kyle Walker almost scored for the visitors.
Danny Rose delivered an inviting cross to the far post in the 53rd minute and Walker headed goalwards. Scott Loach managed to tip the ball over the bar, however.
Van der Vaart then hit the bar in the 65th minute after a dangerous Tottenham break. Defoe found Aaron Lennon on the left edge of the Watford box. The winger then passed to van der Vaart, who struck a powerful shot against the Watford crossbar.
Despite these Spurs chances, the second half included some anxious moments for Harry Redknapp’s men . On one occasion Scott Parker inexcusably relinquished possession, but Younes Kaboul reacted quickly and collected the ball.
Deeney shot wide, Buaben shot tamely at Cudicini and John Eustace headed against the post from a well delivered Yeates corner. Another corner from Yeates was headed wide by Garner.
It was defender Nyron Nosworthy who had Watford best chance in the dying minutes. Another Yeates cross was headed into the centre of the box by Garner in the 79th minute. Nosworthy’s effort from six yards out was weak, however, and Cudicini saved with his feet. Deeney missed from the rebound.
Minutes later, Yeates was left free ten yards from the Spurs goal. The effort would have flown past Cudicini in the Spurs goal, but the shot hit an unaware Michael Dawson.
Spurs almost sowed up the game in the 87th minute after another counter-attack. Lennon broke forward before finding van der Vaart at the edge of the area. The Dutchman fed Parker, whose shot was parried away by Loach.
Watford continued to send crosses into the Spurs box in the dying moments, but Harry Redknapp’s team held on.
Watford emerge from the match with a lot of credit, but it is Tottenham who go into the hat for round five.