FA Cup - Spurs see off Stevenage to advance
Tottenham had to come from behind to overcome League One side Stevenage 3-1 in their FA Cup fifth round replay at White Hart Lane to book a quarter-final at home to Bolton.
Joel Byrom's early penalty hinted at some 'magic of the FA Cup' being weaved in the return encounter between the highest- and lowest-ranked sides left in the competition, but Jermain Defoe levelled the scores shortly before the half-hour mark.
Substitute Emmanuel Adebayor tucked away a spot kick of his own 10 minutes after half-time before Defoe's crisp second settled matters with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Gary Smith's men put in an admirable effort throughout the replay, however, and on a number of occasions came close to re-taking the lead or pulling back level at 2-1.
Those expecting Spurs to make amends for being held at the Lamex Stadium by steamrolling opposition two divisions beneath them were handed a shock to the system when the underdogs took the lead in the fourth minute.
Byrom was brought down by Ryan Nelsen inside the Tottenham penalty area, and after referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot it was the midfielder who converted the opening goal himself from twelve yards.
A dream start for the Hertfordshire outfit was a nightmare for Harry Redknapp and his side, made worse by the ankle injury picked up by captain Michael Dawson just minutes later which forced the defender off the pitch on a stretcher and straight to the local hospital.
Byrom almost created a second for the visitors on 25 minutes when his free-kick was headed narrowly off-target by Jon Ashton, but within 60 seconds the match was level once more.
Defoe wrong-footed the aforementioned Ashton with superb control bringing down a raking clearance from the back, handing himself enough room to send a fierce low finish beyond former Spurs trainee goalkeeper Chris Day for 1-1.
Day spilled a cross four minutes later which should have handed Defoe a quick-fire double, only for the keeper to make a great recovery block inside his own six-yard box.
Further injury woe hit Spurs seven minutes before the interval when Aaron Lennon pulled up and had to make way for Adebayor, while Gareth Bale shook off a rough landing to avoid leaving the hosts with no available substitutions going into the second period.
Kyle Walker, who replaced Dawson early on, crossed low for Defoe to cheekily backheel what appeared to be a second inside the near post only for the offside flag to rule the effort out three minutes into the half.
And Stevenage defender Mark Roberts forced a good block from Carlo Cudicini from a corner on 51, two minutes before he brought down Bale to give Hotspur a spot kick of their own.
Adebayor coolly sent Day the wrong way and after 55 nervy minutes, Tottenham were finally ahead in the tie.
Both goalframes were struck halfway through the second half as Bale’s woodwork-rattling effort from distance preceded Roberts’ second big chance from a corner coming off the crossbar and almost bouncing the other side of the goal line.
But after forcing a great point blank save from Day in the 69th minute, Defoe finally gave his side some breathing space with a wonderful finish with a quarter of an hour to go when he collected Bale’s pass out on the left before cutting inside the box and curling his second inside the far post with aplomb.