Good evening everybody. The exit of Crawley Town at the hands of Stoke City a couple of Sundays ago means that League One side Stevenage, who have yet to concede a goal in the FA Cup this season, are the lowliest team left in the tournament.
Tonight is Stevenage's second ever match against Spurs, the first having been the tireless and professional (translation: admirably dogged but painful on the eye) performance at the Lamex Stadium that earned them tonight's lucrative replay at White Hart Lane.
The winners of tonight's match, which could go to extra time and penalties, will entertain Bolton Wanderers on St Patrick's Day (17th March) in the last eight of the competition - a prospect that is unlikely to have players or fans of Stevenage or Spurs quaking in their boots considering the Lancashire club's current Premier League travails.
Team news: Always a man of his word, Harry Redknapp has named a strong team, as promised. Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Scott Parker are all back after missing Sunday's defeat to Manchester United, while Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson also start. Having signed for Tottenham as a youngster 20 years ago, goalkeeper Chris Day finally makes his first competitive appearance at White Hart Lane, albeit for the visitors.
Tottenham: Cudicini, Nelsen, Dawson, Kaboul, Rose, Lennon, Parker, Kranjcar, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe.
Subs: Friedel, Adebayor, Gallas, Modric, Giovani, Walker, Livermore.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Roberts, Laird, Wilson, Byrom, Bostwick, Charles, Beardsley, Shroot.
Subs: Julian, Edwards, Long, Reid, Myrie-Williams, May, Winn.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
For anyone who doesn't know: Tottenham are third in the Premier League, while Stevenage are 49 places and two divisions below them in League One. Neither side is enjoying a particularly good run of form at the moment, with Tottenham having lost twice, heavily, on the spin while their visitors have failed to win any of their last five.
1 min: Stevenage kick off playing from left to right, their players kitted out in azure fusion four shirts, shorts and socks. Tottenham wear their usual home kit of white shirts, navy shorts and white socks.
2 min: Penalty for Stevenage! Ryan Nelsen takes down Joel Byrom and referee Michael Oliver blows his whistle and points to the spot. Good shout.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Stevenage (Byrom 3pen) No signs of nerves as Joel Byrom waits for Carlo Cudicini to move left, fires to the goalkeeper's right and wheels away in celebration. That's a wonderful start for Stevenage.
6 min: There's a lull in play as Michael Dawson goes down in a crumpled heap after leaping for a high ball - it looks like he might have shipped a bad knock to his knee. The ESPN cameras cut to Ryan Nelsen, who is moaning to the referee about the award of the penalty. Replays show the Spurs defender to be in the wrong - it was, as they say, stonewall.
8 min: Spare a thought for Michael Dawson, whose horrific run of bad luck with injury continues. He gets stretchered off to be replaced by Kyle Walker. For those who may not know, Michael Dawson is from Wensleydale but doesn't like Wensleydale cheese. I know this, because I asked him.
10 min: Since Michael Dawson went off, Scott Parker has taken over the captaincy, so expect endless amounts of handwringing from assorted journalists over whether or not he's the right man for the job. Perhaps Harry should have handed the armband to Aaron Lennon or Carlo Cudicini ... or flown it up to Liverpool and wrapped it around the biceps of Steven Gerrard.
13 min: The early goal and injury to Dawson seem to have sucked all the life out of the occasion, leaving the atmosphere in White Hart Lane decidedly eerie. That'll suit Stevenage and their 4,000 travelling fans just fine.
15 min: And a very good evening to those of you tuning in late because you incorrectly presumed this match was kicking off at 7.45pm. You haven't missed much, don't worry.
16 min: The camera cuts to the Tottenham dugout, where Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas are having a great chat and a giggle, paying no attention whatsoever to the game unfolding before them.
17 min: Scott Parker and Mark Roberts collide, go down in a heap and eventually pick themselves from the ground, rubbing their heads gingerly. This has been very, very scrappy so far, with just one shot on goal that I can recall: Stevenage's penalty.
18 min: Cutting in from the inside right for Stevenage, Michael Bostwick tries a diagonal shot from distance. Well, I say shot ... it might have been a cross or through-ball. It's difficult to tell as it went nowhere near the goal and skidded about 10 yards wide.
8.50pm: "VdV and Bale aren't fit for United, but start against mighty Stevenage just a few days later?!" splutters Adam Boscerino. "And now Dawson does his knee again in a match that means just about nothing. Redknapp sounds like the perfect fit for England."
I'm not sure I understand your logic, Adam. Are you saying that, because Van Der Vaart and Bale were unfit to play against Manchester United they should never play again? And are you also suggesting that a manager in the habit of picking his best players for knockout cup football is unsuitable to manage a team who will never triumph in a tournament without successfully winning several consecutive games of knockout Cup football?
23 min: Ronnie Henry concedes a corner, which Rafael van der Vaart takes for Spurs. Nothing comes of it. The atmosphere at White Hart Lane remains very, very subdued.
24 min: "My brother is a Spurs fan, his wife: Stevenage," writes Marek Miernik. "As much as I would be supporting the underdog in a game like this, I couldn't wish the lifetime of humiliation on top of the lifetime of being wrong about everything."
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Stevenage (Defoe 25) From the left-back position, Ryan Nelsen picks out Jermain Defoe with a long ball. He controls it on the edge of the penalty area and then unleashes a long-distance drive that fizzes past Chris Day in the Stevenage goal and into the bottom left-hand corner. It's all square.
27 min: Moments before that Tottenham equaliser, a Niko Kranjcar foul had given Stevenage a free-kick wide on the right. Joel Byrom swung the ball into the far post, where Jon Ashton had ghosted in unmarked only to head a glorious chance wide.
29 min: Replays of that Stevenage chance I told you about a couple of minutes ago show that Stevenage could easily have had a second penalty - Scott Parker tried to wrestle Michael Bostwick to the ground as Joel Byrom's free-kick was sent in the penalty area. Sunderland got a penalty for less obvious pulling-and-dragging on Michael Turner against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.
33 min: "The logic," writes Adam Boscarino. "Is that no one should be able to heal from injuries that keep them out of a big match in a few days time. If they're fit today, they were fit on Saturday. And the reserves should be able to beat Stevenage. No need to risk your top squad in a match like this when the season is going down in flames and you're spiraling out of the Champions League picture."
Nope, still makes no sense. It's quite feasible that Gareth Bale was ill on Sunday, but isn't tonight. But it's good to see such hopeless romanticism from the modern day football fan, advocating the removal of what little prestige the FA Cup has left to save a season that's going "down in flames" because your incredibly rich team might not finish third in the Premier League table. Oh, the horror - I'm sure fans of Rangers, Portsmouth and Port Vale can all identify with your terrible pain at this very difficult time for Spurs.
37 min: Aaron Lennon has gone down injured and it looks like his evening is over.
38 min: Tottenham substitution: Aaron Lennon hobbles off with an injury to his left leg, Emmanuel Adebayor replaces him.
40 min: Gareth Bale gallops down the inside left channel for Tottenham, before unleashing a shot with the leg he normally reserves for standing on. Some time later, Stevenage goalkeeper Chris Day retrieves the ball from a punter in the stand behind his goal.
42 min: Despite this being Best Team Left In The FA Cup v Worst Team Left In The FA Cup, and despite plucky little Stevenage going ahead and despite Jermain Defoe's crisp equaliser from distance, this match has failed to ignite. The players seem sluggish, the crowd seems half-asleep and nobody seems too bothered which way the result goes. This isn't the first time this season I've got the feeling the FA Cup may be in its death throes ... which is a shame, because it used to be a great competition that was well worth winning.
45 min: Stevenage go forward, but without any real sense of urgency. Michael Bostwick eventually ups the pace and cuts inside Ryan Nelsen, but once again can't decide whether to cross or shoot. His 'effort' manages to elude both the goal and the incoming Scott Laird.
46 min: Good play from Rafael van der Vaart, who tries to pick out Emmanuel Adebayor on the edge of the Stevenage six-yard box. Mark Roberts dispossesses the big Togolese with a good tackle, conceding a corner in the process. When the ball's whipped in from the quadrant and hits a Stevenage defender, Spurs fans behind the goal appeal for a penalty for handball, but none is forthcoming.
Half-time: Spurs go in with the scores level, having lost Aaron Lennon and Michael Dawson to injury. I'll be surprised if Gareth Bale comes out for the second half, because he too appears to have picked up a knock. Adam Boscarino won't be best pleased.
Shane Caffrey is here with something to pass half-time: Specifically, it's his Republic of Ireland v Czech Republic timelapse video, recorded at the Aviva Stadium last week. I've only seen a bit of it, so apologies if (a) it's rubbish or (b) he's slipped something unsavoury or pornographic in towards the second half.
At the ESPN pitchside pundit bar: "Wow, great FA Cup tie!" exhorts Ray Stubbs, fooling nobody. Nice try Stubbsy, but you're obviously just toeing the party line this emphatically is not a great Cup tie. Admittedly, I've been up and working since 8am, but it can't just be a case of me being tired, grumpy and cynical here; does anyone out there watching think this match is any good?
Adam Boscarino is back, with more Premier League-centric ramblings: "Glendenning, the only people who are enjoying this match are Arsenal and Chelsea supporters," he says, and he's probably not wrong.
"Not sure Adam Boscarino knows much about Spurs, but this is more or less a reserve team," harrumphs Simon Rush. "His attitude is what makes people (me included) really dislike some Spurs fans. And I'm a Spurs fan. And I would love us to win the FA Cup."
Second half: Michael Bostock gets booked for a foul on Jermain Defoe, while I fix the link on that timelapse video, which apparently I messed up earlier. If it isn't working now, that's Shane Caffrey's fault, not mine.
48 min: Younes Kaboul squares the ball, sending it low and hard across the edge of the Stevenage six-yard box. With his back to goal, Jermain Defoe sweeps the ball past goalkeeper Chris Day with the heel of his right foot, only for his fine effort to be ruled out because he was standing several feet offside. Meanwhile in Docklands, a Tottenham fan of my acquaintance drains another bottle of hard liquor and weeps salty tears for what might have been.
50 min: Stevenage almost go ahead again; in fact they should have. After a bit of pinball in the Tottenham penalty area, the ball breaks kindly for Mark Roberts, who shoots straight at Carlo Cudicini from about five yards when he had plenty of goal to aim at and only the goalkeeper to beat.
54 min: Penalty for Tottenham.
53 min: Mark Roberts brings down Gareth Bale with a fairly innocuous looking challenge on the right-hand side of the penalty area and after a brief consultation with his linesman, Michael Oliver points to the spot ... then reaches for his pocket and books the defender.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Stevenage (Adebayor 54pen) Adebayor waits for the whistle, runs up and pauses briefly. In the Stevenage goal, Chris Day dives left, allowing Adebayor to coolly slot the ball home to his right.
57 min: It's not all good news for Spurs fans, though. The word on the touchline is that Michael Dawson has been brought to hospital with what are thought to be ruptured ankle ligaments. The poor sod has had no luck recently, which is a shame because you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bloke.
58 min: Gareth Bale rattles the Stevenage crossbar with a long-range dipping effort from the inside left position that had left the goalkeeper gazing forlornly backwards over his head after a token late jump.
61 min: Niko Kranjcar goes close for Spurs, but no cigar for him.
63 min: Stevenage substitutions: Jennison Myrie-Williams and Craig Reid on, Chris Beardsley and Darius Charles off.
63 min: Michael Bostwick, who's been one of Stevenage's betterp layers tonight, stings Carlo Cudicini's palms with a long-range effort. From the ensuing corner, Stevenage win another one. The ball's whipped in and ...
64 min: ... somebody in a Stevenage shirt heads it against the bar, it bounces down, out and eventually finds sanctuary in the arms of Cudincini after a brief goalmouth scramble.
65 min: Assorted Stevenage players claimed that ball bounced off the crossbar and over the goal-line and I have to say that upon seeing it once in real time, I hadn't a clue whether or not it did. Replays show that it bounced four or five inches in front of the line, so the match officials were correct not to award the goal. Fair dues ...
68 min: Some people have mailed in to say I was too hard on first half correspondent Adam Boscarino. They're probably right, but that certainly wasn't my intention. While I couldn't diasgree with Scott more, he's perfectly entitled to his opinion over which tournament should be Tottenham's priority, an opinion he aired politely and without getting abusive ... even if he is talking through his fez.
70 min: Jermain Defoe gets on the end of an Emmanuel Adebayor cross from the left, but heads straight at Chris Day from six yards. Had he scored it wouldn't have counted, because the linesman had raised his flag.
73 min: This second half''s been much better than the first, as you've probably guessed. I was trying to issue that 'apology' to Adam Boscarino for nearly half an hour, but kept getting interrupted by stuff happening on the field of play. I thought Stevenage's resistence would crumble once Tottenham went 2-1 up, but hats off to them, they're fighting dogged ... oh, hang on.
GOAL! Tottenham 3-1 Stevenage (Defoe 74) I spoke too soon. Stevenage's players fall asleep at a throw-in, Gareth Bale pings a through ball down the inside left to Jermaine Defoe, who cuts inside two defenders and shoots diagonally across the face of goal and into the bottom right-hand corner.
77 min: Moments after the kick-off, Stevenage's man of the match thus far, Michael Bostwick, sends a long-range effort fizzing this wide of the left upright. Great effort.
79 min: Emmanuel Adbayor tries to do a goal, but doesn't do a goal. Hard luck on not doing a goal, Emmanuel Adebayor. Better luck next time you try to do a goal.
80 min: Incidentally, for those asking ... I have no idea why Emmanuel Adebayor has what appears to be duct tape on his ears. Perhaps he lost a bet? If anyone does know, please share your information with the rest of the class.
80 min: Tottenham substitution: Jake Livermore on, Niko Kranjcar off. "Is it just me or does the new ipad look a bit tame? Have Apple run out of ideas?" asks Steven Panides, before adding: "Hang on, what thread is this? Let me revise. Is it just me or do Tottenham look a bit tame? Has Harry run out of ideas?
83 min: "Surely the point Adam was making was that Harry was prepared to sacrifice the Europa League, judging top four to be more important but that now, when they're having a wobble, plays his strongest team (losing two of them) when Spurs need everyone fit and firing to finish the season strongly?" writes Tom Barneby, who sounds like a middle-aged busybody policeman in middle England. "Spurs are more than capable of messing CL qualification up from here and a top four squad should be able to defeat a League One side at home without risking the fitness of someone who must have had no chance at all three days ago?"
84 min: "I believe Adebayor has to wear the tape over his ears because of earrings (very, very dangerous)," writes Cameron Clark. "I guess he finds this preferable to ... y'know, just taking them out."
But isn't the wearing of earrings forbidden, even if they are covered by duct-tape? And while we're at it, what are those things that Ricardo Fuller wears that look like earrings but aren't?
86 min: "Is Michael Dawson the nicest bloke in football?" asks Alex Porritt. "Not a hotly contested title I realise, but who are the other contenders?" I don't know off the top of my head, but I'd be interested to see who'd win a fight between Michael Dawson, arguably the nicest man in football, and Dave Grohl, arguably the nicest man in rock 'n' roll. The only problem with that might be the length of time we'd have to wait for one of them to throw the first punch.
88 min: Hats off to Stevenage, they're nothing if not persistent buggers. Craig Reid goes close with the same kind of sweeping backheel Jermain tried earlier, but Carlo Cudicini is alert enough to stop his fine effort when it looked like going past him.
89 min: Going back to that penalty incident, which led to Tottenham's second. As Bale galloped through the Stevenage penalty area and steadied himself to cross, Michael Roberts slid in alongside him to block the delivery. It wasn't a particularly clever tackle, but it certainly wasn't a foul - Bale kicked the soul of Roberts' boot with his follow-through, the momentum of both players took them out over the byline and when they looked up, the referee was pointing at the spot. There was no foul, no attempt to gull the referee by Bale ... just a wrong decision.
Peep! Peep! Peep! It's all over and class has prevailed in the end. Spurs see off Stevenage to earn themselves a quarter-final tie against Bolton at White Hart Lane a week on Saturday. The result aside, it's been a bad evening for Harry Redknapp's team - they've lost both Aaron Lennon and Michael Dawson to injury and reports on ESPN suggest that as well as rupturing his ankle ligaments, the unfortunate centre-half and captain has also knacked his knee. While I wish him a very speedy and full recovery, I can't help but feel that perhaps if he supported his local cheese industry and ate Wensleydale, he wouldn't be so brittle.