WATFORD WERE beaten by a Jermain Defoe header in front of a 9000 plus crowd celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Lloyd Doyley’s first team debut as a Hornet.
Defoe planted a firm header past new goalkeeper Manuel Almunia after the break, securing a 1-0 victory for Andre Villas-Boas’ Spurs outfit.
Gianfranco Zola handed home debuts to Almunia between the sticks and Daniel Pudil at left-back. There was no space for new loan signings Steve Leo Beleck, Ikechi Anya, Matej Vydra, Almen Abdi or Fitz Hall for unspecified reasons, presumably fitness or injury worries.
The first half was a tepid affair, with a William Gallas header the only chance of note, the Spurs centre-back thumping over when unmarked.
There was bad news for Zola when Pudil was replaced inside 10 minutes for what looked to be a hamstring problem, Carl Dickinson replacing the Czech international.
Set-up in a 4-3-3 once again, Watford keep the ball very well; comfortably moving the ball across the back four when space was not forthcoming in the middle of the park.
The second-half was a much more entertaining affair, Joe Garner setting Sean Murray free early on, however England right-back Kyle Walker was able to recover and put in a perfectly-timed sliding tackle to deny the ‘Orns youngster.
In the 65th minute, Defoe put the visitors into the lead when he connected perfectly with Walker’s cross after the right-back had marauded down the right-flank before crossing slap bang onto the forward’s head.
Shortly after, a careless header from Martin Taylor back to Almunia saw the Spanish ‘keeper drop the ball, Spurs youngster Thomas Carroll unable to hook the ball into the empty net from an acute angle.
Mark Yeates could have levelled for the Hornets with 20 minutes to play when he seized on a poor clearance from substitute ‘keeper Carlo Cudicini. The former Spurs trainee raced into the penalty area before cutting inside and bending a right-footed effort agonizingly wide of Cudicini’s left-hand post.
Tottenham went straight up the other end and saw Gareth Bale squander a header when well-placed, tamely nodding into the welcoming arms of Almunia.
Almunia saved well again when former Watford loanee Andros Townsend skipped across from the right to crack a right-footed shot against the Spaniard’s outstretched palms.
Despite an improved second-half showing, Watford were unable to truly stretch either Brad Friedel or Cudicini. However over 90 minutes, Zola’s side showed that they are very much growing in confidence on the ball, and, with Abdi in the middle of the park they will be a stronger side. Pace is most definitely needed, and the likes of Anya, Vydra and Beleck should bring that to the party when they’re fit.
Watford head for Gillingham’s Priestfield on Tuesday for their final pre-season fixture before next Saturday’s big kick-off in the Capital One Cup.
Watford: Almunia; Doyley (c) (Hodson), Taylor, Nosworthy, Pudil (Dickinson); Eustace, Hogg (Forsyth), Buaben (Massey); Yeates, Garner (Iwelumo) & Murray (Mingoia).
Subs not used: Bond (GK), Bennett, Jenkins, C.Smith & Hamilton-Forbes.
Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel (Cudicini) ; Naughton (Walker), Kaboul (c), Gallas (Vertongthen), Assou-Ekotto; Jenas (Sigurdsson), Livermore (Bentley); Carroll (Huddlestone), Lennon, Bale (Towsend); Defoe (Kane).
Subs not used: Bassong & Dawson.
Referee: Mr T Kettle.