Tottenham needed help from the bench to overcome a resolute Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night at White Hart Lane.
Ryan Mason and Harry Kane entered the Fray with Spurs a goal down but both scored to make the final outcome 3-1, a scoreline which flattered the home side.
Mauricio Pochettino made eleven changes from the side that lost at home to West Brom on Sunday, but that was no excuse for a dire performance for 70 minutes as Championship leaders Forest also made changes but played far better than their Premiership opponents.
The visitors went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Ben Osborn won the ball in his own half and ran past some soft Spurs challenges and sent a left footed shot crashing against the bar.
Andros Townsend was the main attacking threat for the Lilywhites, but his shooting was erratic and did not test keeper Dorus de Vries. In fact, Tottenham as a whole struggled to test the visitors despite dominating possession. Roberto Soldado was neutralised upfront, while Aaron Lennon offered very little from the left.
Pochettino's prefered 4-2-3-1 was too narrow and congested in the centre of the pitch, aiding Pearce's side's efforts to keep it tight at the back. Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli were sat too deep and did not take responsibility for either the attacking or defensive duties in midfield, Paulinho struggled to find space to run into, and Townsend and Lennon cut inside time after time, naturally finding a sea of red shirts in their way.
It was no surprise when Forest took the lead just after the hour mark. Lars Veldwijk was given too much space to cross from the left, and with Spurs all at sea in the penalty box Jorge Grant was able to stroke the ball past the blameless Michel Vorm.
Something needed to change, and when Pochettino made a double sub just after the Forest goal the game was turned upside down. Ryan Mason came on for Benjamin Stambouli and showed more attacking intent from the word go. His starting position was ten yards higher up the pitch, and as a result he was only 25 yards from goal when he picked the ball up on 72 minutes. Given time to shoot he struck an unstoppable shot into the top left corner of the goal.
Harry Kane had entered the game along with Mason, in this case for Paulinho, but it was the starting striker Roberto Soldado who scored when turning in another wayward effort from Andros Townsend. With the mood around the Lane drastically different, Tottenham swept forward. Townsend was unlucky to strike the bar with a free kick, and Kane placed his finish into the far corner when fellow sub Erik Lamela has played him in behind the Forest back line.
Brighton are next in the League Cup but first up for Pochettino and his men are Arsenal. The final fifiteen minutes of the match on Wednesday was something to build up, but given the four hours of play that preceded it there will be few Spurs fans hoping for more than a point at the Emirates.
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