LONDON • To cause a FA Cup shock, a favourable alignment of the stars is a clear prerequisite.
When Colchester United, bottom of English football's third-tier League One and already brittle in confidence, lost both their centre-backs to injury within 21 minutes yesterday, it was clear enough that this fourth-round tie was only heading in one direction.
And Premier league outfit Tottenham Hotspur, clear-headed and authoritative throughout, put the home side to the sword in near-total comfort.
Two goals for Nacer Chadli, a Eric Dier strike and a volley by Tom Carroll completed the 4-1 job.
At the outset, this was both an away banker and textbook upset material.
Kevin Keen's side have approached matches with no points at stake and that shone through in a third-round win over Charlton Athletic.
The hope was that a repeat would unsettle Tottenham, whose selection of Harry Kane, also named captain, in a reshuffled side suggested an appetite to get the job done.
But, after their two centre-halves, Alex Wynter and Tom Eastman, collided early in the game and had to be substituted, the underdogs were outclassed by a strong Spurs side.
Chadli's shot put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute.
The home team seemed to be getting a foothold until Dier's speculative 64th-minute shot took a cruel looping deflection into the net.
Chadli headed home Kieran Trippier's cross after 79 minutes, before Colchester were rewarded when Gavin Massey's shot hit the post and the ball rebounded off Spurs defender Ben Davies and into the goal.
Chadli rounded off his fine performance with a cross which enabled Tom Carroll to seal an emphatic triumph seven minutes from time.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS