Nottingham Forest 2-0 Tottenham: Carabao Cup dreams already over after insipid Spurs display

Antonio Conte has already seen one cup dream ended  (Getty Images)
Antonio Conte has already seen one cup dream ended (Getty Images)

If there is one way to stop a trend of having to come back after a slow start, it’s not to bother at all.

For most of Tottenham’s Carabao Cup third-round loss to Nottingham Forest, Antonio Conte’s side were second best, to put it very lightly indeed.

While perhaps that would have been forgiven had the Italian named a hugely rotated lineup - making the nine changes Steve Cooper did - there were few surprises in the starting XI, with only debutant Fraser Forster not a regular Premier League player in his Spurs career.

Rather, a familiar-looking Tottenham were at their most insipid at the City Ground. Aside from Matt Doherty forcing a save from Wayne Hennessey after Harry Kane had seen Ivan Perisic’s cross whizz just past him, Conte’s side created little of note before the break. Forest, meanwhile, had hit the post through Taiwo Awoniyi and saw good efforts from Ryan Yates and Jesse Lingard blocked.

So then, those who have watched Spurs this season could reasonably have expected to see some sort of improvement in the second-half. If this clunky looking Spurs team have any sort of identity at all, it surely has to be that.

The sticking tape that has so often patched up the problems Spurs have suffered of late, did not unfurl. Instead, it was Forest who started the second-half much the better team, with Renan Lodi opening the scoring in fantastic fashion.

Full-backs are crucial to a Conte system as its best and how the Spurs boss would have loved his options to prove capable of what Renan Lodi was only minutes after the break. The Brazilian attacked up the left, cut inside and curled in a brilliant shot from around 18 yards.

Less than ten minues later, Lingard had doubled Forest’s lead. Eric Dier was stranded in the Forest when the home side were able to break, with Lingard nodding in Sam Surridge’s flick on after a cross from the right hand side.

While Orel Mangala’s red card with around 15 minutes to go threatened a nervy finish, toothless Tottenham are already out of a cup competition, an avenue that has constantly been tipped as one for success under Conte’s stewardship.

An unwelcome reminder of the dark days of the Conte era and the kind of night where the progress they’d made since looks like an exception rather than a rule.