Tottenham 1 Sheffield United 0

Nigel Clough's League One side almost came away with a draw last night from White Hart Lane, but in the end had to settle for a narrow loss away to Premier League Tottenham, after a moment of carelessness by Jay McEveley quite literally handed the London club their chance. Andros Townsend's successful penalty conversion ensured that Spurs will have the slight upper hand, as they travel to Bramall Lane next Wednesday for the return leg in their semi-final of the Capital One Cup.

They often say that a team can't win a two-legged tie in the first leg, but they can lose it if they are well beaten by their opponents, and Clough's side seemed to have been set up last night to ensure that the latter scenario did not happen.

After victories over Premier League opposition West Ham and Southampton in earlier rounds, they went into the tie full of confidence in their own abilities.

After a fifteen-minute delay of the kick-off due to traffic problems that the visitors' bus was caught up in, the match settled into a pattern of Spurs' possession and (the) Blades' containment.

The first real action of the game saw the slightly rusty Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor effectively attempt to "hand off" an opponent, for which he drew a yellow card. Spurs' first real moment of intent saw Eric Dier's well-directed header saved comfortably by Mark Howard in the United goal. Adebayor was involved again when he raced forward after a high through ball, brought the ball down expertly, but then blazed the resultant chance well over the bar.

His partner in attack for once was the Tottenham rising star Harry Kane, as Spurs seemed keen to establish more of a goal threat up front.

Spurs continued to dominate possession, as Clough's side were clearly intent on limiting the damage from the away leg with a hard working performance to deny Spurs much space to work their magic in and around the penalty area, closing them down expertly when out of possession.

United did have a half-chance of their own though before the half closed, as Stefan Scougall saw his attempted shot drift wide of goal.

Just as it seemed that the Yorkshire club's industry and energy would continue to negate Tottenham's more silky passing style, the home side were awarded a 'soft' penalty in the 72nd minute by referee Neil Swarbrick.

There was no doubt about the blatancy of the handball decision but the manner in which it arose was distinctly avoidable. Jan Vertonghen's angled cross into the box was brought down by substitute Roberto Soldado who flicked the ball up, only for McEveley to push the ball away after appealing unsuccessfully for off-side. Clough's frustration at the player's indiscretion was evident, as Andros Townsend converted the spot-kick to put Spurs ahead with his fourth goal of the season, and that was pretty much that on a largely frustrating night for Mauricio Pochettino's men.

United worked incredibly hard throughout the match, while Spurs failed to keep the tempo high enough to put them to the sword.

It ensures that the tie is still alive going into the second leg and Clough will look for home advantage to push his side on towards victory when the clubs renew hostilities next week.

For the Clough family, success would see a continuation of the apparent "love affair" his late dad Brian had with the competition (league cup) while he was manager of the great Nottingham Forest sides of the 1980s and 1990s. It would be the first time that the old club have reached a major final since 1936 should they prevail in the second leg, but with the Clough legacy behind him, who knows what may be possible in a week's time.