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John Ellis's "third eye" report on Spurs v AFC Wimbledon, 07.01.18

John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have over 450 mutual friends on Facebook. I am pleased to add this "third eye" feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our 3-0 FA Cup win against AFC Wimbledon.

John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 AFC Wimbledon

On a bright sunny but bitterly cold afternoon, Tottenham lined up with a much stronger team than many might have expected. The match was sold out of all available tickets but there were quite a few empty seats around the stadium. Although with an allocation of close to 8,000 fans in a crowd of 47,527, Wimbledon brought a real cup tie atmosphere to the occasion.

As expected in a David versus Goliath match up Spurs dominated the early exchanges but after seven minutes the cat could very well have been put amongst the proverbial pigeons. A dreadful ball from Foyth almost put Wimbledon clean through on goal as did a long punt upfield just a couple of minutes later which again almost punched a hole through the Spurs rearguard.

In the 11th minute Sissoko orchestrated an excellent interchange of passes in and around the Wimbledon penalty area which almost put Kane through but in any even the offside flag went up. A minute later, Kane strained his neck muscles but couldn’t quite reach Lamela’s teasing cross which was just too high for him.

Spurs continued to press and in the 17th minute from a perfect Llorente knock down, Lamela caught his volley on the full but shot straight at the keeper and no doubt stung his hands. After 23 minutes Trippier crossed to find Kane in space but uncharacteristically his finish lacked composure and blazed high over the bar.

Wimbledon then broke forward and an enormous roar went up from the away end as their team had won their first corner. The travelling Wombles of Wimbledon reached back into their memory banks to set pieces of yesteryear when the “Crazy Gang” had the armoury to wreak havoc against the very best of defences.

In the 29th minute more danger from Wimbledon and Vorm produced a noteworthy double save by firstly tipping a fine effort on to the bar and then holding on to the follow up effort. Wimbledon have good memories of playing in the FA Cup at Wembley. Surely today wouldn’t see another chapter being written in their remarkable history?

The let off spurred Tottenham back into life and good play from Llorente teed up Kane who brought a diving save from the keeper. In the 41st minute, Sissoko who was enjoying his football, thrust through the middle and passed to Kane who released Lamela. One on one with just the keeper to beat, this was surely the breakthrough but Lamela’s effort lacked conviction and the keeper saved. A couple of minutes later and play opened up for Llorente to shoot but he showed a lack of confidence in choosing to cut inside and lost possession.

The half time whistle blew and Spurs were being held by a team from the bottom of the third tier of English football. Whilst Spurs had dominated, there was enough of an attacking threat from Wimbledon to at least pose the possibility of a shock.

The start to the second half was a strange affair. The Spurs players and match officials lined up to kick off but there wasn’t any opposition as the Wimbledon players were busy completing shuttle runs out on their left hand touch line! The warm up seemed to work though as from the whistle they attacked with gusto and threatened the Spurs goal on a couple of occasions. Their attacks culminated in Vorm tipping a looping header over the bar.

A few minutes later and Dembele seemed to lose patience with the constant sideways passing outside of the penalty area and took a step forward before smashing a shot against the post. The keeper was completely beaten and very grateful to snaffle the rebound up off the post. Ten minutes into the second half and in boxing parlance Wimbledon were still almost giving as good as they got to such an extent it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if they were to score a goal.

Spurs were labouring and in the 59th minute Pochettino had seen enough to bring Son on for Llorente which almost immediately paid dividends but he couldn’t quite reach Lamela’s angled cross at the far post. Finally in the 63rd minute Sissoko broke down the right before putting in a cross which Kane met at the near post to break the deadlock.

Two minutes later and goals became the equivalent of number seven buses. Kyle Walker-Peters’ shot was blocked and the ball fell rather fortuitously to Kane who seemed to scuff the ball over the line for his and Spurs' second goal to surely put the contest to bed.

Dele came on for Sissoko and almost immediately nearly added a third but headed just wide from a lovely Trippier cross. As if Dele hasn’t taken enough abuse of late at away grounds, today every time he touched the ball, his links to MK Dons caused loud jeers to ring out from the away end. Dele though seems to thrive in such circumstances and played an outrageously skilful nutmeg pass through a defender's legs to set up Son who fired across goal.

From the resulting corner a Wimbledon player tried to dribble the ball out from deep in his own half but through a high Spurs press lost possession. Vertonghen marched forward with purpose to hit a long range shot which deflected in off a defender for his first goal in many a Spurs game.

In the 74th minute, Kane was denied his first hat-trick of 2018 when his powerfully struck shot was somehow kept out by the keeper for a corner. Shortly afterwards, the Wimbledon defence and keeper were no doubt much happier at Kane being substituted than Kane himself!

In the final minutes Dele went down appealing for a penalty. With his recent spate of diving being highlighted on television, it feels as if hell will have to freeze over before he is awarded his next penalty. Wimbledon were now a tiring as well as beaten side. A dazzling Son run included a delightful one two which ended with his shot deflecting onto the far post.

In the 90th minute N’Koudou went down under a heavy challenge and a further appeal for a penalty was waved away. Just before the final whistle, a huge cheer went up as the surprising half time score came up from the City Ground of Nottingham Forest 2-1 Arsenal - surely it couldn’t stay that way could it...?

So Spurs eventually triumphed to go through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and hopefully we can sing Spurs are on their way to Wembley after tomorrow night’s fourth round draw!


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El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime

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El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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