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Newport v Spurs, 27.01.18

THE EMIRATES FA CUP
FOURTH ROUND
SATURDAY 27TH JANUARY, 2018
(5.30pm)
NEWPORT COUNTY 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)

Newport scorer:-
Amond, 38

Spurs scorer:-
Kane, 82

Attendance:- 9,836

Referee:- Roger East
Assistants:- Gary Beswick & Harry Lennard
Fourth Official:- Oliver Langford

Teams:-
Newport (4-4-1-1):- Day; Pipe, White, Demetriou, Butler; Willmott, Tozer, Labadie (Capt.) (sub Dolan, 84), Bennett; Nouble; Amond (sub McCoulsky, 74)
(Armband to Pipe)

Subs not used:- Bittner; O’Brien, Reid; Sheehan; Hayes

Booked:- Labadie (foul on Kane)

Spurs (3-5-2):- Vorm; Foyth, Dier, Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Wanyama, Dembele (sub Davies, 81), Walker-Peters (sub Son, 46); Kane (Capt.), Llorente (sub Dele, 66)

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Sanchez; Georgiou, Oakley-Boothe

Booked:- Foyth (foul on Dolan)

We live to fight another day (just)

It looked as if it was going to be one of the darkest days in the history of Tottenham Hotspur, the club who last visited Newport in the days when the legendary Bill Nicholson was in charge. Grandparents here amongst the Newport crowd must have told their children and grandchildren takes of how the mighty Spurs came to town, and beat the “Exiles” well. Last night the home crowd so nearly had a tale to pass on to their descendants of how the “Amber Army” had historic glory snatched away by a late equaliser by (guess who?) modern day goal machine Harry Kane. Yet Kane was just one of a Spurs team who had so dramatically failed to impress at Rodney Parade against a League Two side inspired by their manager Michael Flynn. The first half lead given to them by Padraig Amond was not undeserved. Newport have a big earner at Wembley a week on Tuesday or Wednesday, and Spurs live to fight another day – just!

Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection was not a surprise as we had been advised of the various ailments and injuries still affecting the squad. The team that was put out should have been good enough to win handsomely, but I was surprised at the formation with three at the back (Foyth, Dier, Vertonghen) and five in the middle (Trippier, Sissoko, Wanyama, Dembele, Walker-Peters) in the middle. That left Kane and Llorente together up front, but they made little headway against the Newport defence and the likes of captain Joss Labadie, who had been a doubt for the game, but who was surely man of the match. Labadie has the frame and physicality to intimidate opponents, in the same way you expect of Victor Wanyama, but Wanyama was in Labadie’s shadow and off his game today.

Juan Foyth was somewhat intimidated by the power of front men Nouble and Amond, and perhaps that is why Pochettino supported the young Argentine with Dier and Vertonghen. Foyth gained confidence and improved in the second half, but this game was a life-lesson for the 20 year old. Kyle Walker-Peters saw a lot of the ball down the Spurs left flank, but as a right-footer, always needed that little bit of time to adjust before passing inside or crossing. Mind you, Spurs were in one of their ponderous moods when coming forward anyway, and generally allowed the defence too much time to prepare, and mark up.

Newport had the early chances, or half-chances at least. Nouble fired high after Labadie’s pass. Then Labadie got the better of Wanyama and hot a shot from 30 yards which Michel Vorm was grateful to hold. It was 11 minutes before Spurs had a decent passing move. It came after Vertonghen’s ball was cleverly flicked on by Sissoko, before Kane and Llorente exchanged passes and Kane hit a shot – well over the target. A speculative shot at the other end by Bennett was held by Vorm. Trippier needlessly conceded a free kick deep inside the Spurs half. This was fired in and held by Vorm.

Good play by Dembele and Sissoko through the middle led to the ball being taken on by Llorente and Kane, whose right footed shot was tipped around the corner and the left post by goalkeeper Joe Day. That was Spurs best effort of the half, and the only save I can recall Day having to make in that period. Labadie was booked for a cynical foul on Kane who tried the free kick himself, but fired well over from 25 yards.

The Newport pitch was rough, but certainly playable. Two rugby teams also play here, and the 22 metre lines and other rugby indicators were still visible on the pitch.

To be honest, it was no surprise when Newport did take the lead. It followed a long throw on the right taken by long-throw merchant Ben Tozer. Spurs had everyone back, defending the situation like a corner, but they failed to clear properly. Right winger Willmott quickly returned the ball to the back of the Spurs area where Amond was able to head home in front of the home stand. (Spurs had kicked off playing towards their fans.) Naturally the home crowd was in ecstasy, as were the BT TV people who were covering the game. Countless fans of the underdogs (and enemies of Tottenham) were dreaming of one of the biggest FA Cup shocks in history.

Pochettino brought on Son for Walker-Peters after the break, and switched to four at the back, and it almost looked like four at the front. Three minutes into the half Llorente held the ball up and fed Kane who passed out to Son. Son tried to bring the ball in but was hampered, and the ball reached Wanyama, whose effort was blocked. After a Spurs free kick on the right and a subsequent cross by Trippier, Eric Dier headed over at the back of the goal area.

Llorente was replaced by Dele Alli after 65 minutes, who soon combined with Kane to give Son a chance. Son’s shot was pushed round for a corner. After the corner on the left and a blocked Kane shot the ball ran out to Foyth who tried a shot from distance which was well off target. Kane had another shot after a Spurs throw but this was wide from 25 yards. Sissoko pushed the ball out to Trippier who crossed and Kane had a shot on target which was held by the keeper. Time was ticking away, and after 79 minutes Dele fed Wanyama who fired wide. Dembele was replaced by Ben Davies, who was instrumental in winning the corner from which Spurs equalised.

Davies had crossed and the keeper punched the ball out from which Spurs had a shot deflected out for a corner. This was taken by Trippier, flicked on at the near post by Son, and finished off at the back post at close range by Harry Kane for goal number 30 in this season for Spurs. Spurs huffed and puffed and tried to force a late winner through Kane and Dele Alli, but it wouldn’t come, and to be honest the draw, and a pay day at Wembley was the least the “Amber Army” deserved. Spurs and their connections left with their tails between their legs. Obviously they should win the replay, but it is a fixture (between Liverpool away and Arsenal at home) that none of us want.

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