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Colchester v Spurs, 24.09.19

CARABAO CUP THIRD ROUND
TUESDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER, 2019
(7.45pm)
COLCHESTER UNITED 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
(Colchester won penalty shoot-out 4-3)

Attendance:- 9,481

Referee:- Jarred Gillett
Assistants:- Darren Blunden and Geoffrey Russell
Fourth Official:- Darren Drysdale

Teams:-
Colchester (4-1-4-1):- Gerken; Jackson (sub Cowan-Hall, 50), Eastman, Prosser (Capt.), Bramall; Comley; Stevenson (sub Norris, 78), Senior, Gambin (sub Brown, 68), Lapslie; Nouble

Subs not used:- Ross; Sowunmi; Chilvers, Clampin

Booked:- Cowan-Hall (foul on Davies)

Spurs (3-4-1-2):- Gazzaniga; Dier (Capt.), Sanchez, Tanganga (sub Son, 66); Walker-Peters, Skipp (sub Lamela, 78), Wanyama, Davies; Dele; Lucas Moura, Parrott (sub Eriksen, 66)

Subs not used:- Lloris; Vertonghen, Foyth; Sissoko

No bookings

Another low for Pochettino’s Spurs

In less than five months we have experienced the highs and lows of following Spurs. In early May, Lucas Moura scored a sensational hat-trick in Amsterdam against Ajax to secure us a place in the Champions League Final which we lost on June 1st. Now, before the end of September, Lucas has to be regarded as one of the villains of a Carabao Cup 3rd round exit at the hands of League Two (That’s Division Four in old money) Colchester United. Lucas hit the top of the bar with Spurs' final penalty in the decisive shoot-out after Spurs failed to pierce the determined “U”s defence in the preceding 94 minutes. Christian Eriksen is another villain having failed to beat Colchester goalkeeper Dean Gerken with the first of the penalties.

Thus, for the second consecutive Carabao Cup game, Colchester have eliminated a Premier League side on penalties. They held on for a goal-less draw in that game too. Congratulations must go to manager John McGreal (who in 2002 scored a winner against Spurs for Ipswich) and his men. Spurs dominated possession and had more shots on goal, but not enough of those were on target, or severely tested Gerken. Well done Colchester.

I don’t think it would be particularly fair to judge the personnel that Pochettino chose for the start of the game. He made 10 outfield changes from the side which lost last Saturday at Leicester. Debutants Japhet Tanganga and Troy Parrott had decent games. Tanganga (aged 20) was not sorely tested in truth, but he did demonstrate coolness with some confident defending. Parrott, who is not 18 until February, has the physicality and skill to make it at the top level, I feel. It was the novices who made way for Eriksen and Son after 66 minutes, but those old hands couldn’t find a way through the determined Colchester defence.

If I was to express disappointment towards any of the individuals who did start, it would have to be directed at Ben Davies, whose crosses lacked quality, and (this is sad) Dele Alli, who seems to have lost too much of the edge and magic he used to show. Pochettino in his post-match comments expressed disappointment at the unsettled nature of the squad. We don’t know the fine detail here, but our form and current status is all too worrying for fans.

Another point I would make has to be directed at the manager. It is his strategy after all that the players he chooses are enacting, and for much of the game we lacked the desire to go round defenders, or through them with too little initiative. Quite why Pochettino went for a back three against a side that showed little attacking intent until the latter part of the game is beyond me, but what do I know?

On a day where much of the country had been subject to a deluge of rainfall, Colchester actually enjoyed some bright late evening weather, not to suggest it was completely dry. The Jobserve Stadium lies out of town and traffic problems on the approach were accentuated by an accident or two, and what seems to be a habitual issue reaching the stadium from the town centre. I made a 390 mile return drive for this game. I’ll be happy not to return.

Spurs kicked off and won a corner in the first minute. Few real chances were created in the early phases of the game, and the stadium had a low hum similar to that of a cricket crowd. Colchester’s right back Ryan Jackson has a long throw which was deployed on one or two occasions. Troy Parrott had a left foot shot from the left of the area after 15 minutes which was touched around the far post for a corner. Three minutes later Dele Alli had a right foot shot go across the goal, after a ball from Skipp on the right.

Referee Jarred Gillett is from Australia and perhaps his levels are higher than some officials regarding what is and what is not a foul, as what seemed like yellow card offences were punished only with a free kick. In the second half, he missed, or ignored a couple of potential Spurs penalty claims. Ben Davies was our dead ball man for the early part of the game and he hit one free kick well over the target. Lucas Moura showed skill when receiving from Dier and after his ball to the left a Parrott shot was blocked. Parrott had another shot blocked towards the right of goal, after more skill from Lucas Moura.

A cool piece of defending by Tanganga when he picked the pocket of a Colchester player led to a Spurs attack which came to nought despite the efforts of Lucas and Dele. A free kick by Lucas Moura was saved by Gerken. The story of the rest of the half for Spurs was lots of possession, but no end product.

Within two minutes of the start of the second half, Spurs had a break following a Colchester corner. Skipp fed the ball to Lucas on the left side. Lucas passed inside and both Parrott and Dele had shots blocked. Colchester conceded a free kick outside the box after another threat by Lucas, but the free kick came to nothing. The injured Jackson had to be replaced by Cowan-Hall. Parrott flicked over a Dier ball at the near post, and Dele went down (probably too dramatically) when he was pushed in the back trying to reach another ball by Dier.

Kyle Walker-Peters was the player showing plenty of intent down the right and he hit a cross/shot which somehow rebounded back into play off the inside of the far post. Dier was having his shirt blatantly tugged at a Spurs corner, but got no penalty here either.

It was time for the Spurs changes. Son operated down the left wing, whilst Eriksen was central. Ultimately, neither succeeded in breaking down the resilience of Colchester. With Spurs having removed one of their back three, McGreal added another attacker to his mix – Jevani Brown. The game opened out, with both sides seeking a winner.

Wanyama and Son pressed hard for Spurs. Son crossed and Walker-Peters returned the ball to Eriksen, whose shot was blocked. Son headed over an Eriksen corner. Son had a right foot shot from the left of the area which passed wide of the far post. McGreal’s final sub was another attacking player Luke Norris. Spurs’ final change was Lamela for Skipp. Lamela had a shot on target after a Walker-Peters pass, but the goalkeeper collected with ease. Colchester were able to attack after a Davies error and it ended with a shot by Cowan-Hall which passed wide. The home fans were cheering their side’s every effort towards the Spurs goal, and sniffed a result.

Dele had a shot go wide of the far post when receiving from Lamela. Senior was able to advance for the home side (and I think this may have been as a result of an error by Dele), but put his shot wide too. With full time approaching Spurs were desperately seeking a winner, but the best they could do was a soft header by Lucas to the keeper. Dier had a shot after a pass from Eriksen, but again Gerken picked up.

After 4 minutes of added time the whistle was blown and we had to face penalties at the Colchester end. The sequence was as follows:-

Eriksen takes the first kick for Spurs, hitting it with his right foot. Gerken saves inside his right post. (0-0)
Norris scored with his right foot. Gazzaniga went the wrong way (0-1)
Dele Alli scored with a right foot shot rebounding into the net off the post. (1-1)
Nouble scores with a shot down the middle. Gazzaniga gets a touch but the ball goes above his body into the net. (1-2)
Lamela scores (left foot of course) – left of the keeper (2-2)
Jevani Brown tries to chip Gazzaniga down the middle who was moving to his left but managed to recover and save (2-2) Spurs fans were given hope.
Son scores with his right foot, with the keeper going thee wrong way. (3-2)
Cowan-Hall scores with his right foot (3-3)
Lucas Moura steps up and whacks the ball with his right foot, but off the top of the bar. (3-3)
Tom Lapslie hits a right foot shot right of Gazzaniga and with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win the celebrations led to a pitch invasion and some taunting of the visiting players and fans by the locals.

Let’s face it, this result is one which will long in the memory of Colchester and their fans. Back in the 70s they beat “mighty” Leeds.

For me, it was another low day, of too many. I did think of the 2005 defeat to Grimsby, who were also in the fourth tier. Spurs fans can wipe the Carabao Cup dates from their calendars now, and forget about one possible route to Wembley this season. Will it be another season without a trophy?

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