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Match Reports
Spurs v Manchester City, 04.02.04

FA CUP 4TH ROUND REPLAY
WEDNESDAY 4TH FEBRUARY, 2004
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (3) MANCHESTER CITY 4 (0)

Spurs scorers:-
King, 2
Keane, 19
Ziege, 43

Man City scorers:-
Distin, 48
Bosvelt, 61
Wright-Phillips, 80
Macken, 90

Attendance:- 30, 400

Referee:- Rob Styles

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Richards, Gardner, Ziege (sub Jackson, 59); Dalmat, King, Brown, Davies; Postiga (sub Poyet, 8), Keane

Subs not used:- Burch; Kelly; Yeates

No bookings

Man City (4-4-2):- Arason; Sun Jihai, Dunne, Distin (Capt.), Tarnat; Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt (sub Sibierski, 80), Barton, Sinclair (sub McManaman, 80); Fowler, Anelka (sub Macken, 26)

Subs not used:- Ellegaard; Jordan

Booked:- Barton, Bosvelt, Sun Jihai

Sent off (second yellow):- Barton

I can't believe that at half time I was jokingly referring to what happened the last time we were beating a Manchester side 3-0 at the interval. I still can't believe that it so nearly happened, and that what did happen was as dramatic a turn-around as any I have ever seen in the FA Cup. I can't believe that Manchester City, who had looked so lack-lustre until the break , came out and dominated the second half with only 10 men.

I take my hat off to City, I really do. I can't believe that despite this defeat, I really can't get too upset about it. After all, we were only playing for the right to see who gets beaten at Old Trafford on 14th February,weren't we?

Some City fans left the stadium at half-time, fearing the worse, and seeking a head start on the long road home. Those that stuck it out (and the away support was not too strong) were rewarded with one of their most memorable nights out. Not many people in the stadium realised that young Joey Barton had been sent off after the referee had blown for half-time. He must have argued too vehemently with referee Rob Styles over the free kick for which he got booked just a few minutes before, which had led to a superb Ziege goal to put Spurs three up.

Whether it was the sense of injustice that so fired the Sky Blues, or whether it was some magical words from Kevin Keegan (himself fearing the sack), I don't know, but what I do know is that those 10 men played their hearts out, whilst Spurs totally lost their composure, and their pride. Ultimately, perhaps Mr. Pleat paid the penalty for not replacing the injured Postiga with the striker he had put on the bench - young Mark Yeates. Instead, we had to suffer the presence of Poyet from the 8th minute onwards. Whilst Gus did pop up with two or three very close efforts, Robbie Keane was up front on his own for most of the time, and it was Spurs that managed to look a player short instead of City.

The defenders will have to stand up and be questioned though, and one of those was Dean Richards, returning from injury and immediately drafted in to replace Gary Doherty. After Ziege was replaced by John Jackson in the second half, Ledley King reverted to left back, and looked woeful to be honest, making poor defensive headers, and struggling against Wright-Phillips wreaking havoc down the right wing.

Further forward, Dalmat was pretty awful, losing the ball for such a large percentage of his possession.

It hurts to remind you that Spurs had such a good start, with a second minute goal by Ledley King, with his first goal since September, 2001, and one nearly as early as his famous fastest Premiership goal at Bradford a year or two before that. The ball was worked from left to right, and King passed to Dalmat, then Davies sent the ball back to King, moving to the right then cutting back and hitting a peach of a shot high into the net to the right of Icelandic keeper Arni Arason.

Robbie Fowler was looking sharper then I have seen him for a long time tonight, but it was Sun Jihai who gave Gardner and Keller a fright at the back, before Keller did manage to pick up and clear. Postiga tweaked his hamstring very early on, which must have been a great disappointment to him, as he knows only too well that his place will be going to Jermain Defoe on Saturday. Defoe had been presented to the crowd before the game to a rousing reception. Also disappointed regarding Helder's injury were a small Portuguese contingent behind me in the North Stand, as they had to wrap up their flag and Postiga banner early on.

Referee Styles allowed play-on as Simon Davies was fouled, but still managed to pass inside to Robbie Keane, whose right foot shot was saved well by Arason, diving to his right. At the other end, Fowler latched onto Gardner's poor header, and hit a great left foot shot that went just outside Keller's left post. At this stage in the game, Michael Brown was winning plenty of ball, and he was fouled outside the area, allowing Robbie Keane to test the goalkeeper again with a curling shot to his right. Dalmat then lost out in typical fashion, leaving Bosvelt to feed Fowler, who hit a shot across goal from a sharp angle.

It was end to end stuff, and Brown won the ball through closing down Bosvelt well, giving Robbie another shooting chance, saved again by the keeper, making his City debut. In the 19th minute, Stephen Carr hit a lovely ball over the defence, and Keane timed his run perfectly to get close in, and dink the ball beautifully past the keeper with his left foot.

Anelka trundled off with an injury after 26 minutes and was replaced by Macken. Within minutes, Macken threaded a good ball for Wright-Phillips, whose cross was presented to Fowler, who could only half-hit the ball in Keller's direction. Ledley King matched Brown for ball winning in the middle and passed to Poyet who fed Dalmat on his right. Arason was equal to Dalmat's right foot shot from 25 yards.

Barton got his booking for a foul on Brown 25 yards out, and up stepped Christian Ziege to dip a free kick just under the bar, in similar vein to his great goal against Arsenal in December, 2002. There was an awareness of Barton's sending off at the break, in the South Stand, as they waved him "Cheerio", and we all gloated smugly, as we had on that September day in 2001. It couldn't happen again, could it?

City came out with all guns blazing, and Spurs started to look like frightened rabbits. The Mancs had a goal within 3 minutes, as Tarnat chipped a free kick over the defence and Distin ghosted in front of Dalmat to head home. In no time at all, Macken was in the box, forcing a save from Keller at close quarters. City had nothing to lose (except their pride), after all, and they were so obviously determined to salvage what they could for themselves and their fans.

Spurs were still having occasional chances though, but we were playing on the break, like an away side, instead of playing with control and composure, of which there was none. Keane sent Davies away down the middle, but Simon shot a little early, making the save comfortable for Arason. Keane was fouled desperately by Distin in the 54th minute, and Ziege tried to repeat his goal. The keeper made a great double save as he forced Ziege's shot onto the woodwork in the left corner, then, as Poyet headed the rebound towards goal, Arason dived to his right and just managed to prevent the ball crossing the line. (Poyet had not managed to head the ball with any pace)

Once Ziege was replaced, Jackson played left side of midfield, and Dalmat moved to the right, with King taking up left back. This was the formation that had worked so well for us in the second half at The City of Manchester Stadium. Before they had adjusted though, the lead was reduced to 1 goal, when Bosvelt's shot was deflected by Gardner to the left of Keller, hopelessly wrong-footed.

With 20 minutes to go, after a free kick, Keane passed to Poyet who hit a creditable snap shot on the turn, which was deflected for a corner. 6 minutes later, Poyet headed down a Brown free kick, but that man Arason saved well. Brown was having a pretty awful second half, but the ball was being surrendered by all in the midfield. John Jackson is probably the only Spurs player who can hold his head up as he had some great runs, and good crosses. When Bosvelt fouled Brown, it was Jacko who stepped up and hit the free kick just outside the right post.

There were ten minutes left, when City broke through a ball to Wright-Phillips who was offside, but raced into the area and chipped over the advancing Keller for a dramatic equaliser. It looked as if extra-time was on the cards, but well into the added 2 minutes, Tarnat hit a cross from the left, and Ledley King was beaten by Macken's header across Keller and into the net to complete one of the all-time great Cup come-backs. I still can't quite believe it happened really........

Although Spurs fans everywhere will be gutted once again, if you can take a step back from the partisan view, you have to congratulate City for their achievement, and accept that this was one of THE great cup-ties. They, not us, will provide the fodder for Manchester United at Old Trafford. Spurs will need to regroup, quickly, and get on with the business of gathering those important Premiership points.

Read about Spurs 3 Manchester United 5 here

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