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Stoke City v Spurs, 23.12.20


Stoke scorer:-
Thompson, 53

Spurs scorers:-
Bale, 22
Davies, 70
Kane, 81

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- Darren England
Assistants:- Neil Davies and James Mainwaring
Fourth Official:- Michael Oliver

Stoke (5-4-1):- Lonergan; Smith, Collins, Souttar, Batth (Capt.), Fox (sub Fletcher, 34); Oakley-Boothe (sub Vokes, 79), Thompson, Cousins, McClean; Brown (sub Powell, 71)

Subs not used:- Nna Noukeu; Shawcross, Tymon; Ince

Booked:- Collins (foul on Dele)

Spurs (4-2-1-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Doherty, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Hojbjerg, Winks; Dele (sub Lamela, 66); Bale (sub Son, 46), Kane, Lucas Moura (sub Sissoko, 66)

Subs not used:- Hart; Alderweireld, Reguilon; Vinicius

No Bookings

The Welsh connection and lethal Kane put Spurs into Semi-Final!

13 years ago I travelled home from The Etihad Stadium where Spurs had beaten Manchester City 2-0 to progress to the semi-final of the League Cup. We went on to win the trophy in 2008. Could we do it again? I am writing this report before knowing the draw for the semi-final which will be played over one match only in the first week of January. This win was achieved on a cold, wet and windy night at Stoke (nothing changes!) against a team which had kept clean sheets in six of their previous seven games, thanks to goals from two of our Welsh brigade (Bale and Davies) and a lethal third to seal the win by Harry Kane.

Jose Mourinho picked a stronger team than I had expected and added to that strength with each of his second half substitutions. Stoke manager Michael O’Neill was hampered in some regards regarding the players available to him. In particular he had to deploy 37-year-old goalkeeper Andy Lonergan as emergency cover due to injuries and the fact that his current first choice keeper is cup-tied. Lonergan’s last senior competitive game was for Rochdale in March 2019. Lonergan was the captain of the Preston North End side Spurs beat 5-1 in this competition in September 2009.

O’Neill had three recognised strikers on the bench, but not one such player started. He went with a 5-4-1 formation which included former Spurs Academy and development squad player Tashan Oakley-Boothe on the right side of midfield. That back five did include wing-backs with the potential to go forward but that rarely happened in the first half.

Spurs tested Lonergan with an early corner and a subsequent cross, neither of which were dealt with convincingly. Bale was fouled out on the right and took the free kick himself, but it was of poor quality and didn’t get past the first line of Stoke’s defence. After 11 minutes, harry Kane pushed the ball out to Doherty on the right and he passed back to the advancing Hojbjerg wo tried a long shot, but that passed over the target. Doherty fed a ball to Kane inside the area on the right. Harry tried a right-footed shot from the sharp angle, but Lonergan saved.

Stoke were happy to surrender territory at this stage and Spurs drew several fouls. Spurs took the lead in the 22nd minute when Harry Winks lifted a ball into the centre of the area where Bal scored with a very well-placed header inside Lonergan’s left post. Centre-back Nathan Collins was shown the one yellow card of the night for a foul on Dele Alli who was industrious and received a lot of similar attention for the Stoke defenders. This was only Dele’s fifth start in Spurs’ 25th game of the season.

Morgan Fox needed treatment and had to be replaced after 34 minutes by striker Steven Fletcher. McClean took over as left wing-back. Harry Kane pushed a ball forward from the outside of the area for Dele whose left foot shot was saved by the emergency keeper. Bale passed to Kane on the other side and Kane’s effort was blocked but there was an offside flag anyway. Three minutes before the break Bale hit aa long ball from the right flank to Lucas moira who was to the left of the Stoke area. Lucas’s header went to Dele whose right foot shot was saved. The resulting corner was taken by Bale. Davinson Sanchez challenged for the ball but it was Souttar’s header which out the ball out for another corner. Spurs had time for a free kick from the edge of the ox after Hojbjerg’s advance was unfairly halted. Spurs won a corner, but it was cleared and the referee blew for half-time.

It came as something of a surprise to see scorer Bale replaced at half-time by Son. “Sonny2 went to the left flank, and I assume Jose felt Lucas would be of more use on the right side. The truth of the matter is that for all his effort he was not producing enough end product. After a Spurs throw out on the right, Kane hit a long ball into the area where Dele just failed to make decent contact. Lucas wet down in the box under Batth’s challenge but referee Darren England waved away appeals for a penalty. VAR does not come into action until the semi-finals of this competition.

Inevitably Stoke tried to play some more positive football and they got a reward when Brown got behind the Spurs defence on his right flank before hitting a cross that reached Thompson who scored past Lloris with a left foot shot at the back post.

Spurs were not creating enough and Jose felt he need to introduce Lamela for Dele and Sissoko for Lucas Moura. It was Erik’s first game since 1st November. He took over Dele’s role behind the strikers, whilst Sissoko played an attacking right-sided role. Both had an impact. Spurs regained the lead in the 70th minute with a great goal by Ben Davies. Those two latest substitutes had been involved in then play where Spurs put the ball into the area from the right and Davies picked up a poor defensive clearance 25 yards out before hitting a shot that curved slightly away from Lonergan’s left hand and inside his left post.

O’Neill out another striker on – Nick Powell – who had scored their winner against Blackburn on Saturday. Harry Kane tried a long shot with his right foot which passed over the corner of the goal. Harry fed a great ball to “Sonny” who raced clear on the left, beating the keeper with a cute finish. The offside flag was raised and might have been overruled by VAR.

Spurs did seal their semi-final place in the 81st minute with a lethal finish by Kane. He received a nice through ball from Sissoko down the right channel and hit a powerful shot from the right past Lonergan and into the roof of his net. That’s 10 goals in Harry’s last six games against Stoke.

The “Potters” tried to get back into the game, with nothing more to loose of course. After a free kick and cross deep from the right, Fletcher headed wide. Son passed to Kane whose effort was blocked by Thompson and in added time Smith fired wide and Vokes had a right-footed shot from the edge of the box held by Lloris who had not had to do much all night.

P.S.- After the game Darren Bent performed the draw for the semi-final. He probably did the best thing he ever managed for Spurs by giving us a home tie against Brentford!

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