THE EMIRATES FA CUP FOURTH ROUND
MONDAY 25TH JANUARY, 2021
WYCOMBE WANDERERS 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1)
Ndombele, 87, 90+3
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Marc Perry & Daniel Robathan
Fourth Official:- Kevin Friend
Wycombe (4-2-3-1):- Allsop; McCarthy, Grimmer, Knight, Jacobsen (sub Charles, 34); Bloomfield (Capt.) (sub McCleary, 61), Thompson; Wheeler, Muskwe (sub Kashket, 73), Onyedinma; Ikpeazu (sub Akinfenwa, 72)
(Armband to Charles)
Subs not used:- Stockdale; Pattison, Adeniran, Mehmeti; Samuel
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Hart; Tanganga (sub Hojbjerg, 46), Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies (Capt.) (sub Rodon, 90); Winks, Sissoko; Bale, Lamela (sub Ndombele, 68), Lucas Moura (sub Son, 68); Vinicius (sub Kane, 58)
(Armband to Kane)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Aurier, Reguilon; Bergwijn
Spurs overcome Chairboys shock goal
Ha! I told you this would be a convincing win! The scoreline says so, but of course we all know it was not like that. In truth Spurs overcame what looked like being a nasty shock by "The Chairboys". The moral of the story could be that Jose Mourinho gave his “second team” the chance to do the job, and when it turned out they couldn’t he gradually brought on all the big guns he had available, who did – eventually – do the job. Gareth Ainsworth’s squad – only just recovered from a bout of coronavirus – did an admirable job, fully testing Spurs with their physicality, coupled with determination.
The Adams Park Stadium was surrounded by snow, but the pitch itself has the benefit of undersoil heating and was perfectly playable. With a crunch Premier League game against Liverpool on Thursday night, Jose Mourinho naturally wanted to protect his top men, so entrusted a team, 8 of whom are unlikely to start against Liverpool to do the job here. Even when Japhet Tanganga was replaced at half-time, Jose put on Hojbjerg, who did add composure, strength, skill and leadership in an important playing area, putting Sissoko at right back, leaving Aurier ultimately unused. Eventually, Kane, Son and Ndombele were added to the mix and they all proved crucial. Toby Alderweireld played to the left of Sanchez, thus accommodating Davinson’s preference for the right-hand side. Both had problems against the power of Ikpeazu, a protégé – perhaps even a replica of the charismatic Akinfenwa who replaced him after 72 minutes.
Wycombe kicked off. From before the game they showed a strategy of killing time when they could, keeping Spurs waiting in the icy cold before they entered the arena, they taking time over throws, goal-kicks and later when left back Jacobsen was injured. Jacobsen when he went down after half an hour didn’t seem to have any treatment, but maybe a chat with the physio before he was forced to go off.
All my comments here should not decry from the genuine achievement of Wanderers in taking the lead, surviving plenty of Spurs chances, two of which hit the woodwork in the first half. Spurs’ problem sometimes was that they were too slow getting forward, allowing their opponents to get men behind the ball. Having said that, Spurs showed they could penetrate at times. After only a minute, Lucas Moura hit a good ball from the left, controlled well by Vinicius who slipped it to Lamela, whose shot was blocked, winning a corner. Two minutes later Lucas had a shot blocked too after Harry Winks had made a good run to the right side of the area before passing. After the resulting corner Gareth Bale headed wide at the back post when he really should have scored.
Wycombe showed well after 6 minutes when Muskwe met a cross from the right with a near post header which Hart saved in a bit of a panic, conceding a corner. Hart also punched the corner back towards the same corner flag. At the other end Bale passed to Lucas to his left but his cross was cleared. Bale collected a stray Wycombe clearance but hit his 20-yard left-footer wide of Allsop’s post. Wycombe had another attack following a throw-in from the right and this reached Onyedinma in space who put his shot wide.
Spurs enjoyed possession without penetration before they were punished in the 25th minute. The ball came from the right and was crossed by Ikpeazu, against who Alderweireld lost this particular battle. The cross when it came took an unfortunate touch off Sanchez and fell to the feet of the unmarked Onyedinma who scored beneath the dive of Joe Hart.
Spurs tried to get back on terms immediately. Lucas crossed from the left and Bale hit a right-foot shot into the side netting when he might have done better. Jose was giving him the minutes. Would he prove his worth? Vinicius headed the ball way over from a corner. After 35 minutes Lamela passed out to Bale to his right. Bale cut the ball back to Sissoko (not the ideal man to be in a shooting position). Moussa’s shot was going off target but took a hefty deflection and then rebounded off the bar, away from danger. Lamela had a shot himself from 25 yards, hit low and saved by Allsop.
Wycombe had a free kick after Winks had fouled Ikpeazu after Alderweireld had struggled. McCarthy took the kick (after lengthy deliberation) and hit it wide. After a Spurs corner on the left, taken short by Lucas Moura and sent to Winks, Harry crossed and Tanganga’s header hit the bar. Was it going to be one of those nights?
There were three minutes of first half added time and we were level in the second of these when Lucas Moura crossed from the left and Bale darted forward to meet the ball at the near past and hook it into the net over the keeper. It was Gareth’s first FA cup goal for Spurs since January 2013, against Coventry.
It looked as if Spurs had been fired up by their manager at half-time as they certainly demonstrated early urgency. Lucas Moura made a good run before passing to Lamela whose shot was on target, but not hit with full power and was easy for the keeper. Lamela returned the compliment soon after and after he passed to Lucas, the Brazilian jinked left and right before hitting a shot just wide of Allsop’s left post. Winks hit a good pass to Vinicius towards the right side. He fed Bale whose cross ran all the way across the goalmouth a foot or so in front of the line. Another strong run by Lucas began just inside the Wycombe half, ending at the edge of the area before he passed to Vinicius to his left, but the Wycombe defence cleared.
Lamela had a shot saved by Allsop, diving to his right after more good work by Lucas Moura. Vinicius was replaced by Harry Kane, seeking one more goal to go level with Bobby Smith. Within a minute, Kane was battling for, and winning the ball along the bye-line before winning a free kick near the touch line. Bale took the kick, but hit it straight to Allsop’s arms. Spurs worked the ball from left to right and ultimately to Bale whose right-footed shot was saved. Harry Kane hit a right-footed shot wide.
Now it was the turn of Lucas and Lamela to be replaced by the fresh and skilful legs of Son and Ndombele. It was Ben Davies though who offered a good if powerful pass to Kane, who controlled the ball well but saw his shot parried by Allsop and cleared. Son hit a left-footed shot wide across the goal from the left side of the box. Winks hit a shot way over the target after Bale had powered a corner to his feet outside the area in a central position.
The clock was running down and once again, Spurs were frustrating me, making me twitchy. Son hit another shot over the target after Bale then Sissoko had passed to him. Even Ndombele (later to score two fine goals) sliced an opportunity to score presented by Son. At last though, Spurs did have the lead in the 86th minute. The goal followed Ndombele’s neat pass to Kane to his right. Kane’s shot was saved by the brave keeper, but then only half-cleared to Winks who was just outside the box. Harry scored with a well-taken and well-placed shot.
You very strongly felt that goal would secure passage to the next round, but within a minute we had a third goal. This time Son passed from the left of the box and Ndombele, almost casually but in fact very competently, placed his stabbed shot inside the post. Ben Davies had to be replaced by Rodon late on and in added time Bale had a shot saved after Son’s pass before Ndombele scored again. This goal followed a very good threaded pass by Hojbjerg to the left side of the area where Ndombele planted his right foot shot inside Allsop’s right post for game, set and match.
Our opponents in the fifth round will be Everton at Goodison Park. That will be a midweek game around 10th February and should be a humdinger of a tie. I fancy Jose will want to use his best eleven for that game. The last time we met “The Toffees” in an FA Cup game was in an ill-fated semi-final at Elland Road in 1995. Let’s do better this time!
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