EMIRATES FA CUP THIRD ROUND
FRIDAY 4TH JANUARY, 2019
TRANMERE ROVERS 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 7 (1)
Aurier, 40, 55
Llorente, 48, 71, 72
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- Edward Smart & Marc Perry
Fourth Official:- Paul Tierney
Tranmere (3-4-2-1):- Davies; Ellis, McNulty (Capt.), Monthe; Caprice, Harris (sub Banks, 58), McCullough, Ridehalgh; Jennings (sub Mullin, 83), Gilmour; Norwood
Subs not used:- Passant; Buxton, Sutton, Bakayogo; Stockton
Booked:- Banks (foul on Skipp)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Gazzaniga; Foyth, Sanchez (sub Eyoma, 79), Davies; Aurier, Skipp, Dele (Capt.), Walker-Peters; Son (sub Marsh, 65), Llorente (sub Kane, 75), Lucas Moura
Subs not used;- Vorm; Alderweireld; Sissoko, Eriksen
In 1953, a “reserve” Spurs side (which still included Ramsey and Nicholson in its ranks) subjected Tranmere to their record defeat 9-1 in an FA Cup Third Round tie. Last night at Prenton Park, a much changed Spurs side (which still included the likes of Dele Alli and Son Heung-min) subjected Tranmere to a record home defeat in the same tournament at the same stage. In 1953, Rovers took Spurs to a replay. Last night they held on to be only 1-0 down at half-time but then the flood gates opened and Fernando Llorente scored a second FA Cup hat-trick within a year. Last year his victims were Rochdale on a snow-swept Wembley surface. Last night his goals were scored on a fair but cold night on The Wirral.
To their credit, Tranmere did not desert their ground in droves, but stayed to admire the exhibition being given their team by Tottenham Hotspur. Those home fans applauded Son Heung-min when he was replaced by one of two spurs debutants for Spurs – 20 year old George Marsh. Spurs were already 4-0 up but there were two more goals to come from Llorente, and one from a later substitute Harry Kane, of whom manager Mauricio Pochettino said, ““It was respect. Respect the people, respect the opponent. They’re not going to have many chances to see Harry Kane play here in a competition like the FA Cup. For different reasons I decided to make a change and put Kane on the pitch, but one of them is that it’s important to show respect to the people here so they could see Harry Kane, who is an icon in English football. It was important to see him in action.” Kane rewarded spectators with a super goal from a delicate Dele Alli pass.
18 year old Oliver Skipp made his FA Cup debut in the middle for Spurs and got two assists too. Skipp made a couple of errors, but generally redeemed himself with a very, very good all round and confident performance. Kyle Walker-Peters played at left wing back, and there was even room for another debut when Timothy Eyoma (just 18) replaced Davinson Sanchez. Eyoma did get some exposure on the pre-season tour while our World Cup stars were absent
Dele Alli has a great record as captain, having led us to League Cup victory on his old stomping ground at Milton Keynes in September, and now this record away win for Spurs. Dele kept the armband when Harry came on too.
There was a good crowd (more than you get at Premier League Bournemouth) and the Spurs section was full despite the inconvenience of having to travel to the north-west for this Friday night tie. Spurs kicked off and played away from their supporters. You’d think that with a 35 year old at the heart of their defence (captain Steve McNulty), Spurs would cut through the home side like butter, but they played in a restrained fashion for most of the first half, opting to play their passing and re-cycling game. We saw what more direct football could offer in the second half, but had to settle for one goal scored late in the first half.
Kyle Walker-Peters hit a cross after a ball from dele after just one minute and Spurs won a corner, but nothing came of that. Son broke through the Tranmere lines after 6 minutes and had the first of two one-on-ones for Spurs, but goalkeeper Davies saved. The second such opportunity came six minutes later. Juan Foyth, playing on the right side of three at the back, but often getting forward, broke up a Tranmere move and passed left to Son, who fed Serge Aurier, who also came off worse in a one on one with Scott Davies. Aurier was playing his first game for almost a month (away to Leicester) and his first two goals of the season would follow.
Son was fouled outside the right of the Tranmere area, after receiving from Aurier, and Ben Davies took the kick which eventually was returned to his feet. Davies hit a shot which the goalkeeper held. Tranmere had one or two game efforts, and after a throw on the left, dele blocked a shot by Connor Jennings. McCullough passed to top scorer James Norwood, who was towards the left of the Spurs area, but his shot was way too wide. At this stage the home fans were getting excited, and perhaps even sniffing a shock score.
Skipp picked up a short ball from Foyth and passed to Son who fired forward to Lucas Moura, who won a corner on the left. This was taken by Ben Davies, but Llorente hit a shot over the bar with his left foot. Two minutes later (31), Skipp offered a short ball to Foyth, who hit a low shot which was held easily by the goalkeeper. Tranmere then won two corners and from the second of these Emmanuel “Manny” Monthe headed towards goal, but Gazzaniga held – also comfortably. Monthe is 23 and a Cameroon national. He is a big unit, and there was an incident near the touchline when Serge Aurier happily avoided a lunge by the Tranmere player!
It was Aurier who broke the deadlock with a spectacular goal after 40 minutes. It followed a Spurs corner on the left which was not properly cleared or even held outside the box. Aurier seized his opportunity and hit a right foot shot off the outside of his boot from 22 yards, which saw the ball curve away from the goalkeeper and hit the net inside his top left corner.
Perhaps Spurs had planned all the time to tire out and wear down the home side in the first half before taking them to the cleaners after the break, but whatever the case, Spurs fans were rewarded with 6 goals in front of them and some delightful direct football. Firstly Aurier sent Son away down the right and Son took the ball to the bye-line before crossing and setting it on a plate for Llorente’s first goal of the night, and his first since EFL cup victory at The London Stadium in October. Tranmere had a moment of pressure following a throw on the right, but Spurs resisted their efforts.
Gazzaniga sent Lucas Moura away with a great long ball and Lucas ran into the area – one on one with the keeper, who tackled and Lucas went down. Referee Andre Marriner was not interested in a penalty and Lucas required treatment after the challenge. Spurs did go three up and Aurier had his second goal in the 55th minute. Son was just outside the right side of the Tranmere box, turned and fed Aurier to his right. Serge hit a low right footed shot which Ellis could only help into the net. Two minutes later, Son made it four and had his own goal. It was very much a solo effort too as he ran with the ball from the half-way line all the way to the Tranmere box, before beating Davies with a low left footed shot. It was “Sonny”’s 12th goal of the season in all competitions for Spurs, and his ninth in his last ten games.
Micky Mellon made his first substitution with Ollie Banks replacing Harris. I’ve seen Banks play before for my local team – Chesterfield. He did soon test Gazzaniga with a right foot shot. Son was replaced by George Marsh and he was roundly applauded off not only by Spurs fans, but by home fans too. Clearly Pochettino intends to make full use of the in-form South Korean against Chelsea and Manchester United before he joins his national team for the Asian Cup.
Marsh settled well into the Spurs midfield and Dele moved forward. Skipp sent a nice pass to Lucas Moura who got into the right side of the area and hit a shot which was held by the keeper. In the 71st minute, Skipp sent a delightful low pass through to Llorente, who scored with his left foot. A minute later he had his hat-trick. This time he was teed up by Lucas Moura from the left before Fernando beat the keeper with a lovely right foot flick.
Llorente was then replaced by Kane and Sanchez followed to be replaced by Eyoma. Kane scored his goal in the 82nd minute, receiving a lovely pass from Dele Alli before allowing the ball to run across his body, lifting it over the keeper with his right foot. That’s number 19 for the season for Harry and number 159 in his Spurs career drawing him level with Cliff Jones as our fourth-highest goalscorer. Cliff Jones was the first to congratulate Harry on Twitter last night, and will be the first to do the same when he goes clear fourth – hopefully against Chelsea on Tuesday. Kane laid on a short ball for Aurier to give him a hat-trick chance, but Serge hit a left footed shot into the Birkenhead sky.
It was a great night then, and worth the trip for those who made it. For me it was a two hour trip across the Pennines. For most it was four hours from Greater London. We were all well rewarded, and Spurs are the first name into the hat for the Fourth Round draw. Now for Chelsea, and hopefully greater glory!
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