FA CUP THIRD ROUND
SUNDAY 9TH JANUARY, 2022
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(0) MORECAMBE 1(1)
Lucas Moura, 85
Referee:- John Brooks
Assistants:- Marc Perry & Natalie Aspinall
Fourth Official:- Gavin Ward
VAR:- Michael Salisbury
AVAR:- Timothy Wood
Spurs (3-4-3):- Gollini; Tanganga, Rodon, Davies (Capt.); Doherty, Ndombele (sub Skipp, 69), Winks, Sessegnon (sub Emerson Royal, 85); Gil (sub Lucas Moura, 69), Dele (sub Kane, 69), Lo Celso (sub Scarlett, 88)
Subs not used:- Lloris; Sanchez, Paskotsi (48); Hojbjerg
Morecambe (5-3-2):- Carson; Cooney (sub Jones, 77), McLaughlin, O’Connor (Capt.), Bedeau (sub Gibson, 65), Leigh; McLoughlin, Diagouraga (sub Wildig, 77), McCalmont; Ayunga (sub Obika, 58), Stockton
Subs not used:- Letheren; Delaney, Mensah; McDonald; Gnahoua
Booked:- Diagouraga (foul on Dele), Cooney (foul on Doherty)
This was not “the Play what we wrote”
I had to use a Morecambe and Wise style headline, didn’t I? After all, Eric was named after the Lancashire Town in which he has a statue. Spurs played like statues some of the time and until the big guns of Lucas Moura and Harry Kane were wheeled on, another FA Cup shock was on the cards. Morecambe’s players were the real heroes of this game. They and their fans left with pride in their team’s performance and achievement. This was not the storyline we had envisaged.
Oliver Skipp came off the bench at the same time as did Kane and Lucas Moura. Skipp replaced Ndombele, who made his snail-like way off the pitch. We were losing at the time, and speed was of the essence. Ndombele was booed off for his dawdling, as much as he was for his personal playing performance. He may have played his last game for Spurs. He has certainly disassociated himself from the fans who have been so patient to see his skills come to the fore.
Antonio Conte had to give Kane and other front line players a rest. He didn’t have to but chose Dele Alli as his line-leader. Very sadly, Dele failed in this task, but he was not the only second string player to fail to take his chance to impress. You’d have to say the same about Gollini, Rodon, Doherty (again), Gil and Lo Celso. The inability of such players to impress against a team in the lower reached of the third tier remains a major concern and a depressing fact.
Morecambe, playing in their red strip, kicked off and played towards the South Stand which looked pretty full in a stadium which was only two-thirds full. Ndombele did win Spurs a corner in the first minute which was taken by Winks but headed over by Davies. Gollini had to save from Shane McLoughlin after Ndombele had lost the ball just inside the Spurs half.
Spurs had a free kick after 8 minutes, taken by Lo Celso and easy for Trevor Carson in the Morecambe goal. Carson had been selected ahead of Morecambe’s number one Kyle Letheren. Carson is a Northern Ireland international and most recently played against Estonia in September. That Estonia team included 18-year-old Maksim Paskotsi who was on the bench for Spurs today.
Joe Rodon still looks scared every time he plays for Spurs, and he sold Gollini short with a back pass after 11 minutes. Gollini managed to clear for a throw to Morecambe. Doherty and Gil combined on the right and Doherty’s ball reached Lo Celso whose deflected shot went for a corner. After the corner and a ball to Doherty beyond the back post, Carson saved.
I thought Ryan Sessegnon had a decent game at left wing-back in the first half. He didn’t do so badly in the second either, although mysteriously Conte chose to switch left and right wing-backs. After 27 minutes, Ryan had a good run and got into the box, but chose not to shoot, but to pass to Lo Celso instead. Lo Celso’s shot was blocked.
Then came the shock of a Morecambe goal. There was a mix-up between Rodon and his goalkeeper. Gollini had been going backwards rather than forward to the ball, and Rodon found himself forced to kick the ball out for corner. The was taken from the left and too easily converted by Morecambe skipper Anthony O’Connor with a right-footed shot inside Gollini’s right post. It wasn’t long before the visiting fans chanted “Premier League, you’re having a laugh”. They were the ones laughing.
A long shot by Lo Celso was easy for Carson. Diagouraga was shown the first yellow card of the game for his bruising foul on Dele. Lo Celso’s free kick was followed by a Sessegnon cross and a header by Doherty that was too easy for the keeper. Spurs legend Gary Mabbutt was one of those being interviewed at half-time. How Spurs needed his inspiration and example on the pitch today.
Spurs kicked off and within two minutes, Ndombele, being urged to shoot by the crowd, did hit a shot but this was blocked. After a Morecambe throw from the left, their top scorer Cole Stockton hit a right foot shot, but this was well over the target. Sessegnon won a corner for Spurs. This was taken by Lo Celso but headed over by Ben Davies, who was captain for the day and for the third time this season.
Spurs’ best chance to date came from another corner. This one was taken by Winks and cleverly flicked towards goal by Dele, needing a good save by Carson. Spurs had two more corners. The best chance to come from these was a Doherty header which passed wide. Tanganga hit a good long ball for Doherty who got into a shooting position inside the box but fired well over.
Dele went down in the box and referee John Brooks waved “play on”. Ryan Sessegnon then had an excellent goal-scoring chance inside the area but fired wide.
On came those big guns, but first Diagouraga had space and took a shot at the Spurs goal, but thankfully hit the ball into his fans rather than at the goal. Lo Celso fed the ball to Lucas to his left. Lucas hit a right foot shot just wide. After a foul by Cooney on Doherty out on Spurs’ left wing, Harry Winks stepped up and his free kick beat everybody hitting the net at the back post! Obviously intended as a cross, Harry did not celebrate wildly but raced back to the middle for the re-start.
Another Winks cross was headed back into the danger zone by Lucas but headed wide by Kane. Winks hit a right foot shot over after receiving the second of Doherty’s crosses in quick succession. Kane passed inside from the left for Lo Celso, but his 22 yard shot was saved. Morecambe were now flagging, and Spurs took the lead in the 85th minute when Ryan McLaughlin was dispossessed by Lucas Moura near the half-way line. Lucas raced goalward rounding the goalkeeper before slotting the ball into the net for a lead which looked unassailable in view of the visitors’ fading physical fitness.
Spurs’ third goal was one of quality. Emerson had replaced Sessegnon and won a battle for the ball near the right corner flag before passing to Lo Celso who passed inside to Harry Kane. Kane spun and hit a nice shot across the goal into the net on the keeper’s right.
We could relax, but not glorify. The draw for the Fourth Round has taken place and we have been drawn at home to Brighton. We have met the “Seagulls” only once before in this competition, winning a third round tie in 2005.
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