Spurs Away

Newport County AFC have been knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the Fourth-Round stage following a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the replay at Wembley.

The Exiles certainly showed no fear of their prestigious surroundings throughout the game, every player giving their heart and soul to try and cause an unlikely upset; but were ultimately undone by two first-half goals.

It took 26 minutes for Spurs to get their first on the night, a goal so unfortunate for County to concede, Dan Butler turning a Moussa Sissoko cross into his own goal when attempting to stop it reaching an unmarked Fernando Llorente at the far-post.

And that lead became two just seven minutes later, Erik Lamela finishing off a superbly crafted attack with a composed strike from just outside the six-yard area.

The Exiles fought valiantly to try and force a way back into proceedings by making some attacking changes, Padraig Amond forcing a good save from Michel Vorm in added-time, but it wasn’t meant to be as County could still hold their heads high after taking Spurs to a replay following the original game at Rodney Parade.

Mike Flynn elected to make three changes to the side that suffered a 2-0 defeat to Colchester United on Saturday.

Surprisingly that saw Ben White passed fit to start from the off after it had previously looked like he would miss the prestigious tie with a thigh strain, while David Pipe also returned after his own injury concerns.

Mark O’Brien and Tyler Reid both made way from the defence of a 4-3-3 system, with Scot Bennett replacing Matty Dolan in the final change for the Exiles.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino made 10 changes to his side that battled resiliently to a credible draw at Liverpool on Sunday.

Only Heung-Min Son kept his place from that team at Anfield, with the Argentinian clearly looking ahead to upcoming matches against Arsenal and Juventus with his team-selection.

The home team didn’t, however, lack anything in the way of international experience at Wembley.

Toby Alderweireld, Victor Wanyama and Danny Rose all started, even if Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane were all named on the bench in case of a potential upset.   

The Exiles certainly weren’t in fear of their historic surroundings early-on, more than matching Tottenham and causing Michel Vorm some problems by almost chasing down his kicks.

And County actually had the better opening from the first ten minutes, although Robbie Willmott could only strike his free-kick into the wall from 25-yards.

An offside flag on Padraig Amond halted a lively move just after as the Exiles continued to defy the odds of the 74-places that separated the sides in the English league system, a shot that was blazed high and wide from Son the best Spurs could produce in the opening 20 minutes.

Some intricate build-up play through the middle did present Tottenham with a better opportunity at goal on 22 minutes, although Rose couldn’t hit the target from a menacing position and County survived.

You would have to say that the tide was starting to turn somewhat after a lively start from the away side, and County were mightily unlucky to find themselves behind after 26 minutes.

Victor Wanyama again split the Exiles back-line with a menacing run through the middle, before playing an inch-perfect ball out wide for Moussa Sissoko to cross first-time.

The ball looked destined for an unmarked Llorente in the area, with Dan Butler inadvertently directing the ball into his own net when trying his wholehearted best to prevent the potential tap-in.

Some heroic defending from David Pipe prevented that lead being doubled on the half-hour by miraculously blocking an attempt from Erik Lamela, Son rattling the post with the rebound after Day had saved the second attempt.

More clever passing from Spurs afforded them another sight at goal as the screw was beginning to be well and truly turned at Wembley, Son unlucky to see his 25-yard effort go a yard wide of the near post.

The possession was all in the County half at this point in proceedings, so it came as no surprise when Lamela doubled the advantage on 33 minutes.

Son was again involved, his bursting run on the left-hand side past two challenges setting the chance on a plate for Lamela to pass home past Day from just outside the six-yard area.

Had it not been for a vital interception from Wanyama then County may have found a way back into the contest with four minutes of the half remaining, Labadie about to pull the trigger from ten yards before that well-timed challenge.

The indication of two minutes added time at the end of the first-half came and went without a further chance of note as the Exiles went back to the dressing rooms with a two-goal deficit.

On the balance of the first-half, it was a probably a fair scoreline if you consider the half as a whole.  

So much heart, vigour and desire was on show throughout from the players in Amber but Tottenham’s Premier League class eventually shone through the longer the half progressed.

Scot Bennett looked particularly assured on his return to the first-team, while you couldn’t question the off-the-ball running of Padraig Amond whilst trying to act as the sole player in the Tottenham half.

But the mesmerising work of Son was causing County all manner of problems and he probably felt aggrieved to have not found his own name on the scoresheet.

The intensity during the first 15 minutes of the second-half didn’t quite live up to the heights of the previous 45 minutes, Juan Foyth seeing a weak header easily collected by Day for the only chance.

But had it not been for another stunning stop from Day then County could have been further behind with 25 minutes to play.

A slip from Demetriou gave Lamela the freedom of Wembley to cause havoc to the back-line, unselfishly squaring to Llorente instead of shooting himself, with Day superbly narrowing the angle and making a smart save.  

Eriksen curled narrowly wide as Spurs began to up their ascendency once again, with Flynn trying to counter-act that by changing the formation into more of a 4-2-4 system when in possession.

The Exiles weren’t showing any signs of laying down and accepting their fait as the game ticked into its final 15 minutes, Labadie unlucky not to create anything after a menacing run at the Tottenham defence.

Substitute Christian Eriksen was certainly picking up where Son left upon his introduction into the game, chipping a perfect ball into the area which Llorente narrowly volleyed wide.

Another replacement in Dele Alli shook the crossbar with seven minutes to go as County threw everything towards finding a way back, the England midfielder bursting away from the defensive line before wasting the good chance to put the game beyond any doubt.

Day kept out Alli with two minutes to go as Spurs looked to finish with a flourish, Sissoko also firing wide when he had a sighting at goal.

Kyle Walker-Peters also came close during the three additional minutes at the end of the game, while Amond saw his attempt saved right at the death by Vorm with County’s only shot on target.

That meant it was left to the 7,200 travelling fans to sing the County players back to the dressing rooms, who could feel no shame at being beaten by their Premier League opposition.


County: Day, Pipe (McCoulsky 67’), Demetriou, White (O’Brien 77’), Butler, Bennett, Labadie (C), Tozer (Dolan 59’), Willmott, Amond, Nouble

Subs not used: Bittner, Reid, Sheehan, Hayes


Spurs: Vorm, Rose (Walker-Peters 86’), Alderweireld, Foyth, Aurier, Winks, Wanyama (Alli 78’), Sissoko, Son (Eriksen 61’), Lamela, Llorente

Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Sanchez, Kane


Referee: Stuart Attwell

Attendance: 38,947 (7,200 AWAY)

Next up for County: Forest Green Rovers (10th February 2018)