Home » EPL, FA Cup, Latest » FA Cup Match Report: Stevenage 0 Tottenham 0

Stevenage may not have slain the Premier League giant, but having stood toe-to-toe with it and emerged with honours even, that was almost what it felt like.

A performance of real bravery and skill secured them a lucrative replay at White Hart Lane, and a place in the quarter-final draw of the FA Cup.

The Boro may have been Tottenham Hotspur’s third consecutive lower-league opponents in this competition. But in a sticky game, they proved the most dogged of the lot, scrapping from first whistle to last, driving a red-and-white wrecking ball through Tottenham’s pretty passing triangles.

Having seen Newcastle beaten here last season, Harry Redknapp’s side were the latest to discover that the Lamex takes no prisoners.

Circumstances conspired against the Premier League visitors. A boggy, uneven pitch, the very antithesis of White Hart Lane’s pristine lawn, caused the ball to judder about like a carriage on cobbles. The low winter sun caused havoc whenever the ball was hoisted skywards.

And hoisted it often was. Frustrated by the surface, it did not take long for Tottenham to be suckered into playing Stevenage’s route-one game. Hoof after hoof was propelled towards the five feet and seven inches of Jermain Defoe. It was a brainless strategy, and judging by the loud and regular entreaties of Harry Redknapp to pass the ball around, one largely devised by the players themselves.

Truly, Tottenham were wretched. Gareth Bale, deployed centrally in a 3-5-2 formation, saw hardly any of the ball, and the midfield was backtracking as much as it was advancing. The front two looked sluggish, and a better side than Stevenage would have put Tottenham out of the game before half-time.

Nevertheless, Tottenham could well have gone into the break ahead, denied a penalty by referee Phil Dowd and a goal by a goal-line clearance from the outstanding Michael Bostwick. Dowd waved away Tottenham’s protests after ruling that Mark Roberts’s grab on Louis Saha was legal, while Bostwick nudged away Michael Dawson’s header from Danny Rose’s cross.

Stevenage were restricted largely to shots from distance, Joel Byrom coming agonisingly close twice in the second half. But they defended impeccably, cramping the space in the centre, dragging Tottenham into a scrap. For large parts they looked so comfortable that manager Gary Smith could even afford himself a touchline interview with ITV.

Redknapp was forced into changes. Niko Kranjcar replaced Kyle Walker as Tottenham reverted to a 4-4-2. Saha had a goal disallowed when his shot hit the offside Scott Parker on the line. But for all their possession and pressure, they rarely looked like carving out a clear-cut opportunity.

The final whistle was greeted by a magnificent roar, this small ground swelled in acclaim of their Hertfordshire heroes. A big payday and a shot at even greater glory awaits.

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