Tottenham Hotspur went to Greater Manchester to face Rochdale in the FA Cup fifth round on the heels of a great run of form that saw them earn a draw against Juventus in the Champions League. They had a little more trouble with the League One side, however. Rochdale scored at the end of the first half and then got a dramatic equalizer in extra time from Steve Davies to get a historic 2-2 draw and a replay at Wembley Stadium.
Mauricio Pochettino set up Tottenham in a way that he hasn’t done all season: with 100% rotation. None of the players that took the field at Spotland Stadium had started in Spurs’ last match against Juventus in Turin. Michel Vorm overcame the illness that kept him off the bench vs. Juventus to start in goal. Toby Alderweireld and Juan Foyth anchored the back line, and Lucas Moura made his first start in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt, starting in the hole for Christian Eriksen, who did not make the matchday 18. Harry Kane started the match on the bench, as Fernando Llorente got the nod at striker.
Rochdale came to play, and did not look over-awed against Spurs on their brand new pitch. And that pitch provided some issues, as there were multiple players that lost their footing on the new surface, including Toby Alderweireld within the first two minutes. The pitch didn’t seem to bother Lucas much, who impressed the traveling Spurs support with a number of good dribbles and direct play early in the half.
However, it was an extremely even affair overall. Spurs had much of the possession, but weren’t able to turn it into clear-cut chances. Rochdale’s Ian Henderson, who came into the match with 5 FA Cup goals, had the first good lock for Rochdale in the 18th minute, but his shot was straight at Michel Vorm and Spurs’ keeper saved easily.
Spurs had their best chance in the 27th minute. Son had a good look at goal, but his shot was blocked by the Rochdale keeper. The rebound eventually fell to Fernando Llorente, who took a couple of touches in the box and fired with his left foot, but it went wide of the goal.
Spurs had another chance late in the half after Kieran Trippier fired a fizzing low ball across the face of goal, but Moussa Sissoko couldn’t get a boot on the ball and the chance went begging.
Instead, it was Rochdale who opened the scoring just before halftime. Winksy overplayed with the ball in midfield and had it taken away. Rochdale broke with pace, Henderson found himself wide open, and fired past Vorm to put The Dale up 1-0. It was a bad mistake in midfield, but a well-taken strike, and Rochdale took a deserved lead into halftime.
As per usual, Mauricio Pochettino opted not to make any changes at halftime, though Juan Foyth and Toby Alderweireld did swap sides in the center of defense.
The second half was more of the same for the first 20 minutes: Spurs saw a lot of the ball, but Rochdale defended well and weren’t afraid to go straight at Spurs when appropriate.
Spurs finally got the equalizer in the 60th minute, and it came courtesy of their newest player. Moussa Sissoko found a cutting Lucas Moura with an excellent through ball, and the Brazilian took a touch and fired past the Rochdale keeper to even the score. It was an auspicious way for Lucas to make his full Spurs debut, and he looked very good in his first outing for Tottenham.
With the score level, Spurs started pushing forward even more as they tried to get the go-ahead goal. As the match went on, Spurs made three substitutions with Erik Lamela, Dele Alli, and Harry Kane coming in for Winks, Lucas, and Llorente.
The second half ended with a flurry of activity and it started in the 87th minute after Spurs earned a penalty. Dele Alli was taken down in the box, though replays looked like the foul was a touch on the soft side. Harry Kane stepped up to the spot and fired home the go-ahead goal, and Tottenham looked like they would be moving on to the quarter finals of the FA CUp.
But not so fast — Rochdale got a dramatic equalizer in the 92nd minute courtesy of Steve Davies. A Rochdale cross deflected off of Alderweireld’s head and fell to Davies who was wide open at the far post. The Rochdale player easily beat Vorm, earning the League One club a draw and a replay at Wembley Stadium later in the month.
It was a disappointing result for Spurs supporters, but Rochdale earned the draw and played well. The final score ended 2-2.
- That result was not the one we wanted, but let’s be fair: Rochdale played really really well and earned that draw. They’ll now get a lot of money for the replay at Wembley, more than enough to recoup the £500k they spent to relay the pitch at Spotfield.
- A draw is not a loss, but holy smokes I didn’t really want another match in Spurs’ schedule.
- Look, someone has to say it: Fernando Llorente is not the answer for Tottenham. His hold-up play was fine, but his shot was awful, his movement poor, and he’s slower than molasses. Several times Spurs players tried to make passes into space for him to run to, not remembering that there’s no way he was going to make it there.
- Juan Foyth had a mixed game. He looked good in possession out of the back but lost Henderson for Rochdale’s first goal and was at times “positionally wayward.” Think we’ve got a potentially good player in Foyth, but he needs more time and experience.
- Toby Alderweireld was not great and did not look at all like he’s fully fit. Maybe Poch was right to leave him at home vs. Juventus?
- Lucas Moura looks like the real deal, doesn’t he? Fast, direct, dribbly. Everything we wanted Clinton N’Jie and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou to be but weren’t.
- The midfield of Winks and Wanyama... did not work, which was somewhat surprising.
- Moussa Sissoko was fine.
- Danny Rose’s tribute to Ryan Mason was sweet.