After an encouraging win in midweek over Crystal Palace it was back to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the Lilywhite’s first fixture this season in the FA Cup: a third round tie against League One’s Portsmouth. With one eye on the upcoming London derby Antonio Conte rang the changes: initially only the front three, with no other senior forwards fit, retained their places from the win over the Eagles. Yves Bissouma was slated to start, but an injury in the buildup to the match meant he was a late withdrawal, with Oliver Skipp taking his place in the XI.
The first half played out very much as you might have expected, with Spurs controlling the vast majority of possession punctuated by occasional forays forward from Portsmouth. One of these breaks yielded the match’s first shot on target, with an acrobatic effort from Recco Hackett-Fairchild well-saved by Forster. Spurs soon had a half-chance of their own, with a scramble in the six-yard box following a set piece.
The “Magic of the Cup” was significantly lacking, as the half proceeded in a manner that could only be described as dull. There were a couple more Spurs opportunities: Davinson Sanchez had a header that looped over the bar, and Son looked to create some space for himself before curling an effort wide; but outside of the occasional threat of a footballing match breaking out there was very little happening to pad the word count of this report. The nil-all scoreline was certainly a fair reflection of the goings-on on the pitch as the half time whistle blew.
There was a huge chance for Spurs to take the lead early on in the second half as a fantastic cross from Heung-Min Son found the head of Emerson Royal at the far post. The Brazilian struck his header well back across the face of goal, but somehow managed to hit the inside of the post as the ball improbably bounced back to keeper rather than rippling the back of the net.
The net was soon rippling though as Spurs took the lead through Harry Kane (who else?). His rocket from the top of the 18-yard box followed some nice interplay with Ryan Sessegnon, whose impressive breakdancing skills came to the fore as he somehow found a return pass to the England captain whilst sat on the turf. Kane’s touch to create space for the shot was immaculate and the finish even better, as Tottenham took a 1-0 lead and Kane moved closer to Jimmy Greaves’ club goals record.
Another massive chance for Spurs went begging, as Oliver Skipp skied an effort from near the penalty spot. Harry Kane, taking on the role of playmaker, fired the ball in towards Bryan Gil in the goalbox. Gil was unable to control the ball, but his loose touch fell kindly for Skipp totally clear on goal. It almost seemed more difficult for him to miss, but unfortunately the lead remained at a solitary goal.
As Spurs looked to make their lead secure, Djed Spence managed to get himself a rare chance off the bench, entering the fray for Ryan Sessegnon. Another young Spurs prospect in Alfie Devine also saw the pitch, with a brief cameo in the three minutes of added time. He looked to show what he could do as Spurs made a late break, but it came to nothing and Tottenham secured a 1-0 win to progress to the next round.
- Spurs sure didn’t exactly reward my waking up at 1:30 am with an exciting performance!
- That said, it was pretty dominant without being superb. Realistically, Spurs totally controlled the match and there was never really much doubt which way the result would go.
- It was encouraging to see some rotation and players like Spence and Devine get a chance! That’s what these sort of matches are for.
- Is Pape Matar Sarr the real deal? He definitely looks like he has something there. His tackling, defensive tracking, and movement of the ball were all superb. Put me down as still extremely Sarr-curious.
- I honestly don’t have much to say about this match because not a lot happened! But I’m sure that is likely to change in the next fixture, with the North London Derby just days away.