OPPONENTS Middlesbrough at Riverside Stadium
DATE Sunday 5th January 2020
PREVIEW The FA Cup has lost much of its magic over the last ten years, with clubs concentrating on the Premier and the Champions League, as that is where the money is, but the glory of lifting a trophy should not be underestimated and the boost it can give to a club is one that might kick-start a run of success.

Spurs come across two old players in the opposite dug-out in the shape of manager Jonathan Woodgate and assistant Robbie Keane.  It also happens that Tottenham arrive at the Riverside just when Middlesbrough have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes after a shocking start to the season and Woodgate's managerial career.  Four straight wins, including victories over WBA and Preston North End - both promotion chasing - has been an improvement in results, although they sit in 16th place in the Championship.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph is one of the better keepers in the Championship and West Ham United London are looking to take him back to the Tax-Payers Stadium, although Aynsley Pears has had the gloves more recently.   Injuries that might keep four out, there might be a re-shaped defence in front of him, with Dael Fry being highly touted as one for the future and one that Spurs have watched. 

Former Notts Forest striker Britt Assombalonga is a doubt, but he has scored regulrly wherever he ahs played and Boro come into the match with Ashley Fletecher (ex-Man U and WHUL) and Rudi Gestede (ex-Villa) both finding their touch in front of goal.  Goals might come from midfield, with Lewis Wing another youngster who has earned rave reviews and is a dead ball specialist, while Marcus Tavernier is a willing worker along the left flank and former Millwall man George Saville is capable of both creating and scoring.  Paddy McNair was at Man United and is the ball-winner in midfield along with Johnny Howson (formerly with Leeds) with another ex-West Ham man playing as a wide midfielder - Marcus Browne - can add some pace, but has been suspended a fair bit as he has the old red mist (not smog) now and again.

Bringing in Lukas Nmecha and Patrick Roberts from Man City will bolster their ranks and add a bit of Premier League quality, although neither have played in that competition that much.  In fact, Roberts could have played against us a fortnight ago, as he was on loan at Norwich then.

Not big scorers, Boro chip in at a goal a game in the league so far and it will no doubt be a tight game with few goals involved.

With captain Daniel Ayala out injured, Middlesbrough will lose one of their most influential players, with long-serving George Friend also likely to miss the game with a thigh injury.  Spurs will be without two captains, as Lloris is still out injured with his elbow and Harry Kane will be out for a long time with a torn hamstring.  Expect Toby Alderweireld or Jan Vertonghen to take the armband or even Eric Dier if he has overcome his virus, but Tottenham will welcome back Heung-Min Son having served the three match suspension for getting sent off against Chelsea, coming just at the right time.   The tie will give Mourinho an opportunity to see some of his peripheral players in action and Christian Eriksen will start with his transfer away from Spurs seemingly only a matter of weeks away.

Games with Boro are typically dour affairs, so don't expect fireworks like those off the London Eye on New Years Day, but let's hope it doesn't end in a damp squib for Spurs, especially as Mourinho looks like he will be taking the competition seriously, as the only possible trophy we might have a chance of this season.

NOTE : -  There will be no VAR in this match.

PREDICTION Middlesbrough    1        Tottenham Hotspur    2
Harry Kane's hamstring tear will keep him out of the side for a while, but Heung-Min Son's return from suspension is timely.  Hugo Lloris (elbow), Tanguy Ndombele (knee), Ben Davies (ankle) and Danny Rose will all be sidelined for this visit to Middlesbrough.

Daniel Ayala (ankle), Anfernee Dijksteel (knee) and George Friend (thigh) are definitely out of the game with Spurs, while Britt Assombalonga (ankle) will be assessed late and Darren Randolph (thigh) and Ryan Shotton (knee) hope to return from their injuries, but may not make this Cup tie.


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FA Cup Third Round Kick off 14:01
Middlesbrough  1 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)

Fletcher  49m 25s


Moura  60m 48s

Crowd :   26,693 Weather :  Chilly
Referee :  Stuart Attwell (Leamington Spa) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Richard West; Mr. Adrian Holmes
Fourth Official :  Darren Bond  
Middlesbrough kicked off and played towards the North Stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Saville (foul on Lo Celso)  84 


Dele (simulation)  45
Lamela (dissent)  85


Middlesbrough : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Thomas MEJIAS

16  Jonny HOWSON  (c)
  Paddy McNAIR
  Dael FRY

29  Djed SPENCE
22  George SAVILLE      
  Hayden COULSON  (21  Marvin JOHNSON  67)

  7  Marcus TAVERNIER
  Patrick ROBERTS  (14  Rudy GESTEDE  69)

11  Ashley FLETCHER    (19  Lukas NMECHA  76)

Unused subs: 
43  Sol BRYNN
  Nathan WOOD
  Lewis WING

  22  Paulo GAZZANIGA

15  Eric DIER
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN  (c)

23  Christian ERIKSEN
24  Serge AURIER
  8  Harry WINKS  (11  Erik LAMELA  56     )
20  DELE Alli     
19  Ryan SESSEGNON  (18  Giovani LO CELSO  56)

27  Lucas MOURA 
  Heung-Min SON

Unused subs: 
3  Michel VORM
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
1  Japhet TANGANGA
  Oliver SKIPP


Manager :  Jonathan Woodgate Manager :  Jose Mourinho
Sponsor :   32 Red Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Hummel Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Another lacklustre performance by Spurs saw them fail to turn 71% of possession into an FA Cup win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside, having to settle for a draw and a replay at home in around ten days time.

A strong Spurs side took to the pitch with Boro on a good run of four straight wins, making them the favourites on the day. Woodgate changed his goalkeeper as Mejias came in for his first game in four years and brought Paddy McNair into the middle of defence to replace injury victim Daniel Ayala, so it was a game with two stronger sides than you usually see in this competition.

Boro kicked off and worked a quick throw-in and then a corner at the Spurs end as they put the early pressure on Spurs by pressing high up the pitch. There was a quick change from a back four to three, with Dier, Vertonghen and Alderweireld allowing Sessegnon and Aurier to play the wing back roles It was Aurier that the ball hit on the arm when Coulson tried to play the ball into the box, but it was waved away by Stuart Attwell. They quickly won a couple of corners and weak clearances allowed Boro to play it back in although Manchester City loanee Patrick Roberts skewed his cross over the goal.

Son and Sessegnon worked the ball to provide a shooting opportunity for Christian Eriksen to strike a  low effort on goal and the Mejias got behind it, but it  bounced off his chest and fortunately for him, a Boro boot was first to it to clear it away. Lucas ran at the Boro midfield and then put a cute ball through for Son, who missed it, but the ball was cleared and Eriksen tried a first-time volley that hit a defender. The confidence of having some possession encouraged Spurs to hold onto the ball and were spreading it wide to stretch the defence, as Boro dropped off them.

As the ball was moved more sharply, Spurs were able to find the runs behind the defence and working the ball around, the home team shaped up with a back five, as Howson dropped deeper. The Middlesbrough fans had their hearts in their mouths when Eriksen’s ball to the near post was cleared by McNair, but it only just went wide of the near post with the keeper going the wrong way. From the corner Lucas handled and then Boro got a free-kick at the other end. Fry came in at the far post, with a powerful downward header and Paulo Gazzaniga was sharp getting down to the ball to keep it out and then blocking Fry’s follow-up. The ball didn’t go far setting up Saville for a shot that Gazzaniga and Alderweireld prevented going past them.

Some pressure at the Boro end by Aurier brought Spurs a couple of corners, but nothing came from them other than the home keeper going for the ball and not getting near it. Some neat passing on the left produced a shot for Eriksen, but it was blocked. Tottenham’s players were slipping over and after earlier pratfalls by Gazzaniga, Liucas and Dier, Vertonghen going over let Spence run with the ball, but his pass to Fletcher was over-hit and went off for a goal-kick. Gazzaniga then just got away from Fletcher when taking a back pass and the ball was played through the lines to Aurier on the right, but his cross was a little behind Dele, who couldn’t manage to make contact with a back-heel.  A Spurs free-kick on the left gave Tottenham the opportunity to cause some problems for the home team, but Eriksen’s ball down the inside of the left of the box was neither hard enough to be a shot and too weak for it to reach Dier. Dele was getting caught on the ball as more determined Boro players won it off him, but Aurier won the ball in the attacking third to allow it to find him again and cross, but Sessegnon was put off by  Spence at the far post.  In a bizarre pattern of play just before the break, Winks was taken late on his ankle by Fletcher and then Dele was bundled over by McNair and got a yellow card for his troubles. I’m not sure what the Spurs midfielder was supposed to do, as he couldn’t just disappear as the Boro defender blocked his way.

Into the second half, another free-kick saw Fry head across goal and Saville fell backwards into Vertonghen wanting a penalty. He didn’t get it but a ball over the defence from sent Fletcher through to knock the ball past Gazzaniga to hand the home team the lead. A simple ball and a simple goal that we keep conceding. It looked as though Fletcher might have been offside, but he was allowed to go on and the goal stood. The way we ere playing, without penetration and looking to play the ball for the perfect goal, a goal for Spurs didn’t look likely. The  touches weren’t coming off and Spurs weren’t matching Boro’s willingness to work hard to get tackles in and win the ball. Bringing on Lo Celso and Lamela for Winks and Sessegnon was intended to kick start Spurs into action.

Suddenly there looked a bit of urgency about Spurs and passes were starting to find their intended recipient. Aurier and Lucas worked a nice move on the right and the ball came into Son in the box, but he couldn’t shake off the red shirts around him.  When Dier won the ball inside his own half, the ball was played inside from a throw-in to Lo Celso. He sent Aurier away on the right and his cross was headed back past the keeper’s left by Moura to level the score. Lucas did well to run off the back of Howson to make space that the cross picked out with an acre of space around him to judge his header out of the goalkeeper’s reach.

Boro had dropped deep again, with the hope of drawing Spurs on and hitting on the break, but with Lamela and Lo Celso, Spurs had injected a bit of pace and that put caution in the mind of the home players’ minds. Middlesbrough brought on Gestede for Roberts and indicated that they might go long, but a mistake by Vertonghen allowed Spence to tackle him and for Fletcher to back-heel the ball to Gestede, but his shot from the 18-yard line was straight at Gazzaniga. 

Lo Celso was trying to make the team tick with some bright passes, but the sheer weight of numbers  was stopping Spurs progressing. Lamela got a shooting chance from 20 yards and it bounced just in front of the keeper, who tipped it wide diving to his left. Aurier put in a cross that was aimed at Alderweireld at the near post, but it was headed out for a corner. Dele had dropped back into a deeper position, with Lo Celso and Lamela pushing further forward. Lucas won an initial header on halfway, then, taking the ball form Son he ran at the home defence, looked like he lost it, won it off Howson and then slipped, but won a corner.

Despite the massive amount of possession Tottenham were not finding it easy to test Mejias.  With ten minutes to go, Spurs worked the ball across the face of the penalty area and back, before Lucas unleashed a drive that the keeper did well to push away for a corner. It was a good save to keep Boro in the game.  Eriksen almost put Lo Celso through but the keeper raced out to sweep the ball out of play. Saville was booked for a cynical swipe at Lo Celso and Lamela was so incensed, he talked himself into a booking too. It was needless and only served to use up a bit of time that was running short if Tottenham wanted to win this at the first go. As it was, Erik ran at the defence and won the ball off an attempted slide tackle before passing it wide to Aurier in space, but he skied his shot leaving the goalkeeper untroubled.

Too many times Spurs worked the ball into good wide positions, but the crosses coming in were not good enough to test the Boro defence. Lamela jinked wide in the box, but his low ball in went straight to the goalie.  Eriksen conceded a last minute free-kick that looked to be pumped into the box, which it was, but Gazzaniga came to collect it. Another last minute free-kick was played in but Toby to control to clear it and we gained possession when McNair fluffed his control, but a long pass to Dele was too long and it ran out of play. That was the last of the action and it will be all back to N17 for a replay in a couple of weeks time.

Things are not working properly in the Spurs side at the moment.  It doesn't take a genius to see that, but will it take a genius to sort it out ?  Mourinho inherited a side in transition and he won't be able to make everything right immediately, but he will need to act quickly during the transfer window to try and rectify some of the shortcomings, otherwise an exit from the FA Cup could be the season over for us.  There is still the Champions League, but the team will need to be clicking by the time the next round comes around and we have Liverpool up next in the Premier League.  I think for that one, as fans, we will just have to sit back and let it happen.

Peewee, Hertford

Match facts


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How the players did
Paulo Gazzaniga Good double save to keep out Boro in the second half, but once more, had little to do other than that other than to collect the ball from the net.
Ryan Sessegnon Looked willing to go forward, but often not found and when he was seemed reluctant to take on his man.  Did well defensively, but would like to see him have a go at beating his man to get crosses in.
Serge Aurier Went on the attack from the off and although he provided a peach of a cross for Moura to score, most of his efforts were not great.  Panicked with a great chance to win it at the end.
Toby Alderweireld Solid but we are getting caught out by straight balls over the back line, with Toby getting caught on the turn.  He's not alone, but we need to sort it out.
Eric Dier People won't like it, but he did a solid job.  Won the ball to start the move for the goal and didn't get bullied off the ball by Boro's pressing.
Jan Vertonghen Looked like he had other things on his mind at times.  Was pressed hard and didn't have outlets to find with passes out of defence and almost handed Gestede a chance just after the Boro man had come one.  Not sure what will happen to him in the transfer window, but we are stuck for left backs at the moment.
Harry Winks Looked to play the ball forward, but got caught on the ball and Fletcher's tread on his ankle eventually caused him to be subbed.
Dele Alli Another odd performance.  In the first half when he was playing higher up the pitch, he was frustrated by not receiving the ball and kept getting the ball taken off him, but in the second, when he played a deeper role, he had more influence, although rarely got into the box.
Christian Eriksen Mixed bag today, with some good passes and a shot in the first half, but some of his passing was short and the dead ball delivery didn't cause enough trouble for the Boro defence.
Lucas Moura Worked hard and kept running at the Boro back five.  Well worth his goal and could have had another but for a flying save from Mejias.
Heung-Min Son Played as the main striker with Lucas off him, but had few chances to move the ball inside the box, as too many defenders swarmed around him.
Giovani Lo Celso Looked keen to move Tottenham forward and his running at players opened up space for others.  Lots of red shirts to get through when he had the chance to shoot though.
Erik Lamela Another sub who came on with Lo Celso and pushed Boro back with his running with the ball.  Didn't need to get booked, as referee wasn't going to do anything more than book Saville.
Michel Vorm Unused.
Japhet Tanganga Unused.
Davinson Sanchez Unused.
Oliver Skipp Unused.
Troy Parrott Unused.


What you thought
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Other scores in this round :
Bristol City 1 Shrewsbury Town 1 Saturday
Millwall 3 Newport County 0 Saturday
Rochdale 1 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Rotherham United 2 Hull City 3 Saturday
Birmingham City 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
Burnley 4 Peterborough United 2 Saturday
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1 Saturday
Cardiff City 2 Carlisle United 2 Saturday
Fulham 2 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Oxford United 4 Hartlepool United 1 Saturday
Southampton 2 Huddersfield Town 0 Saturday
Brentford 1 Stoke City 0 Saturday
Preston North End 2 Norwich City 4 Saturday
Reading 2 Blackpool 2 Saturday
Watford 3 Tranmere Rovers 3 Saturday
Bournemouth 4 Luton Town 0 Saturday
Leicester City 2 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Manchester United 0 Saturday
Fleetwood Town 1 Portsmouth 2 Saturday
Manchester City 4 Port Vale 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 0 West Bromwich Albion 1 Sunday
Chelsea 2 Nottingham Forest 0 Sunday
Crewe Alexandra 1 Barnsley 3 Sunday
QPR 5 Swansea City 1 Sunday
Sheffield United 2 AFC Fylde 1 Sunday
Bristol Rovers 2 Coventry City 2 Sunday
Burton Albion 2 Northampton Town 4 Sunday
Crystal Palace 0 Derby County 1 Sunday
Liverpool 1 Everton 0 Sunday
Gillingham 0 West Ham United London 2 Sunday
Arsenal - - - -day
Leeds United - - - -day


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