- Attendance 19,491
Match Report by John Ellis at Wembley
FA Cup: Crystal Palace 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
And so within a matter of three days, the opportunity of challenging on four fronts had reduced to two. The ravages of cup defeats, injuries, Asian Cup, new stadium uncertainties and a lack of transfer activity threaten an implosion.
December was incredibly tough on the players and the midweek match at home to Watford feels a week too soon
The players fought valiantly in the second half but without the Fab Four of Kane, Dele, Eriksen and Son the line up looked bereft of quality. Palace put out a seasoned front three and before kick off the corresponding line ups didn’t give cause for optimism.
The fans showed great backing towards Dier at the start of the game but the fans having had a difficult end to endure at Chelsea on Thursday night and a difficult start to endure today.
Zaha too easily went by Sanchez and shot which Gazzaniga parried but Wickham buried the rebound. The worst possible start…
It took until the 18th before Spurs had a first shot in anger with Moura’s rasping effort going just over the bar.
Within a minute Gazzaniga dived to keep the deficit down to 1-0.
In the 27th minute a short Trippier corner to N’Koudou was poorly lost but Skipp not for the first time in the opening stages proved up to the challenge with an excellent tackle.
The players seemed reluctant to change the style of play towards the crossing of the ball to play to Llorente’s strength.
In the 33rd minute a cross came over at the other end which looked like eluding Walker-Peters but he inexplicably nudged the ball away with his hand to concede a penalty. Townsend duly buried the spot kick to make it 2-0. Am already very large hill had become a mountain.
In the 36th minute Zaha broke down the left and played the ball back for Townsend to bring a diving parried save to keep Spurs faint hopes alive. It really should have been game over.
A couple of minutes later and a good passing move ended with Moura being brought down on the edge of the box.
Trippier surprised everyone by playing an inside left ball to N’Koudou who one on one couldn’t beat the 39 years old substitute keeper… Twice…
In the 43rd minute Foyth was brought down in the box. Trippier stepped up and beat the keeper but also the post and almost the corner flag with a quite dreadful penalty kick.it was a gilt edged chance right on half time to set up a second half comeback.
Spurs started the second half brightly with Lamela on for Vertonghen asking questions of the home defence.
In the 52nd minute Llorente did well to turn and bring a diving save from Speroni. Three corners in the opening stages suggested words had been exchanged in the away dressing room at half time. There was so much more urgency in the play but inevitably in reverting to a back four against the pace of Zaha and Townsend, Spurs would be more exposed to the counter.
Spurs continued to press with Moura and Lamela at the heart of some intricate passing but the goal wouldn’t come. It felt the next goal in the game would be crucial.
In the 61st minute with the Spurs fans willing their team on vociferously another good move ended with Dier feeding Llorente to bring another save from the keeper.
Two entirely separate chances were created in the 66th minute firstly by N’Koudou with Lamela’s shot being blocked and then a volley from Trippier which went wide.
A special word for Foyth who had an excellent game including dispossessing Zaha in a couple of one one ones and launched a number of threatening attacks The elusive goal just wouldn’t come though.
The pressure was relentless and one goal would surely produce two but despite the efforts of the players, the clock marched forward towards the 80th minute.
Crosses just missed Spurs heads and feet as did rebounds. It just wouldn’t come. On a very rare break, Gazzaniga dived to save low by his right post from Zaha.
Four minutes added time didn’t produce the goal and it felt another four hours wouldn’t.
So three days before the next games and four days before the transfer window closes. Son will be back but his comments of feeling as if he is running on empty shouldn’t be ignored. He has played 45 games since just before the World Cup which incidentally was at the end of a long 17/18 season. The 45 games include three international tournaments.
Let’s hope the club take heed and are able to freshen the squad up in the coming days.
The next three Premier League games are all at home and nine points feels a big ask right now but my word are nine points needed.