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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Only Tottenham could make such a simple task so ludicrously difficult. Only Tottenham could take an unloseable game and almost throw it away. Harry Redknapp has booked his place at Wembley for a second season running, but he won't kid himself that his team deserves it. Two late goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermaine Defoe made it look much more comfortable than it was, but for 117 minutes at wet, windy Turf Moor, Spurs were humiliated.

Their stupidity was best summed up by Benoit Assou-Ekoto, who decided early on that the ideal way to calm debutant goalkeeper Ben Alnick's jangling nerves was to pass the ball back to him and let him get a feel for it. Unfortunately for the former Sunderland stopper, Assou-Ekoto chipped his backpass up in the air and over his head. It was only a superb stretching save that prevented the Cameroonian left-back from securing the Own Goal Of The Decade trophy.

Burnley were magnificent. Under their former manager Steve Cotteril they were a drab, defensive outfit who massed their midfield and won only occasionally, usually by boring the opposition to death. Owen Coyle has changed all that. This is a team packed with life and verve. They pass the ball as well as most Premier League side, indeed a number of players would not look out of place in the top flight. Chris Eagles has already been there, of course, with Manchester United, but his performance here suggests that Sir Alex Ferguson may have erred in letting him leave.

Tottenham were, with the exception of Jamie O'Hara, absolutely dreadful and worthy of nothing but contempt. It was obvious in their body language that they believe this tie to have been settled. They weren't thinking about Burnley. They were thinking about Wembley. O'Hara, who wasn't even on the bench for last season's final, charged around the pitch trying to plug all the holes at once. He didn't want to miss out again, but none of his team-mates seemed overly bothered until it was almost too late.

All of the goals were preventable. The first, a ripsnorter of a free-kick from Robbie Blake, should have been comfortably stopped, but Alnwick was out of position. Then in the second half, Burnley stepped up a gear and found room all over the park. Chris McCann should never have been given the room in the box to slot home, but again Tottenham's lethargy cost them dearly. Then Alnwick blundered again, spilling a deep cross that he could have left, substitute Jay Rodriguez firing home.

But they just couldn't quite hold on. With three minutes of extra-time remaining their resistance finally broke. Pavluchenko slammed the ball home for an undeserved goal that was swiftly followed by another as Burnley's hearts cracked. There is no justice. The Championship side were vastly superior in their first half at White Hart Lane and harshly punished in the second. To miss out on Wembley is a traversty.

Harry Redknapp hung his head at the final whistle and walked towards Coyle with an embarrassed shrug. He had the dignity and good grace not to celebrate this result. Spurs are through, but their shortfalls and limitations are there for all to see. Cup Final or no Cup Final, it's going to be a long, hard run-in at White Hart Lane



MATCH STATS

Crowd - 19, 533
Yellow Cards - McCann, Duff (Burnley), Bentley (Spurs)
Red Cards - None
Burnley -
Brian Jensen 9, Graham Alexander 8, Mike Duff 8, Wayne Carlisle 8, Stephen Jordan 7 (Christian Kalvenes 7, 39th), Wade Elliot 7, Joey Gudjonsson 7 (Jay Rodriguez 7, 81st), Chris McCann 8, Chris Eagles 9, Martin Paterson 8 (Ade Akinbiyi 100th), Robbie Blake 8
Tottenham -
Ben Alnwick 2, Benoit Assou-Ekoto 3, Jonathan Woodgate 3, Michael Dawson 4, Chris Gunter 4 (Abel Taarbart 5, 95th), David Bentley 3, Didier Zokora 3, Tom Huddlestone 3, Jamie O'Hara 7 (Gareth Bale 4, 63rd) , Luka Modric 2 (Roman Pavlyuchenko 6, 65th), Jermain Defoe 5
 
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