Lawrie Wilson of Stevenage and Louis Saha of Tottenham during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Stevenage and Tottenham Hotspur at The Lamex Stadium on February 19, 2012 in Stevenage, England.
I'm going to be perfectly honest. I don't really care to write a proper match report for this game, and it's not because Tottenham Hotspur failed to get a good result. Coincidentally, this is exactly how I felt after almost every single Colorado Rapids match that I watched over the last two seasons. Stevenage played exactly like the Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
So yeah, I'm a little bitter. Before this game, Ryan Rosenblatt wrote a preview in which he expressed his distaste for Gary Smith's tactics. A few Stevenage fans abused him, called him a "yank c--t", and told him to "do your research". It turns out that he knew more about the way Stevenage would play on Sunday than the Stevenage supporters who abused him. Surprise!
Stevenage played a 4-4-2 with nine men behind the ball for most of the match, was extremely physical, and committed twice as many fouls as Tottenham. They did well on counter attacks and set pieces. They probably could have scored if their central midfielders stepped up when they had the ball in the box. It was the Gary Smith special.
Oh, I haven't mentioned it yet: This match finished 0-0. It was a bad game of football. There will be a replay at White Hart Lane. Stevenage got their seven-figure payday. Good for them.
Spurs started in a 3-5-2 that featured Gareth Bale as the most advanced player of the midfield three. Against a defensive 4-4-2, this setup made sense, but it didn't look like Tottenham had ever practiced it or discussed it in training. It was as if Harry just woke up this morning and decided to throw it out there. For the first 35 minutes, Tottenham's passing was abysmal.
They looked better in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but Stevenage did well to keep Tottenham off the board. I have an intense distaste for Gary Smith's team and tactics, but I have nothing bad to say about Stevenage's back line and goalkeeper Chris Day. They had excellent games. Our poor play and Smith's tactics take nothing away from that, kudos to them.
Tottenham's best chance came in the 56th minute, when Louis Saha appeared to score a goal. Incredibly, Scott Parker found himself on the line, offside, and the ball deflected off him and went into the back of the net. Even though a goal would have been scored if Parker wasn't there, he was offside and interfered with play, so the call was correct.
Saha had a couple of other opportunities, which he turned into a couple of bad misses. Jermain Defoe was ineffective, and except for a great shot that was saved by Day early in the second half, Bale was largely ineffective as well.
This wasn't a great performance, but it's not the end of the world. King, Modric, Benny and Manny all got rests ahead of the North London Derby. I expect us to win the replay. Well played Stevenage, but Gary Smith can piss off forever.