A weird FA Cup 3rd Rd day.
Middlesbrough 1 Spurs 1 FA Cup third Rd.
Yes, a weird day, more ways than one. It all started off with me changing my schedule because my mum (who is 92) was rushed to hospital with cancer, so instead of going to London on Saturday, I left for London on Friday evening. The next day, with Hanna, we went to visit my mum (in Lowestoft), then on Sunday, I got up early to get a coach to Middlesbrough (from Lee Valley). My phone satnav packed up and the car one gave me wrong directions. Then google map tried to send me in a different direction. But as I roughly knew my way, I got there in the end.
My coach left (four coaches in all) at 5.20 am. A dark and miserable morning. We did, however, stop on the way at a Service Station for an hours break. There was, however, an incident with alcohol on the coach (you are not allowed on football coaches with alcohol). Somebody smuggled it on and got caught. The driver wanted to throw them off, but the Spurs Stewards refused. No doubt they will be reported, and sanctions will be imposed against the culprits. Moving on…
About fifteen miles away from the stadium (about 12ish), we pulled into a service station where there were four police cars and three police motorcycle waiting (I bet some heads ducked!). We thought, what is happening here? Intriguing! What was happening was that they were there to give us an escort to the stadium. Now, I’ve travelled all over Britain and Europe to watch Spurs play, and it was only countries like Italy or Greece that gave you police escorts (apart from the bad old troubled days where you got a police escort wherever you went… violence was part of the fabric of football back then… oh, I remember those days well!). I am not talking about the standard police presence here. We all thought it was over the top. They obviously had nothing better to do and no criminals to catch in that part of the country.
On the plus side, we got to the ground quicker (traffic was held up to let us pass as if we were royalty!). Once off the coach, we mingled (nobody came to ask for our autographs, a bit of a let down). As for the stadium security; no bag checks, no body checks. We just had to show our ticket and through.
Usually, I complain about standing, this time around it there were many seats unoccupied (that was for home and away supporters), so we could sit and watch the game in peace. Obviously only a game for the hardcore supporters. What other idiots wanted to travel to an away match on a cold January day when you can sit comfortably at home and watch it on the box? Yes, I’ll put my hand up as being one of those idiots.
Jonathan Woodgate and assistant Robbie Keane were in charge at Middlesbrough (ex-Spurs). Our talents spread, that is the players, not mine (oh, I wish!).
The game kicked off to a scrappy affair. But by the second half, we were better, but not winnable better though.
Jose Mourinho admitted we were "in trouble" but praised the players' reaction as they came back to draw at Middlesbrough and force an FA Cup third-round replay. Weren’t we all!
We named a full-strength team, bar the injured Harry Kane, but trailed to the Championship side when Ashley Fletcher ran on to George Saville's ball and slotted home. Lucas Moura saved us with a fine header from Serge Aurier's cross.
Mourinho thought Fletcher was offside for Boro's goal, but actually seemed pleased that the video assistant referee system was not in action. "The Middlesbrough goal is offside. VAR would give [the offside decision]. But the game was good. The referee was Stuart [Attwell], not some guy in an office 200 miles away," he said,
Moura twice went close to a winner, with goalkeeper Tomas Mejias stopping his long-range shots.
Aurier could have won the game for Mourinho's side in the closing minutes but fired an effort well over the bar. Fletcher had an earlier chance to make it 2-1 to Middlesbrough - managed by one-time Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate - but shot straight at Paulo Gazzaniga.
After the game back to the coach, another escort part of the way, a bit later a 10-minute stopover and then we were back at Lee Valley by 9.15 pm. From there to Goodmayes to pick my dog up and then drive home (got home at about midnight).
Overall, bad result, not an excellent performance, but we’ve got another crack at the FA cherry. As for the rest of the day; very enjoyable. Interesting discussions, friends met and terrific camaraderie (as you get with Spurs supporters). Just wish that the team bucked their ideas up. There is talent there waiting to dazzle us (and the world).
The replay at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be on Tuesday, 14 January.
"We wanted to win, but we knew it would be difficult. We managed to bring the game to our stadium. It's a game we don't need, our squad is short with so many problems - but it's a game at home, and we have to go for it," said Mourinho.
Our next match is in the League this Saturday at 5.30pm against Liverpool.
All the best, Glenn Renshaw
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