Who said you need a big, fancy stadium to experience a proper English football match?
The scene was set for Tottenham's third-round FA Cup tie against Marine AFC, an eighth-tier professional side based out of Crosby, Merseyside. Rather than the futuristic, near billion-pound comforts of home, Spurs traveled to Rossett Park to endure horn blasts from the crowd, Klopp’s cardboard cousin taking notes, and a pitch that could be mistaken as a local gathering spot for the neighborhood children.
However, that’s the beauty of the FA Cup: where all the luxurious bells and whistles are forgotten, and it's truly about the roots of the game.
Despite the early heart-in-your-mouth moment when Marine’s Neil Kengi struck the crossbar from a long distance, this proved to be an easy fixture for Spurs. A first-half hat trick from Carlos Vinícius, on loan from Benfica, put the game out of reach.
Lucas Moura also netted a gorgeous free kick in the 32nd minute, but the man of the match was undoubtedly Dele Alli. The talented midfielder was the linchpin of the Spurs attack and although he didn’t score, he set up almost every first-half chance.
The second half was a mere formality, but it was highlighted by a special moment for one young Spurs forward: Alfie Devine. The 16-year-old substitute, on his professional debut, scored a brilliant near-post strike in the 60th minute to make it 5-0.
Spurs’ size, speed and class were too much for underdog hosts to contend with; they’re on to the next round and will now face Wycombe. They also return to Premier League action this Wednesday with a home fixture against Fulham, a match that was postponed earlier this season because of COVID-19.
A few more notes:
- Although his workload wasn’t excessive, defender Joe Rodon impressed. The Welsh international, on loan from Swansea City, made a couple of really nice defensive plays and was a presence out there.
- Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Gedson Fernandes, who looked sloppy and out of sorts. The Portuguese forward, who was Mourinho’s first signing as Spurs manager, will need a stronger showing next time he’s thrust into the lineup.