Spurs end Newport’s Cup run at the second attempt

Tottenham Hotspur ended Newport County’s brave FA Cup run with a 2-0 win. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Spurs end Newport’s Cup run at the second attempt

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur finally ended lowly Newport County’s brave FA Cup run with a 2-0 win in a fourth-round replay at Wembley on Wednesday.
Eight-time winners Spurs were just eight minutes away from a humiliating exit when England striker Harry Kane scored to salvage a 1-1 draw away to fourth-tier Newport last month.
But it was a different story at Wembley where, with South Korea’s Son Heung-Min impressing for Tottenham, Dan Butler’s 26th-minute own goal and an Erik Lamela strike eight minutes later put Spurs 2-0 up before half-time.
Tottenham will now travel to third-tier strugglers Rochdale for a last-16 tie on the weekend of February 17-18.
“It’s the FA Cup and it’s difficult,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told the BBC. “But I am happy because we wanted to be in the next round.
“Son Heung-Min is doing fantastic this season and he feels important.
“It is important to keep going and winning games. We are going to be very busy in the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup but we want to keep this run.”
Meanwhile Newport manager Michael Flynn praised the visitors’ performance.
“It was a good start in the first 25 minutes, but the manner of the goal, the way it went in, it took it out of the boys and deflated them,” he said.
“I am very proud of the players. They put in a huge amount of work and they have done themselves and the club proud.”
But not even the lure of a fixture at Wembley, Spurs’s temporary home while a new ground that will replace White Hart Lane is constructed, could stop Newport midfielder Sean Rigg quitting between the two ties to become a tattoo artist.
The FA Cup has been a huge financial boost for Newport, with their run to this stage earning them at least £700,000 ($972,000, 792,000 euros).
But the concern for the Welsh club was that the chance of an upset had come and gone at their Rodney Parade ground, where a goal from Irish striker Padraig Amond put them on course for a famous giant-killing.
Newport were far from overawed in the replay and they were unlucky when a cross from Moussa Sissoko deflected off Butler and past stranded goalkeeper Joe Day to put Spurs ahead.
It was not long before Spurs had their second goal, when Lamela, getting on the end of a well-weighted through ball from Son, scored for the first time since finding the net against Gillingham in September 2016.
Spurs were comfortable in the second half but late in the game Amond had a chance to add a Wembley goal to his one at Rodney Parade in the original tie only to shoot at Michel Vorm.


Big Man United fan MS Dhoni delves into Fergie time for Super Kings

Updated 16 min 44 sec ago
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Big Man United fan MS Dhoni delves into Fergie time for Super Kings

  • Chennai pull off yet another act of escapology
  • Faf du Plessis whacks 46 off his last 18 balls to see off Sunrisers

92:48. If you are a Real Madrid fan, those numbers are emblazoned in the memory in the same way that they are tattooed on Sergio Ramos’s arm.
His equaliser deep into stoppage time in the 2014 Champions League final, against bitter rivals Atletico Madrid, paved the way for the Decima and Real’s subsequent dominance of club football’s premier competition.
But more than a decade before Ramos, there was Fergie time and the latest of late goals. With six games to go in the inaugural English Premier League season (1992-93), Manchester United, who had not won the title since 1966-67, trailed Aston Villa by a point. Villa were managed by Ron Atkinson, Sir Alex Ferguson’s predecessor at Old Trafford, and a 0-0 draw at home to Coventry City was undoubtedly a setback for their hopes.
But at Old Trafford, United, who had lost out to Leeds United a season earlier, were in worse shape. Sheffield Wednesday scored first and though Steve Bruce equalised in the 86th minute, Wednesday stubbornly warded off further danger. In the 96th minute, it was Bruce again — the yeoman in a team of cavaliers — whose bullet header sealed all three points. United would win all their remaining games as Villa fell apart, and Ferguson would finish his career with 13 championships.
Six years later, Fergie time came into play even more memorably at the Nou Camp in Barcelona. Played off the park for long periods by Bayern Munich, United won the Champions League with two goals in injury time. There are few more iconic images of 20th century sport than that of Sammy Kuffour hammering his fist into the ground in disbelief.
MS Dhoni, a big United fan, was an unknown teenager hoping for his big break in eastern India when that happened. And in the years that followed, he took Fergie time and added his own unique touch to it. This season, Chennai Super Kings have taken Dhoni time to new, ridiculous levels, “winning games we had no business winning”, to quote Stephen Fleming, the coach.
In the tournament opener in Mumbai, their first game back after two years in exile, Chennai were down for the count at 105 for seven, needing another 61 from 31 balls. But Dwayne Bravo (68 from 30 balls) and a hamstrung Kedar Jadhav (24 off 22) smashed and grabbed a one-wicket win off the penultimate ball.
In their very next outing, Sam Billings thumped 56 from 23 as they scaled down a mammoth 203-run target with a ball to spare. In Bangalore a fortnight later, it was the main man himself, Dhoni, clubbing 70 from 34 as Chennai chased down 206 in 19.4 overs. And in the final game of the league phase, they recovered from 58 for four to beat Kings XI Punjab with five balls to spare. This time, Dhoni flummoxed his opponents and those watching by sending Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar to bat before he came in to finish the job.
The qualifier against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai on Tuesday night was another story. Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu, both in such prolific form this season, fell without scoring in pursuit of 140, and Dhoni eked out just nine before he was cleaned up by a Rashid Khan googly. At 62 for six in the 13th over, most Chennai fans were just thankful they would get another opportunity to make the final. No one was thinking of Dhoni time.
Faf du Plessis did. Having not had much game time this season, du Plessis, in the XI in place of the injured Billings, scored just 21 off the first 24 balls he faced. Then, with wickets having tumbled around him, he opened up those middleweight-boxer shoulders. The next 18 balls he faced went for 46 as Chennai won with five balls remaining. As Dhoni had in the World Cup final at the same venue seven years earlier, du Plessis finished it off with a straight six.
There was much skepticism of Chennai’s auction recruitment, with the emphasis on signing very experienced hands, and it has been the decision to trust in the youthful pace of Lungi Ngidi that has helped transform their season. With so many having chipped in with match-winning displays, they may not even need Dhoni time in the final. Just do not rule out the possibility of the Fergie fan leaving it to the last, if only to troll us all.