Burnley 1 Tottenham 1
As the elongated FA Cup third round continued last night (with matches still to play tonight as well), it is already beginning to feel more like a marathon than a sprint for the teams involved, especially as many will have to do it all over again before they can even contemplate navigating through the fourth round. Both Burnley and Spurs find themselves in that situation after playing out a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor, which although it keeps them in the cup (for a little longer at least) is probably the last thing either manager really wanted as the fixtures tot up.
Burnley are in a dogfight at the wrong end of the Premier League and their main focus will surely be on attempting to stay in the division for another season, after battling so hard to gain promotion in the first place. For Spurs, the targets seem slightly different as they contemplate the continuation of their journey into Europe in the Europa League and also have their eyes firmly focussed on a top four finish and Champions League #Football next season.
Both sides showed little real vitality to their play in a sub-standard first-half yesterday, but showed signs of improvement after the break. Spurs were buoyed by the classy victory over Chelsea in the league, but had made seven changes from that match as manager Mauricio Pochettino looked to freshen his side up, so perhaps the lack of continuity explained the action on the pitch.
Notably he again persevered with Roberto Soldado up front, as he attempts to get more out of his Spanish forward. Seeing that his side needed some spark up front, Pochettino had brought on Harry Kane after the break and his side responded by taking the lead ten minutes in, when Ben Davies’ cross was fired home powerfully by the Belgian, Nacer Chadli. Kane almost added to the scoreline himself shortly after, but was denied by Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal.
Burnley manager, Sean Dyche, decided that replacements of his own were necessary and on came Sam Vokes. It proved to be an inspired choice as the Clarets found an equaliser through Vokes on 73 minutes with a neat side-foot finish, just reward for a player who has endured nine months out due to a bad knee injury, with the game being only his second substitute appearance back since. The striker has recovered from rupturing his cruciate ligament back in March 2014 and is gradually being eased back into the first team, so the strike will give him hope that he can get back to the form he was in before the untimely break in his career.
As the game edged towards a likely replay, Tottenham almost snatched it as Christian Eriksen’s strike was blocked and then Kane fired wide of the post, but the game ended in a draw.
The winners of the replay at White Hart Lane will now entertain fellow Premier League strugglers, Leicester City in the fourth round after the draw was completed yesterday.