Chairboys give it their all but are beaten at death
ONCE Gareth Ainsworth had caught his breath, the Wycombe Wanderers manager declared himself immensely proud of his men that pushed eight-time FA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur all the way at White Hart Lane.
Having led 2-0 at the interval, the Chairboys were pegged back by the Premier League title-challengers, only for substitute Garry Thompson to head Wycombe back in front on 83 minutes.
Spurs levelled a pulsating cup tie through Dele Alli before Heung-Min Son broke the visitors’ hearts when he pounced in the seventh minute of injury time.
Ainsworth’s initial emotion was that of deflation, but he was keen to dwell on the positives as his in-form side stood toe-to-toe with mighty Spurs.
“The result is frustrating, there were a couple of incidents in the game which didn’t go our way,” said Ainsworth.
“It was a very soft penalty, the winning goal seems to have come in overtime of overtime, but I don’t want to go negative, I want to be positive and say as a manager you can’t ask for anything more from your players.
“They have done the whole town proud, me proud, and themselves proud.
“I was gutted at the end, but the overriding emotion now is how proud we are of what we have achieved and how far we have come as a club.”
The Chairboys, unbeaten in League Two since October, almost took the lead in the first minute when Paul Hayes struck the crossbar, setting the tone for the afternoon to come.
Aaron Pierre stopped GeorgeKevin Nkoudou opening the scoring before Adebayo Akinfenwa and Sam Wood both fluffed half-chances and Son missed an almost open goal.
But Wycombe were playing with confidence and Hayes opened the scoring on 23 minutes with a superb left-footed volley.
A corner was poorly headed away by Josh Onomah and Hayes made no mistake finding the net, adding White Hart Lane to his hit list after scoring at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium in his career.
Hayes made it two as he dispatched a spot-kick past Vorm with ease on 36 minutes after Wood was fouled by Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Spurs were stunned but did not submit and started the second half determined to find a way back into the tie.
Son did just that in the 59th minute as his deflected effort beat Jamal Blackman at his near post and half-time substitute Vincent Janssen made it 2-2, earning and then converting a penalty after drawing a foul from Aaron Pierre.
Kieran Tripper was forced off through injury with 15 minutes to play, leaving Tottenham a man down having used their full complement of substitutes. And 36-year-old striker Thompson, on for Hayes, took advantage, scoring a trademark header.
Alli made it 3-3 as he latched onto Mousa Dembele’s header before Son won the game in the closing seconds after playing a one-two with Janssen.
“In the first half they were better than us,” conceded Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. “We are a team involved in different competitions, so we look to play other players in this kind of game, but full credit must go to Wycombe.
“From day one everyone told me the FA Cup was magical but now I realise this is the most special competition in the world because in Italy, France or Spain, you cannot replicate the passion on the pitch of a side like Wycombe with players coming from League Two, who believe they can beat us here.
“The atmosphere and feeling the FA Cup creates is fantastic and is the beauty of the FA Cup.”
ECSTASY TO AGONY: Garry Thompson celebrates scoring Wycombe’s third goal. Inset: The Chairboys are dejected at full-time
HEARTBREAKER: Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son scores the winner