Scottish Daily Mail

Spurs given a scare by brave Morecambe


THE game plan was wise from Morecambe: fight, pester, tackle and nick a goal. Not that Antonio Conte would have seen it that way — this would have been viewed more like a comedy of errors than a comedy sketch for the Tottenham manager.

The strategy devised by former Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson — who missed the game after contractin­g Covid — and his assistant Diarmuid O’Carroll took the League One side all the way through to the 85th minute with hope of causing an upset.

In the end, they were left heartbroke­n, Spurs somehow scraping a victory from a game that looked like ending in humiliatio­n.

But to call Morecambe the losers doesn’t do them justice. Out of the cup? Yes. Losers? Absolutely not.

Brave and courageous, had they displayed a little more quality in front of goal, who knows how this might have ended?

Conte rested his big-hitters, a logical decision given the week ahead — a 2-0 deficit to overcome in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg with Chelsea before Sunday’s north London derby.

It was an opportunit­y for fringe players to make a mark — but most woefully passed it up. Boos greeted them at half-time and they can have no complaints.

Not just because they were trailing to a team fighting relegation from League One but because the performanc­e was devoid of verve, quality or urgency. Tottenham’s second-string simply expected to turn up and win.

Had Tanguy Ndombele and Ben Davies converted decent chances inside the opening three minutes, perhaps the game would have developed differentl­y.

Had Matt Doherty not struck a post from Giovani Lo Celso’s 19th-minute corner, maybe they’d have been spared the half-time jeers.

Spurs only had themselves to blame when Morecambe captain and ex-Aberdeen player Anthony O’Connor escaped the attentions of Japhet Tanganga in the 33rd minute to thump home Alfie McCalmont’s corner.

Had Jacob Bedeau generated more purchase on his header in the 42nd minute, this could have turned ugly for the home side. Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Oliver Skipp were sent to warm-up immediatel­y after the restart. The threat of the hook appeared to have zero impact on Tottenham’s players. They looked on as ex-Hearts star Cole Stockton squandered another decent chance on 50 minutes. Spurs’ Dele Alli forced on-loan Dundee United keeper Trevor Carson into an instinctiv­e save in the 54th minute before Doherty nodded Lo Celso’s corner wide from the resultant corner. The heavy artillery arrived in the 69th minute with Kane (below), Skipp and Moura all introduced. Ndombele was booed as he slowly trudged off to throw further uncertaint­y over his future at the club. The equaliser came on 74 minutes, Harry Winks’ free-kick from the left escaping everyone in the box including Carson to sail in at the back post. Spare a thought for Morecambe’s Ryan McLaughlin, whose mistake ultimately killed the dream. There looked little danger when the ex-Aberdeen loan defender received the ball just inside the Spurs half but hesitated. And hesitated again. Moura stole the ball, rounded Carson, and scored the winner. Kane scored another before the end to seal victory but Morecambe were flat-out by then. Conte said: ‘We have to be a bit disappoint­ed because I think we can do much better.’

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