Match Review; Marine AFC 0 Spurs 5. We did enough to go through
What was great about this match, apart from the result, was that I could watch the game in my living room and on TV. I have no Sky, so it was either an iPad or a computer if it isn’t on terrestrial TV.
I predicted 5-0 and 5-0 we got. Once we scored enough goals, we took our foot off the gas. I was also glad that Bale was brought on for the sake of Marine and their fans.
When the game started I was on my second glass of wine, and I said, I won’t have another one until we scored. Then we scored, and I went to get another glass… eventually, I had to say, steady on! But at least I am in one piece to write this (but then again, that is a matter of opinion).
To the match
Non-League Marine produced a gutsy performance against us. They were 160 places below us, so full credit to them for their performance.
A first-half hat-trick for Carlos Vinicius, a superb free-kick from Lucas Moura and a first senior goal by 16-year-old substitute Alfie Devine settled the tie. Marine, who play in the eighth tier of English football, had given us a scare early on when Neil Kengni’s 25-yard attempt beat keeper Joe Hart before hitting the bar. To be fair, it wouldn’t have made a difference if it had gone in, the result would have been overwhelmingly in our favour. But they did holdout for 24 minutes before we demonstrated our quality in a tie with the most significant gulf at this stage of this competition’s history.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for part-time Marine, a moment in the sun on a cold January evening on Merseyside. No fans were allowed inside the ground because of the stay at home rule, but that didn’t stop the adjacent houses bringing out the residents to watch this match (far better than being stuck inside and watching it on TV like we were). Those neighbours will be able to talk about it until the cows come home. At least with Spurs coming to Merseyside, it has lifted a few hearts in these dull and scary times. The match created noise from fans in the back gardens. There was even a cardboard cutout of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, adding to the fun.
Throughout the game some sipped drinks while watching over fences, others climbed trees and scaffolding to get a better view of the action. A loud cheer reverberated around the ground when keeper Bayleigh Passant saved our first serious attempt from Dele Alli in the sixth minute. And the sound of air horns could be heard when Kengni beat Hart from 35 yards, only for the bar to save embarrassment in the 20th minute before we took firm control.
Merseyside Police later issued a statement which said a “small gathering” had taken place and that the “vast majority of people present were adhering to social distancing measures and those who were not were advised by officers”.
The car park at the front of the ground was too small for Tottenham’s executive team coach; therefore, everybody had to get off on the pavement and walked into the Marine Travel Arena before checking out the function room converted into the away dressing room for the occasion. It was all good fun. I just wish I was there; I should have been there, but alas, the law said otherwise.
Marine had put on sale £10 virtual tickets which included a raffle with a prize of becoming the team’s manager for one game. Mourinho was among the 20,000-plus who purchased a ticket.
We showed respect; Mourinho had included nine full internationals in his starting line-up, despite Harry Kane’s absence. We had won the game before the half time whistle was blown. Still, Vinicius impressed in Kane’s absence against a Marine side including NHS workers, teachers and a refuse collector.
Vinicius’s first goal was a tap-in after a lovely assist from Alli, who was also involved in Vinicius’ second goal. Moura’s free-kick put the tie out of Marine’s reach, and Vinicius claimed the match ball with a brilliant lob from 14 yards. Bale came on in the 65th minute, but it was a young substitute and former Liverpool academy player Devine who extended our lead from a tight angle on his first appearance for the club.
Aged 16 years 162 days, Devine is the youngest player to score for a Football League or Premier League club in the FA Cup since George Williams for MK Dons against Nantwich in November 2011 (16 years 66 days).
We have had a player score an FA Cup hat-trick in four of the past five seasons – Kane and Son in 2016-17, Fernando Llorente in 017-18 and 2018-19 and now Vinicius.
Vinicius is the first player to score an FA Cup hat-trick for Mourinho’s side since Frank Lampard for Chelsea against Macclesfield in January 2007.
Marine have lost both of their FA Cup third-round matches – they were also beaten by Crewe Alexandra in 1992-93.
Top-flight clubs have now progressed from 47 of their past 49 FA Cup ties against non-league opponents, with the only two failing in this run being Norwich and Burnley, who lost to Luton in 2013, Lincoln in 2017 respectively.
What’s next for us?
We are back in action on Wednesday at Aston Villa in the Premier League (20:15 GMT). That is if the match is still on because of illnesses in the Villa camp.
Monday evening, I think on BBC 1 or Two, the draw for the 4th round will be made. Just check your TV Times for the exact details.
Best regards, and stay safe,