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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 January 2021

FA Cup: Spurs take 24 minutes to score but beat 8th-tier side

Tottenham has beaten Marine after biggest mismatch in FA Cup history

Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at Rossett Park, Crosby. PA 
Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at Rossett Park, Crosby. PA 

Marine’s part-time players had been holding off Tottenham for 20 minutes when apprentice plumber Neil Kengni saw his chance.

About 30 metres from the goal of Joe Hart, who has played at a World Cup for England, Kengni unleashed a shot.

Surely the semi-professional, eighth-tier club could not take the lead against the Premier League’s fourth-place team?

Only the crossbar spared the blushes and Hart of Tottenham, who tipped the ball over to be sure.

But incredibly, Tottenham still took 24 minutes to beat goalkeeper Bayleigh Passant in the biggest mismatch in FA Cup history as Carlos Vinícius broke the unexpectedly long deadlock on Sunday.

“For an eighth-tier team to see out Tottenham for 24 minutes is something special but we felt there we could have kept them out for a little bit longer,” Passant told AP. “It was just a lack of concentration.”

It did not always look like 161 places separated these sides in the English football pyramid as Marine defended valiantly against the 2019 Champions League runners-up.

Tottenham went on to win 5-0, with Vinícius scoring a hat trick, but that is only the same goal margin by which the London club beat Manchester United earlier in the Premier League season.

“We showed fight and determination that we didn’t want to make a laughing stock out of ourselves,” said Passant, who also works in a supermarket.

“People around the world and in Crosby can be happy with us that even though we got beaten 5-0, we tried our best.”

This was the ultimate culture shock for the millionaires of Tottenham.

They changed in a wedding venue that is part of Marine Travel Arena.

Unlike Spurs' new £1.1 billion ($1.49bn) stadium, this is a sparse venue crammed between two streets of red-brick terraced houses with one small stand.

Because of the pandemic, the only supporters able to watch in person were in the gardens of Rossett Road, separated from the narrow touchline by a low brick wall.

A few supporters stood on the wall and peered through the fence struck over manager Jose Mourinho and the Tottenham bench.

Others climbed trees to gain any vantage point and blasted horns.

The best view of the Tottenham players was in the streets of this Liverpool commuter town as fans lined the roads to see the team bu ariive, despite the country being in a coronavirus lockdown.

While Harry Kane was left behind in London, this was still a Tottenham side packed with international stars, including Gareth Bale, one of the world’s most expensive players.

Yet even a trip to Marine saw Bale’s frustrations continue with a free kick saved by Passant.

A moment of Tottenham history was created not just by playing the fixture but by Alfie Devine, aged 16 years and 163 days becoming the team’s youngest-ever scorer.

It was the only goal in the second half after Brazilian Lucas Moura also scored from a free kick before the break.

“It was overwhelming but there was also disappointment,” Passant said. “It’s just unfortunate at the end that we conceded five goals.”

This was no rout or humiliation for the Marine players who will go back to their day jobs, uncertain when they will play again with their league on hold during the new lockdown.

And when the final whistle blew after a valiant display, they went over to thank the fans peering from Rossett Road gardens.

Even without a crowd being allowed in, enterprising Marine sold more than 30,000 online tickets for £10 each, ensuring the windfall from the cup run, including prize money and TV cash, exceeded £500,000.

“At a tough time when there are many non-league clubs struggling financially, this is really nice,” Marine manager Neil Young said.

Updated: January 11, 2021 01:59 AM

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