Good Game: The series looking at the amazing, utterly memorable, unbelievably dramatic and downright ludicrous games that involved Stevenage
Borough over the years. But we’ll insist that we accept no blame for memories warped by time, age or alcohol consumption at the time. We’ll never refer to any games involving Macclesfield Town either – particularly any at Broadhall Way. Those sort of things never happened, dontcha know…
White Hart Lane, London — 07 March 2012 — FA Cup R5 (replay)
Oh, how we enjoyed the 2011-2 season. To date, it’s as good as it ever got for our club; Boro’ on an exceptional ride to towards the League One playoffs – and making it past FA Cup Round Four for the first time ever. For new boss Gary Smith, things got off to a good start; overcoming Notts County in that Round Four tie, before winning 1-0 at Hillsborough in League One. Smiffy’s third game in charge? Just the small matter of the FA Cup Round Five tie against Tottenham Hotspur.
Boro’ got a credible draw on home turf; Joel Byrom nearly nicking it with a sizzler from 20 yards. But things then went a little awry. We had four league matches between that original tie and an exciting replay at the lane. And we won none of them. Two defeats and two draws suddenly put a damp cloth on our promotion hopes. It didn’t seem as if our cup replay against what we think were the highest-placed team left in the tournament would get us back into winning ways…
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Stevenage: The First Half
The exact gap at time of kick off was 49 places (and two leagues, obviously). But let’s not forget the magic of the cup (TM). We weren’t exactly here to sit back and make up the numbers either. Smith put out a rather dynamic-looking side in what we think was a 4-4-2 formation at the time; the mentality being that we might as well have a go. And we were rewarded for our adventure in quick time. Joel Byrom burst into the box and was felled by Ryan Nelsen.
The midfielder got back up, dusted himself off, and slotted the ball past Carlo Cudicini to give us an unlikely lead. The dream, it seemed, was on.
For the first 20-odd minutes, little else happened. Michael Dawson went off injured after coming together with Beardo. But we were workmanlike and organised, while Spurs were a bit ditzy. Or should that be Spursy? From nowhere, however, the hosts pulled themselves level. A long punt was picked up by Jermain Defoe, who bought himself a yard of space and fired home from long distance. Not exactly against the run of play, but it could have been avoided.
To be honest, that goal came a few minutes after another chance for us. Jon Ashton glanced a Byrom free-kick wide of the post. There was, however, a legit argument for another penalty as Scott Parker wrestled Michael Bostwick to the ground.
Again, the rest of the half seemed to plod on in quiet fashion. The equaliser failed to get Spurs’ backs up. And it didn’t particularly perturb us. In fact, it suited us – and the 4,000 fans wedged into the away end – to have things this quiet. When the half time whistle arrived, the hosts had lost a second player to injury (Aaron Lennon). And another 45 like that would be fine with us; a shot at extra time was certainly conceivable after the first period of play.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Stevenage: The Second Half
Into the second half and, gosh, how close did Boro’ come to taking the lead for the second time? The ball pings around the Spurs area, and falls kindly at Robbo’s feet. But he opts to take it with the outside of his favoured left foot instead of his swinger – and it’s saved. Sadly, if our talisman thought that was worst it would get for him at the start of the second half, he was mistaken; the defender “bringing down” Gareth Bale for a Spurs penalty.
Emmanuel Adebayor sent Chris Day the wrong way to put the Premier League side ahead.
Down, but not out. That’s how it’d be. Sure – Bale twonked the crossbar with a pinger from long range soon after the penalty. But Boro’ weren’t done. And Robbo came close to making amends for the Spurs penalty after Bozzie had stung Carlo Cudicini’s hands from distance. The resulting corner came over and our skipper rose highest. His header, however, struck the underside of the bar and landed a couple of yards in front of the line. No-one could turn it in.
The resistance lasted until the final quarter of the game. A quick throw-in from Bale towards the halfway line caught us on the fly. Defoe raced into our box; cutting inside two defenders, before firing a powerful drive into the far corner. It was definitely game and set. To be fair, it was match too. But not before Bozzie went near from distance and Craig Reid nearly lucked out with a cute flick that Cudicini kept out. We couldn’t end on a high, however, as the full time whistle blew.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Stevenage: The Timeline
- 3 mins – GOAL: Joel Byrom (penalty)
- 25 mins – GOAL: Jermain Defoe
- HALF TIME
- 50 mins – CHANCE: Mark Roberts
- 54 mins – GOAL: Emmanuel Adebayor (penalty)
- 58 mins – CROSSBAR: Gareth Bale
- 64 mins – CROSSBAR: Mark Roberts
- 74 mins – GOAL: Jermain Defoe
- FULL TIME
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Stevenage: The Reaction
One of our abiding memories of the aftermath of the match was the BBC 5 Live coverage. As the presenter was linking to reporter at another match, all you could hear in the background was a rousing rendition of the Dale Cavese. We certainly had no qualms with the result – or how Boro’ performed that night. It’d have been one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of modern times if we’d come out. Mind you, for 10 or 15 minutes, we dared to believe. We dared to do…