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Burnley’s Sam Vokes Returns In Time To Earn FA Cup Replay With Tottenham

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LONDON – It was a contest only Sam Vokes will remember with any fondness. There was nothing to separate Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor and even less to savour yet it produced a milestone in the career of a striker sidelined for the past nine months by a cruciate injury. His instinctive finish denied Spurs a place in round four and brought further congestion to Mauricio Pochettino’s already cluttered calendar.

Vokes came off the bench for only the second time since rupturing his cruciate against Leicester City in March to cancel out Nacer Chadli’s ninth goal of the season. Spurs had flickered into life and deservedly led after a dire first half, when there was not one shot on target and the poor Burnley fan who had travelled to the match from New Zealand must have questioned his sanity. But Pochettino was left ruing an eighth January fixture for his team after Vokes’ intervention rewarded Burnley’s late rally with a replay.

“I’m disappointed with the result because it means we need to play another game,” said the Spurs’ head coach. “We already have a lot of games and now we have another. The first half was poor from both sides but we were a lot better in the second half, we learned the lessons of the first half and fixed them, and I’m disappointed we let Burnley back into it.”

The match-day programme reminisced about the 1962 FA Cup final between Burnley and Spurs but there was little romanticism about the timing of their latest Cup encounter. The tie was switched not for television purposes but after the two clubs agreed to give themselves extra recovery time from their New Year’s Day fixtures, a decision that had an inevitable impact on the meagre attendance of 9,348. The Jimmy McIlroy Stand was closed for the evening but credit to the 2,494 hardy souls who travelled in support of Spurs on a Monday night in Lancashire. “I would like to say thank you to all of them,” said Pochettino.

It would be stretching it to claim the spectacle was worth the wait. The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half but their final ball or touch was found wanting. Tom Heaton did not have a save to make in the Burnley goal before the interval while his opposite number, Michel Vorm, was similarly underemployed. Pochettino had seen enoughtoothlessness from a Tottenham team without Harry Kane to introduce the 15-goal forward at the interval. His introduction enlivened the away section and a sterile cup tie.

Federico Fazio had the game’s first effort on target after 47 minutes when, from Chadli’s in-swinging cross from the left, the central defender sent a glancing header into the arms of Heaton. Roberto Soldado had a shot deflected wide, Kane scuffed a low drive beyond the far post and, at the opposite end, Danny Ings tested Vorm with a powerful shot that the Spurs keeper gathered as Michael Kightly closed in.

Turf Moor finally had a contest worthy of the name but it was the visitors who carried greater intensity and broke the most moribund of deadlocks simply. Maybe it was complacency after a comfortable night’s work or just a momentary lapse in concentration but the Burnley defence left Chadli unmarked when Ben Davies delivered a deep cross from the left. The Belgian had time inside the area to control with his chest before beating Heaton with a left-footed shot into the corner.

Kane almost doubled Spurs’ advantage immediately when he forced Heaton to save with his legs at the near post. Burnley’s threat increased as the tie wore on, however, and Dean Marney came close to an equaliser against his first club after Vokes and George Boyd combined well down the left to release the midfielder inside the box. Marney’s shot flew over but Vokes made no mistake moments later when Kightly raced to the by-line and pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot. Tottenham’s defence was slow to react but the Wales international showed his striker’s instincts have not been diminished by injury and swept a fine finish beyond Vorm into the far corner.

“We’re absolutely delighted for Sam,” said the Burnley manager Sean Dyche. “To come back after that amount of time out and show good movement and touch was great.” – The Guardian


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