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Match Reports


3 March 2018

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Town's first trip to Wembley since the dramatic events of the play-off final ended in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham.

Hard-working performances all over the pitch saw Town compete well with their high-flying opponents despite Heung-Min Son netting either side of half-time to keep the points in north London.

The starting XI was unchanged from last weekend's victory over West Bromwich Albion. Spurs academy graduate Alex Pritchard kept his place in the '10' slot, with Danny Williams completing back-to-back Premier League starts for the first time since November, anchoring the midfield alongside skipper Jonathan Hogg. A notable presence amongst the substitutes included Chris Löwe, who last appeared for the Club in the FA Cup replay success at Birmingham.

The confidence generated from recent victories instantly took shape at the National stadium. A slick move resulted in Florent Hadergjonaj's weak cross diverted towards the far post via the boot of Steve Mounié.

Several navy shirts queued for an early pop at home 'skipper Hugo Lloris, but it was a timely and key intervention from Ivorian right-back Serge Aurier that crucially allowed Spurs to clear before one of the cavalry could sweep home.

Nonetheless, Spurs always possessed a great attacking threat. Firstly Heung-Min Son danced his way through a number of Terrier bites at the cherry and laid wide for Aurier to cross, but just like the latter initiated at the other end, Zanka cleared before the lingering figure of talisman Harry Kane could muscle his way into a shooting position.

Town had started positively, especially Alex Pritchard; the attacking midfielder cleverly used good body position to relieve pressure and win fouls deep in his own territory.

Kane turned provider shortly after as Mauricio Pochettino's men looked to make a flying start to follow up a 5-1 cup win over Rochdale in mid-week.

The England striker took up a menacing position out wide and delivered accurately for Dele Alli arriving at the far-post. On this occasion, Town escaped punishment, as Alli failed to connect by inches on the slide under pressure from Zanka.

Yet another of Spurs' English contingent took aim in response to Alli's chance going begging; Eric Dier had time, but fired harmlessly wide of the target.

The home side were asking tough questions of the Town rearguard. Heung-Min Son skilful turn and acceleration to open up space between himself and his marker Florent Hadergjonaj concluded with the Korean delivering a purposeful low cross for Harry Kane.

Kane, who notched a brace at The John Smith's Stadium back in September, saw his effort tremendously blocked by Jonas Lössl, who widened his stance to shut off a near-post route which Kane looked dead-set on finding to nudge Spurs ahead.

Town were certainly holding their own, Collin Quaner glanced a header off the foot of his own post after getting in the way of a Christian Eriksen free-kick on the edge of the area.

In truth, the way the encounter had panned out would've been correct to see Spurs take the lead- an action which came to the fore courtesy of Heung-Min Son.

Although the Terriers' pressing and desire to get forward was of an impressive nature, Spurs had created the better chances and eventually one was taken.

Son sprung the offside trap to latch onto Dele Alli's delicate through ball, and the winger finished having rounded Lössl, and despite the last ditch efforts of Zanka to desperately clear off the line.

Kane was hungry to double the advantage. Stern Town defensive ranks were breached as Alli slotted in the home number 9 inside the right-hand side of the penalty area. One of Europe's red-hot forwards unleashed a rasping drive, but once again Jonas Lössl was equal and pounced at the second attempt.

A fair score-line of 1-0 heading into the break; it didn't help matters that David Wagner had to use two of his substitutes earlier than he may have liked, with both Collin Quaner and Alex Pritchard leaving the field.

A theme of Spurs persistence to add to the afternoon's tally unfolded as the second-half began to take shape.

Harry Kane displayed his power at getting across his man at the front-post from Eriksen's wicked delivery; play-off final hero Christopher Schindler the man to perfectly slide in and divert away.

The Head Coach will have been suitably happy with the way his outfit hunted for an equaliser whilst raising the tempo. Tenacious work from replacement Philip Billing sought an opening down the right flank, but as Steve Mounié lingered, Sanchez was aware to hoof away and end the initial Town threat.

Both sets of fans were really on the edge of their seats now, and as Town had a great chance to level the scores, Heung-Min Son clinically headed home at the other end after a frantic 2-minute spell.

Son had claims for a penalty waved away by stand-in referee Kevin Friend under the challenge of Terence Kongolo, which therefore led to a lightning break-away which Town had become accustomed to throughout the opening exchanges of the second period.

Philip Billing played through Tom Ince who'd made a barnstorming run through the centre off the right-wing.

Tom had the better of Vertonghen for pace, and saw a resulting thunderbolt from range parried away by Lloris' strong wrists; a clear sign that Town were more than finding their feet with a capability of hurting the opposition on the break.

But just as the navy Terriers and the hardy 2,500+ following from West Yorkshire began to think that an equaliser may well become reality, sloppy play in possession led to the cruellest of sucker-punches.

Rajiv van La Parra lost the ball in centre-field to Harry Kane, who had dropped reasonably deeper to apply a degree of pressure on the Town midfield duo.

Kane advanced to play a blinding, curved cross arked around the Town defensive line on which Son would expertly use his head to cleverly find the far corner.

The hosts thought it was 3-0 minutes later as Vertonghen bundled home, only to have temporary joy brought to a premature halt thanks to the linesman's flag on the side of the dugouts.

2-0 down maybe, but the visiting Terriers insisted on composing themselves with neat passages of play. Spurs were rigid to a large extent, but one particular instance saw Welsh left-back Ben Davies cover round excellently to cut-out Danny Williams' burst between the central defensive partnership of Vertonghen and Sanchez after good, positive urgency from Rajiv van La Parra.

As the home side looked to control the remaining minutes with professional game management, Kane flashed a chance wide of the post from a well-worked corner routine.

Time ticked into the allotted added on period, and it was fair to say that the Town players were certainly doing themselves proud; pressing, hounding and an outright determination to see out the game with some aspect of momentum heading into next Saturday's crunch fixture with Swansea City in HD1 (March 10, 3pm).

TOWN (4-2-3-1): Jonas Lössl; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka, Florent Hadergjonaj; Jonathan Hogg (c) (Laurent Depoitre, 83'), Danny Williams; Rajiv van La Parra, Alex Pritchard (Philip Billing, 45'), Collin Quaner (Tom Ince, 33'); Steve Mounié

UNUSED SUBS: Robert Green, Tommy Smith, Scott Malone, Chris Löwe

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Hugo Lloris; Ben Davies, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier; Eric Dier, Mousa Dembélé (Moussa Sissoko, 76'); Heung-Min Son (Erik Lamela, 70'), Dele Alli (Lucas Moura, 82'), Christian Eriksen; Harry Kane

UNUSED SUBS: Michel Vorm, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama

REFEREE: Kevin Friend


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