As Steven Davies fired in a low shot into the bottom corner, the whole stadium erupted as he secured a replay against Spurs at Wembley in the dying embers of the game.
Many thought the game was over when Harry Kane scored his penalty, but Rochdale just would not give up. For a team who is ten points adrift at the bottom of League One, they will need this spirit and desire if they are to survive and judging by this game, they have a real chance of doing so.
Early on, Rochdale had the better of the chances. It was thanks to their incessant pressing that Cannon stole the ball of Wanyama, he then ran towards the penalty area and played in Henderson. As he received the ball, he had two options, both left and right. But Henderson, perhaps with tomorrows headlines in mind, chose to shoot himself, but it was easily saved by Vorm. If he had been more aware of his surroundings, it may have been 1-0 Rochdale.
Their chances didn’t stop there. This time it was a Camps lofted ball, taking the whole Spurs defence out of the game, and set Henderson free for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. His shot, however, was awful and went out for a throw-in.
They finally took the lead, and after missing his previous chance, Henderson certainly wasn’t going to miss this one. This time it was Winks who succumbed to Rochdale’s pressing. Kithcing took the ball and played it to Camps who passed across to Cannon. He then spotted Henderson wide open on the far side and he slotted it low and under Vorm.
It was a brave and strong performance from the Rochdale team and they were more than a match for the fully changed Spurs team. McGahey who was part of their back three made vital interceptions, threw his body on the line, and frustrated Tottenham as they struggled to get through on goal.
But Tottenham’s quality did eventually come to the forefront after Moura – who was lively the whole game – scored the equaliser. He played the ball to Sissoko who then waited to see an opening, and it was Moura who he spotted advancing through a hole in the Rochdale defence. Nobody tracked his run and he was through on goal. It was an easy finish as he deftly lofted the ball into the back of the net.
Llorente caused the Rochdale defence limited problems and lacked any real cutting edge. It was no surprise that Pochettino, who didn’t want an extra game in his fixture list, gave up and threw on Lamela, Alli, and Kane in the last third of the match in search of a winner.
After Alli and Harry Kane were put on the field with Spurs pushing on for a winner, it looked as if all of Rochdale’s hard work was for nothing. Rose and Trippier both produced some pin-point crosses which forced the Rochdale defenders into last-ditch interceptions. They were just inches away from taking the lead when Trippier whipped in a corner which fell to Wanyama after a flick on, but the ball deflected off his knee and went agonisingly over the bar.
Spurs went close again. Son played in Alli who then back-heeled the ball back into the middle of the penalty area, McNulty then threw his body out to block the shot, but it still would have been a goal had it not been for Done who headed the ball of the line.
Spurs kept pushing. And the Rochdale defence eventually gave way. Dele Alli was there again in the area, but with McGahey desperate to clear the ball, he caught Alli’s leg and brought him down. Kane fired home the penalty to the bottom left corner, and even though Lillis went the right way, he had no chance. Incidentally, the goal was Kane’s 34th goal of the season.
You felt that was it. Rochdale had fought for a large part of the game, but eventually Spurs came out on top. But Rochdale, and Steven Davies in particular had not read the script. Davies had just come on but looked as sharp as ever. In the last minute of the game a cross came in which Alderweireld headed away, but only to the far post. There was a blue shirt waiting, but no Spurs player picked him up. Davies had gone under the radar. It was calamitous defending, not that Rochdale cared. He took a second to bring the ball down and smashed the ball into the net to force Rochdale into a replay at Wembley.
Subs used: Davies 8, Rathbone 6, Inman 6
Subs used: Lamela 7, Alli 7, Kane 7
Xplode’s Man of the Match – Davies