Our FA Cup hopes for the season were ended at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon as Crystal Palace knocked us out at the fifth round stage.
Defender Martin Kelly scored the only goal of the game in first half injury time following an entertaining 45 minutes in which both sides had chances and, although we worked hard after the interval to find the equaliser, it just wouldn’t come.
Mauricio Pochettino made seven changes to the team that started against Fiorentina on Thursday as he rotated the squad once again, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Nabil Bentaleb, Mousa Dembele, Josh Onomah and Harry Kane all coming back into the side. There was a return to the Lane for Emmanuel Adebayor as he was selected up front for Palace.
It was a lively start to the contest and we should have taken the lead in the third minute when Heung-Min Son’s corner evaded everyone in the six yard box and came to Dele Alli at the far post, his header was blocked on the goal-line by Yohan Cabaye and the rebound fell to Onomah but his looping header cleared the crossbar.
The visitors responded immediately with a chance of their own, Kelly’s cross met by Jordan Mutch at the back post but his volley was well blocked by Bentaleb. And there was a moment of alarm on 14 minutes when Adebayor almost got on the end of a long ball and Walker intervened with a back header which looped over Michel Vorm, but the keeper got back to palm the ball away.
It was end-to-end stuff and Vorm had to be alert again eight minutes later when a long clearance from Wayne Hennessey was well controlled by Scott Dann, who then slipped a ball inside the area to Joe Ledley bursting through, but our Dutch keeper was superbly off his line to smother the danger.
We were so close to opening the scoring moments later. Son showed wonderful quick feet to break through the Palace defence, he was tackled in the area but the ball came to Alli whose side-footed shot beat Hennessey, hit the far post, rolled across the goal-line, hit the other post and was whacked clear by Joel Ward!
On 36 minutes, Palace cleared the danger on the edge of their area and Connor Wickham led the charge forwards, hurdling three challenges before laying the ball off to Adebayor, but his 20-yard effort was blocked by Dier.
Three minutes before the interval, Alli was upended by Ledley 30 yards from goal, Kane stepped up and sent his set-piece over the wall but Hennessey dived to his right to turn it round the post.
And then the deadlock was broken by the visitors in the first minute of time added on at the end of the half. Wilfried Zaha picked up the ball centrally, 25 yards from goal, held it up and then slid in to Kelly in the inside right channel, his shot beating Vorm at his near post.
We made a change at the break with Christian Eriksen replacing Dembele and we were on the front foot straight away, Kane seeing a low drive from a tight angle tipped away by Hennessey on 49 minutes.
And from almost the same spot a minute later, Kane this time cut onto his right foot and drilled goalwards again - only for Cabaye to slide in and block for a corner. The pressure was building and quite how the ball stayed out on 55 minutes remains a mystery, Alli’s low cross missed by both Kane and Onomah inside the six yard box.
Palace were dropping back as we continued to push forwards, but they were certainly a threat on the counter and once or twice almost broke free, the final pass just not quite finding its target.
At the other end, though, the chances kept coming, Bentaleb, Alli and Eriksen all firing in shots from distance, although only the latter brought a save out of Hennessey.
Having looked the more likely team to score, we then went through a spell where we couldn’t get things going from an attacking perspective, Palace clearing their lines while also dangerous going forward on the break. On one such occasion, Wickham outmuscled Kevin Wimmer down the right flank before bursting into the area, but Dier’s superb sliding block thwarted him.
With just six minutes remaining, Rose floated a cross to the far post which substitute Nacer Chadli touched into the path of Onomah but his shot was blocked by Damien Delaney. At the other end, Palace thought they had a second when Wickham prodded home Yannick Bolasie’s cross from close range, but the assistant referee’s flag was up for offside.
Our last chance came in the dying seconds, Chadli volleying goalwards from 25 yards but his effort was deflected away for a corner. That came to nothing, the final whistle blew seconds later and that signalled the end of our cup run.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Vorm, Walker, Wimmer, Dier, Rose, Dembele (Eriksen 46), Bentaleb, Alli (Mason 80), Onomah, Son (Chadli 67), Kane (c). Substitutes (not used): McGee, Alderweireld, Trippier, Winks.
Palace (4-4-2): Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney (c), Kelly, Zaha, Cabaye (Jedinak 80), Ledley, Mutch, Wickham, Adebayor (Bolasie 76). Substitutes (not used): McCarthy, Mariappa, Campbell, Lee, Gayle.
Goals: Palace – Kelly 45+1.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Rose; Palace – Cabaye, Bolasie.
Referee: Craig Pawson.