Stevenage held Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur to a draw to earn a lucrative FA Cup fifth round replay at White Hart Lane.
The League One side showed commendable spirit, resilience and a prodigious work ethic as Spurs were never allowed to demonstrate the style that has become their trademark under manager Harry Redknapp this season.
Spurs came closest to snatching victory only for Louis Saha’s second-half shot to strike Scott Parker on the goalline and be ruled out for offside.
It would have been harsh on Stevenage to lose in such a manner as Gary Smith’s side made Spurs work for everything in front of a highly-charged home gallery at The Lamex Stadium.
Michael Dawson also came close for Spurs when his header was cleared off the line by Michael Bostwick in the first half, while Stevenage’s best effort was a rising long-range effort from Joel Byrom that was narrowly off target with keeper Carlo Cudicini scrambling.
As referee Phil Dowd sounded the final whistle, the Stevenage fans rightly celebrated their side’s performance and the two sides must now meet again to to confirm a home tie with Bolton in the last eight.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp fielded a strong side, but the rhythm and fluent attacking football that has characterised their rise to title outsiders was rarely in evidence as Stevenage fought tigerishly for possession.
Redknapp may not have wanted the intrusion of a replay into the Spurs calendar, lthough they will now be even stronger favourites to take another step towards Wembley – but no-one could begrudge Stevenage their money-spinning reward.
He made a tactical adjustment to cope with Stevenage’s combative approach – using deadline day signing Ryan Nelsen, Dawson and Younes Kaboul as a three-man central defence.
While this ensured that Spurs remained secure in the face of Stevenage’s spirit and energy, they struggled to find their usual attacking threat until late in the half.
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