Tottenham could find Newport a tough nut to crack
Spurs may have to be patient
FA Cup fourth round
BT Sport 2, 5.30pm Saturday
"We've got to be at our very best, limit our mistakes and hope Tottenham have an off day."
That’s the treble that Newport boss Mike Flynn is banking on at Rodney Parade as the Exiles bid to produce a giant-killing against a team who don’t tend to do shock exits.
It’s five years to the day since Spurs slipped up at Championship side Leeds – just the second time in 25 years they’ve been on the wrong end of a shock. Since that Elland Road slip, the London giants have played 12 cup ties against lower-league opponents, winning 11 and drawing the other.
So yes, Newport can be at their very best and limit their mistakes – just as they did against Leeds in round three – but it’s hard to imagine Tottenham having the off day required to enable the Welshmen to bridge a 71-place gulf in football’s ladder.
They played poorly at Southampton on Sunday, a rare disappointing effort, and still got away with a 1-1 draw. And could have won it. And that was at decent top-flight opponents.
Mauricio Pochettino, whatever he says publicly, needs silverware. He sent out a strong side against AFC Wimbledon in the last round and will do likewise again, though he does have one or two knocks to fret over and a game against Manchester United to consider on Wednesday.
Tottenham are inevitably skinny odds so maybe take a more calculated punt on the visitors’ class telling as the game goes on. That was certainly the case against Wimbledon in the previous round, a game that was 0-0 at half-time before Spurs went on to win 3-0.
The draw-Tottenham double result punt is a 39-11 shot.
Certainly Newport won’t be easy to shake off. They may be slumming it in Sky Bet League Two, but it’s a section in which they are in good form – just one defeat in 12 and up to eighth place in the table.
Confidence is high, the Rodney Parade playing surface is appreciably better than in previous year after a re-lay but is a far cry from Wembley, and the wind will be blowing. Newport matched a complacent Leeds blow for blow in the last round and eventually managed to bully their way through. Tottenham’s extra class, however, ought to tell.
Newport have been level at half-time in 14 of their 29 league matches and their 14 home league games have produced just nine first-half goals, the lowest in their division.
Both teams have scored in each of Newport’s last six while there have been no more than three goals in each of their last ten.
Spurs have had six wins to nil in their last 11 and that’s a 20-21 chance.
Draw-Tottenham double result
1pt 39-11 188Bet
On-loan star Ben White, Joss Labadie and Matty Dolan expect to shake off strains. Tom Owen-Evans, Sean Rigg and Marlon Jackson are out.
Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Harry Winks and Danny Rose are all close to returns but won’t be risked. Tashan Oakley-Boothe is one of several youngsters in the squad.
Spurs have suffered just two FA Cup losses to lower-league sides in the Premier League era.
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