BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Tottenham set for a Wembley stroll

FA Cup fourth-round replay
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday


Tottenham were given a massive scare when Newport held them to a 1-1 draw in their FA Cup fourth-round clash but they should have a much easier time against the Sky Bet League Two side at Wembley.

Several factors combined to take Newport close to pulling off one of the most famous upsets in FA Cup history in an enthralling contest at Rodney Parade.

Newport's vocal supporters gave their team fantastic backing and Spurs had to cope with a dodgy pitch in windy conditions.

In the second half, with the wind behind the home side, Newport goalkeeper Joe Day was able to send his goal kicks to the edge of the Tottenham penalty area and it wasn't easy for Spurs to play themselves out of trouble against opponents who were full of energy and enthusiasm.

It took a defensive error from Newport for Spurs to grab an equaliser which had looked far from certain and the Londoners left the pitch relieved to have stayed in the competition.

Newport were delighted to have booked a trip to Wembley but their best chance of an upset has passed them by.

Mauricio Pochettino will ring the changes once again to ensure key men are fresh for Saturday's derby against Arsenal and he seems unlikely to risk talismanic striker Harry Kane from the start.

But Spurs's squad depth has been enhanced in recent weeks with Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld returning to full training and even a second string line-up should have few problems getting the job done in much more favourable conditions.

Newport will have great support once again with more than 7,000 fans making the trip but their players may be in less confident mood following a dip in their league results.

Back-to-back away losses at promotion rivals Lincoln (3-1) and Colchester (2-0) have damaged their League Two playoff chances and there is a danger of their season petering out over the next three months.

Finishing mid-table would still be a decent effort for a club who spent most of last season battling against the drop and the injection of funds from their FA Cup run can help them to build a brighter future.

But Newport's best chance of stunning Spurs has come and gone and they may suffer a similar fate to Sky Bet League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon, who lost 3-0 at Wembley in last month's FA Cup third round tie.

Recommendation
Tottenham to win to nil

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Match in Focus

18:00 TODAY BT3

Zenit v Celtic

Home Win Draw Away Win
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Expert verdict
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