Date: 30 November 2019
The final score line in this game was not the resounding defeat many had feared, though to be fair it probably flattered us a little.
My second ‘new stadium tick-off’ of 2019 (the first having been Huddersfield in March) was the unimaginatively named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It’s very impressive both inside and out. Surprisingly there was one corner of the pitch that couldn’t be seen from my seat – but the four giant screens made up for that as you could see everything on them.
We lined up with Smith apparently absent (sickness – we later learned) but Solanke thankfully available despite injury fears. So we could revert to Eddie’s favoured 4-4-2 system. And we began very strongly compared with recent outings, evidently unfazed by Spurs’ pedigree and playing much of the first quarter of an hour in their half. The occasional Spurs shots during this period were all fortunately off target. But on 21 minutes, and somewhat against the run of play, Son teed up Dele Alli, who scored easily – with Bournemouth’s defenders (especially Stacey) making it easy for him. This only put us 0-1 down, but we seemed drained of confidence immediately. Somehow we got through to half time without going any further behind, though we were somewhat fortunate when a Sanchez ‘goal’ (celebrated wildly around the stadium with all the screens flashing his name) was disallowed by VAR, for a handball, after a full minute’s procrastination. Fraser and Danjuma swapped wings for four minutes during this period, before swapping back again.
Five minutes into the second half Alli, who’s been playing superbly since Mourinho’s arrival at White Hart Lane, made it 2-0 to the home side, easily beating Stacey and Steve Cook to score. On the hour mark, almost certainly as planned before the match rather than for any specific tactical reason, Harry Wilson replaced Fraser, with Danjuma switching wings once again. Immediately Harry swung into action and he was heavily involved for the remainder of the game. Indeed many gave him ‘man of the match’ even though he only played for half an hour. But we still managed to concede a third – this one a volley from Sissoko. Surprisingly, though, this goal resulted in our own players moving up a gear.
On 69 minutes Lewis Cook was flattened just outside the box, and Harry Wilson attempted – as he has done several times before – to aim his free kick up and over the wall. But this time it was totally successful, and we’d reduced the deficit. Eddie brought on Gosling for Lewis Cook (again apparently a pre-planned move) on 75 minutes, though fans almost missed this because a Spurs substitution was made at the same time. Our midfield now read H Wilson – Lerma – Gosling – Danjuma from right to left. Gosling was now the second liveliest player on the pitch after Harry Wilson, and was himself unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet when his own late shot went wide.
Six minutes of time was added by the referee, and enabled Harry Wilson to score again. VAR allowed this one, despite Gosling blocking the keeper’s view, and home fans started whistling impatiently for the match to end. We pushed hard for the equaliser and the two Wilsons working together nearly pulled one off right at the death. But it wasn’t to be. We’d given Spurs a late scare, but in the end they got all the points.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Stacey (6), S Cook (6), Aké (6), Rico (7);
Danjuma (7), L Cook (6), Lerma (6), Fraser (6);
C Wilson (5)