Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tottenham's Disappointment of Losing The Cup

It was twenty five years ago today, 16th May, 1987 that Spurs lost their first FA Cup Final.  After seven successful Finals, Spurs' amazing record was gone as they lost to Coventry City at Wembley.  They had already sacrificed their record of never losing in a Cup Final or at Wembley in 1982 when they lost out in the League/Milk Cup Final to Liverpool but this was the big one.

Coventry City 3 Tottenham  Hotspur 2 (aet)
Scorers: Bennett, Houchen, Mabbutt o.g                          Allen, C., Mabbutt 

Team: Clemence; Hughton (Claesen), Mabbutt, Gough, Thomas, T.; Allen, P., Ardiles (Stevens), Hoddle, Hodge, Waddle, Allen, C.

Spurs had arrived at Wembley after a very impressive season which had seen David Pleat's team finish third in the 1st Division behind Everton and Liverpool.  They had lost in the semi-final of the Littlewoods League Cup to Arsenal after a replay was required, the tie ending all square after home and away legs.  Arsenal's late winner at White Hart Lane in that third match was the only time they had led in the tie.  

Clive Allen had been the relevation of the season as he set a new goalscoring record for Spurs - 49 in all competitions, breaking the record previously held by Jimmy Greaves.  The season started with his hat-trick against Aston Villa at Villa Park as Spurs claimed a 3 - 0 success and carried on from there.  David Pleat introduced a system where he played as a lone striker supported by five in midfield and very successful it proved.

Spurs' Road to Wembley:
Spurs' progress to the FA Cup Final had been quite serene with few difficulties along the way with Allen scoring four goals in the competition.  This was to be Glenn Hoddle's last season with Spurs and so it was extra special for him to leave on a high note.

3rd R.  v Scunthorpe United (h)  Won 3 - 2  Mabbutt, Waddle, Claesen
4th R.  v Crystal Palace (h)  Won 4 - 0  Mabbutt, Allen, C. (pen), Claesen, Opp. o.g.
5th R.  v Newcastle United (h)  Won 1 - 0  Allen, C. (pen)
6th R  v Wimbledon (a)  Won 2 - 0  Waddle, Hoddle
Wimbledon often proved a difficult side for Spurs to beat as they disliked their long ball, high pressured play and often came off second best.  David Pleat’s side, however, showed their worth in a visit to Plough Lane and with application and commitment went through as the skill of Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle provided the goals to ensure the ‘Diamond Lights’ were still shining for the semi-final tie. 
S.F. (Villa Park)  v Watford  Won 4 - 1  Hodge (2), Allen, C., Allen, P.
This semi-final was one of the easiest Spurs have ever played. Watford went into the game at Villa Park with goalkeeping problems and had to call up an emergency keeper as their regular keepers were injured.   A 4-1 victory did not flatter Spurs as David Pleat’s side continued their good form and won through goals from Steve Hodge(2), Clive Allen and Paul Allen. Coventry City were their unexpected opponents in the Final.

FA Cup Final:   
'Gary Mabbutt's Knee'
Spurs were firm favourites to lift the trophy as they returned to Wembley for their third FA Cup Final in seven years while Coventry were at this stage of the competition for the first time.

A goal after two minutes from Clive Allen who headed in Chris Waddle's cross seemed to justify their position as favourites but it wasn't to be.  Coventry were level within seven minutes and although Gary Mabbutt had restored Spurs' lead before half-time, Coventry came back to take the game into extra time.  Their equaliser came from a diving header by Houchen, the goal that appears regularly in photographs and video shots of the 1987 Final.

After six minutes of extra time Coventry went ahead when a cross deflected off Mabbutt's knee and looped over Ray Clemence's head.  There was no way back for Spurs as they lost their first FA Cup Final.

BBC commentator, John Motson, described the game as 'the finest Cup Final I've ever had the pleasure of commenting on.'

That was little compensation for Spurs as they finished the season without a trophy as the 'nearly' men.

Read about some of Spurs successful Cup Finals:

FA Cup Finals:
1901, 1921, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1981, 1982, 1991


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