Football / FA Cup: Marlow have to face reality

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The Independent Online
Marlow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

(at White Hart Lane)

THE PLAYERS of Marlow had given their all and then some more; the supporters were bound for home having shouted themselves hoarse; and David Lay's goal had duly reaffirmed the romance of the Cup. Now for the reality.

After he had led his team on a consolation, but fully merited, lap of honour around White Hart Lane the significance of what we had all witnessed came to the Marlow manager, Dave Russell.

'I would have thought they have more problems than us,' said the spokesman for the side who, according to the table, are worst but one in the Premier Division of the Diadora League. He was talking about Premier League Spurs, FA Cup winners a record eight times.

'We created four or five decent chances, whereas at West Brom (where they lost 6-0 in last season's first round) we didn't once get into their 18-yard box.'

He had a point even though Spurs will argue that the scoreline provides the perfect counter to the charge that they had not brought their class to bear. It was alarming the way they allowed a part-time strike force to storm their back door, particularly late on after Vinny Samways had been taken off and Marlow began to see more of the ball in midfield.

Erik Thorstvedt had managed to keep out the opposition on seven occasions in the previous 11 games so there does not appear to be too much wrong with those in front of him. Instead, we should give full credit to Marlow's unflagging spirit and to the quality of Ansil Bushay, their would-be executioner who had the pick of the opportunities and afterwards lamented the goals that got away.

'My first thought on getting back to the dressing-room was of the chances I missed,' he said. 'I feel gutted. I've scored 13 this season and normally I would have stuck two of those away. We expected more of Spurs. We thought they would have stood out more.'

Bushay looked a class above his lowly station in the 71st minute with a burst of speed and control that carried him between the despairing Neil Ruddock and Justin Edinburgh. This time his composure did not desert him as he teed up the perfect invitation for Lay to commemorate his 300th appearance for the club.

A Spurs supporter and a regular on the Shelf in the early Eighties, the game will never smile more kindly on the Marlow skipper than this. He went off to celebrate the experience in the time-honoured way. After that there is tomorrow's Berks and Bucks cup tie at Milton Keynes to prepare for. On Saturday Spurs go to Manchester United. Now that's reality.

Goals: Sheringham (20) 0-1; Barmby (42) 0-2; Samways (51) 0-3; Lay (71) 1-3; Samways (72) 1-4; Barmby (90) 1-5.

Marlow: Lester; Franks (Regan, 56), Ferguson, Hubbick, Stone, Dell, Lay, Caesar (Glasgow, 83), Watkins, Bushay, Hannigan.

Tottenham: Thorstvedt; Austin, Edinburgh, Samways (Watson, 72), Mabbutt, Ruddock, Howells, Barmby, Nayim, Sheringham, Allen (Anderton, 72).

Referee: K Burge (Mid-Glamorgan).