Football: Spurs polish off Marlow with finesse

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

Tottenham Hotspur. . .5

(played at White Hart Lane)

THEY got their lap of honour and nicely fashioned goal, but the final scoreline tells the unsentimental story: Marlow were the donkeys into whom their aristocratic opponents cruelly dug their spurs. The series of chances that came their way once they had conceded a three-goal lead went far higher over the bar than Marlow's hopes at 3 o'clock can ever have been.

The Diadora Leaguers were already two rounds further on than they had ever been in the competition, and when they marched on to the pitch their captain, David Lay, walked several paces in the wake of Gary Mabbutt, as if in deference. They will tell their grandchildren they were only here for the beer. Except that rather than enjoying the home advantage the draw gave them, but ground safety rules denied them, they were also here for the beer money.

When there is not a one in the year, Tottenham have a history of stumbling to junior opposition, but Marlow were too junior to cause anything but fleeting embarrassment. The goalkeeper Gary Lester nervously hooked his first two place kicks off the pitch and by the time his side's nerves were calm enough to make a concerted beeline for the other end, it was already too late.

Vinny Samways led the charge through the vast acres of space that, thanks to superior finesse and fitness, Tottenham were able to open up at will. He got the goal soon after half-time that more or less squashed any hopes of Marlow's recovery and, even more heartlessly, scored within 10 seconds of the kick-off that followed Lay's ecstatically received consolation effort in the 70th minute.

Both Samways' goals, and both Nick Barmby's betrayed the chasm in organisational nous between the two sides. Marlow's defence was nowhere as through-balls sent Tottenham players into one-on-one situations with the goalkeeper. Teddy Sheringham ought to have had a hat-trick almost before anyone else had had a shot on target, but wasted two chances through over-confidence.

As for Marlow, they earned themselves a couple of shots on goal before the interval but Ansil Bushay only made things happen for Lay who scored from his cross, and for John Caesar and Mark Watkins, when the match was already beyond them.

The battle had long been lost by the time Al-James Hannigan, the Tottenham fan, Arsenal trainee but Marlow player, laid on some exhibition ball-juggling before volleying with less than Maradona-like deftness into touch. The grin on his face said everything about the manner in which Marlow approached this tie. It is less that they flattered to deceive, more that they were flattered to be at White Hart Lane at all, though you would never guess it from the post-match bluster of their manager, Dave Russell.

'We lost 5-1 but we didn't get a stuffing,' he said. 'For us to come here and create the sort of chances that we did is frightening. No disrespect to Spurs, but I don't see them as potential Cup winners.'

If Marlow are potential Cup winners it will be in The Berks and Bucks Cup in which they take on Milton Keynes on Tuesday night.

Marlow: G Lester; J Franks (J Regan, 56 min), C Ferguson, B Hubbick, K Stone, A Dell, D Lay, J Caesar (K Glasgow, 82 min), M Watkins, A Bushay, A-J Hannigan. Manager: D Russell.

Tottenham Hotspur: E Thorstvedt; D Austin, J Edinburgh, V Samways, G Mabbutt, N Ruddock, D Howells, N Barmby, Nayim, T Sheringham, P Allen (D Anderton, 71 min). Sub not used: K Watson. Coach: D Livermore.

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy, Mid Glamorgan).

Goals: Sheringham (0-1, 20 min); Barmby (0-2, 41 min); Samways (0-3, 50 min); Lay (1-3, 70 min); Samways (1-4, 71 min); Barmby (1-5, 90 min).

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