Sinton sends Middlesbrough deeper into mire

Football: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Middlesbrough 0

If Middlesbrough are any guide, it is clearly easier to reach two Cup finals in a season than it is to find an escape from relegation.

Last night's damaging defeat makes it more probable that when Bryan Robson's side arrive at Wembley for the FA Cup final they will have taken their leave of the Premiership.

Andy Sinton's late goal at White Hart Lane means Middlesbrough remain five points short of safety. Not only is time running out, it is their most difficult opponent between now and the end of the season: their final four games - three of which are away - come in the space of nine days.

Of course, a congested fixture programme is nothing new for these tired, brave men of Teesside. This match followed just a day's grace after they had won their replayed FA Cup semi-final against Chesterfield and despite the efforts they put in here it seemed inevitable that the fresher legs of Tottenham would ultimately prevail.

"It was ridiculous asking us to play two days after that game," Robson said afterwards. "It definitely affected us, that little bit of spark had drained away."

With minutes remaining, the Boro substitute, Craig Hignett, might still have rescued them a point when the tireless Juninho played him in. This time Ian Walker, who had made three crucial saves, was not called upon as the ball dropped on to the roof of the net. Visiting heads dropped with it and will not be lifted for some time.

Not since Brighton in 1983 has a side won through to the FA Cup final and suffered the indignity of relegation. When Boro strung together four successive wins in early spring, it looked as if that particularly statistic would not be relevant, but since then not only did they lose their appeal against the three points lost because of the Blackburn no-show but also they have failed to win in the League.

The cups have got in the way but if they were to fall on 11 May, would it really be that poor a season? FA Cup finals do not come around all that often and Wembley next month will stage Middlesbrough's first in 121 years as a football club.

Their unease when facing balls hit high and long by Tottenham was apparent early on. Ben Roberts flapped at one in his penalty area, Sol Campbell thundered a header against the crossbar, and the portents were against Robson's men.

Then Juninho, drawing on extra reserves of energy from God knows where, took over and Middlesbrough stock rose. The little Brazilian curled one towards the top-right corner, but up reached Walker's hand. Next, the goalkeeper dived to keep out Emerson's firm header. Spurs then seized the next chance that came along. Teddy Sheringham's aerial power was always a threat and when he headed on Justin Edinburgh's deep, angled cross there was Sinton, on his 600th League and cup appearance, to bundle the ball in at the far post.

Tottenham Hotspur (5-3-2): Walker; Austin, Vega, Calderwood, Campbell, Edinburgh; Dozzell, Howells, Nielsen; Sheringham, Sinton. Substitutes not used: McVeigh, Fenn, Hill, Brady, Bardsen (gk)

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Roberts; Blackmore, Pearson, Vickers, Kinder; Stamp (Hignett, 82), Emerson, Mustoe, Juninho; Ravanelli (Freestone, 82), Beck. Substitutes not used: Whyte, Whelan, Schwarzer (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing