Tottenham and Coventry City renew aquaintances in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup at White Hart Lane. The last time the two clubs met was in the League Cup 2nd Round in September, 2003. Spurs travelled to Coventry and won 3 – 0 with goals from Fredi Kanoute, Robbie Keane and Rohan Ricketts. They had met in the FA Cup 3rd Round in January, 2002, the season after Coventry were relegated from the Premier League. The original game had to be postponed because of bad weather and Spurs won the re-arranged tie 2 – 0 with goals from Gus Poyet and Les Ferdinand.
The last Premier League between Tottenham and Coventry at White Hart Lane ended in a 3 – 0 win for Spurs. It was the day after George Graham was sacked and Steffen Freund was in the Spurs team and almost scored a great goal. He went on a run down the right, cut in on goal and shot but the ball went across the goal and past the far post. The goals came from Steffen Iversen, Ferdinand and Sergei Rebrov. That season Coventry were relegated having held their place in top-flight football since 1967.
FA Cup Final Defeat – ‘Gary Mabbutt’s Knee’
Tottenham have won the FA Cup on eight occasions but this weekend’s tie against Coventry will see many references and revive memories of the only time that Spurs failed to win an FA Cup Final. The 1987 Final, which Coventry won 3-2 after extra-time, is the only blemish on Tottenham’s, until then, perfect record in FA Cup Finals.
1987 Final: v Coventry City (Wembley) Lost 2 – 3 Allen, C., Mabbutt
Spur’s only failure in an FA Cup Final was in 1987 when David Pleat’s side who were firm favourites to lift the trophy fell to Coventry City. Spurs were playing in their third Final in seven years while it was Coventry’s first time at this stage of the competition. As in 1982, Spurs had been in contention in the title race and the League Cup only to fall short, finishing third in the League and losing in the semi-final replay of the Littlewoods Cup but on this occasion there wasn’t to be the ‘consolation’ of FA Cup success.
A goal after two minutes from leading goalscorer, Clive Allen who headed in a Chris Waddle cross seemed to justify Spurs’ position as favourites. It was Allen’s 49th goal of a memorable season. It wasn’t to be and Coventry were level within seven minutes as Dave Bennett equalised. Gary Mabbutt restored Spurs’ lead before half-time but Coventry equalised with just under half an hour to play, through a diving header from Keith Houchen, a goal which 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 and Tottenham had 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 commentating on’. This still remains no consolation to Tottenham fans.
Team: Clemence; Hughton (Claesen), Mabbutt, Gough, Thomas; Allen, P., Ardiles (Stevens), Hoddle, Hodge, Waddle; Allen, C.
Gary Mabbuitt speaking to the Tottenham web-site remembers that Final.
“It was Coventry’s day, we lost 3-2 and unfortunately the winner came off my left knee. It wasn’t a great day. It’s the only Cup Final Tottenham have lost. It was a fantastic Cup Final, but not the best memories for myself or anyone involved in Spurs.”
The first meeting between the two clubs in the FA Cup was six years earlier in February, 1981. A 5th Round tie at White Hart Lane which Spurs won 3 – 1 with goals from Ossie Ardiles, Steve Archibald and Chris Hughton. Spurs went on to Wembley and defeated Manchester City 3 – 2 after extra time in a replay in the 100th FA Cup Final.
Coventry are a club with serious financial problems and after the 3rd round draw was made, due to a winding up order over rent arrears, there were gave concerns about whether the club would even be in existence to fulfill the tie.
After being relegated in 2001, they have never been in a position to return to the top flight and finally slipped into League One at the end of last season. They are currently in 11th position after a poor start to the season which saw the manager, Andy Thorn, sacked and replaced by Mark Robins who scored the FA Cup semi-final winning goal for Manchester United in 1990 at the start of Sir Alex Ferguson’s era of success at Old Trafford, his first trophy at the club.
Robins has seen Coventry rise from second bottom in League one to 11th since his appointment in September and the home defeat to Shrewsbury on New Year’s Day was their first in all competitions since mid-November when losing 2 – 1 at home to Scunthorpe, a run of 9 League and Cup matches. During that period Coventry have been in prolific goal scoring form with 28 goals while only conceding 10. In the FA Cup they defeated non-League, Arlesey 3 – 0 at home and then knocked out Morecambe 2 – 1 at their Rioch Stadium.
Coventry’s leading goalscorer is David McGoldrick who was on loan from Nottingham Forest but the deal expired on 1st January and he has just signed for Ipswich Town. McGoldrick had scored 18 goals. Next highest scorer is midfielder and captain, Carl Baker with 8.
Coventry have the experienced Joe Murphy in goal. He has played for a number of clubs including Tranmere Rovers and Scunthorpe where he made over 200 League appearances. He joined Coventry in 2011.
TottenhamAndre Villas-Boas will be expected to rest a number of players following a busy but successful December. Brad Friedel should return in goal with reports that Benoit Assou-Ekotto is ready to returm from injury at left-back. Kyle Naughton may get his opportunity at his favoured right-back position. Michael Dawson and Steve Caulker could make up the central defensive partnership. Scott Park could start his first match of the season with Tom Huddlestone who hasn’t played much recently. Jake Livermore could also have the opportunity to start. Young Tom Carrollcould have a midfield role with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey also likely to be in the team. Emmanuel Adebayor over whom there are doubts surrounding the African Cup of Nations may start ahead of Jermain Defoe who has started most games this season.
Tottenham, even with rotation will be expecting to progress to the next round at the first attempt.
Last season to mark the 25th anniversary of the FA Cup Final win over Spurs, Coventry commissioned a shirt based on the strip worn that day. The Coventry team will wear that ‘special’ shirt at White Hart Lane and Mark Robins, referring to to the 1987 win, said that he’s looking for 11 new Coventry heroes at White Hart Lane.