The imbalance between the two sides in the standings didn’t show, as Morecambe inexplicably got the better of Tottenham in yet another rotten first half.
Lucas Moura, Harry Kane and Oliver Skipp came in off the bench to rescue Tottenham. Kane and Moura, along with Harry Winks, scored the all-important goals in short succession to lift Spurs to the 3-1 FA Cup victory.
But the victory didn’t come easy for Spurs, who struggled to find any cohesion or incisive play in a woeful first half.
The first stanza provided another example of the serious issues Antonio Conte has to contend with. Spurs second team are nowhere near good enough to compete at a mediocre level, let a lone the level expected in the Premier League. An unmistakable lack of quality and innovation headlined Tottenham’s first 45 minutes.
It’s hard not to sound like a broken record when describing the abhorrent nature of Tottenham’s first half performance, especially when considering the opponent. No disrespect to Morecambe, but this was a side playing in League Two before gaining promotion to League One last season.
Slow, pedestrian, unimaginative, unacceptable are but a few of the adjectives that underpin Spurs’ lacklustre performance. Conte probably aged a decade in 65 minutes that must have felt like an eternity. It certainly did watching. It’s almost impossible to pick out a standout performance, such was the repulsively poor level.
Japhet Tanganga followed his tragic evening at Stamford Bridge with yet another howler. He let Anthony Dean O’Connor brush by him on the corner kick that led to Morecambe’s opener. The 29-year-old central defender volleyed in from close range, shocked by the time and space he was permitted so close to Spurs’ goal. Tangana improved with the introduction of the senior players off the bench.
If this performance has anything to do with it, Tanguy Ndombele might have played his last match with the Lilywhites. Giovani Lo Celso, who got his first start after his latest injury setback, wasn’t much better.
The pair cost almost £100 million, but played like they’re worth a bag of balls, if that. It’s hard to remain positive in the face of staggering humiliation and embarrassment. It would be one thing if Spurs struggled to beat Morecambe away from home, but to labour across the line at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium shows just how substandard Tottenham’s reserves are. Like Tanganga, Lo Celso improved when the big boys came on.
Tottenham’s top players save the day off the bench
Moura, Skipp and Kane were introduced in the 69th minute, immediately elevating Tottenham’s level. The trio harried Morecambe and made an instant impact, also lifting Winks and Lo Celso. Winks levelled in the 74th minute from a superbly hit free kick. While he meant to swing it in for one of his teammates, the impact of delivery was deserving of some fortune.
Moura made the most of some sloppy play from Morecambe’s Ryan McLaughlin, who wanted too much time on the ball. The Brazilian swooped in to dispossess and was in on Carson in a flash. He cooly slotted home Tottenham’s second, giving the home side the lead. Kane then scored on a deft, swivelled shot to put the tie to bed.
Conte will be pleased with the impact of his senior players off the bench, but, as if he didn’t already know, understands the urgency of acquiring some accomplished players before the transfer market closes in three weeks.