Football

Pochettino slams players for lack of desire

Spurs boss admits to being very relieved after huge scare by fourth-tier Newport

Harry Kane has scored far better this season, but none of them had the critical feel of the tap-in at little Newport County that may yet transform Tottenham Hotspur's season.

For not only did Kane's 82nd-minute goal spare Spurs from potential FA Cup humiliation in their fourth-round tie at the League Two club yesterday morning (Singapore time), the resulting 1-1 draw also salvaged their best chance of winning silverware in a crucial campaign.

Mauricio Pochettino's stylish side continue to be much admired, but the lack of Spurs silverware - their last trophy was the 2008 League Cup - as they prepare to move into their gleaming new London home next season is increasingly glaring, reported Reuters.

Being on the wrong end of a Cup sensation may only have cranked up the pressure on the Argentinian, which is why he was once again indebted to his alpha striker for converting Son Heung Min's brilliant flick with embarrassment looming.

Pochettino's strong-looking selection had suffered such a dismal, lethargic off-day against a side 72 places below them on the league ladder that the manager was forced to admit he was "a little bit relieved... well, a lot" by Kane's late saver.

He sounded most alarmed about why his side had performed so poorly, even if the Rodney Parade experience - battling to avoid defeat in a tight stadium on a pitch shared by two rugby teams - really did look like a culture shock to some.

"The team didn't show they want to go next stage of the FA Cup. That is what has disappointed us," Pochettino said after Padraig Amond's first-half header had given Newport the scent of a cup shock against the eight-time Cup winners.

"The theory is to win trophies and it's easy to talk about that. But we missed a massive opportunity to show we really want to win a trophy.

"I've heard in my years here that the FA Cup between a Premier League team and a League Two team is magic. But, if I'm honest, I didn't see much difference."

Kane was merely grateful to be still in the competition, after going so close to being knocked out by the massive underdogs.

Paying tribute to the fourth-tier battlers, the skipper on the day told the club's official website: "It was very difficult and credit to Newport, they had a game plan, made it difficult for us and we weren't great, especially in the first half.

"Newport kept us there until the 82nd minute and it did start to get a bit worrying towards the end, but we got the goal and we're still in the FA Cup.

"We managed to get out with a draw and we'll take that. We're still in the hat and, hopefully, we can now beat them in the replay."

"We get spoilt sometimes in the Premier League and this is a good experience for everyone," added Kane Harry.

"They are in League Two and I guess everyone thought we'd go through but it's not like that, especially in English football. We're just happy to be in the hat.

"We'll be strong favourites now at Wembley, but we've got to make sure we go and win that game and get into the fifth round."

The replay will offer the 10,000 who crammed into Rodney Parade a chance to move on to the grandeur of Wembley's 90,000-seater arena.

But it is of scant consolation to Newport manager Mike Flynn. He said: "Wembley is something else for the club to look forward to. We were nearly there, we could taste it but we switched off for a minute.

"I'm gutted because we conceded so late."