Tottenham Hotspur 1, Barnsley 0
Carabao Cup, third round)
It was third time unlucky for Barnsley at Wembley on Tuesday night.
After two thrilling successes at the national stadium in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final and the League One play-off in the 2015-16 campaign they could not quite complete a remarkable hat-trick at the temporary home of Tottenham Hotspur.
However, they can take a great deal of pride in the fact that they were beaten by only one goal as they pitted their wits – and their skills – against last season’s Premier League runners-up.
And make no mistake about it, Spurs were made to work very hard for their passage to the last 16 of the competition by a Barnsley side who were very organised and disciplined defensively and might even had snatched a shock victory had they taken two good chances which came their way before England international Dele Alli (pictured) struck the winner in the second half.
Although Mauricio Pochettino took the opportunity to give a run-out to some of his fringe players, it was still a strong-looking Spurs side which included, as well as Alli, first team regulars Jan Vertonghen and Mouse Dembele, with star striker Harry Kane on the bench.
It was, therefore, a very creditable and confidence-boosting performance by the Reds coming so soon after the disappointment of the 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Aston Villa three days earlier.
It is testament to the solidity of the Barnsley defence – and that includes every player working tirelessly in the team cause – – that not even opponents of Spurs’ calibre could produce a single shot on target in the first half, although they had their chances, notably when striker Fernando Llorente, making his first start for the London club, headed wide from a good position.
There was a great opportunity, too, for Reds’ central defender Liam Lindsay four minutes before half-time, but having cleverly manoeuvred himself into an unchallenged position from a corner, he sent his close range header wide.
The first save of the game came in the first minute after the restart, and it was Tottenham’s Michel Vorm who had to make it. Ike Ugbo did well to control the ball in the box but fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Harry Winks then tested Adam Davies at the other end as both sides attacked in turn and the Reds had a penalty appeal turned down when a cross from Ryan Hedges appeared to strike one-time Barnsley loanee Kieran Trippier on the arm.
It was nip and tuck at that stage, but it was Spurs who found a way through in the 65th minute minute, Alli netting from close range after excellent work by Trippier on the right.
The Premier League side took control from them on and Davis came to the Reds’ rescue several times, most notably when saving from Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Kieron Dyer and Son Heung-min.
But Paul Heckingbottom’s men can return to the bread-and-butter of the Championship with heads held high.
Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm; Walker-Peters, Foyth, Vertonghen, Trippier, Winks, Dembele (Dier, 79 mins), Son Heung-min, Alli (Oakley-Boothe, 90 +1 mins), Sissoko, Llorente (Nkoudou, 67 mins).
Barnsley: Davies; McCarthy, MacDonald, Lindsay, Fryers, Potts (Moncur, 71 mins), Bird, Williams (Bradsahw, 79 mins), Barnes (Hammill, 71 mins), Ugbo, Hedges.
Referee: Tim Robinson.