Alli goal seals nervy win for Spurs against Barnsley at half-filled Wembley
Tottenham beat Barnsley in front of just 24,000 to enter Carabao Cup fourth round
19 September, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (Alli 65’)
BARNSLEY FC 0
A TAP in from Dele Alli was enough for Spurs to see of Barnsley in front of a crowd of just 24,000 at Wembley tonight – but the Championship side made the hosts work for the victory.
Spurs were looking to put a disappointing home draw with Swansea behind them as they faced their Barnsley in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
After an uninspiring first half in which Spurs failed to break down the well-drilled Barnsley defence, it took a huge chance for striker Ike Ugbo to wake the home side up and get the game going.
It was Alli who, with his third goal of the season, finally gave a purposeful Spurs the advantage in the 65th minute as he tucked in a cross from Kieran Tripper – a strike that was enough to seal victory.
Boss Mauricio Pochettino had gone for a blend of youth and experience as handed Argentinian summer signing Juan Foyth his debut, while Harry Winks started for the first time since his injury last season, and there was a first start for Fernando Llorente.
Spurs were totally dominant in the first half, with Alli coming close with a wide shot after a lovely bit of one-touch combination play outside the box. Minutes earlier debutant Juan Foyth had come close with a header from a Kieran Trippier corner, which sailed just past Davies’ goal.
The Championship side offered very little going forward but Spurs could not break their down well-drilled defence in an uneventful first 45 minutes.
It was Llorente, in his first start for Spurs after joining from Swansea over the summer, who came closest with a free header from a Trippier after around twenty minutes, but it went over Davies’ goal.
Barnsley started brightly after the break, with Ugbo immediately getting a massive chance one-to-one with Vorm, but the Barnsley striker fluffed his lines right in front of the away fans. His volley was straight at Vorm and parried by the keeper.
But perhaps this was exactly what Spurs needed to wake from their slumber. A minute later Son came close but saw his shot blocked in the penalty box.
As the game opened up Barnsley enjoyed a spell of possession and a few half chances, with 3,000 noisy travelling fans cheering their side on. Spurs meanwhile could not break the deadlock.
Spurs best chance of the game thus far came in the 61st minute when Barnsley failed to deal with Trippier’s cross. It landed kindly to Winks, whose shot was saved by Barnsley keeper Adam Davies at the near post.
The breakthrough came minutes later, when Trippier launched a foray into the box, with his low cross finding the oncoming Alli, who tucked the ball underneath Davies into the net.
Towards the end, there were chances for Kevin George Nkoudou, who came on for Llorente and brought creativity to Spurs’ attack, and Son twice. But the Korean saw his shot saved twice by the Barnsley goalie.
There was also a competitive debut for Tashan Oakley-Boothe, the 17-year-old winger who came on in the final minutes.
The Lilywhites thought they had banished their Wembley hoodoo with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last week, but a 0-0 stalemate with the Swans has set them back in the Premier League – and Pochettino said he was “relieved” with the win.
“It was a tough game. I want to congratulate Barnsley,” he said.
“It was tough to create chances. We couldn’t shoot on target in the first 60 minutes. Just one shot on target. Michel Vorm deserves a lot of praise for that save [from Ugbo].”
SPURS: Vorm, Trippier, Foyth, Vertonghen (C), Walker-Peters, Dembele (Dier 79), Winks, Sissoko, Dele (Oakley-Boothe 90+1′), Son, Llorente (Nkoudou ‘66).
Subs not used: Gazzaniga (GK), Alderweireld, Kane, Eriksen.
BARNSLEY: Davies, McCarthy, Fryers, Williams (Bradshaw 79′), MacDonald, Lindsay, Barnes (Hammill 71′), Ugbo, Potts (Moncur 71′), Hedges, Bird.
Subs not used: Townsend, Jackson, Pearson, Thiam.
Attendance: 23,926 (Wembley)