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Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Aston Villa
If this was to be Harry Kane’s N17 swansong, there won’t be too many of a Tottenham Hotspur persuasion who will look back on it with any fondness as a workmanlike Aston Villa – inspired by Jack Grealish – came from behind to kick another huge hole in the host’s ambitions of European football come next term.
While pre-match talk centres around one who might be going, emphasis was placed on those coming back. 10,000 Spurs supporters are inside the stadium with us this evening. It was wonderful to see the High Road busy with fans, simply excited about watching a football match.
Nevertheless, the Lilywhites faithful wasted little time in reminding the England skipper how highly they regarded him. But for how much longer he remains as ‘one of their own’ remains to be seen.
Boosted by the crowd, Spurs were at it from the start. Steven Bergwijn picked the pocket of Marvellous Nakamba before rifling a powerful right-footed strike high beyond former Arsenal stopper, Emiliano Martinez with the games first clear cut opportunity. The reaction from the stands – spine-tingling!
But shortly before the twenty-minute mark, Villa was on terms bizarrely. A horribly sliced clearance from Sergio Reguilon flew past Hugo Lloris – the crowd participation somewhat less enthusiastic on this occasion.
Jack Grealish has attracted attention on both sides of the North London divide. The tenacious midfielder tested Lloris from just outside the box, while John McGinn drove forward and fired over. Having waited an eternity to return, an agitated hum had taken hold – emotions swayed like a wave as Villa settled and Spurs struggled.
The mood darkened. Reguilon’s clearance was blocked by Bertrand Traore – Ollie Watkins picking up the pieces before beating Lloris at his near post. Villa had turned it around – The fans turned their frustrations on underfire Chairman, Daniel Levy.
Both Watkins and Traore went close to extending Villa’s advantage. The fans – now thoroughly hacked off – booed the home side off at the interval.
Martinez twice saved from Bergwijn while Dele and Harry Winks saw attempts blocked and a Kane volley was too high as Spurs pressed after the restart. Meanwhile, Traore was a whisker away from a third as Villa broke menacingly.
Watkins dawdled – Lloris clawed clear – the West Midlanders passing up a glorious chance to put the contest to bed. The appearance of Gareth Bale from the bench lifting severely dampened spirits amongst those occupying the slopes.
Tottenham continued to huff and puff, but with plan-A woefully inadequate and plan-B misplaced. Villa substitute Carney Chukwuemeka hitting the foot of an upright as the visitors’ finished the game strongly.
Turning the clock back more than a year. There was an uneasiness amongst the Tottenham crowd ahead of the initial lockdown. Evidence on the pitch and the reaction off it, suggests that is not going away, anytime soon on their long-awaited return.
Tottenham Hotspur concludes their Premier League campaign against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, May 23 (4pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Japhet Tanganga (Matt Doherty 83’), Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilon, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Harry Winks (Tanguy Ndombele 74’), Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn (Gareth Bale 73’), Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane Subs not used: Joe Hart (GK), Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier, Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Eric Lamela, Lucas Moura
Goals: Steven Bergwijn 8’
Aston Villa: Emiliano Martinez, Kortney Hause, Erxi Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett, Marvellous Nakamba (Carney Chukwuemeka 88’), John McGinn, Jack Grealish (Capt) (Douglas Luiz 73’), Bertrand Traore (Jaden Philogene-Bidace 90+2’), Anwar El Ghazi, Ollie Watkins Subs not used: Jed Steer, Neil Taylor, Wesley Moraes, Ross Barkley, Ahmed El Mohamady, Jacob Ramsey
Booked: John McGinn (foul)
Goals: Sergio Reguilon (own-goal) 19, Ollie Watkins 38’
Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants:
Assistants: Ian Hussin and Richard West
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper
VAR: Kevin Friend
Assistant VAR: Simon Beck