It was a measure of the sort of Cup game Spurs were in that, after only 57 minutes, in a 9,400-seater stadium at the end of suburban industrial estate, Jose Mourinho felt the need to send on Harry Kane. Ten minutes later Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele joined him, and eventually their sheer ferocious Premier League pace overwhelmed Wycombe Wanderers.
The key goal was scored by one of Spurs’ starters, Harry Winks, after 86 minutes, when he curled beautifully into the corner following Kane’s saved effort to avoid the very real prospect of extra-time at Adams Park. Ndombele added two more to seal a 4-1 win which in no way reflected the evening Spurs endured.
Wycombe are a Championship club and yet they are everything but. Adams Park is made up of three stands and a rickety terrace, a world away from Tottenham’s silver super-bowl, a club punching way above their weight even sitting as they are at the foot of the second tier.
Standing in the freezing cold in his leather jacket and skinny jeans, musician manager Gareth Ainsworth enjoyed what for so long appeared like another piece of his masterminded magic at this club, before reality eventually bit.
Everything’s relative, of course, and this was never going to be the exhibition of the previous round at eighth-tier Marine. Mourinho named virtually the same team with the added impetus of Erik Lamela and Gareth Bale from the start, but after forty minutes he may have been regretting that manoeuvre. Tottenham’s three best openings all fell to Bale, largely due to Wycombe’s bold policy of leaving him unattended until it was far too late, but Bale contrived to head, pull and prod all of them wide of goalkeeper Ryan Allsop’s left post.
By the time Moussa Sissoko’s deflected strike and Japhet Tanganga’s close-range header had both hit the crossbar, it had the distinctive feel of one of those nights. Spurs had fallen behind after 25 minutes to a well-worked move which begun down Wycombe’s right, where a low cross found striker Uche Ikpeazu, who rolled Toby Alderweireld aside before feeding the oncoming Fred Onyedinma to sweep past Joe Hart from six yards. Wycombe’s bench erupted with joy as Tottenham’s spilled with talent: Kane and Son were sent to get warm and no doubt project a message to the pitch.
But any half-time cull that Mourinho may have envisaged was avoided when Bale finally hit the target. Lucas Moura swept a bouncing ball into the six-yard box where Bale had snuck in behind the Wycombe defence, and he poked past Allsop to level 1-1 at the break.
Both managers made enforced changes, with different effects. Joe Jacobson’s injury, picked up while sliding to block one of Bale’s misses, meant Wycombe were without their set-piece specialist and forced Ainsworth to reshuffle every piece of his defence. Tanganga’s knock allowed Mourinho to bring on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield to add some control, with Sissoko shifting to right-back.
Spurs continued their assault on Wycombe’s goal, and soon Mourinho sent on his leading lights. The game noticeably shifted pace: Kane was denied by a smothering Allsop before Son flashed a shot across the goal and wide from the left. Winks hoiked one on to the terrace roof, before Son missed the best of the bunch firing too high from eight yards.
But finally the sheer weight of pressure told. Winks placed his shot beautifully this time, and Ndombele added the rest.