TOTTENHAM boss Mauricio Pochettino bemoaned his side’s inability to dispatch fellow Premier League outfit Burnley and avoid fixture congestion as last night’s low-key FA Cup third-round tie ended in stalemate – in front of just 9,348 supporters at Turf Moor.
Battle lines will be redrawn to see who entertains Leicester City in the fourth round after Burnley substitute Sam Vokes ended a nine-month injury nightmare by cancelling out Belgium forward Nacer Chadli’s ninth strike of a productive season.
A replay was the last item on Pochettino’s wish list with a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Sheffield United scheduled later this month before the Europa League knockout phase commences with a double-header against Fiorentina in February.
“I am disappointed because we have to play another game and we have lots of games ahead,” said Pochettino, whose side were cheered on by a 2,500 travelling contingent.
“The first half was difficult and poor but the second half was a turnaround. We scored and the game was ours but you never give up and they got back into the game.
“There was amazing support from our fans. I thank them very much.”
Tottenham breezed into the third-round clash boasting a six-match unbeaten run including five victories, most latterly a 5-3 demolition of Premier League leaders Chelsea on New Year’s Day.
Spurs retained just four players from that line-up as much-improved centre-half pairing Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen, Chadli and Christian Eriksen maintained their starting berths.
In contrast Burnley boss Sean Dyche is limited in his scope for rotation and named the strongest team at his disposal following injury to defender Jason Shackell during Thursday’s draw with Newcastle at St James’ Park, while Michael Kightly replaced midfielder David Jones.
The first-half showing by Pochettino’s side in east Lancashire was a shadow of the high-octane performance showcased against Jose Mourinho’s table-toppers at White Hart Lane, as neither side mustered a solitary shot on or off target.
In fact the opening 45 minutes threatened a repeat of the 1962 FA Cup final at Wembley, a clash later dubbed “The Chessboard Final” in reference to the tactical rigidity and the lack of attacking intent on show.
But the turgid nature of the opening period dissipated 11 minutes after the restart when Ben Davies progressed down the left flank and picked out Chadli who fired past Burnley keeper Tom Heaton from the penalty spot.
Wales striker Vokes scored 22 goals during Burnley’s charge to the promised land of English football’s top flight last term before a cruel and serious knee injury curtailed a prolific campaign in March, only returning to the Clarets’ fold against Liverpool on Boxing Day.
But the 25-year-old clambered off the bench to net his first goal of the campaign in the 73rd minute, side-footing home from within the penalty area following a right-wing cross from rampaging full-back Kieran Trippier.