Sports Mole previews Sunday’s FA Cup clash between Marine AFC and Tottenham Hotspur, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The non-league hosts overcame Havant & Waterlooville to set up a highly-anticipated showdown with Spurs, who go into this game having just booked their spot in the EFL Cup final.
No matter the outcome of Sunday’s battle at the Marine Travel Arena, the hosts can be incredibly proud of what they have achieved during a spectacular FA Cup campaign.
Neil Young‘s men scraped past Colchester United on penalties before beating Havant in & Waterlooville in extra time to secure their spot in the third round, with Niall Cummins – a school teacher by trade – scoring the decisive goal right at the death back in November.
There was certainly an element of luck about the 27-year-old’s winner as the ball deflected in off his back, but the Northern Premier League side simply will not care about how the goal came about as they prepare for one of the biggest games in their 127-year history.
The Mariners head into their daunting bout with Spurs in a fantastic spell of form having won 13 of their last 14 games in all competitions, with the outlier in that sequence being a 1-0 defeat to Southport in the FA Trophy, and Young’s men have not shared the spoils in a game since January 2020.
Marine have only ever reached the third round of the FA Cup once before in the 1992-93 campaign, where they were beaten 3-1 by Crewe Alexandra, and while the visit of Spurs is a momentous occasion for the club, it is a real shame that no fans will be present at the stadium to witness Jose Mourinho‘s men in action.
Meanwhile, Spurs appear to be finding their feet again at the worst time possible for Marine, whom Mourinho has promised will be facing a strong Lilywhites contingent this weekend.
The EFL Cup finalists strolled past Brentford in Tuesday’s semi-final to book their spot at Wembley in April, with Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min netting in North London as Spurs edge ever closer to ending their 12-year trophy drought.
Mourinho’s men have begun to falter in the league recently, but the eight-time FA Cup winners can give themselves an injection of confidence when they travel to Crosby on Sunday, that is if they are not on the wrong end of another one of the competition’s giant killings.
Spurs have not failed to advance past the third round since losing 2-0 to arch-rivals Arsenal in the 2013-14 campaign, although their 2019-20 run ended bitterly with a penalty shootout defeat to Norwich City, where Eric Dier‘s post-match confrontation with a fan stole all the headlines.
While Sunday’s game represents Marine’s maiden match against a top-flight team, Spurs will be taking on a non-league side for the first time since the 1994-95 season, where they eased past Altrincham 3-0 at this stage of the tournament.
Marine AFC FA Cup form: WWWWWW
Marine AFC form (all competitions): WWWLWW
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions): LLWDWW
Meanwhile, Mourinho is sure to rest some key players but will put out a strong team nonetheless, although doubts remain over Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg‘s involvement after the Dane was on the receiving end of a nasty challenge from Brentford’s Josh Dasilva.
Marine manager Young has admitted that he wants Harry Kane to be rested for this tie, but the England captain could very well start alongside compatriot Dele Alli, whose future at the club remains shrouded in uncertainty.
Marine AFC possible starting lineup:
Passant; Davies, Miley, Raven, Joyce; Doyle, Hmami, Barrigan; Kengni, Cummins, Touray
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Hart; Doherty, Rodon, Tanganga, Davies; Winks, White; Lucas Moura, Alli, Bergwijn; Kane
We say: Marine AFC 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Not only does the once-in-a-lifetime visit of Spurs hand Marine an incredible opportunity to test themselves against some of the Premier League’s best, it will also provide the club with an unprecedented amount of financial support at a time where non-league teams truly need it. While almost every neutral fan will be hoping to see the upset of all upsets occur at the Marine Travel Arena, Spurs are set to name a team packed with international stars and the hosts’ magical FA Cup journey is expected to end here.
Top betting tip
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