Mauricio Pochettino criticised the desire of his Tottenham players after Harry Kane had kept them in the FA Cup with a late leveller at Newport.
Kane struck eight minutes from time – his 30th goal of the season – to spare Spurs blushes in a 1-1 draw and secure a fourth round replay at Wembley against their lowly opponents.
Padraig Amond had headed Newport into a 38th-minute lead and the Sky Bet League Two side looked like claiming one of the FA Cup’s greatest-ever upsets until Kane tapped home from close range.
“The key for the game was to match the motivation, desire, fight and challenge of Newport,” Pochettino said. “But the team didn’t show really that they want to go to the next stage of the FA Cup.
“That is what has disappointed us a lot. The theory is to win trophies and it’s easy to talk about that. But I think we missed a massive opportunity to show we really want to win a trophy.
“I hope that helps us realise that if you don’t fight in football you can not win. I am here five years and I hear that the FA Cup is magic when a Premier League team and a League Two plays. But if I’m honest I don’t see much difference today.”
Under pressure to deliver a first trophy in his fourth season at Tottenham, Pochettino named a strong side led by Kane and featuring the likes of Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.
But Spurs created few chances until Dele Alli’s arrival as a 65th-minute substitute when Newport came under fierce pressure.
“I am relieved a lot because we were so poor,” Pochettino said. “But credit to them because they were fantastic.
“We raised our level in the last 30 minutes, but why wait until the end of the game to try to fight?
“If you fight from the beginning of the game I’m sure you can show with your quality that you are the best side.
“You can talk about tactics or shape, but the most important thing was to show the same or more desire as them or more motivation.
“This is not an easy game, and if a Premier League team is not motivated as the same level as Newport and in all these aspects they beat us.”
Newport manager Mike Flynn hailed his players after they came so close to claiming probably the greatest victory in the club’s history.
“They gave me their all and I’m absolutely gutted for them because they scored so late,” Flynn said.
“It was always going to be hard in the second half, but they’ve made me the proudest manager in the country. Let’s be honest, it was the only mistake we made all day and we got punished.”
But Newport can now look forward to a Wembley replay and another substantial pay-day.
“We turn over £2.2million a year as a club and a business and I would say with this cup run it’s going to be in excess of £700,000,” Flynn said.
“It’s huge. It allows us to lay foundations for the future and do things right.”
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