Premier League high-flyers Tottenham Hotspur were held to a shock goalless draw away to third-tier Stevenage in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday and they now face a replay to reach the quarter-finals.
Tottenham, third in English soccer’s top flight and eight-time FA Cup winners, did see Stevenage goalkeeper Chris Day, a former Spurs player, make a good save to turn Gareth Bale’s long-range effort round the post early in the second half.
Spurs then had the ball in the back of net when Louis Saha steered in Danny Rose’s cross, only for the effort to be ruled out after the assistant referee spotted the striker’s shot had clipped Scott Parker before hitting the net.
“I’ve managed lower league sides that have knocked Premier League teams out [of the FA Cup] and managed Premier League teams who’ve been knocked out,” Redknapp told ITV. “They [Stevenage] made it difficult and worked hard.”
Delighted Stevenage boss Gary Smith said: “We had one or two opportunities we could have made more of, but, overall, the players were outstanding.”
There were no stumbles for the other two Premier League sides involved in Cup action on Sunday.
Liverpool and Stoke City will face each other in the quarter-finals after the Reds thrashed second-tier Brighton & Hove Albion 6-1 at Anfield and Stoke triumphed 2-0 away to fourth-tier Crawley Town.
Liverpool, helped by a Cup record three own-goals from Brighton, went ahead in the fifth minute when Martin Skrtel headed in Steven Gerrard’s corner, but the Seagulls were level in the 17th minute thanks to Kazenga LuaLua’s fierce free-kick through a disintegrating wall.
Liverpool went 2-1 up before halftime when a Glen Johnson header deflected in off Liam Bridcutt.
Andy Carroll made it 3-1 with a thumping 57th-minute shot, before the luckless Bridcutt scored his second own-goal in the 71st minute, when he turned in a Gerrard shot.
Three minutes later, Brighton’s Lewis Dunk hacked a Luis Suarez cross into his own net and five minutes from time Suarez, who had a penalty saved, completed the rout with a headed goal.
The victory set up Liverpool for the weekend’s League Cup final at Wembley against another second-tier club, Cardiff City, and Gerrard told ESPN: “It’s always nice to first of all get the win and then to win convincingly.”
“The important thing was to focus on this game. We have a massive game at Wembley next week, but we want to go to Wembley again in the FA Cup, so today was just as important,” he said.
Brighton boss Gus Poyet, whose side are pushing for a playoff place, said the match demonstrated the gulf between teams in the top half of the Premier League and clubs such as the Seagulls.
“People think we are ready for the Premiership, but we are not. If you want to one day get to the Premiership as a team or as a player, you need to learn,” Poyet said.
Stoke won at Crawley despite playing most of the match a man down after Rory Delap was sent off.
Goals either side of halftime, courtesy of a Jonathan Walters penalty and a Peter Crouch header, saw Stoke into the last eight.
However, the Potters suffered an early setback when Delap was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Jones for a lunging challenge on David Hunt in the 17th minute.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis criticized Delap’s red card, saying: “There is a big problem within the game, in that I think professional people and referees are so far apart in what they see in terms of what are fair challenges or competitive challenges, and the bad, reckless challenges.”