Steve Davies scored a famous FA Cup goal as Rochdale earned a richly deserved Wembley replay by snatching a dramatic 2-2 fifth-round draw with Tottenham.
Spurs substitute Harry Kane looked to have averted an upset with a penalty two minutes from the end, but Davies – who came off the home bench – popped up in stoppage time to preserve a magical cup run for League One’s bottom side.
Spurs started with an entirely different XI to the one that fought back from two goals down to draw at Juventus in midweek, but 10 senior internationals were fielded, with Mauricio Pochettino perhaps wary of a replay after Newport County took his team to a second contest in the previous round.
Regardless, an evident lack of understanding between Spurs players plagued them and Rochdale made the most of the £500,000 relaid pitch to score a brilliantly worked opener through Ian Henderson – the Dale captain scoring his sixth FA Cup goal of the season, no player has more.
By virtue of three appearances as a young player at Norwich, Henderson was the hosts’ only starter with Premier League experience, but 22-year-old Callum Camps also delivered a midfield performance that could attract attention from scouts further up the pyramid.
Dale’s composure and tenacity looked to have been outdone by greater top-flight nous in the second half as Lucas Moura capped his full Spurs debut with a well-taken goal, before Dele Alli was fouled in the box and Kane stepped up to smash home and quieten the ground at which he made his senior bow seven years ago.
But Spotland was rocking three minutes into stoppage time when Davies calmly found the corner to send Keith Hill’s men to a Wembley replay with a quarter-final tie against Swansea City or Sheffield Wednesday up for grabs.
Spurs’ makeshift side took time to find their rhythm and Rochdale snapped into them, Henderson shooting into Michel Vorm’s arms after Victor Wanyama coughed up possession in his own half.
Fernando Llorente ought to have done much better than shoot off-target from 12 yards after Josh Lillis twice saved from Son Heung-min and Lucas fired over after Kieran Trippier’s flash across the box was not converted.
Just beyond the half-hour, Camps played a top-flight pass over the Spurs defence for Henderson, but a slashed effort drifted harmlessly wide when Vorm should have been tested.
Spurs remained jittery and Rochdale produced a beautiful passage of play to move ahead on the brink of half-time.
Once again Rochdale picked a Spurs pocket, Harry Winks robbed this time, before Stephen Humphrys picking out Andy Cannon, whose decisive touch to Henderson allowed the captain to smash home, with Pochettino’s defence caught out of position.
Pochettino saw no reason to change things at the interval and a patient approach got them level as Dale’s back three faltered for the first time just before the hour.
Jim McNulty followed Llorente deep, but he could not win the ball, and Moussa Sissoko sharply found Lucas darting into the space, with the winger producing a composed lift over Lillis one-on-one.
The inventive Camps almost caught Vorm out from a free-kick but Spurs had more gears to go through, with Pochettino introducing Erik Lamela, Alli and Kane from the bench.
And Spurs were ahead in the 88th minute after Harrison McGahey clumsily fouled Alli and Kane ruthlessly smashed beyond Lillis from 12 yards.
Incredibly, though, the drama was not over. Spurs’ attacking subs perhaps short-changed them at the back as a left-wing cross was flicked into the path of the unmarked Davies, who took a touch and buried a famous finish into the bottom corner.
Key Opta Stats:
– Rochdale have gone six games unbeaten in the FA Cup (W4 D2) for just the second occasion in their history, having previously done so in January 1976.
– In fact, January 1976 was also the last time they avoided defeat to a top-flight side in the FA Cup, when they drew 0-0 with Norwich City.
– Spurs have lost just once in their last 22 FA Cup fixtures against sides from outside the Premier League; this was just the sixth time they have failed to win in those matches (W16 D5 L1).
– Mauricio Pochettino has maintained his record of having never lost to a side from a lower division than the Premier League as a manager in English football (P19 W16 D3 L0).
– Spurs have now drawn five consecutive away games in all competitions, the joint-longest such streak in their history (also April 1957, November 1973, February 1982, October 1988 and February 1999).
– Harry Kane has scored eight goals in his last six FA Cup games for Tottenham.