Terrace Talk: Still wondering how this became yet another nearly

So now Spurs have two FA Cup records that are unlikely to be broken. The only non-league team to win the cup, and now seven consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeats, stretching back to 1993.

Terrace Talk: Still wondering how this became yet another nearly

I’ve been at every one. Maybe I should take the hint, although tens of thousands of Lilywhites are probably thinking the same thing right now.

The mood going into the game was confident but not cocky. It felt good to be going into the biggest game in English football for some time on a level with the opposition, rather than as underdogs.

Games against Chelsea are taking on quite some significance and the edge in this one came because the result would have an influence on not one but two competitions.

But for all that, there was not quite the explosive drama that distinguished the recent encounters between England’s top two teams.

Rather, this was an absorbing game which finished with many of us wondering just how it turned out as it did. That’s not just the Spurs camp.

I got a text from a Chelsea mate shortly after the final whistle that said simply: “Not sure how we won that”.

Some of the more reasonable Chelsea fans I’d spoken to in the run-up to the game confessed to being a little nervous about the tie, but it was Spurs who made the nervier start, despite the momentum of eight successive thrilling victories leading up to the Wembley weekend.

The effect, perhaps, of the collective shock felt at the sudden death of youth coach Ugo Ehiogu on Friday, a popular figure at the club. Others will roll out the Wembley curse theory.

Yet despite going behind early on, Spurs fought back into the game, only to fall behind again after Victor Moses made the most of the fact Son is not a wing back to win a penalty. It was a clumsy challenge, but Moses was falling before Son got his challenge in.

That nous many of us were afraid of brought into play again to edge Chelsea ahead. Yet by the time Dele Alli brought Spurs level for a second time with an exquisitely worked goal the white shirts were in the ascendant and the Spurs support had plenty of hope.

Which is what does for you in the end, especially it seems if you are a Spurs fan. Some quickfire Chelsea substitutions, Hazard on to almost immediately make it 3-2 and then a heartbreakingly beautiful strike from Nemanja Matic kills it off.

Chelsea had five shots and scored with four. The 4-2 scoreline is not that different from the 5-1 outcome that occurred the last time these sides met at this stage.

But the 5-1 was a thrashing, while this time the final score bore little relation to what we’d actually seen on the pitch. Spurs the better team, Chelsea the more ruthless and wily. And that’s what counts.

Both sets of fans were in good voice throughout, and the nasty edge that so often goes with this fixture did not, at least from what I saw and heard, surface this time. Disappointing, though, to see Spurs fans trooping out in numbers at 3-2. That late comeback at Swansea is easily forgotten it seems.

Late at night back in Kilburn drowning sorrows, I tweeted a tad piously that ‘some of us stayed til the end’ – prompting some, shall we say, lively debate. The debate will run.

It’s a semi-final, and when the team plays well I think we should stay til the end and acknowledge it. But people had ‘other things to do’. It’s a funny old game.

Where does this all leave us? Right now, exhausted and deflated. We’ve had two wonderful seasons of great football and chasing the biggest prizes right to the last.

The pressure, the hope, takes its toll and despite all the pleasure we’ve had, nothing has been achieved. Harsh? In the end, football is about winning trophies, and the observation that this team needs to do so is starting to become a bit tiresome.

At Selhurst Park on Wednesday we’ll continue chasing for the league title, but it looks like we’ll have to win every game to even have a chance.

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