Mauricio Pochettino relieved Spurs are 'alive after a difficult day' at League One strugglers Rochdale

Mauricio Pochettino thought Tottenham had dug themselves out of an FA Cup hole but admitted Rochdale fully merited their trip to Wembley.

After being taken to a replay by Newport in the fourth round, Spurs looked like they had avoided that fate at the Crown Oil Arena when substitute Harry Kane scored an 88th-minute penalty to put them 2-1 ahead.

But they still have work to do to book a quarter-final clash with either Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea after Steve Davies improbably but deservedly earned Rochdale a draw with an equaliser three minutes into injury time.

Pochettino had no complaints about the result or the pitch, which was relaid in the week after the Spurs manager had been among the critics of the previous surface.

"The pitch was good, very good," he said. "I'm happy because I think it was a great game and I think the pitch helped to make that for both teams.

"We are not complaining because they deserved to go and play at Wembley. I think after Harry scored we all believed the tie was won.

"The good news is we are alive after a difficult day. Now we have to move forward. We have another opportunity to get to the quarter-final."

Rochdale are bottom of League One but more than matched Tottenham in the first half and led at half-time thanks to a superbly-worked goal finished off by Ian Henderson with his sixth goal in the competition this season.

Lucas Moura equalised with his first goal for Spurs on his full debut and the visitors' pressure paid off when Kane converted at the ground where he made his professional debut after Harrison McGahey was adjudged to have fouled Dele Alli.

Diving controversy has followed the England man around recently and there were claims he had again made the most of the tackle, although Dale boss Keith Hill took a pragmatic approach.

"If a centre-forward or midfield player feels as though there is a penalty opportunity to be gained...brilliant - whether it is Dele Alli, Steve Davies, Ian Henderson, Andy Cannon it doesn't really matter," said Hill.

"I won't hold it against him and if he does it for England in the summer and we win the World Cup I will certainly be supporting him."

Hill, who began his second spell in charge at Dale five years ago, was beaming with pride at the display of his team.

"The performance deserved at least the opportunity to go to Wembley in a replay," he said. "I thought the first half was magnificent, the way we took the game to the opponent.

"It could have been football suicide but for us to score the goal and go in 1-0 at half-time was tremendous, a marvellous feeling for those players.

"For us to get that late equaliser - wow - that was raw emotion not just from me but from the group of players, staff and supporters."


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