Substitute Steve Davies earned Rochdale an FA Cup fifth-round replay at Wembley Stadium with his remarkable stoppage-time equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur at Spotland.
League One’s bottom club played superbly to take the lead into half-time thanks to captain Ian Henderson’s sixth goal of their cup run, yet they looked to have been denied when Lucas Moura equalised.
Substitute Harry Kane netted a penalty with just two minutes left but, three minutes into four minutes of added time, Dale threw men forward and got their reward as Davies lashed in to make it 2-2.
Rochdale fans queued in the snow at the Crown Oil Arena on Monday morning to get their hands on a precious ticket, and within four hours it was the first sell-out anyone at the club can remember.
Much of the talk in the build-up was about the pitch after Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino reacted with horror when shown pictures of it after Dale’s fourth-round replay win over Millwall.
The third-tier side were more than a little upset to see their achievement completely overshadowed by the playing surface and invested in a new pitch, which was laid on Wednesday.
Pochettino’s men certainly should have known what to expect having faced Wimbledon and Newport County, who took them to a replay, in the previous two rounds — although these were probably not the surroundings Moura, making his full debut, imagined when he made the move from Paris Saint-Germain last month.
Moura’s pace made him an obvious danger to Rochdale from the start while Son Heung-Min created several early openings but struggled to find his feet.
Rochdale took umbrage at claims they were giving away an advantage by relaying the pitch, and set about showing they, too, prefer a surface conducive to passing.
Matt Done and Mark Kitching stood out early on, while the home fans appealed vociferously for a penalty when Andrew Cannon harried Toby Alderweireld and the defender appeared to handle the ball on the ground.
Cannon’s harrying skills created the first big chance in the 18th minute when he dispossessed Victor Wanyama and played in Henderson, but the captain could only shoot tamely at Michel Vorm.
Spurs should have gone in front eight minutes later when Josh Lillis could not hold a Son shot but the forward dithered when the ball came back to him and, when he eventually found Fernando Llorente, the striker shot wide with the keeper stranded but defenders on the line.
Moura also missed the target as Tottenham applied some sustained pressure but Dale were as tenacious in defence as attack and, with the first half almost over, they produced the move of the match on the counter to take a deserved lead.
Stephen Humphrys played in Cannon and he timed his pass to Henderson to perfection, leaving the striker to sweep a cool finish beyond Vorm.
Pochettino was not tempted to turn to his talisman early, and with 59 minutes gone, Spurs found their leveller, Moussa Sissoko playing in Moura, who confidently beat Lillis from 12 yards.
The danger levels were increasing for Rochdale, who soon had Kane to contend with back at the ground where he made his professional debut, but Wanyama spurned a golden chance by firing over an open goal from five yards.
A money-spinning Wembley date was looming ever closer for Rochdale, and Done did his bit by heading off the line when Erik Lamela’s deflected shot looped towards the net.
But Alli was just took quick for Harrison McGahey, who hacked him down, and Kane’s confident penalty looked to have secured Tottenham victory only for Davies to engineer the most unlikely of finishes.