Brave Hereford. The Third Division team might have given it all up as a bad job when their captain, Dean Smith, missed a penalty on the hour, but their spirit was to prevail. After John Brough, 23 tomorrow, had swiftly headed an equaliser, they might even have gone on to win and make further nonsense of a 79-place difference in English football's hierarchy.
As it is, there will now be a replay at White Hart Lane on Wednesday week, to the relief of the Spurs manager, Gerry Francis, whose organisational abilities in his work with the Tottenham defence should make them potential Cup winners. "It was the longest last 25 minutes I have ever had to suffer," he admitted.
It all conjured up memories of that Ronnie Radford "what a goal" day at Edgar Street 26 years ago when Newcastle United were sunk by a then non-League team: rain lashing down, pitch cutting up and crowd roaring full-throated support. This result may not have matched that win but at least for a modern generation to whom it is but a curio, and who probably think that the Beatles are a rip-off of Oasis, Hereford provided something new to savour.
For much of the first half it looked unlikely. There was an initial flurry as Hereford's adrenalin and first wind saw Spurs under pressure. Brough volleyed wide, the darting left-back Murray Fishlock saw his shot blocked and, with their best chance, Nicky Cross turned inside Gary Mabbutt and seemed certain to shoot home until the Spurs captain got a foot in and the ball cannoned to Ian Walker.
But there was a control to Tottenham's defending and a penetration to their attacks. Rosenthal volleyed wide from Fox's cross before Chris Armstrong blazed wide after a neat move by Fox and Darren Caskey had set him free.
It soon became third time lucky. Armstrong escaped down the right, crossed low, Teddy Sheringham's attempt to turn the ball home was blocked and it came to Caskey on the edge of the penalty area. His shot was going well wide until Rosenthal's head intervened to divert the ball home.
It seemed that Spurs might go on to win comfortably but, fortified by the break, Hereford came out with renewed determination: when you've got nothing you've got nothing to lose. Spurs, meanwhile, began to show a distaste for the mud, the wind and the rain.
They were lucky not to concede an equaliser when Dean Austin headed just wide of his own goal from one of a steady stream of high balls and crosses; they were luckier still when Smith lifted his penalty over the bar after Rosenthal and Caskey had between them brought down Tony Pounder.
"Don't worry skip, we'll get one," said Smith's central defensive partner, Brough, as he ran back and duly, three minutes later, he did. Keith Downing's corner from the right came in and Brough at the near post rose well to head the ball home.
Tottenham might have stolen it when Jason Dozzell headed down for Sheringham, whose shot from a few yards was smartly saved by Chris Mackenzie, but it was Hereford who finished the stronger. Indeed, the veteran striking partnership of Steve White and Cross, who linked cannily, almost combined for a winner, White driving Cross's low ball in from the right over the bar.
"People keep congratulating me, but at the end of the day we have not achieved that much," the Hereford manager, Graham Turner, said. It was a little harsh and probably said in disappointment, even if their best chance of progress has probably now gone.
Before the match a magnificent prize one-ton Hereford bull named Cudos was paraded; 90 minutes later, United had at least earned some of that quality for themselves.