Nigel Gibbs Testimonial

Saturday 3rd August 2002



Watford  0    Tottenham  1     (Half time: 0-0)
Saturday 3rd August 2002
Venue :  Vicarage Road
Kick off : 3.00 p.m.
Weather :  Bright with showery rain
Crowd : -  10,547
Referee : -  M. Halsey (Lancashire)

Watford  -  None
Tottenham  -  Sherwood 88


Watford  -  None
Tottenham  -  None

Watford :  Chamberlain; Cox, Robinson, Dyche; Hand (Johnson), Gayle, Hyde (Glass), Nielsen, Doyley (Gibbs); Norville (Cook), Foley
Unused subs : -  Ifil, Lee, Swonell, McNamee, Godfrey

Tottenham : Sullivan; Thatcher (Jackson 25), Doherty, Henry (O'Donoghue 79); Leonhardsen, Bortolozzo (Sheringham 61), Redknapp (Sherwood 77), Ricketts (Ziege 61), Etherington; Rebrov, Qu Bo
Unused subs : - Hirschfeld, Barnard 


Watford  -  Yellow shirts, black shorts, yellow socks with black tops
Tottenham  -  White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with blue turnover


A late, late goal by Tim Sherwood gave Spurs victory over a physical Watford side in Nigel Gibbs' Testimonial this afternoon at Vicarage Road in front of over 10,000 fans.

Prior to the game there was a Watford old boys match against a Watford Internet team, but it was the emergence of another old boy from the bench who Watford probably didn't want to see.  It is also questionable whether many Spurs fans wanted to see him either.  Tim Sherwood might have turned out to be the match-winner, but he has lost some Spurs fans respect for his outburst in the News of the World last week, in which he criticised the manager and the board.  Some fans shouted that he had said what the fans are thinking and gave him a round of applause, while others booed when he came anywhere near the Tottenham end.  His tugging at the shirt when he scored to show how much he loves the club was quite distasteful and didn't really overcome the embarrassment he has caused the club by his comments in the papers.

The side entered the fray looking like a mix of the old and the new.  Some players had been set aside for tomorrow's prestigious friendly at Feyenoord, so Bortolozzo and Qu Bo both started, alongside Henry and Ricketts.

Watford almost scored within a couple of minutes of the start, with Thatcher letting a long ball into the box go over his head and Sullivan failed to come out to claim the ball.  Consequently, the Watford forward (Helgusson ?) got there first and lobbed it into the goalmouth, where, luckily, Leo was positioned to head clear.  It was very hard to make out who the Watford players were.  Apart from Sean Dyche (recently signed from Millwall), Micah Hyde and Marcus Gayle, they were an anonymous bunch, who failed to impress with their football throughout the whole match.  If you are a betting sort, then save some money and don't stake any on Watford getting into the Premiership this season.  Especially as at the start of the game, Ray Lewington was ominously announced as their "manager for this season."  Does this give him much hope of staying in the hot seat ??

Jamie Redknapp, captain for the day, was hit late by Jamie Hands (whoever he is) and reacted, as it is not expected that such tackles will go in during games like this.  However, he was not the only one who had been fed on raw meat for the last week.  Their No.3 spent the whole half kicking lumps out of Spurs players, most notably Bortolozzo, who they intimated might have been taking a dive.  Yeah, sure.  One to save him from getting his leg broken.  Normally, refs ask for players to be replaced when such incidents occur, but this official seemed happy to award free-kick after free-kick, thus ensuring that there was no flow to the match.  Perhaps we should have known better when the linesman appeared before the game and placed a nice red handbag on the sideline.

Spurs took some time to get into their stride.  Wide shots from the Brazilian trialist and the captain were followed by a hilarious total miss of the ball by Rebrov, after Bo had made inroads on the right of the box and pulled the ball back invitingly.  Unfortunately, Rebrov showed that his confidence is all out and throughout the game rarely looked like scoring or setting someone else up for a goal.

The ref awarded two free-kicks quite centrally n the edge of the Tottenham box and Foley and Gayle both struck firm shots, with the former going closest to breaking the deadlock.  However, Tottenham were passing the ball well and Etherington got in on the right, but had his shot blocked for a corner, while Qu Bo made a good run down the left wing and put a ball in to Diego on the edge of the box.  His lay off ran nicely for Redknapp, who lashed a fierce shot from 18 yards, a foot the wrong side of the post.

That was the end of the first half action and although Sullivan had not been directly troubled, Watford had been threatening, which is where they started off the second half.  It all came to nought, as much of their play did.  Spurs broke away and for once, Matty got in a good cross after creating some space for himself on the right wing, but both Bo and Bortolozzo went for the ball and neither got enough on their headers to aim it goalwards.

A good run by Hyde across the box and past about five Spurs players ended with his shot being saved twice by Sullivan and then two shots ran wide of the goal from about 16 yards out.  It was the only period of sustained pressure that the home side had.

Hoddle gave thirty minutes to Ziege and Sheringham, getting their first pre-season action and it was their class that told in this match.  Ziege's crossing is a class apart and created a number of chances, while Teddy linked up play well.  Christian swung over a deep corner and found Qu Bo lurking at the far corner of the box, where he hit a volley that was blocked on it's way in, then the same player nearly turned in a rebound after Ziege's cross was headed against the foot of the post by Sheringham.  The Chinese international was also unlucky earlier on, when he and Bortolozzo both got in the six yard box, but neither could administer the finishing touch.  

With Sherwood on to replace the tiring Redknapp, Watford fans woke up to chant the name of their returning hero - Richard Johnson.  Yes, that's right "Who ?"  It didn't really matter who, as Spurs won the game at the death, when Ziege crossed expertly for Bo to head goalwards.  Chamberlain got something on the ball, but it squirmed out of his grasp and Sherwood was on hand at the far post to knock the ball in gleefully from all of a matter of inches out.

It was by no means a classic encounter and Tottenham were lacking motivation, probably with Feyenoord in mind.  The pre-season run-in now gets serious and with the Nationwide season just a week away, I suppose Watford anted to prove something.  I am not sure what it was, but they have fallen a long way since they last played here in the Premiership against Spurs.  It was a gutsy Watford side that came out with a draw that day.  Today it was a poor shadow of that team and they will be building for the future rather than challenging for the present you feel.  As for Tottenham, the addition of a striker would not go amiss.  Rumours were heard that we were signing Robbie Keane this very afternoon.  It would be nice, but like everything else to do with the club, I will believe it when I see it.

For Sherwood, it was a return to his old stomping ground.  After stomping all over the reputation of his current club (whatever the justification), it is one he might be playing at a lot more regularly.






The sight of Allan Nielsen in the Watford starting line-up brought back memories.  Both of the last time that Tottenham won something and also how far he has fallen since then.  He failed to make a significant impact on the Spurs midfield and although he was no worse than anyone else on their side, he did not stand out either.  Tottenham played nice triangles around their opponents and held onto the ball well, despite the crude attempts of Robinson to deny them possession.

Of all the Watford players, the two who made you remember them were Hyde and Gayle.  They showed effort and some skill, but they could do little on their own, so few of the attacks they prompted came to nothing as the final ball was poor.  Having had a lot of changes and being hit by injuries, you can't help but think that Watford might struggle to stay in Division One next season.

There was a poor turn out by the home support for a long serving member of their staff.  Nigel Gibbs has been at Vicarage Road for 20 years and for that alone he deserves his big day.  With Spurs totally filling their end, it was disappointing that Watford fans left great gaping holes in their seating, when tickets were reasonably priced when compared to those for our home friendlies against Celtic and Lazio.  Loyal servants like him will not be often rewarded in this way, as players won't stay at on club for so long in the future.

The height of the differences between the two sides was highlighted when the Spurs subs warmed up.  Teddy Sheringham signed autographs for the hordes of fans at the front of the stand for about 15 minutes, while Tim Sherwood and Christian Ziege had to be called away by the fitness coach to make their entrance onto the pitch, much to the dismay of the supporters still waiting for their signatures.  At the other end, one small child ran down to the Hornet mascot (who, it was rumoured, is a Spurs fan) at the trackside in front of the home fans.

The match was traditional testimonial fare, but Watford seemed intent in kicking Tottenham to let them know they were there, with Dyche having a real go at Qu Bo for going down in the box.  Not sure how much "Kevin" understood of that !!  The game turned when Teddy and Ziege came on and the two of them created more chances in their time on the pitch than in the previous 60 minutes.  Ziege's cross was met by Bo's head and Sherwood was on hand to force home the fumble by the keeper with minutes remaining.  He was back on familiar ground and the second biggest cheer from the Watford supporters was for the return of Richard Johnson (who we didn't even know had been away), to face his former side, where he played as a junior.

There were other chances, but they are covered above, so I will take the lead from other correspondents and go through the side, player by player ...

Neil Sullivan :  Not a lot to do, but made a good double save from Hyde in the second half.  Misjudged coming for a long ball in the first minute and might have conceded a goal, but other than that, a quiet afternoon.

Christian Ziege :  Made the difference when he came on.  Pinpoint crossing made chance after chance, one of which led to the goal.  Showed no rustiness from the World Cup and will be given more time on the pitch in the coming week.

Ronnie Henry :  Another solid show, using the ball well and looking strong in the challenge.  Ronnie can only get better as he fills out a bit.

Paul O'Donoghue :  Henry's regular U-19 partner came on for ten minutes at the end and did well.  Looks calm and could be another useful central defender. 

Ben Thatcher :  Only lasted ten minutes or so, therefore difficult to comment on his performance.  Did what he had to, except for cutting out the long ball in the first minute.

Gary Doherty :  Played at the back this time and looked more at home.  Best of the bunch, as he looked happy on the ball and when challenged, did not flinch.

Johnnie Jackson :  Another energetic display, where he got forward to support the strikers as well as covering back.  Could be one to get a chance if Davies is injured as the engine of the midfield.

Oyvind Leonhardsen :  Another decent enough showing, but not enough to guarantee a first team place.  In the right place to get the ball away early on and did play the ball well, but in the Premier League he might not be as effective.

Jamie Redknapp :  Showed excellent range of passing.  Made the ball keep turning and hit some pin point cross-field passes too.  Had a shot just miss and if fit, will add a new dimension to the side.

Rohan Ricketts :  Looked willing to "give and go" and get into the box, but must be more decisive in his final pass.  Made chances for others, but you feel he has goals in him, if he has the confidence to shoot.  Passes well and good on the ball to hold off opponents.

Diego Bortolozzo :  Languid and Latin, he made it all look easy, but when riled he can put his foot in.  Robinson seemed to dislike him instantly, but he could have a role in the future.  Not a first choice just yet, but blessed with lots of skill. 

Tim Sherwood : The anti-hero/hero made a big thing of loving the badge when he scored.  Mixed reception, but many think he was only saying what everyone was thinking anyway.  Did more than he usually does, but it was only Watford.

Matthew Etherington :  Showed good pace and good skill, but once again his crossing is not up to the level of Ziege's.  Perhaps not fair to compare, but he must make the final ball count more often.  Also, he appears to lack confidence in running directly at his man.  Whether this is because he knows there will be nobody up with him, I don't know.

Sergei Rebrov :  Looked like you or I out there.  Not part of what was happening and seemed like someone who desperately wanted to be somewhere else.  Feel sorry for him, but haven't a clue what will happen to him.

Teddy Sheringham :  Difference was apparent when he came on.  Linked well and played in colleagues for chances.  Hit the post and was a persistent worry for their defence.  May be best used fresh from the bench this season more often than starting.

Qu Bo :  Not as impressive as his debut at Palace, but showed good speed and good awareness.  Bearing in mind he has come to a foreign country and has only been here a few days, he could do well.  Not sure if he will have the strength to sustain a full Premier season yet, but looked to have a good head on his shoulders.  Nearly got on the scoresheet and ended up making the goal.  Worth 500,000 of anyone's money.

Benny The Ball

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