Sunday 10th August 2003



Tottenham   0     Sporting Lisbon   0     (Half-time score : 0-0)
Sunday 10th August 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Boiling hot (100 F)
Crowd : -  19,557
Referee : -  A. Wiley
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Mabizela (Doherty 75) Bunjevcevic, Gardner; Carr, Taricco, Ricketts (Poyet 61), Davies (Marney 80), Redknapp; Keane, Postiga (Zamora 61)
Unused subs: Burch, Jackson, Perry, Acimovic, 

Sporting Lisbon : -  Ricardo; Hugo (Polga 46), Beto Severo, Rui Jorge (Tonito 64), Miguel Garcia; Luis Filipe (Lourenco 82), Joao Pinto, Fabio Rochemback (Quiroga 46), Custodio; Clayton (Tello 46), Silva, 

Colours : -  
Tottenham  -  All light blue

Sporting Lisbon  - Green and white hooped shirts, white shorts, white socks with green turnover

Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -   None

Sporting Lisbon -    None

Cards : -  
Tottenham  -   None

Sporting Lisbon -  None 

With a sun that burned down on the White Hart Lane stadium, the match was always going to be a slower version of last week's friendly against PSV Eindhoven ... wasn't it ?  Well, no actually.  It was a slow, but technically expert performance from both sides with no little pace about it, despite the regular drinks breaks for players to take water on board.

The start of the match saw a minute's silence for the young Man U player Jimmy Davis, who dies will travelling to a match for Watford, where he was on loan for the season and for ex-Blackburn and Fulham manager Ray Harford, who died yesterday of cancer.  The announcement of the silence was made too early by the announcer and this lead to booing of the Sporting Lisbon fans (numbering about 250-300) who were singing away oblivious.  But the minutes silence had not actually started, even though many fans had stood up for it.  Chirpy was still in the centre circle and the captains still exchanging pennants and doing the toss.  It was only when the teams stood around the centre circle that the stadium fell quiet for the remembrance of the two football men.

There was even less of a crowd than last week and the idea of kids for a quid is great, but only if accompanied by an adult seemed to have backfired.  However, the Portuguese fans made a lot of noise and the Spurs fans took the opportunity to sing some songs while they could get into the ground before the season took hold.

Spurs produced a sprightly start, taking the game to Sporting at quite a pace.  As early as the third minute, Spurs might have taken the lead.  Robbie tricked his way down the right wing and put in a wicked cross that Taricco (what the hell was he doing up there) met full with his forehead, forcing the goalie to save very well.  But he could not hold it and the ball fell invitingly for Postiga closing in, but his 2 yard shot was too close to the keeper, who grabbed it.

Spurs were moving the ball quite nicely and it was not surprising that they had the pitch watered just before kick off to give it a bit of zip.  The ball was manoeuvred to Redknapp on the edge of the box and his low drive made Ricardo fall on the ball and then a free kick from out on the right wing was swung in by Bunjy and the effort made the keeper scurry to get behind it.

The best chance to score came shortly after when Taricco put in a decent cross coming back inside on his right foot (as is his wont).  Helder went for it with his head and I think his marker just got a touch on the ball, which took it towards Carr coming in at the far post.  Unfortunately, the flick made enough difference to put him off and his volley went way over.  The Irishman was linking up well with his compatriot on the right and both were showing off some tricks.  Carr did pull one back to Davies, who blazed over and on another occasion, Keane lifted the ball over the defence for Carr to latch onto, but his ball back into the box was behind all the Spurs strikers.

The movement was good even though at one stage all the Spurs players had moved into the shade of the West Stand !!  Mbulelo Mabizela made his home debut and showed a sturdy understanding of the defender's art.  He didn't hold back and unlike Sporting's cynical challenges from behind that went straight through the Spurs players from behind, his tackles were made front on and 'crunching' would be an apt term to use in conjunction with them.  Hoddle needs to sign him up quick, as he is the sort of defender we need ... one who won't be pushed around.  Although subbed in the 71st minute, the South African captain had shown enough to impress the crowd.

He was filling the right back berth in the back three and in the centre Bunjy did OK, looking a better defender than I had previously experienced, while Gardner gave a supreme performance and we must keep everything crossed that injury doesn't strike him this season, because he will be a star for Spurs if he stays fit.  He stopped Joao Pinto getting his head to a cross from Clayton and produced a formidable barrier to the muscular Silva, who tired everything he knows to get Anthony off the ball.

Spurs did have a decent chance for a penalty go unrewarded by Mr. Wiley, who consistently let Lisbon's player get away with murder with nary a word said.  Postiga played a one-two with Keano and as he raced into the box, he had contact made with him by Jorge, but it was not deemed a foul by the ref.  Helder did come close shortly after with a flicked header from another Bunjy free-kick.  Another unusual starter was Rohan Ricketts who also got a standing ovation when he left the action in the second half.  his energetic display along with his willingness to dribble past players brought the Spurs fans a glimpse of what might be.  Perhaps in the absence of Anderton and the now departed Etherington, he can give the side some forward momentum and directness in attacking the opposition.

He showed good awareness of where to be when he made a shrewd run out to the right to be found by Bunjevcevic and then produce a cross that just evaded Postiga and Keane in the middle, thanks to a defender's intervention.  Rohan also showed he had confidence to have a 20 yard shot that produced a dive from Ricardo.

At the break, Sporting made three changes and the pace of their attacks stepped up a bit.  The times the ball fizzed across the front of the Spurs goal increased and I do not know how it stayed out on a couple of occasions.  A similar change saw Poyet introduced for Ricketts, while Zamora replaced Postiga, who had been subdued by his fellow countrymen, who he then went and chatted to on the bench.  His drive will be useful in such situations for Tottenham this season.  The other sub produced a couple of moments worth mentioning.  Gary Doherty arrived to groans when it was announced that Mabizela would be the one making way, but he produced two blocks to deny Silva and Lourenco from getting shots in when on the edge of the box.

However, everyone thought he had given Sporting a last gasp chance to win the match when the ref blew up after Doc had appeared to handle the ball in the area.  However, he had given a free-kick just outside the box for a foul by Marney and Beto Servero managed to get his dead ball kick up and over the wall and it beat Keller's dive, but hit the bar.  When it came down, it took Spurs three goes to get a touch on it to divert it away and then a Sporting boot took it wide.

So at the end, we could have lost it, but held on for a 0-0, which was a good result in a good performance.  No-one could complain with their day, apart from those fans who all moved back at half time, because of the short shower of rain.  It wasn't the only thing I found refreshing this afternoon !!


Thom Scarling

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