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Carling Cup - Fifth Round

Wednesday 3rd December 2003

With no 'goals against' in eight of the last nine games, we face the opposite problem to the one that Manchester City brought to the Lane in the last round.  However, Boro have also only scored one goal in their last five games and as we know these runs always seem to come to an end when Tottenham are involved.  Spurs will need to take whatever chances come their way and also be tight at the back to provide Middlesbrough with a sfew opportunities as possible.

Aussie Schwarzer is the regular between the posts and is a decent enough keeper, but has his dodgy moments, which maybe Kanoute can pressure him on in the air.  Former Man. City keeper Carlo Nash is the back-up keeper.

The defence is obviously their strength at the moment, with the loan signing Danny Mills finding some good form after getting out of Elland Road, but Queudrue, Southgate and Riggott are providing a formidable unit to stop any attack.  Ehiogu is just coming back from a very long spell out injured, but might feature as a sub.  Veteran Colin Cooper and new introduction to the first team squad Andrew Davies (the one with the Rod Stewart haircut) can also be slipped into the back four when required.

The midfield is strong too, with the loan signing of Gaizka Mendieta adding a new dimension to the team.  His drive, energy and shooting are a valuable asset to Boro, alongside the engine room players of Doriva and Boateng.  The flying winger from Holland, Zenden provides a pacy outlet to the defence and on his day can be a real handful.  Returning from a loan spell at Sunderland, midfielder/winger Stuart Downing has gained valuable first team playing time and he is another speedy wide-man.

The forward line has been hit by the absence of Malcolm Christie, who is out long term with a broken leg.  However, Massimo Maccarone can turn a game in a  moment, while Nemeth is a hard working forward, who's running will need to be covered to stop him setting up chances or making space for others.  In reserve, powerful former Bolton striker Michael Ricketts can be utilised to bring another facet to the Boro forward line.

Tottenham need a decent performance after being whacked in the North-East at the weekend.  However, we have heard such requirements before.  The uneventful draw at the Lane earlier in the season does not set the heart racing, but perhaps the fact that it is a Cup game might bring something out of the sides.  This is despite the fact that Spurs needed extra time against West ham and Boro went to penalties against Everton.

There won't be a lot of goals in this match, but if Tottenham can nick the first one, this will bring Boro out and might make some space available behind them, leaving them susceptible to being hit again.  Therefore, it will evoke memories of the 70's when we eventually overcame Middlesbrough  ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham   2     Middlesbrough   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


MEHSTG did not have enough time to get a view from the other side.


TOTTENHAM : -  Simon Davies (thigh/groin), Christian Ziege (knee), Jamie Redknapp (knee)

MIDDLESBROUGH : -  Malcolm Christie (broken leg), Joseph Desire Job (knee), Gaizka Mendieta (toe), Danny Mills (illness), Juninho (knock), Doriva (knock), Colin Cooper (knock)

TV :  No live coverage
Radio :  No live coverage
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  -  subscription service  



Tottenham   1      Middlesbrough   1   (Half-time score : 1-0)
(after 90 mins. and after extra time)
Spurs lost 4-5 on penalties
Carling Cup - Fifth Round
Wednesday 17th December 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  19.45 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold, turning very cold later
Referee : -  M. Dean (The Wirral)
Crowd : -  25,307
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  
Keller; Carr, Richards (Doherty 46), Gardner, Taricco; King, Ricketts (Dalmat, 95), Anderton (Poyet 78), Konchesky; Keane, Kanoute
Unused Subs : - 
Burch, Postiga

Middlesbrough : -  Mark Schwarzer, Danny Mills, Colin Cooper (c) (Szilard Nemeth  80), Gareth Southgate, Franck Queudrue, Gaika Mendieta, George Boateng, Boudewijn Zenden, Juninho, Massimo Maccarone (Stewart Downing  45), Michael Ricketts
Subs : Paul Jones, Andrew Davies, Chris Riggott

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)


Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  Anderton 2

Middlesbrough -  Ricketts 86

Penalty Scorers : -  
Robbie Keane Tottenham scored 1-0
Michael Ricketts Middlesbrough scored 1-1
Stephen Carr Tottenham scored 2-1
Juninho Middlesbrough scored 2-2
Paul Konchesky Tottenham scored 3-2
Boudewijn Zenden Middlesbrough scored 3-3
Frederic Kanoute Tottenham scored 4-3
Danny Mills Middlesbrough scored 4-4
Gus Poyet Tottenham saved 4-4
Gaizka Mendieta Middlesbrough saved 4-4
Mauricio Taricco Tottenham hit post 4-4
Franck Queudrue Middlesbrough scored 5-4


Cards : -  
Tottenham  -  None

Middlesbrough -  Danny Mills (foul) 83

The early goal seemed to come a bit too early for Tottenham, who felt they ought to throw the game Boro's way late on and that was just what Taricco did to start the move that lead to their equaliser.  One throw and a shot against a post in the shoot-out meant that Spurs missed out on losing to Arsenal Reserves in the Carling Cup semi-final.  Now Boro will have that pleasure.

Not that they are a pleasing side n the eye, but as far as they are concerned, that is not their main concern.  They are well drilled and Tottenham found it hard to produce a cutting final ball to their moves, which left Schwarzer fairly redundant in the second half of normal time ... not making a save to mention until late on.

With Anderton pouncing on Cooper's half-cleared effort by slamming it back towards goal and it hit the net after flying off the former Millwall defender and sent Schwarzer the wrong way.  It came at the end of some good passing and although it was in the first minute, it breached a defence that had not let a goal in for about 11 hours.  Not a bad start.

But if only Tottenham could finish teams off, they would be a fair bit more successful.  Neither Robbie or Fredi looked like they were going to score tonight and their link up play wasn't as good as it had been.  Fredi had a couple of half chances blocked, while Konchesky was getting some space on the left and one waist high cross in the channel between the keeper and defenders was begging to be touched in but neither K or K got into a position to attack it.

Maccarone had proved tricky last time he played at the Lane, but this time he seemed dispirited and lacking any knowledge of how to play with his team-mates.  It was interesting to contrast his performance with that of Postiga's.  Although he didn't make it onto the pitch tonight, Helder looks like he has trouble with the physical side, while Maccarone copes well with that, but he had little confidence in getting efforts in on goal.

Meanwhile, back at the game, Ledley King rose highest to a corner and headed powerfully goalwards, but Schwarzer got a hand to it and made a very good save to knock it over the top, then in the next attack, Taricco hit a low drive about four feet wide with the keeper slightly unsighted.  Then there followed a period of about 10 minutes, when Boro were finding the target with their passes ... if their targets were the ball-boys !!  

With Doherty replacing Richards in the break, we thought this might add a little fluency and mobility to the defence.  The muscular Michael Ricketts was being well handled by King, but Deano looked like he had been carrying a knock and was having trouble keeping up.  Spurs made a couple of breaks wide and Boro made a couple through the middle to keep the side on their toes.  Doherty threw a great block as Juninho prepared to shoot on the edge of the area.  The game had opened up a bit and Tottenham opened up to let Juninho through the middle again and he was felled for a free-kick about 30 yards out.  Nobody had closed down Boro defenders, who were allowed to bring the ball forward, but luckily for Spurs the free-kick was shot by the one-trick pony Zenden, who went for goal every time he got near the ball, this time straight into Keller's arms.

Then came the change that changed the game.  Pleat thought it was time fro Tottenham to have Anderton replaced by Poyet and things started to go awry.  When Juninho, who hadn't been that effective until then, got through in the are again, it looked like the equaliser, but his rising drive was parried away by Kasey.  It looked like the break Spurs needed and when they got a spell of throw-ins near the Boro penalty area, with Mills getting booked for a foul on Keane, it seemed like the storm had been weathered.  But this is the good ship Spurs we are talking about and never is there plain sailing when that takes to the water.

With minutes left, a throw-in near the Boro box and what does Taricco do ??  He throws it five yards back towards his own goal, where Keane is standing.  The Irishman tries to volley it into the box, misses and away go Middlesbrough.  With Boateng away down the right wing, his cross fell in the area to Michael Ricketts, who hit a shot that bounced off Carr's arse and invited the big Boro striker to hit it into the net.  1-1 and it had been coming, but Boro could have won it in the remaining three minutes added time.  Gardner just got in the ay of Nemeth's shot and it flew wide and then from the corner, Keller had to jump up to palm Ricketts' firm header up and over the bar.  It was a terrific save.

Just when you thought the temperature might rise in this cup-tie, it fell about three degrees, as the cold air hit your skin and with few bodies around to provide any windbreak, it chilled you to the bone.  Poyet nearly warmed us up with a spectacular overhead kick that went about two feet over the bar, while at the other end, young Boro sub Downing tried his van Basten impression, with a waist high volley that flew just wide of the far post.

Dalmat had come on for our Ricketts, who had done OK, but not imposed himself on the game.  The Frenchman decided that he should run at the opposition and from his first attempt, he pulled the ball back to Poyet on the edge of the area and he skied his shot over.  Chances were being made at both ends and King's shot whizzed past the post, while Ricketts rose again to head towards goal ,with Keller looking for all the world like Clemence against Halifax all those years ago, just standing there while the ball went in.  Except it didn't !!  The billowing of the net, where we thought the ball had nestled, was the ball hitting the back of the net ... literally.  The travelling fans thought they had scored, Ricketts thought he had scored and we were resigned to going out.  It was only when the ball appeared around the back of the goal, that we were able to give a sigh of relief.  

The in the last minute of extra time, a corner fell loose in the penalty box and Stuart Downing swung a vicious boot at it and his shot flew three feet off the floor towards goal.  Keller reacted superbly to push it aside and to take the game into a penalty shoot-out .

With the first three of each side scoring, it came to Kanoute to take his kick.  He stuck it away with aplomb, leaving Danny Mills to follow him.  You had an idea that his pen. would be Stuart Pearce like and he hit it down the middle ... hard and then gave a raised fist salute to the Paxton Road end ... most unnecessary.  Poyet sauntered up to the spot, stuttered in his run-up and hit a shot that Schwarzer easily reached and pushed out.  With Mendieta striding forward we all got ready to go home, but Kasey dived the same way as the Boro keeper and beat the shot out.

Then when Taricco was the nominated sixth penalty taker, I was worried.  His penalty was actually a good one, sending Schwarzer completely the wrong way, but the shot itself bounced back off the post.  Four inches away from going in, but enough to matter.  Queudrue hit the next spot-kick past Keller and that was that.

At no time did we look in control of the game, although Boro rarely looked like getting back into the match until after the break.   Finishing off teams who we can beat should be something the team need to learn quickly.  Portsmouth lie in wait and will be up for the crucial game and Tottenham cannot afford to drop points to teams like that.

And the money lost by the club on the night, through not getting a semi-final over two legs against Arsenal and not being able to get to the final with the chance to qualify for Europe means that questions should be asked about our tactics and team choice.  Pleat made a poor substitution by taking Anderton off, as he was man of the match at that point and mostly by bringing Poyet on.  Dalmat proved troublesome for Boro's defence when he came on, so why not take the game to them rather than try and defend what we have.  That's' something we have never been good at !!


Pete Stachio





Hi there,

I don't know if this is the right place to give my views on the team selection for tonight's game but I went to your site as I always agree with the views in your fanzine whether I read them from the fanzine or on P518 of teletext.

I used to run a fan's website myself (www.spursfirst.com) which unfortunately I haven't been able to update this season due to starting a new job with very long hours at the end of last season.  I keep trying to find the time and motivation to update it which is very hard to muster considering our current form.

I'm a lifelong Spurs fan and whilst sorry to see Hoddle go, was getting frustrated like yourselves with him playing the golden oldies (Poyet, Anderton, Freund) in midfield.  However, if I was going to keep one of these players who could still do a job for the club in midfield, it would have been Freund so when he let Freund go and kept Anderton and Poyet, I couldn't believe it.

I really hoped when David Pleat took over that he would leave out Poyet and Anderton who are well past their best and play the likes of Ricketts, Blondel and Dalmat in midfield.  He has got the defence right - Keller, Carr, Richards, Gardner, Taricco and the front two - Kanoute & Keane but when  it comes to his midfield selection, he never seems to pick the best available players and plays the players he selects in the wrong midfield positions.

We all know our three best midfielders (Redknapp, Davies, Ziege) are injured, but why doesn't Pleat play the excellent Blondel at all and why did Dalmat come on 10 minutes from time against Newcastle and late in the game tonight when he is pure class.  Our best available midfield currently from right to left is Ricketts, Anderton, Dalmat and Blondel.

I really would like to hear your views on this.  The club don't seem to take a blind bit of notice of what any of us think!!

Rob Jackson,

Ed : - Rob, by all means, feel free to add your views here.  Like most fans, we are aware that Poyet and Anderton can only pay in short spells.  Anderton did very well last night and Poyet looked slow, as usual.  Dalmat is an exciting player, who is direct in a way that Matthew Etherington wasn't.  His style is typically Spurs, but I think Pleat will use him in the right conditions.  With the match in the balance, he probably didn't think it was right to bring him on to replace Anderton.  However, at that stage, by taking the game to Boro, it would have been the best form of defence for Tottenham.  We let them start running at us, going through the midfield without a tackle, inevitably leading to the goal.  If it wasn't for Kasey, we would have been out in 90 minutes ... if it hadn't been for that pesky keeper, we could have all been home in the warm !!

With Blondel, Pleat said he wasn't strong enough yet for the PL (see www.mehstg.com/agm03.htm) and I think he feels that in our current position, he can't field too many youngsters, but introducing Blondel from the bench would keep him happy (for a while) and also allow him to get used to the game at the top level.

I am not trying to apologise for Pleat's actions ... just trying to find some way of rationalising them !!  In fact, I would ask the question ... why does he keep playing Richards ??  He seems slower by the game and doesn't get up for attacking corners as a man of his height should.  The only problem is that Doherty is the only option, unless we move King back with Gardner alongside him.  Then who goes in the gap left in midfield by Ledley's move ??  The depth of the squad does not match the need for cover in certain places.  What happens in the January transfer window might tell us a lot about where Spurs are going.


Hi.  Now I'm getting pissed of with our team  in a crap Premiership we are still crap.

Have a great Xmas, I shouldn't bother to look at results but every week we do and and people still take the piss

Yours virtually crying.
Phil Close


Other scores in this round of the competition :
Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1 Wednesday

Bolton Wanderers (after extra time - 90 mins. 0-0)

1 SCBC 0 Tuesday
West Bromwich Albion 0 Arsenal 2 Tuesday


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