Looking Forward



FA Cup Fifth Round

Saturday 17th February 2001

As far as clubs can be unknown to others these days, Stockport County will be a mystery package as far as most of the players and fans are concerned.  Languishing in 18th place in the First Division, the Cheshire side have always been in the shadow of the other "big" clubs in the area and their hopes of moving to Manchester City's Maine Road, when the current residents move to their new ground in a couple of seasons, were dashed when Sale Rugby club won the race to take over as the occupiers of the stadium.

Also, their better known players, Ian Moore and Carlo Nash have departed Edgeley Park to Burnley and Manchester City respectively, showing how the local sides have an effect on the Hatters.  However, despite their lowly position in the League, they have come through the Cup with wins over Crewe Alexandra and Preston North End to make it the first time they have reached the Fifth round of the FA Cup in 51 years.

Veteran keeper Andy Dibble has been used this season, but since his sending off late last year (for a blatant rugby tackle in the box) Lee Jones has taken the keeper's gloves and is a sound handler and good shot stopper, while in defence County have Shane Nicholson resurrecting his career after a drugs and drink problem, Mike Flynn at centre half, who was once rumoured to be a Spurs target and former Canary, Colin Woodthorpe.  Robert Clare is a promising young defender who might feature, but Sean Connelly has spent his whole career at Edgeley Park and could provide attacking options as a wing back.

There is a cosmopolitan feel about the side these days, despite their failure to sign some Chinese internationals.  They have a Finn - Jarkko Wiss - who has been notching quite a few goals lately (including one at his own end) and needs to be watched as he breaks forward from midfield.   Then their new signing is Shefki Kuqi - a 6' 3" 24 year old Finnish forward with Yugoslavian roots, who was Footballer of the year in Finland last season - who can put it about up front and Karim Fradin, a French midfielder who rifled the goal against Preston recently from 30 yards out.  Kevin Cooper has been at the club a long time and is a tricky winger with a fierce shot, but more often provides the ammunition for Aaron Wilbraham, who is a young striker making a name for himself with some memorable goals.  One player who could play in the tie is former Spurs junior, Glyn Hurst, who County have signed from Ayr United, where he was a regular scorer for the Scottish club.  Ali Gibb slot in on the right side of midfield, while David Smith battles away alongside him.  Former Gooner Peter Clark has made County his new home, but is prone to the occasional blooper.  Brian Carrigan is usually a squad member, but would strive to impress should he get a chance in the forward line after his summer move to Stockport.

Two other players who are on loan at the club might play, with Leyton Maxwell the most likely.  He is on a season's loan from Liverpool, while Simon Grayson (former Villa and Leicester) has come from Blackburn for a limited period.

Their recent form has been impressive, having won at home against Fulham, who are sweeping all before them and winning against Preston away.  Having drawn with high-flying West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and with a tough match at home to Preston North End on Tuesday, the Spurs game will come at the end of a hard week.  They have drawn more games than they would have liked of late too. Although the fact that it is the FA Cup might pick them up (despite it being the ninth successive away tie in the competition), with Spurs having overcome Charlton in such dramatic style and picking up an away win at Maine Road, I consider that it will finish ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  2   Stockport County   0

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



Tottenham  4   Stockport County  0  Saturday 17th February 2001
FA Cup 5th Round

Weather : -  Dry, cold.
Crowd : -  36,040
Referee : - Clive Wilkes (Gloucester)
Scorers : -  King 5, Davies 30 & 50, Flynn (own goal) 44

Tottenham: Sullivan, Young, Doherty, Campbell, Freund, Sherwood, Leonhardsen (Davies 16), Clemence, King, Ferdinand (Thelwell 67), Rebrov (Korsten 88).
Subs Not Used: Walker, Etherington.

Stockport: Jones, Grayson, Nicholson, Flynn, Clark (Fradin 55), Cooper (Carrigan 82), Gibb (Connelly 61), Wiss, Clare, Kuqi, Wilbraham.
Subs Not Used: Dibble, Smith.

Simon Davies grabbed this opportunity to show what he is capable of with two coolly taken goals and a display that marks him out as a future Spurs player who will win favour with the fans.

With goals seemingly a problem in the League, the Cup has brought out the best in attacking intentions in Tottenham with eight games in the last two rounds.  However, the result was rarely in doubt as Stockport only occasionally threatened the Spurs goal and had to wait until the 69th minute for their first direct shot on target.  There was an early shock for Spurs, when the Finnish forward Kuqi ran through, but it wasn't the players who were shocked, but the fans in the Paxton end, who were amazed to discover the player jumping into them at full speed !!  The early goal for Spurs, glided in off Ledley King's forehead from Clemence's 5th minute free-kick, helped to steady any nerves there might have been and when the second went in, the team played with a greater assurance that the goals provided.  Clem had a tricky run down the left that saw his low drive blocked by Jones for a corner at his near post.  Davies came on for Leo who was the victim of a late tackle from Flynn (who received a yellow card).  He had been on for only fifteen minutes when he fed off a Ferdinand header, retained his composure to round a defender and shoot across Jones in the Stockport goal for his first Tottenham goal.  It showed that there is more to the young Welshman than just a good engine.

Spurs continued to put together good moves, but there was a little bit of showboating by Les, who got found out, while others made space, but could not get their shots in.  At the other end, the most significant chance for Stockport came from a corner at which Kuqi rose to head over when getting in front of Sullivan.  Jarko Wiss had a free header too, but could only slip it past the post, with Sully rooted to the spot. With things going Spurs' way as half time approached, they created a good move starting from the back, which ended in a throw-in that released Luke Young wide on the right whose low cross was destined for Les Ferdinand at the far post.  However, County's centre-half Mike Flynn beat him to the ball and prodded it into the net from a yard out.  Added to his caution, it is probably a day that this once rumoured Tottenham transfer target will want to forget.

The second half was tame in comparison.  Kuqi got one on target, but only weakly, when he mis-hit an overhead kick from a yard out and it bounced gently to Sullivan, who then had to dive left to divert a powerful bobbling long shot from Cooper and another from Nicholson.  Apart from a couple of scrambles in the box, the only other chance came near the end, when a header back across goal was hacked away by Doherty.  Sullivan appeared shocked when Kuqi got a header on target and appeared to palm the ball up before grabbing it at the second attempt.  Spurs tried to keep up the momentum, but there was a confidence in their passing that had previously been missing recently and chances were carved out for Doherty, Clemence (after a great run by Doherty) and Korsten when he made as brief appearance as a sub for Rebrov.  Clemence was also foiled, when Lee Jones smothered the ball at his feet as he prepared to shoot.  The one that did count came courtesy of a high through ball by Sherwood, which was expertly killed by Davies and taken on into the box before being put away as the keeper came out.

The rest of the game was bogged down in midfield and although Stockport tried valiantly to salvage some pride from the match, Spurs had proved too good for them.  Shirts were swapped at the end and the Spurs go marching on into the Sixth Round.


Pete Stachio


Hats Off to Tottenham


Spurs have fallen at this hurdle to a number of lower league clubs, but then most of these shocks have occurred away from home.  With Tottenham's seemingly invincible stance at White Hart Lane (always until next week that is), there was a belief that even the Hatters of Stockport would not make the Spurs fans mad.

The way that Tottenham performed this afternoon was thoroughly professional.  In the past, teams from the League have threatened to put Spurs out, but today, with the insurance of the early goal, the home side were in little trouble of suffering an exit.  King rose to head in Clemence's place kick with all the deftness of Alan Gilzean of old.  Until the celebrations started, it looked from afar that Clem had got on the scoresheet as nobody had appeared to touch it, but Ledley's head had got the last touch.  Spurs had had little to worry about, with the fans only concern being how to get out of the way of the marauding Finn Kuqi, who ended up four rows into the North Stand when he couldn't stop chasing a long ball.  The fans there still have the stud marks on their chests to bear the proof.

There was some tough tackling from the Northern side and Flynn and Clare both went into the book for late challenges on Leonhardsen and Rebrov.  Whilst they may have been genuine tackles for the ball, the speed of the Premier League players was too much for them.  It was the one on Leo that ended his afternoon's activity and Simon Davies came on in his place.  Davies has suffered at the hands of GG when substituted after coming on against Birmingham in the League Cup, but today was to be his day.  A long ball was won by Les, who's header fell into the path of the young Welshman.  He brought the ball down, shimmied past his marker and put his shot across Jones and into the net for his first goal in Spurs colours.  His second showed that he can finish in the same vein on a regular basis, as he pulled down a sky high through ball from Sherwood and drilled a low shot into the opposite corner from about 12 yards out.  In between, a flowing move - similar to the one that lead to the goal at Manchester City last week - ended up with Luke Young hitting a low cross across the face of the goal.  This sort of ball leaves defenders with limited options and Flynn found that he could either allow the ball to travel through to Les at the far stick or try and hook it away, which was his preferred choice, except he only succeeded in scoring an own goal.  It killed the game off as Stockport had hardly made Sullivan work for his afternoon's pay packet.

Into the second period, they failed to do a lot better, but did at least force Sullivan into three saves although none of them were too threatening.  The two headers before the third goal from Kuqi and Wiss (not some French wacky mime troupe) were close but off the mark.  Spurs started to show some flair with Doherty and Young putting on a show for things they are not really noted.  Gary ran through about four challenges as he came form the half-way line to the edge of the box and set up Clem for shot, while Luke did some fancy step-overs before falling flat on his face and leaving the ball behind !!  It was all part of the planned entertainment I'm sure and it was nice to see Luke find the funny side of it too.  Much like the Stockport fan who was taken away by stewards stark naked and turning as blue as his team's home shirts in the chilly afternoon.

A job well done, but then it was what most people expected from Spurs.  The defence didn't really have a lot to do, but were tight and well disciplined.  The midfield worked hard and broke forward when they could, while the forwards worked hard, until Korsten came on and then to his credit even he had a fast run down the line, but was wayward with a finish after Young's cross shot was headed out.  It was a day when it looked like even Steffen Freund might score, but ended with the fans being impressed by his control and skill when he chested down a high ball and played a couple of back-heels too.  It was indeed one of those days for most of those involved.

East Stan


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