Boro just having won at Manchester United and knowing how rarely we do
well in this part of the North-East, there can be little hope of
anything other than a point at the most. The win at Fulham might
make Spurs adopt a more confident attitude going into the game, but Boro
will be in a similar frame of mind and with both clubs relatively safe
in mid-table, the only thing to play for is pride.
With the two Marks in
goal, Boro' have two capable keepers. Aussie Mark Schwarzer has
been the number one for a while, but McClaren has chosen the former
Forest goal guardian Mark Crossley in more recent matches. Both
are big lads, but have trouble catching crosses, preferring to
punch. They do not have any difficulty in stopping shots with
Crossley's size (i.e. width) and Schwarzer's height (i.e. length) their
advantages. However, Spurs have found ways past them before, but
need to make sure that they hit the target and make them save, even if
they don't score.
Dean Gordon has been
farmed out to Cardiff on loan, but has returned, although is desperately
out of favour with the manager. McClaren tends to go with Ugo
Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate, Ginaluca Festa and Franck Queudrue, if fit and
not suspended. For the Tottenham game he will be without the
Italian Festa, due to suspension, but the other three will play with
either youngster Jason Gavin or the experienced Colin Cooper filling his
boots. Ehiogu is long legged and pacy, but sometimes can be prone
to mis-time a tackle, which can be fatal for his side. He has
suffered the red card a couple of times this season and conceded
penalties too. Southgate is an England international and reads the
game well, but has been encouraged by McClaren to bring the ball out a
bit more. He has been seen charging forward, which might suit
Spurs to hit them on the break if they leave holes in the defence.
Queudrue was unheard of before Middlesbrough brought him to Teesside,
but has proven a good find. He has pace and is good at set pieces
in the opponents box, while he adds flexibility to the system by pushing
forward too. Robbie Stockdale is the other option that Boro have
and he can play in midfield too if required.
In that part of the team,
the old warhorse Paul Ince is playing as well as ever and makes the side
tick. His ball-winning ability has never been in doubt, but his
use of the ball has improved and he scores the most amazing goals (like
the one that bounced over Nigel Martyn). Carlos Marinelli adds a
bit of invention to the side with his quick feet and silky skills, but
has more often been used from the bench this season. Veteran
Robbie Mustoe still ploughs the furrow between boxes, while Luke Wilkshire
is a newer face, who has been given a look in as
Boro were hit by injuries. There is a determination and effort in
the midfield that now has an outlet under the new boss. Mark Summerbell
will not be available after joining Portsmouth on a month's loan.
That outlet is the twin
strike force of Alen Boksic and Benito Carbone, who have struck up an
understanding very quickly. Carbone, on loan from Bradford City,
clicked with the strong goalscorer Boksic and they have provided the
threat that the rest of the team was lacking. With Joseph
Desire-Job on his way back to France, wing man Allan Johnston behind
Marinelli in the running and Szilard Nemeth still trying to get used to
the team and only getting the odd appearance, the side rely on Boksic to
stick the goals away. Being without a goal for a year since he
signed for Boro, Noel Whelan was looking a shadow of his former self,
but now has been getting a few strikes on target and past the opposition
keepers, thus building his confidence. This has left Dean Windass
sitting on the bench, coming on to try and save the situation if
needed. He is a strong, old fashioned striker and adds contrast to
the delicate finishing of Boksic and Whelan. Hamilton Ricard this
week left Boro to join CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria on a free transfer, while
England Under-21 striker Andy Campbell cost Cardiff City £1 million,
leaving Middlesbrough light in this area.
Jonathan Greening doubtful, as are Phil Stamp and
Mark Wilson, but there is enough in their squad now to pose a few
threats, as Man U found. As for Tottenham, they will have to hope
that some of their injury problems have cured and that they can maintain
the style of play that earned three points at Fulham. Work as a
unit and make sure that you don't allow the other side a
half-chance. With both sides looking better than a month ago, they
will probably produce a scoreline of ...
- Middlesbrough 1 Tottenham 1
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
Tottenham 1 (Half time score: 0-1)
|FA PREMIER LEAGUE
|Saturday 30th March 2002
|Venue : Riverside
|Kick Off : 5.35 p.m.
|Weather : - Warm,
|Crowd : - 31,258
- Mr. P. Dowd (Staffordshire)
Scorers : - Middlesbrough - Queudrue
Tottenham - Iversen 32
(foul) 8, Thatcher 72, Perry (foul) 82
: Crossley; Stockdale, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue; Whelan (Windass
90), Wilkshire (Murphy 58), Greening, Mustoe; Boksic, Carbone
Unused Subs : - Beresford, Gavin, Marinelli
Keller; Perry, Gardner, King, Thatcher; Sherwood, Anderton (Davies 78),
Poyet, Etherington; Iversen, Rebrov (Sheringham 72)
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Richards, Clemence
: Red shirts, red shorts, red socks
: White shirts,
navy blue shorts, navy blue socks
With things going downhill since Feb. 24th,
the changes made in the team were a welcome surprise. Rebrov's start
was one which many thought should happen as there is little to play for
now and Keller in goal for
was a move that fans had been calling for over the last few weeks.
The fact tat it was injuries that kept them out had little to do with it.
The appearance of the Canadian Hirschfeld
on the bench was a shock too. On trial, it was unusual for someone
who is not a contracted player being put in as a substitute.
As the match was about to start the home
fans found their voice. For those
Boro fans singing "There's only one spotty German", they must
have very short memories or very short sight, as no-one on the Spurs team
looked anything like their description. This arose from the victory
that Middlesbrough had in their FA inquiry over the illegal approach by
Liverpool to tempt Ziege away from Teesside, but the wing-back picked up a
knock on international duty in midweek and took no part.
With a more traditional 4-4-2 adopted by
Hoddle, the side looked more solid, but lacked a little in options when
they needed an outlet from defence or midfield. Etherington gave the
Boro defence a torrid time with his pace causing problems, while Iversen
looked lively but not deadly up front. The game swung from end to
end for the opening exchanges. Spurs having a volley from an
unmarked Poyet on the penalty spot saved and Boro causing Thatcher to
clear twice when the goal was threatened.
Although hit by a virus that kept out
Schwarzer and Ince, Boro knocked the ball quickly to Carbone, who was the
hub that their moved revolved around. Boksic also was enjoying the
space afforded him and he took the ball past Keller on one occasion, but
Anthony Gardner was there to clear from in front of the goal. Ant
also found time to maraud forward, hitting a long shot over the bar.
Shortly after, Spurs had a throw on the
left wing, which Ben Thatcher launched towards the near post. It was
headed out, but Matthew returned the ball to Thatch, who obligingly gave
it back to Etherington. His first time cross went in low to the near
post, where Rebrov and Poyet ran in to meet it. Cleverly, Gus leapt
over the ball confusing Southgate, Stockdale and Ehiogu, leaving Iversen
unmarked at the far post to turn it in from five yards out, although
Crossley got a touch on it.
Boro almost got back into the game when
Sherwood tried to be too clever on the ball in his own box and was robbed
by Boksic. He chipped to the far post and Carbone met it on the
volley, but hit the side netting from six yards out. Spurs struck
back with Iversen being sent clear of the Boro defence by a long pass from
Thatcher and as Crossley came out to meet him, Ivo lobbed it over him, but
wide and as he tried to get his shot in, Ehiogu closed him down and
blocked his effort.
At half-time, it was the general consensus
that Spurs had just about deserved the lead although they were not playing
the flowing football they had done prior to the New Year. Early in
the second half, they survived a clear claim for a penalty when the ball
came off Boksic's chest and Ledley handled back to Keller.
Riding this piece of luck, Iversen broke
clear again and his cross to Etherington at the back stick produced a shot
that was well blocked. A corner was given and from that Anderton
swung in a good ball, met by Gus whose header crashed back off the bar
The Boro goal came form a dodgy free-kick
awarded when Boksic went down under challenge from Gardner. The only
thing was the challenge had been about 30 seconds before he fell
down. When the kick was taken, Queudrue bent it into the bottom left
corner expertly, but his job had been made easier by Robbie Mustoe
dragging Steffen Iversen to earth to make a gap to shoot through.
how the ref missed that, I don't know.
Anyway, it perked Middlesbrough up and a
corner shortly after found substitute David Murphy unmarked and his header
was off target when it looked easier to score. Spurs reacted by
bringing on Sheringham and Davies and they started to knock the ball about
a bit better. One move down the right got Davies in to cross to
Teddy around ten yards out. The ball got stuck under his feet, but
he dug it out to Matty, who hit a strong shot that bounced back off
Crossley's chest. Near the end, Spurs came close to winning it, but
not close enough as Teddy could not reach Thatcher's inviting
In truth, the bad decisions did equal
themselves out, so perhaps a draw was an equitable result. The home
side had lots of possession, but Spurs shaded it on chances and only the
width of the bar stopped Tottenham taking all three points again.
The defence played well together and the midfield worked hard to try and
contain Boro, who were strong in this area. Both sides could have
done with a better finisher to round off the opportunities created.
The presentation at the start of the game
to Colin Cooper and his wife, who recently lost their son in a tragic
domestic accident, put the whole thing into perspective. Especially
when the news broke that the Queen Mother had died today. Two
individuals who died at either end of the age spectrum, but made us
realise that this is only a game ... something some people need to get
into their heads when making demands in wages and TV deals.
|MEHSTG TOP MAN :
- ANTHONY GARDNER
|The need for points between these
two sides was necessary for differing reasons. For Spurs, the push
for a respectable end of season finish and for the hosts, a final win to
ensure that they would not be dragged down into the relegation
dogfight. In the end, a draw suited neither club's purpose, but
perhaps Middlesbrough would be happier with it than would Spurs.
With a first half lead taken by
the opportunistic finish from Iversen, who found the ball at his feet at
the far post following Etherington's left wing cross, Spurs again failed
to hang on for the remainder of the game, although the equaliser came
from a harshly awarded free-kick. Gardner was sucked in by Boksic
and the Croatian international fell to get the dead ball kick.
Frenchman Queudrue strode up to hit the free-kick past Keller from the
edge of the box, while Mustoe was pulling in the wall. It appears
that free-kicks are not Kasey's forte after the Hasselbaink one in the
first leg of the Worthington Cup semi and last week's Ziege strike in
the friendly against the USA. As far as the dubious nature of the
free-kick, Spurs has escaped an appeal for a penalty, when Ledley was
accused of handling the ball back to Keller in the box. I have
seen them given for less.
It was about the right result in
truth, as Boro took the game to Spurs with Carbone especially
impressive, twisting and turning the Spurs players at every
opportunity. He created chances and caused terror in the Tottenham
defence and looked a completely different player to the one who played
for Bradford City and Aston Villa. Luckily for Spurs, Boksic
failed to get on the end of any of the moves and when others did, they
either hit Keller or missed the target altogether. Kasey did well
to deny Boksic with a diving save to push the ball out, but he needed
the help of Gardner to clear his lines. Thatcher got in the way a
couple of times early on to stop Middlesbrough getting a lead. His
head deflected Carbone's shot for a corner and then he made a tackle to
Poyet should have had a couple at
least. His early volley found Crossley, whereas, if he had hit it
anywhere else in the goal and it would have been in. He was
unlucky when meeting Anderton's corner in the second half to see his
header rebound off the bar. What is it they say about luck evening
itself out over the course of the season ? We must be in for one
helluva lot of it in the next six games then !!
In the Boro goal, Crossley failed
to impress with his handling. He spilled shots and there was never
a white shirt to take advantage of the loose ball. Etherington
twice tested him with fierce drives and he got behind the ball, but when
they came back off his body, no-one was following in. Matty was
especially lively and gave the home defence a torrid time when he went
on runs. He needs to look up before crossing though to make sure
that the positions he gets into are not wasted with aimless balls into
the box. Conversely, Rebrov looked totally out of touch and when
he came off, Teddy looked a bit better than him without setting the team
alight. He could have got on the scoresheet at the end with
Thatcher's cross just eluding him by inches.
Anderton did well, but like many
of his fellow midfielders was guilty of cheaply conceding
possession. Sherwood was particularly prevalent in this respect
and although he gave a good foil for the back four, he did make more
work than was necessary sometimes with misplaced passes. Poyet was
always involved, but picked up his seventh yellow card of the season and
will be up for another suspension.
Hoddle was obviously willing to
shuffle the pack with Richards, Davies and Sheringham left on the bench
alongside the Canadian trialist, Lars Hirschfeld, who is being lined up
as the number two for next season if Keller leaves, as is
expected. He must be viewed seriously as a signing by Hod, as he
wouldn't have made the bench otherwise. Strange as neither Wolves,
Portsmouth or Hearts felt the need to keep him on longer than the week's
trial they offered him. Sullivan was given a rest, probably after
being hit for five by France in midweek, he needed some R&R !!
A point from the match was a
reasonable return and one which was not totally unexpected, but even now
there is still not the ability to hold a lead and convert the chances
that come along. Iversen was once more t blame, but his goal did
give Tottenham the advantage for a long while. He might still be
there next season, but who will be playing alongside him ?