Goalscorer: Newcastle United - Glass 6 Dabizas 58
Tottenham - Armstrong 44
Weather : Cold & Damp
Newcastle United - Harper, Charvet, Dabizas, Helder, Hughes, Solano (Maric 86), Lee, Fumaca (McClen 81), Glass, Shearer, Ketsbaia, (Ferguson 68)
Subs not used - Given, Beharall
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Taricco, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh, Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Freund, (Clemence 85) Ginola, Iversen, Armstrong (Dominguez 68).
Subs not used - Baardsen, Young, Vega
Another pointless trip to the North East. Another poor performance. Another 2-1 defeat.
St. James' Park Newcastle is not the football ground it used to be. In fact it is more like a building site at present with 3 massive cranes dominating the skyline. Half the roof has been removed from one side of the ground. Behind the goal the whole roof has been removed and the area is completely exposed. Meanwhile an incredibly high new stand is being built behind the existing stand. Visiting supporters are located in an open corner of the ground with a restricted view behind a temporary floodlight pylon.
There is absolutely no atmosphere whatever. The famous noisy support is gone. Outside there are protest groups campaigning against the board and their proposals for corporate entertainment in the new seats.
It appears that those fans currently holding £500 season tickets for seats behind the goal will, when the stand is complete, either have to move to the top of the stand which is miles from the pitch or they can fork out an increased sum of £1300 to retain their existing seat. Newcastle fans were distributing a newsletter called 'Divvent bite the hand that feeds ya!' and calling for a boycott of all club shops. It appears also that the club are returning part of their ticket allocation to away games and then showing the match on their own big screen. The infamous Freddy Shepherd and his board have obviously been to the Alan Sugar school for customer service.
Spurs were unchanged from the side that started at Southampton. Newcastle lined up with several players not even known to the home fans.
The game got off to a disastrous start for Spurs when, after 6 minutes, Solano crossed from the right. From 12 yards out an unmarked Glass headed an innocuous effort towards goal.. For some strange reason Walker was only able to parry the shot and then did an impression of a seal flapping furiously until eventually under pressure from Ketsbaia the ball crossed the line. Newcastle had returned from a long European trip to Roma and the last thing we wanted to concede was an early goal.
Gradually Tottenham battled back with Ginola threatening. David was also coming in for some stick from the home crowd no doubt due to his remarks about Shearer at the Oxford Union. It was Ginola who made the breakthrough just before half-time. His cross from the Spurs right eluded Iversen but was met by Chris Armstrong to level the scores.
Normally scoring just on half-time is considered a psychological advantage. Not for Spurs as it was Newcastle who started the second half the livelier side. A wicked Solano corner was met at knee height by a diving Dabizas header to give them the lead. It was a ball which should have been cut out. Spurs battled to equalise but through some dogged and last ditch challenges Newcastle held on, urged on by a white haired old man on their bench. Campbell came the closest with a header just over.
The most amazing part of the afternoon has to be the performance of Mr. Alcock - the referee. He gave one yellow card to Newcastle to Solano for overreacting to a tackle. Spurs received 6 yellow cards and I do not recall one bad tackle. Mr. Alcock's enthusiasm to book Spurs players was only matched by his lack of enthusiasm to book the home team. After receiving his yellow card Solano committed 3 further cautionable offences (2 trips on Dominguez and kicking the ball away), but was not spoken to again and was eventually substituted. It was the most inconsistent of refereeing performances and I thought Mr. Alcock was no pushover!
Shearer was his usual nasty self, backing in, little nudges and digs and constantly griping to the referee. The final action of the game saw Shearer flatten Taricco with no action taken. It appears there was some altercation in the tunnel afterwards which is hardly surprising in the circumstances. Scene set for a cracking cup tie maybe?
MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA (Just rose above the rest)
Eric the Viking
Southampton 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Saturday 20th November 1999
Goalscorer : Tottenham - Leonhardsen 81
Attendance :15,248 Weather : Cold with Heavy Showers
Southampton : - Jones, Tessem, Lundekvam, Richards, Colleter, Ripley, Oakley, Hughes (Le Tissier 85), Kachloul (Boa Morte 85), Pahars, Beattie (Soltvedt 78)
Subs not used - Benali, Moss
Tottenham Hotspur : - Walker, Taricco, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh, Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Freund, Ginola (Dominguez 64), Iversen, Armstrong.
Subs not used - Baardsen, Fox, Young, Clemence
The Dell does not improve as a football ground. In fact it has not changed at all and is without doubt the poorest and most dangerous ground in the Premier. Add to that some heavy showers on a cold afternoon and the scene was set.
Those are not the conditions that Ginola revels in away from home. Just to prove it he turned in a very below par performance regularly giving the ball away and it was a surprise when he emerged for the second half. After he had pulled out of a challenge for what was his ball, enough was enough and George sent on Jose.
The first half was a tedious affair with little to excite. Spurs best chance fell to Iversen. Armstrong broke down the right and sent in an excellent low cross, but Steffen failed to connect properly and the chance passed. Lundekvam was given a yellow card for a reckless challenge from behind on Iversen.
The second half started with Pahars dribbling through the entire Spurs line up. Just as he was about to pull the trigger Leonhardsen got a toe to the ball. Pahars seeing the ball running away dived for a penalty and the referee correctly awarded him a yellow card. Southampton again went close when Ripley almost connected with a cross.
At the other end Armstrong was trying hard and actually managed a lob onto the bar from a difficult angle. Until he can sign another striker George will persist with Chris Armstrong and he is quite correctly praising his efforts to boost his confidence.
As the minutes slowly ticked by a nil-nil looked the most likely result. Then Spurs won a free kick on the right. It was floated in to the box where Campbell did a superb job holding off the defender with his back to goal and laying the ball back to Leonhardsen. Leo immediately drove his low shot through a crowd of players into the corner of the net. A nicely worked goal.
Southampton sent on Le Tissier to try and pull back but it was to late. He also looks to be carrying some excess baggage. There was also the bizarre situation of a long Southampton throw eluding everyone and looking to end up in the net until Justin Edinburgh cleared right on the goal line. He could easily have scooped the ball in to his own net, but equally it could have hit the post and rebounded to a grateful Saints forward. On balance a good decision from Justin who had one of his better games at left back, with Taricco deputising for the injured Stephen Carr at right back. In the final minute Lundekvam was given a second yellow, then a red card for a reckless challenge from behind on Iversen.
Sol Campbell was at his familiar centre back after the midweek right back berth against Scotland. He is getting back to his old self and had a very solid game and also created the goal.
As expected there were a few chants from the visiting Spurs fans about Dave Jones and his forthcoming trial. The game however never really thrilled and Tottenham welcomed 3 points from a mediocre performance.
MEHSTG TOP MAN - SOL CAMPBELL
Eric the Viking
Hotspur 2 Arsenal 1
Sunday 7th November 1999
The Tottenham team raised their game after the deflating defeat in Germany only four days before, to inflict a victory over the auld enemy in a bruising encounter at the Lane. Before the game had hardly begun, Petit had been spoken to for a tackle from behind, then a looped ball by Leonhardsen over the defence caught Dixon ball-watching and Steffen Iversen ran around his blind-side to sweep the ball past Seaman. One up in six minutes - had Spurs scored too soon ? Adams was unbelievably allowed to continue in the game without a caution after he trampled (quite literally) all over Leo. Then, following a trip by Petit on Armstrong as Chris ran away from him and towards the penalty area, the French pony-tailed one earned a yellow card and Spurs a free-kick. From this, after prolonged negotiation with the red wall to get back 10 yards, Tim Sherwood was teed up to hit a sweet shot past Seaman from outside the left edge of the box. At this stage things were slipping away from Arsenal and the referee. Petit exhibited one marvellous show of petulance (worthy of Beckham) and threw the ball down violently in front of the ref, but only got a talking to. So three bookable offences and only one yellow to show for it.
Arsenal started to come back into the match, when Kanu bundled the ball and Armo over the line, resulting in a free-kick to Spurs and not a goal for the Arse. But shortly after, a free-kick from the right found Vieira unmarked and he headed home off a post. Walker had little else to do in the first half as the defence broke down everything that was thrown at them. The yellows continued to be brandished by Elleray, who had difficulty determining what was a corner and what a goal kick at times !!
The second half saw a more determined effort by the visitors. In effort more than stylish play though. Everyone in a red shirt was fair game for a yellow card - Dixon, Vieira, Keown, Bergkamp ... even Suker, who was only on for fifteen minutes, but could easily have seen red. The lack of discipline was truly shocking. This was exemplified by Ljungberg's reaction to Edinburgh's tackle. He pushed him over and as Spurs players ran in to protect the prone full-back, the Swede really lost his head and (although I dislike the man intensely) Lee Dixon was the only one who prevented Mad Freddie having a nightmare, as Elleray kept his distance and let the squabble proceed without intervention. When he did deign to get involved he produced the red card (which I found out afterwards was for head butting Ginola). Ljungberg departed directing a two fingered salute to the ref and kicking a chunk out of the tunnel wall. In truth, Arsenal produced little to trouble Walker, but the Spurs keeper had to be alert when producing a fine reflex double save from Overmars as he broke into the box and then getting up from the floor to push away a follow-up shot by Suker. Campbell, Carr and Perry produced outstanding performances in the back line and the midfield worked tirelessly. even Clemence played his heart out and had his best game for the club.
At the end, Ginola was replaced by Dominguez and he was brought on to run at the Arsenal defence. This he did and drew a nasty foul by Keown, which got him dismissed for a second bookable offence and only Steffen Iversen's quick thinking in stopping Suker from reaching the ref prevented another dismissal. Sherwood's celebration at the final whistle in front of the Croat must have made his day just about complete !!
Sweet though the victory was, it is not the be all and end all of our season and although we have a long way to go to catch up with the top three or four clubs, this shows that with some reinforcements, the cavalry can charge on without fear to gain at least a place in Europe for next season. With consistency and a fuller squad, improvement there is possible.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - IAN WALKER
1. FC Kaiserslautern 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0 (Aggregate 2-1) -
UEFA Cup 2nd round 2nd Leg Thursday 4th November 1999
Attendance :29,066 Weather : Dry & Cold
1 FC Kaiserslautern - Reinke, Koch, Ramzy (Reich 85), Schjonberg (Tare 83), Ratinho, Sforza, Strasser, Djorkaeff, Buck, Marschall (Peterson 74), Hristov
Subs not used - Gospodarek, Roos, Wagner, Sobotzik
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Carr, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh (Young 75), Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Freund, Clemence, Iversen, Armstrong (Ginola 80),
Subs not used - Baardsen, Vega, Fox, Dominguez, Gower.
1 FC Kaiserslautern are a big football club in this part of Germany. Having spent all day in the city you can understand why. There is not much else to do. This place is a bit like Middlesbrough without the sea. Fortunately most Spurs fans were able to find some accommodating bars and restaurants to pass the day in. The official flights landed at 9.00 am at Zweibrucken which is a military airbase 50 km from Kaiserslautern. A short coach transfer saw an early arrival in town. The early arrival was apparently required to clear the airbase before exercises commenced!
The Fritz Walter Stadium sits high on a hill close to the town centre. It is an impressive football ground with modern automatic turnstiles. Despite what UEFA may think it is not all seater. All 4 corners of the ground are still terracing. Painting numbers on the terracing and giving a cushion to each fan does not make it all seater either. You can imagine what happened to most of the cushions as Spurs fans hurled them into the air.
There was the expected heavy Police presence outside the ground before and after the game. The German riot police looked a formidable lot.
Kaiserslautern has a reputation for being an intimidating place to visit. Whilst the referee looked a little intimidated judging by one or two dodgy decisions, in the main the home crowd seemed fairly quiet for most of the game. There was a rendition of 'You'll never walk alone' before the game which they seem to have adopted. Spurs fans were out in strength and packed into their allocated corner section of the ground. A small group were also located in a stand on the far side. The Tottenham following was in excellent voice and provided great support for the team for the whole game. Even after all that happened during the game only some of the team led by an inconSOLable Campbell came to acknowledge the fans.
George Graham surprised everyone by leaving Ginola on the bench and keeping Clemence on the left side of midfield. Edinburgh came in for Taricco who apparently had a damaged shoulder. Armstrong returned from injury to partner Iversen up front. It looked like a team picked to hold on to a slender lead.
1 FC Kaiserslautern are a very big physical side built around the artistry of Djorkaeff. That is also how they played the game getting the ball forward at every opportunity. Spurs struggled in the first half to retain any sort of possession and had to work hard to repel the onslaught. Kaiserslautern looked particularly strong down their right hand side where they exploited the weakness of Clemence and Edinburgh. Fortunately Perry was back on top form and tidied up on numerous occasions. Walker also made some outstanding saves. The best chance of the half for Spurs fell to Iversen who saw a good header from a right wing cross just go over the top. A difficult first half but no goals at the break.
The second period continued the theme with Djorkaeff having more influence. Freund worked tirelessly in the centre of midfield and had an outstanding game. He was certainly not popular with the home fans. As the game pushed on with no goals Spurs fans began to think it was their night. Then Sol headed a back pass short for Walker. A Kaiserslautern forward was on the ball and lobbed his effort over Walker and onto the bar. God was with us. A rare Spurs attack saw the ball fall to Iversen on the penalty spot. With the goal at his mercy he fluffed his shot wide. Throughout the game Spurs had looked vulnerable on their left. Edinburgh struggled for pace and received little support from Clemence. Young replaced Edinburgh at left back after 75 minutes but an improvement was not evident. Armstrong ran and ran up front but looks far from sharp and unlikely to produce a goal. Ginola replaced Chris after 80 minutes but it was too late for David to make any impact.
The seconds ticked by at 0-0. The fourth official held up his board signalling 3 minutes of time added on. Then came disaster. For some reason the Spurs midfield had pushed forward and lost possession. Djorkaeff fed an excellent ball inside the full back to Buck coming in from the right and he fired past Walker into the far corner of the net. With 1 minute of extra time gone the home crowd finally erupted. Tottenham players heads went down. Many of them were dead on their feet. 30 minutes of extra time loomed and one wondered if we could survive. The answer came swiftly and cruelly. Kaiserslautern again swept forward. Again the ball was played in from the right and in the last minute of the game poor Stephen Carr sliced into his own net to give Kaiserslautern victory. It was probably a blessing in disguise that there was no extra time as Spurs looked shattered.
Walker, Perry and Freund were excellent for Spurs. Campbell still appears to be short of full fitness. It was clear again that this Spurs squad is not strong enough to hold a 1-0 lead particularly in Europe. This tie was lost at White Hart Lane and in the 91st and 92nd minute at The Fritz Walter Stadium.
The final memory of the trip came as the coaches journeyed back to the Airport. Police sirens sounded and the coaches pulled over to allow the team bus to pass. The Spurs players looked very disappointed and Sol could be clearly seen staring into space.
This was Sol's first European tie for Spurs. I sincerely hope it is not his last.
The players need to lift themselves. There can be no greater motivation than the next game at home to the Gooners.
MEHSTG TOP MAN - STEFFEN FREUND
Eric the Viking
Sunderland 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Sunday 31 October 1999
Goalscorers: Sunderland - Quinn 10, 21
Tottenham - Iversen 63
Attendance : 41,904
Weather : Dry & Windy
Sunderland - Sorensen, Makin, Bould, Butler, Gray, Summerbee, (Williams 87) Roy, (Ball 72) McCann, Schwarz, Quinn, Phillips, (Dichio 61)
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Carr, Vega, Campbell, Taricco, Leonhardsen, (Sherwood 77) Clemence, Ginola, (Dominguez 45) Iversen, Piercy (Perry 45)
The Stadium of Light is a very impressive football ground. When filled with 40,000+ screaming mackems it can be a very intimidating place for visiting teams and referees, even if you can't understand a word the crowd are saying.
George decided to adopt the squad rotation approach even though he does not have a big enough squad to rotate. In came Vega at the back for Perry, Clemence in midfield for Sherwood, and Piercy up front for Fox.
Iversen had two early chances both saved by Sorensen which should have been converted. That was the total of Spurs efforts for the first half. After 10 minutes Sunderland crossed from their left. Sol rose and completely missed the header. Quinn chested down the ball and volleyed into the far corner.1-0. Ten minutes after the restart Sunderland crossed from the right. The cross eluded all the Spurs defenders. Quinn chested down and volleyed home again. 2-0 and Phillips has not scored yet. Spurs struggled to get anything going in this poor first half. Ginola was out of sorts. Piercy looked like a young man thrust in at the deep end and out of his depth. Quinn gave Campbell a torrid time. At least Walker was quick off his line to clear a through ball to Phillips which saw the England striker collect a bad knock on his ankle.
Desperate times require desperate measures. In the second half Dominguez replaced Ginola and Perry replaced Piercy. Vega was sent to play at centre forward. At least he is a big lad prepared to put himself about. His presence clearly unsettled Messrs Bould and Co. and Spurs had a much better second period. Iversen pulled a goal back when he finished a cross by Vega. It was a perfect cross by Vega who had charged down the right wing after being released by Leonhardsen. Kevin Phillips was then carried off on a stretcher after a robust challenge by Sol which earned him a caution.
It looked as if Spurs would snatch a deserved equaliser as they swarmed on the Sunderland goal. With the Wearsiders defence rocking Sol should have scored from close range but blasted over. Carr then shot across goal and Vega came within inches of making contact. But this was to be Sunderland's day in front of the largest crowd at The Stadium of Light so far. They now move up to third.
For Tottenham it was a predictable defeat although the second half fight back showed character. There are at the moment too many injured players who are being forced into action. George needs to strengthen the squad now, particularly up front to avoid more occasions like this.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEFFEN IVERSEN
Eric the Viking
Hotspur 1 1FC Kaiserslautern 0 -
Thursday 28th October 1999
(UEFA Cup 2nd Round 1st Leg)
At last, Tottenham got going in the Second round of the UEFA Cup, after all the date and kick-off time changes, we were playing against our German opponents. And before long, we were holding our heads as Taricco hit a shot from outside the box that glanced off the outside of the post. It was a sign of things to come. The game was mainly a tactical battle fought out on the midfield ground heavily populated by foot-troops. This meant that their were few chances on offer and throughout the match the Kaiserslautern side managed only a couple of headers on target and a few weak shots which posed little problem for Walker. Meanwhile at the other end of the Lane, Spurs made some decent opportunities with Steffen Iversen being put through on the keeper, but his left foot shot was weakly hit into his body, when a deft chip might have brought better result. However, the Norwegian was only to be denied for a short while, as Ginola's run into the box saw him baulked by one defender, but he managed to stay on his feet, leaving the keeper to prostrate himself at David's feet and send him crashing as the ball went towards the line. The ref pointed to the spot and then the fun started as nobody seemed that keen to adopt the responsibility of taking the penalty. Sherwood had the ball and then as it was put on the spot, Steffen stepped up and hit a low shot into the inside of the side netting, just beating the dive of the keeper. In truth Tottenham's goal came against the run of play as it was slap in the middle of a ten-minute spell when Spurs were barely able to get out of their own half as Kaiserslautern played their possession football in their forward areas.
Spurs managed to conjure up other chances in the first half, with Fox and Leonhardsen managing to get in other's way for a far post cross and Sol's towering header was save don the line, then dropped, then Perry's follow-up effort blocked on the line. The scramble was one which typified the match somewhat. Into the second period, the Germans made a couple of changes and the game became even more compact. You felt a second goal might have been enough to seal the tie for Tottenham and in nearly arrived when Ginola cut on from the left and curled a delightful shot against the far post and it bounced out to be cleared. Little else happened as the game petered out with both sides seemingly accepting the 1-0 score-line. Plus points were the defence's clean sheet and the lack of yellow cards, but with the second leg a week away and George talking about playing two forwards (tongue in cheek), the second leg will be both tough and interesting. Tottenham will have to be more careful in their passing as there was an awful lot of giving the ball away tonight and it will be important to hold the ball as much as possible. Kaiserslautern were obviously missing bruised testicle victim - Youri Djorkaeff - and you feel one good ball from him could make all the difference.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - CHRIS PERRY
3 Manchester United 1 - 23rd October 1999
Spurs : - Walker, Carr, Campbell, Young (Vega 76), Taricco, Fox (Piercy 87), Freund, Sherwood, Leonhardsen, Iversen, Ginola
Man U : - Bosnich, P. Neville, Stam, Silvestre, Irwin (Greening 82), Beckham (Solskjaer 68), Scholes, Keane, Giggs, Yorke, Cole
For a while at the start of the game, with the injuries taking their toll and the visitors passing the ball around confidently, it looked like it was to be a very bleak day for Spurs. As the rain continued to lash the pitch, it was only sporadically that Tottenham broke free from the shackles of their own half and the confines of the way they were compressing the game into a very small area. When Giggs waltzed into the Spurs box and delicately lifted the ball over Walker, it seemed as though this could be another example of how far behind the top sides we were. But two pieces of luck turned the tide and gave Tottenham confidence to play as they can against the current Premier League champions. Firstly, Silvestre headed a back pass wide of Boo-snitch and only just wide of the goal, but from the resulting corner, Sherwood's flick-on found Iversen at the far stick. His header was blocked on the line by the Man. U. keeper and his follow-up stopped on the line. Steffen's persistence paid off when his third attempt, while laying on the sodden turf, saw him prod the ball into the opposite side of the goal. Claims for handball may have had some credence, but things had been going the Reds way until then and they didn't like it when things got worse. Another corner, this time from the left was missed by Young at the near post and expertly headed into the top corner by ... Paul Scholes !! The niggle that United seem to reserve for us when they aren't getting all the decisions suddenly resurfaced and some naughty stuff by Beckham off the ball and Keane and Silvestre on it was allowed to pass without punishment.
Into the second half and the continuing rain made the pitch hold the ball up and it was difficult for all concerned. Sir Alex, as always, made the excuse for his side and this time it was the pitch that didn't suit his team. Wasn't it the same one we were playing on and had to come to terms with ?? Wasn't it the same one that Ginola lost out to, when he would have liked the ball to run on ?? Oh, and then there was the ref, who spotted which falls were dives and did very well, according to the knighted Scot, aiming his barb at Ginola, but was it not Scholes who twice fell inside the area and play was waved on ?? Anyway, Sol cleared from in front of the line, as Stam had done at the other end, Walker made a couple of good low saves when unsighted and Freund was up for it once Keane brought him down and then stamped on his thigh. While Manchester United had a lot of the possession (mainly thanks to being presented with it by our boys), they failed to create clear chances and when Stephen Carr ran onto a ball on the right and rammed an unstoppable shot into the inside netting of the far side of the goal, Spurs were just about safe.
With Perry missing and Fox in for Armstrong, the whole side pulled together to stop Man. U. playing. This resulted in the petulant one getting frustrated and scything down Taricco for a yellow card. Ferguson took him off straight away and then Spurs went 3-1 up soon after. His lack of self discipline cost his side the game. A lesson unfortunately, in my opinion, he is not mature enough to take in. For Tottenham, it was a real joy to see them play some of the football they managed and to work so hard to ensure the position they had achieved did not slip. A similar result in our next home game ... We can dream, can't we ??
MEHSTG TOP MEN : TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Derby County 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 Saturday 16th October 1999
Goalscorers: Tottenham - Armstrong 37
Weather : Warm & Dry
Derby County - Hoult, Dorigo, Schnoor, Laursen, Eranio, Johnson, Morris (Murray 82), Delap, Borbokis (Sturridge 82), Burton, (Baiano 72) Beck
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Carr, Perry, Campbell, Taricco, Leonhardsen, King, Nielsen (Vega 77), Ginola (Sherwood 88), Iversen, Armstrong (Piercy 77)
Substitutes not used : Baardsen, Edinburgh
Derby are struggling this season and this was reflected in the empty seats around the excellent Pride Park Stadium. The Spurs end was full and in good voice. Jim Smith is a good manager and despite their poor results of late Derby would still be hard to beat. They included new signing (Oh how we would like one of those) Lee Morris for his debut.
There were a few surprises in the Spurs team. Ledley King came in to the centre of midfield to partner Alan Nielsen. This pair replaced Tim Sherwood who was on the bench and Steffen Freund who was not. Steffen Iversen was fit enough to join Chris Armstrong up front. The best news was that Sol Campbell was back to resume his partnership with Chris Perry. A clean sheet was the outcome, the first in the league this season, need I say more?
Derby made a lively start and had chances to go ahead but lacked confidence in front of goal. Walker also looked steady as they were causing some problems down the flanks which saw both Taricco and Carr receive yellow cards. Gradually Ginola began to pose more of a threat and in the 37th minute he went on a run unique to David. Charging down the left side he teased and beat three Derby defenders and sent over an excellent cross which was swinging away from the keeper. A Derby defender got his head to the ball but only touched it on to a grateful Chris Armstrong at the far post who dived to head home.
Given the problems Chris has been having with some of the Spurs boo boys it was good to see him score albeit his celebrations were a little muted.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Derby made a few chances but never really looked like scoring. Spurs came close to increasing their lead when Ginola went on another amazing run which saw him take out three Derby players with speedy acceleration before crossing. Leonhardsen arrived at the far post to head down but wide. Iversen was then through on the keeper who charged out of his area only for Steffen to lob him. Armstrong was a whisker away from providing the finishing touch.
Somehow the fourth official found 5 minutes of extra time during which there were a couple of scares but Spurs hung on to collect three points. They finished the game with four centre backs on the field !
After a couple of early mistakes Ledley King did well for a centre back making his full debut in midfield. Perry and Campbell looked solid. Carr again did well and Armstrong worked hard. Ginola's contribution was outstanding and he was even involved in tackling back on occasions.
George Graham also got involved towards the end on the game in one of his touchline remonstrations with referee Durkin which included much pointing and arm waving after Durkin had ignored a foul on Taricco.
A good three points and a repeat of last seasons result although I did not see Sol scuffling in the tunnel this year.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DAVID GINOLA
Eric the Viking
Tottenham Hotspur 3 Crewe
Alexandra 1 (Worthington Cup 3rd Round) - Wednesday 13th October 1999
The general feeling of apathy spilled off the pitch and into the empty seats around the ground during the first half. It wasn't for lack of effort on the players part, as Spurs strove to establish a lead, but the absent fans caused a strange atmosphere to start off Tottenham's defence of the trophy. For all their attempts, Spurs could not score in the first half. Leonhardsen's flying header was saved expertly by Kearton and Armstrong headed Piercy's inviting centre against a post. Blocks and deflections also saw Sol and Steve Carr denied, while David was pinging in crosses and shots like a man trying to claw his way to the top of the Carling Opta charts. Walker had little to do as Crewe passed and moved quite well, but lacked the finish. The game was played in a very good spirit, with no nasty tackles and some sensible refereeing, that saw Freund go unpunished for two heavy tackles which would certainly have earned him a yellow card in the Premier League.
The second half was a different matter. Crewe started well with Grant having a long shot fly over the bar after Shaun Smith had hit a 25 yard free-kick just over the goal. It was against the run of play then that Spurs opened the scoring. A lobbed ball from Sherwood into the box was well controlled by Armstrong and he laid it off for Leo to steer past the keeper. Carr was unlucky with a run into the box, when Kearton thwarted him, but the keeper was left with a face as red as his teammates shirts when Ginola let fly from 25 yards out. I thought the ball had hit the advertising hoardings behind the goal and I think Kearton thought the same. However, he was embarrassed when the ball struck the foot of the post and went into the net. Crewe were not finished and decided to show Spurs what they could do and a run by Colin Cramb (who had been having a laugh with Ginola all night down the wing) into the box was ended when Freund (attempting to get out of his way) brought him down. Shaun Smith stepped up to bury the fifth penalty we have conceded this season. This meant it was nail-biting time again, but the tie was settled by Tim Sherwood, who capped a quiet night for him by stealing onto a flick-on from Iversen and lobbing the ball over the keeper from the left hand side of the penalty area. Other highlights of the second half were a Freund back-heel, Piercy almost grabbing a debut goal but hitting the post, Ginola trying to beat three men in the space of about two yards three or four times.
In the end it was comfortable, but the almost first XI struggled to make headway in the first period. It was good to have Sol back as he made some important challenges to keep the goals against down and the biggest cheers of the night were for his entrance onto the field. Piercy also caught the eye; still raw for sure, but compared to some of our other striking options, he looks one for the future. Fulham at the Cottage next, which will be harder and require more application.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - JOHN PIERCY
2 Leicester City 3 - Sunday 3rd October 1999
What a load of rubbish. The referee, I mean. How many times do they have to spoil a perfectly good afternoon out, with their whistle blowing and nonsensical decisions ?? In my opinion, Mr. Barber was gave of the worst displays of officialdom on a football pitch - ever. His award of an early penalty against Luke Young would be understandable in light of the position he viewed the incident from, but the fact that Steffen Freund pointed out the marks on the pitch indicated it was outside the box and that he would not consult his assistant , only led us to fear what would follow. It looked as though Heskey made the most of it and frankly, Izzet did as he slammed the ball home. Straight from the kick-off a defender tried to chest the ball back to Flowers, who found himself diving to stop Leonhardsen from scoring, but the ball bounced to Iversen, who steadied himself and then whacked it home to put Spurs level within a minute. Shortly after a Ginola cross was met firmly by an Armstrong diving header, which was parried by the keeper for Iversen to stretch and prod home from short range. This had followed an inspired first half (as so often this season) by Tottenham. Sherwood had a curler saved early on; Leo had a drive deflected just wide of the goal by a defender ; Freund put in a rocket of a shot, which forced Flowers to tip over; Ginola put in a tempting low centre, which Armo failed to reach; Perry won a header from a corner, but directed it just wide. It was mostly one way, with Walker having a relatively quiet time of it.
After the break, the ref continued to give Leicester the majority of the decisions. It would not have been so bad if he had been giving the same decision each way, but it seemed that similar challenges were all given in the Foxes favour. The game should have been wrapped up by Spurs in the first few minutes of the second half though. Freund had another shot deflected away, then Iversen burst through and only a fingertip save diverted the ball around the post. This was the turning point of the match. A long cross from the left was almost straight away headed in at the far post by Izzet. The galling fact about this goal was Spurs were on the attack, when Mr. Barber decided to obstruct Sherwood from getting the ball, which then went to Leicester and subsequently into our goal. Ginola went off and with him all hope of another goal. The winner was scored from a free-kick given for another innocuous tackle by a Spurs player and the ball rebounded kindly for Taggart to fire low past Walker at his post.
The annoying thing about this game is that we were beaten by an inferior team and these (Bradford, Wimbledon, Leicester) are games Tottenham should win. There is no divine right, but the side should have won the game before they came back into it. The midfield did not look capable of holding out and when Ginola went off the creativity dried up, so where to now. The echoes of "Sugar get your cheque book out" rang around the quiet Tottenham areas of the ground, but how much is there to spend anyway and where do you start. Another defender, a playmaker in midfield and a forward or two. That will be £20 million plus, thank you. I fear the cheque book may not run to that.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : -
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