Season 98-99 August - December
|THFC 4 EVERTON 1
- Saturday 28th December 1998
The game that brought the year to an end was a strange affair. Coming after Christmas, it seemed to suffer from some overindulgence, but was satisfying nonetheless. Without playing well, Tottenham somehow managed to come out of the match with all three points and their best win of the season. I think that a poor Everton side had something to do with that. One turning point in the game came in the second half, when Nick Barmby (who was booed throughout) shot from the edge of the box and Walker stretched to push the shot out and away. Tottenham didn't look back from that point. The first half had been a mish-mash of good play and mistakes. Luke Young had to make a saving tackle when Sol uncharacteristically gave the ball away in front of his own box, while Spurs gave the ball away on occasion like it was a cold Brussels sprout left on the Christmas dinner plate. A weird goal came Tottenham's way - a cross was headed goalwards by Armstrong, but was blocked by the back of an Everton head. However, the backspin took the ball back towards the middle of the penalty area and Les reacted quickest to lash the ball high into the net past Myrhe. At this point Tottenham were worthy of their lead, with the Toffees keeper making a good save from a long-range header, but was unable to make it stick. The visitors then got an equaliser after Tottenham failed to clear an attack and a cross from the right was headed home by the stooping Bakayoko. Almost immediately after the goal he left the field following a heavy tackle to be replaced by Cadamateri (or some other squid dish). His first action involved a late tackle on Young which was played on by the ref, but Luke stopped and turned to confront the England Under-21 striker. This left Mr. Poll (every footballer's friend) with no option, but to book the Everton sub. Cleland missed a good opportunity for Everton and for Spurs, Armstrong failed to control a Ginola cross when in front of goal and failed to find Les when a square ball would have left him with a tap-in.
Into the second and things really seemed to go Tottenham's way. Cleland had come on for Short early on in the first half and this had restricted Ginola's involvement. However, he battled away doing good defensive work, while Anderton came more into the game. Fox laid on the first goal of the second period for Armstrong, who took the ball past Myrhe and slipped it into the net. His next came when Young's clearance fell to him in the Everton half. Les got in the way, but back-heeled the ball to Armo to finish inside the box. His hat-trick arrived when Dazza lobbed the ball over a static defence and he took his shot early to leave the keeper grasping at thin air. It was an expert display in finishing from a player who had been four games without a goal and who will miss the next game because of suspension. He almost set up Ferdinand for another and at one stage in this half Tottenham strung about fifteen passes together to great cheers from the crowd as Everton chased shadows. At the other end, Young made a remarkable tackle in the area to take the ball from behind and get away without fouling the Everton forward.
It was a shame that Mr. Poll and one of his assistant referees spoiled what was otherwise an excellent afternoon out. I think the ref must have been on a performance related pay scheme, the yellow cards he dished out were mostly unjustified. However, I know it was only Everton, but we needed a win and hopefully the new year will see many more. A good performance, with more to come I'm sure.
MEHSTG TOP MEN : - STEPHEN CARR & LUKE YOUNG.
|COVENTRY CITY 1 THFC 1
- Saturday 26th December 1998
Scorers - Campbell 17 Aloisi 81
Three points were there for the taking in a poor match, but a poor Spurs performance against a poor Coventry side left honours even. This was not a good Boxing Day out! Coventry started with 41 year old Ogrizovic in goal after Hedman apparently suffered a migraine! (no pun intended). This was a wise move by Hedman in view of the atrocious conditions. A linesman (Assistant Referee) was also replaced early on after pulling a muscle and leaving on a stretcher. Spurs took the lead in the 17th minute when Campbell was on hand to stab home after Ogrizovic had fumbled Ginola's flick on from Anderton's corner. Anderton then had an excellent chance to increase the lead when he met Ginola's pull back but hit his shot straight at the keeper. Spurs continued to dominate the first half but could not turn their superiority into goals.
In the second half Coventry showed a little more urgency if not skill. Despite a fine hardworking performance by Anderton the Spurs midfield was struggling with Nielsen chasing shadows. Fox had another particularly frustrating game again showing his 'lack of bottle' in the tackle and his lack of pace on the heavy pitch. He must be a joy for fullbacks to play against as he invariably checks back instead of trying to get to the by-line. Come on George, unless Fox shows a remarkable improvement it's time he was replaced. Ginola was out of the game for long periods and when he did get the ball he was fouled. There was however one classic nutmeg by Ginola for the connoisseurs. Boateng for Coventry seemed like a man on a mission to get himself booked and eventually did so after a string of nasty fouls. Walker made two superb saves . The first was a flying leap to tip a drive by Froggatt round the post, while the second saw him somehow keep out a bundled shot which finally rebound on to the post and out. The equaliser came from substitute John Aloisi, the bargain buy from Portsmouth, who somehow managed to turn both Carr and Young before hitting an unstoppable shot into the net. A late free kick by Anderton almost snatched the points, but it was not to be. Sinton still looks uncomfortable at left back and picked up a yellow card. I for one will be pleased to see Taricco given a run. When will he be fit? Ferdinand had a poor game and questions are being asked about his commitment and his control. Hopefully the return of Iversen will shake Ferdinand into action. After some good performances recently we now need to start picking up a few wins in the league. Let us also hope that the arrival of Freund brings some much needed steel to the midfield.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL
CAMPBELL (because he dominated and scored again.)
Eric the Viking
|CHELSEA 2 THFC 0
- Saturday 19th December 1998
Scorers - Poyet 80, Flo 90
The customary smell of fried onions and horse s**t accompanied us from Fulham Broadway station to the Stadium. A ground which still remains completely uncovered down one side. Welcome to Stamford Bridge, the home of The International Amateur Dramatic Society and School of Whiners.
Let there be no doubt that the dismissal of Chris Armstrong was the turning point in this match. It happened after 63 minutes and until that time Spurs had looked reasonably comfortable with Armstrong providing a very valuable outlet. The foul which earned a second yellow card was pretty innocuous. Ferrer the Spanish fullback was caught close to the half-way line and provided a fine example of forward rolls before clutching his knee. They say if you are really hurt you can't roll around. It's true. Ferrer made a remarkable recovery after Armstrong's dismissal. Of equal concern was the way in which Leboeuf ran 60 yards to intimidate the referee and generally stir up the melee which followed. Leboeuf clearly has no regard or respect for his fellow professionals and epitomises all that we despise about overseas players in the English game. Why when he has such skill does he have to behave in such a way?
Armstrong's first yellow card was for throwing the ball down after a foul was harshly awarded against him. He was unlucky to be sent off in the circumstances. The game itself was far from being a classic. Littered with grumbles about decisions with the main culprit after Leboeuf being Vialli. Thank god Wise was not playing! It is difficult for referees when players behave so unprofessionally.
Ferdinand had the ball in the net in the first half after a robust challenge on Leboeuf but the referee had already blown. Les also had an excellent header cleared. Ginola had a disappointing day. Luke Young again showed promise. Fox worked hard but was again too easily brushed off the ball. Anderton and Nielson did O.K. in the centre of midfield but never really got control. Campbell was excellent as usual rising above all the nonsense. His stare at the Assistant Referee after disagreeing with an offside decision said it all. Walker could have got more on Poyet's shot and deflected it around the post instead of on to it and into the net. But it wasn't to be and Chelsea went top. George knows I am sure that this team needs more iron. Let us hope it arrives shortly to convert some fine performances into three points and to enable us to win a London derby, a feat which has avoided us so far this season.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL CAMPBELL
2 MANCHESTER UNITED 2 - Saturday 12th December
So this time there was no excuse. The first choice team played and there was no "second rate" competition involved. But then Alex will always find something to whinge on about. This time it will be the referee and how unfair his was to his poor little boys. Well, Mr. Ferguson, let me tell you this. Your boys gave out a hell of a (physical) beating. And they were lucky to have TEN left on the pitch at the end. Having already escaped without a card for one blatantly late challenge, Gary Neville picked up a yellow for a two footed lunge. Then only minutes later wasn't bright enough to realise that his scything challenge on Ginola would earn him another and an accompanying red card. The melee around this incident was confusing. In the build up to the sending off tackle David Beckham had tried to take Sinton's legs from behind - the ref seeing the challenge and playing on. I thought that he had shown the petulant scoundrel the yellow after he had dismissed Neville. Thus, in the second half when Tosser Spice lost his rag and upended Sinton, earning a yellow card, I expected a red to be shown too. But in the heat of the moment I must have been mistaken. However, Roy Keane had been booked before he grabbed Sinton by the shirt and swung him around in front of the ref, when Sints wreaked revenge on Beckham with a blatant hack at the poncy England tart. The referee had set the tone for the match by brandishing yellow cards, left, right and centre - punishing dissent heavily, while (obviously as I was mislead) letting bad fouls go without. Sinton's challenge was one which should have earned a red (as should Beckham's on him), but he knew he would only get a yellow. Unfortunately, this all detracted from an enthralling match.
Whatever you think of the man who got England knocked out of the World Cup (and let's face it not many think much of him), his two quality balls resulted in Spurs going two down after 20 minutes. Solskjaer scoring both - the first after Walker had managed to get down low to stop Giggs from scoring and the second, a sharp volley. Until the first goal Tottenham had the better of the game, Schmeichel looking unhappy in goal with sloppy handling and erratic kicking. The ball pinged about their box, with Campbell having a header swiped away by the Dane and Anderton grazing the bar with a free-kick from outside the box. Walker made a good save from Keane's 20 yard effort and Luke Young strode out of defence to shoot from from the edge of the box, the United keeper palming away the tame drive, but Armo could not get any purchase on the follow-up. Armstrong also had an opportunity coming in at the far post, but Les' flick just made him hurry his effort and his hand (unseen by the officials) directed the ball wide.
Neville's dismissal just before half-time meant that things were going to be tough for the visitors after the break and so it proved. The only real effort they had was a long shot from Stam that Walker saved well. At the other end, Nielsen had a great chance from a Carr cross, but his header went straight at Schmeichel. Just when it seemed Tottenham would get nothing from the game, Sol rose for a corner and headed past the keeper. The approach play was better in the second half, with Ginola putting some good balls into the box, without anyone getting on the end of them and occasionally cutting inside, but his shots flew over the bar. A couple of times the ball dropped down from a Man U defenders clearance in the box, but there was never a Spurs man there to capitalise. However, in the last minutes Sol repeated his leap and like against Leeds he had salvaged a point at the death. It was no more than Tottenham deserved and no more than United deserved for their cynical attempts to put Ginola out of the game. To his credit he got on with his own game (apart from a couple of theatrical falls which the referee failed to be impressed by) and did what George and the fans want to see - the opposition punished. A display that, although Yorke was injured, was against the "full" United side and again the gap between us and the top teams is not that great. If only we hadn't given them the space to go two goals up ....
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LUKE YOUNG
LIVERPOOL 1 - Saturday 5th December 1998
The gap between the top teams doesn't seem that big anymore; well it wouldn't be if Liverpool were one of the top teams. The only time they threatened was when Fox fouled Fowler and Berger curled the free-kick past Walker. This prompted a spell of pressure as they stepped up the pace to find an equaliser. Luckily for Spurs this did not arrive, but this was because of lots of hard work to defend their lead and some good tackling and blocking. Walker forced Owen to shoot across the goal by narrowing the angle at this near post and also came out to smother the England striker's run on goal. Sol was again the main stumbling block for most of the Pool attacks, but when they did get shots in, Ince, Fowler and Berger were all off target.
The match had started strangely, with Tottenham sluggish. Liverpool had the best of the first 15 minutes, but failed to create much, whereas Spurs had appeals for two penalties turned down after Armstrong and Iversen were sent sprawling. A scramble in the visitors penalty area lead to Anderton's volley being cleared off the line and at the other end Ince's header went just wide of the post. James made a smart full-length save to push an effort from Anderton round the post and seemed very dodgy on crosses, often opting to punch when he could have used his considerable height to catch the ball. Iversen had a goal disallowed for offside after a good passing movement found him in space in the penalty area. James stood no chance however, when Foxy hit a long shot that caught a deflection on the way. Les came on after half an hour after James clattered Steffen and he didn't appear to know what day it was when he got up. In fact, the referee was letting an awful lot go - two footed tackles by Owen and a studs-up challenge on Sinton by Fowler, both of which you would have expected from Ince.
The break came and Tottenham broke away from a Liverpool attack and the ball found Armstrong on the right wing. He was being dragged back by his shirt, but got away from Babb and played a hard and low cross into the six-yard box. Ferdinand was rushing in to meet it, but was beaten to the ball by Carragher, who got a foot to the ball sending it speeding through James' legs into the goal. This then got the Reds in a state where they were ready to respond. Although Ginola had been quiet for a long period of the second half, he began to take possession and make progress up the left wing. His runs brought a booking for Thompson, but really the tackle was a lot milder than some of the earlier challenges that had gone unpunished. There were further chances for Tottenham when a header by Les across the area fell to Heggem on the line rather than one of the Spurs players nearby and Armstrong hit a powerful shot, after breaking away, that caused James great pain in his hands.
A much needed win with other hard games coming up, but one which was well deserved. The whole team ran and closed down their opponents to protect the lead, but also played with a lot of confidence and poise in the first half. When Liverpool came on strong, the side did not buckle as they may have done in the past, but stood firm and made sure they did not pass. Young looked good alongside the impressive Sol. Sinton stuck to his duties at left back and Carr engaged in some good link play along the other flank. Ginola took on his men and worried most of the afternoon, while Les was excellent in the air and tracked back to get the ball back. Anderton, Nielsen and Fox all did the spadework and found time to get forward, while for his running when alone upfront with the ball and general effort in closing down defenders ...
MEHSTG TOP MAN : CHRIS ARMSTRONG
|THFC 3 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
- Wednesday 2nd December 1998
So, the Man U reserves came to White Hart Lane in a competition they were not interested in. Oh, yeah. That's why there were nine internationals in the side and most of them would get into most first teams around the country. Whoever is in the team, they still have to be beaten. And that is what happened. The first half was a strange affair with neither side really getting it together. Allan Nielsen broke into the opponents box on two occasions, but didn't take the chances himself - nor did he set up better positioned players alongside him (I think he had Anfield on his mind) and at the break it was still 0-0.
The second half was a lot better. Tottenham took the lead when a cross into the box from Sinton was headed on by Fox and Armo looped a header over van der Gouw into the net. This was shortly followed by a cracking header from the same player after Ginola had tormented the Man U defenders with some dazzling footwork and drilled in a superb cross. Things looked a bit wobbly when Butt ran unchallenged onto a ball into the box, but couldn't keep his shot down and from two yards out it went away for a goal-kick. A goal was pulled back through E. Sheringham (Cockney Red) headed precisely past Walker, but this did little to protect him from the almost constant derision from the Tottenham crowd. However, with the clock running down, David Ginola decided to stamp his class on the match with the final word. He ran across the box and unleashed a ferocious drive that stayed about two feet off the ground the whole of the way into the net. The Man U keeper didn't even move.
It was a fitting way for him to round off the evening and even though Alex Ferguson said that the result did not reflect Manchester United's superiority, I feel he must have been thinking of some other time we have played them. Tonight, the result was a true reflection of the game. United didn't take the game as seriously as they should and paid the price. Tottenham's players all gave good accounts of themselves and thoroughly deserved what they got from the game. I know that it will be a different kettle of fish when the two teams meet again in ten days, but we're through to the Semis against Wimbledon and Man U ain't.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA (is this getting boring ?)
UNITED 2 THFC 1 - Saturday 28th November 1998
The goalposts at Upton Park will be glad this game is over. Two cracking shots in the second half smacked against them to keep the score at 2-1 and denied Sinclair and Young. The game had started with West Ham having the better of the chances early on, but Tottenham had a lot of the play without really doing a great deal with the ball. Ginola had a weak shot, Dazza had two shots go close and Ginola's cross was headed on by Iversen, but Hislop had a comfortable save to make. Sinton was lucky when he handled the ball to receive a yellow card, only to bring down Sinclair minutes later and escape a further card that would have seen him sent off. It was Sinclair losing the ball near the edge of his own box to Ginola that produced the best moment for Spurs, but David blazed over the bar when he had time to take a more accurate shot. It was really against the run of play that Sinclair scored for the Hammers. A long cross was volleyed by Lampard and although Espen seemed to have gathered the ball safely, it popped out straight to the ex-QPR man on the edge of the six yard box. It was a simple task to put the home side ahead. I suppose Espen had to make a costly mistake sooner or later (his other slips not having a direct bearing on the final results), but the question should also be asked about who was following in from our defence. Er... nobody. Its something Im sure George will spotlight in the following weeks training. The return of some of our walking wounded will help to tighten things up too. (Oh, sounds like deja vu ?)
After the break, the ball was lost in midfield by Clemence and fed through to Sinclair, who took it early with the outside of his right foot, leaving Baardsen helpless. Two down, without really deserving to be, Tottenham then staged a comeback. Ginola's mazy run ended with a back-heel that set up Steffen, but his shot was off-target. Armstrong also had two shots go astray before Ginola plonked a corner straight onto his head and he met it well to pull Spurs back into it. In the final frantic finish Carr cleared off the line from Ruddock, who also had an opportunity to head into an open goal later, but missed. Luke Young took the ball on his chest and whacked a volley from the edge of the box that Hislop just about touched onto the bar and Sinclair was denied his hat-trick by the angle at the other end. Even Foxy had a shot at the end, but it was too late.
Tottenham played better in this game than we did against Forest last week, so the quality of the opposition comes into this equation somewhere. The feeling that we have played well and lost (even though it was against West Ham) is one that we have not been used to over the last few seasons. It has been that we have lost and have been very poor, so deserved to lose. GG has instilled some fortitude into the players and they are playing better (though not quite the Tottenham style everyone would like to see), but there were a few positions which were light because of injuries/suspensions. Young did really well, but Sinton looked a bit suspect at times. This highlights the need to strengthen the squad. Georges post match comments about needing a poacher in the box means that he will be seeking a player of this type to come in and no doubt we will be linked with Robbie Fowler before too long. We'll play worse and lose, but hopefully, if we keep playing this well, we'll win more than we lose.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA
NOTTS. FOREST 0 - Saturday 21st November 1998
The traditional result at home to Forest failed to materialise (i.e a home defeat), but this might have had something to do with the fact that Forest are the poorest side I have seen at White Hart Lane for about three years (excepting Tottenham of course). They really showed very little to suggest that they will be able to drag themselves away from the relegation zone and the way that their players acted in this loss was quite shameful. their only tactic to stop Ginola was to foul him. This was effective in the first half, but come the second it really lead to their downfall. A minute in, Stone pushed David down on the touchline, then tried to take the mickey by sitting down next to him. For once the assistant referee had the courage to flag and brought the matter to the ref's attention and it earned Stone his second yellow of the match and a trip to the bath. In the ensuing argument, Beasant also got booked and then a procession of players were cautioned for fouls on the Frenchman. Gemmill's rugby tackle from behind saw him carded and the free-kick, which was whipped in by Anderton, was headed in by Nielsen. This added to the one scored by Armstrong, when Iversen let the ball run (unintentionally) to Ginola and he produced a low cross that Chrissy managed (more by luck than judgment) to loop over the keeper and two defenders from about two yards out. The first half had seen Forest start brightly, but their inability to control the ball in the box and to pass accurately let them down. As the half went on Tottenham took control and Armstrong flashed the ball across an empty goalmouth on two occasions, Scales let the ball bounce off and away from him from a corner and Iversen's header was kicked away from the danger area by the Forest Armstrong (who now holds the record for the number of head injuries in one game). The funniest part of the game was the performance of van Hooijdonk who ploughed a lonely furrow and was jeered by his own fans and the home fans. His shooting was wayward and desperate by the end, but not as bad as Bart-Williams, who took a quick free-kick to try and catch Baardsen out, but only provoked laughter from the crowd as it tamely flew yards wide.
It was another solid, but unconvincing performance by Spurs. The first half was played as though they only had to turn up to win, but obviously things were said at half-time (GG coming down from the stand into the dug-out before the break) to liven them up. The front two looked sharp and there was no answer to the David Ginola of the second half. The back line played well, without being threatened and Forest didn't pose Espen many questions. The midfield ran and tackled well, Nielsen and Shaggy impressing, but at times the ball was still surrendered all too easily. But then, if you can win when you're not playing well ...
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DAVID GINOLA
0 THFC 0 - Saturday 14th November 1998
A scrappy game that saw Tottenham pushed onto the back foot for the majority of the match ended in a scoreless draw. The outcome of the meeting of two teams fashioned by Geroge Graham was never going to be a pretty affair and so it proved. With Tottenham trying to clear their lines and giving the ball away too much and Arsenal impotent in attack and lacking the guile to break down the staunch Spurs defence, the scoreboard was always set to have a quiet time of it. Anelka missed chance after chance, but when he did finally get one on target just prior to half-time, Baardsen produced a good reflex save from the volley. He had previously dived low to thwart Petit and also Overmars. Tottenham's best chance was when Steffen ran through the middle of the red defence and hit a powerful shot, which was unfortunately too straight and Seaman pushed the ball aside.
The second half followed a similar pattern and Baardsen confirmed his improvement with sharp saves from Ljungberg (who should have done better), Wreh and Overmars when he raced from his line to block his shot. At the other end, Anderton had a shot blocked, Armo ran wide and flicked the ball into the middle of the goal where nobody had followed up and Iversen had a snap shot from the edge of the box that flew over Seaman's bar. The home side ran out of ideas and put on Wreh and Boa Morte. If there is a worse forward pairing in the Premier League, I've yet to see it. Both looked totally out of their depth with Boa Morte in front of goal, hitting a shot which didn't even go out for a throw-in !! The referee booked Calderwood early on for kicking the ball away and then proceeded to let some "tasty" challenges go unpunished with even a free-kick. At the end the free-kicks on the edge of the Spurs box seemed to indicate that he was trying to squeeze a result out of the game, but Vieira's effort went wide off a Tottenham body. The final whistle saw the honours even, but the biggest smile was on the face of GG. The return had borne fruit and helped drag Arsenal further behind the top two. Like I said, not pretty, but then pretty can wait for another day. The prettiest part of Tottenham's play came when Stephen Carr lobbed the ball over Winterbum's head and sped round him, then ran off grinning. Ginola will surely feature when the time is right and not at a time when he is still recovering from injury, but the rest of the side performed with great passion and effort. They should all have been man of the match but ...
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ESPEN BAARDSEN
1 THFC 3 (WORTHINGTON CUP 4th ROUND) - Tuesday
10th November 1998
Twenty seconds in and I thought here we go again, as McAteer headed a half-cleared ball against the bar. Two minutes in and hurrah!! Iversen loops a header from Sol's long ball into the net over a floundering Friedel. As time went by, it proved to me that despite my pessimism, there could be something in this for Spurs and lo and behold, when Scales scored (yes, you did read correctly) I was convinced. A free-kick into the centre of the Pool box was stabbed at by Steffen, causing the keeper to fumble the ball to Scales on the six yard line. He picked his spot and put the ball away for 2-0. Sol might have increased the lead with a good link up down the left and the defence were holding firm against some dangerous crosses, but there was little for Espen the Viking to deal with directly.
The second half saw a reshuffle in the Tottenham ranks with Rory Allen replacing Ginola, who had taken a knock on his calf. This meant that there was more of the ball coming straight back at the Tottenham rearguard as it wasn't being held up as well as earlier in the match. While Allen is not robust enough to shake up Premier League defenders, he did alright and chased and hassled alongside Iversen. The Reds came out fired up, no doubt by their soon to be fired (half) manager, Roy Evans. There was almost non-stop pressure on the Spurs' goal, with Riedle going close with a header, but the back line soaked up the onslaught and Anderton fed Iversen, who hooked the ball into the path of the onrushing Nielsen. He strode through the non-existent Liverpool defence and faced with Friedel, showed him one way and slipped the ball past his right hand and in for Tottenham's third goal. This seemed to wrap the game up and when Espen saved smartly to tip over Riedle's header, it looked like a clean sheet would accompany the three goals. However, I had forgotten the unwritten rule of Baardsen in the League Cup. His obligatory cock-up came when he ran out to clear a long through ball and with the opportunity to put it anywhere in Anfield, he kicked it straight against Owen and watched as it bounced across the penalty area, with the England man chasing after it to put it into an empty net. The saving grace was that young Michael injured himself doing so and the late surge was a whole lot less effective without him (although Sol had nullified his threat during the rest of the match). Iversen had another breakaway well saved low down by the keeper and some shots flew wide of the Tottenham goal, but a famous victory could not be denied. Despite the fact that we gave the ball away needlessly, this was our biggest win at Anfield and the first time we have scored three goals there. What a night. Oh, for a similar outcome on Saturday .
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ALLAN NIELSEN, well deserved goal for all his hard work and just pipped most of the rest of the side, who all performed heroically.
|ASTON VILLA 3 THFC 2 Saturday
7th November 1998
Scorers - Dublin 2
(31 & 35) Collymore 48; Anderton pen (65) Vega (76) Attendance ; 39241
If George Graham was
looking for confirmation of where the weakness are in the Spurs team, then this
game certainly provided it. For 30
minutes there was little to choose between the teams
although Dublin signalled his intentions in the second
minute receiving a yellow card for leading with the arm
against Scales. Spurs had the first real chance
when Ginola rampaged down the left cut in and hit a shot
which Oakes did well to parry. The rebound fell to
Iversen who sliced the ball wide with Anderton in a
better position to score just behind him. The Spurs defence then resorted to type and
contrived to present Villa with two goals both from
mistakes. The first from a corner which was allowed to
drop into the middle of the area, where it rebounded off
John Scales' leg to the fortunate Dublin two yards out
and he gleefully volleyed home. I cannot explain why
Scales was not watching the ball when it hit him! The
second goal was an even bigger 'cock up'. Nielsen played
a short ball back to Scales some 40 yards out. Scales
thought Anderton was going to clear and left it for him..
Anderton thought Scales was going to clear and left it
for him!! Dublin seized upon such uncertainty, stole the
ball and charged through to score past a helpless
Baardsen. What a miserable first half by Tottenham.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - Darren
CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2 - Monday 2nd November 1998
It had bad omens written all over it when I
walked into the ground to find we had only one fit first
choice forward. Playing with only Armstrong up front was
a sign of how thin our squad is, especially when you
couple that with Ginola's suspension finding Sinton as
his replacement. Well, the game started quite brightly
for Tottenham, with Sol having a header cleared off the
line, but while we had most of the possession, it was
Charlton who struck first with their first shot on
target. An astute ball inside Carr found Mendonca in
space and his shot was deflected onto the post by Vega
and Baardsen. Unfortunately for Spurs, the ball fell
perfectly for Hunt to poke it into an empty net. It was
against the run of play, but Charlton had restricted
Tottenham to a few shots on goal and Armo was struggling
with the lone role in attack.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DARREN ANDERTON
TOWN 1 THFC 3 (WORTHINGTON CUP 3rd ROUND) -
Tuesday 27th October 1998
sexy football to water sports. The fact that this game
ever started was a bit of a miracle. The sweeping rain
that lashed the car on the way up the M1 was very much in
evidence when we arrived at the Sixfields leisure complex.
It looked like Las Vegas with all the neon lights shining
out of the darkness, but the actual fact of the matter
was it was like having a football ground at Lakeside
shopping centre. The small, but homely ground was not
matched by the seats, which, even for somebody with short
legs, were far too near the row in front. The reason why
so many fans stood for the second half was that they
wanted to go home with some feeling in their lower legs !
The match started with lots of splashing around, but
little direct action to trouble the keepers. The home
side took the lead on the half hour, when Nielsen played
a back-pass to Baardsen, who almost picked it up, but
remembered to kick the thing. Unfortunately, it went
straight to Parrish who took the shot first time and put
it back over Espen's head into the net. Lots of Jurgen
style diving went on to celebrate, but Tottenham's new
found determination saw them pull level just nine minutes
later. A long Carr cross slipped out of Woodman's grasp,
Iversen's on target effort was blocked and the ball stuck
in the six yard box for Armstrong to shoot into the goal.
It was a relief for him, as it looked like he needed a
goal. The play was mainly around the Northampton goal
with Anderton allegedly getting the ball over the bar
from on the line following Armstrong's knock-down, but
little more to get excited about, except for whether the
weather game would be completed.
MEHSTG TOPMAN : - CHRIS ARMSTRONG
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 - Saturday 24th October 1998
Well, if this is sexy football, then I'm an addict. But for the visiting Toon Army, they must be into Sado-masochism if this is what they have to put with on a regular basis. Is the pleasure worth the pain ? I suppose it is, what with them having gone through this already with Keegan. However, they did give us some ecstatic moments and we have Stuart Pearce and Andy Griffin to thank for setting up Steffen for his two goals. He finished them coolly from close range after the duff defence had put them in front of him; even Given was helpless against his expertly taken strikes. The Newcastle keeper had denied Nielsen at the start, then went on to prevent Armstrong, Anderton and most notably Ginola, whose powerful half-volley he turned aside athletically. The presence of Shearer failed to upset the Tottenham back four, who marshalled him, and anyone else who was around, excellently. The midfield worked hard when going forward and when tracking back, ably supported by Ferdinand (and his replacement Iversen) and Armstrong who all closed down the Newcastle defenders when they had the ball. Edinburgh made a truly crucial challenge, just before half-time, when Shearer looked set to score from a couple of yards out and although he made a couple of slips in the match, his endeavours were contributing to a combined "team" effort.
Baardsen had a quiet time of it in
the first half, but had to be alert at the start of the
second. He made sharp saves from Solano on three
occasions. Two were fairly spectacular, but the best was
the one low to his right, which he got down to gather
well as the ball sped off the wet turf. Calderwood's
booking in the first half for grabbing Batty as he took
the ball away from him was justified, but the referee's
inconsistency throughout the game saw similar offences go
unpunished. If he had been consistent, then I think there
may have only been about 15 players on the field at
full-time. As it was, he contented himself with
dismissing Colin for a second "bookable"
offence, although this seemed rather harsh compared to
some of the things he let go. Newcastle had stepped up
the pace in the second period, but Tottenham coped with
the onslaught without too much trouble and indeed took
the game to the visitors.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - JUSTIN EDINBURGH (for that tackle)
|LEICESTER 2 THFC 1 - Monday 19th October 1998
Scorers - Ferdinand
(12) Heskey (37) Izzet (85)
Graham's first game in charge since moving from Leeds was
against the team whose manager Martin O'Neill is the
favourite to replace him at Elland Road. 'Don't go
Martin' banners were in abundance and thousands of
free blue & white balloons were released before the
game. Spurs could have done without this huge show of
passion and support from the Leicester fans in front of
the Sky cameras. How strange to see a protest asking the
Manager NOT to go!
Half Time 1-1
time 'entertainment' saw Alan Birchenall armed with
microphone introduce the Leicester County Cricket
Champions to the crowd. He then supervised a lucky draw
winner who had the opportunity to win £10,000. All he
had to do was knock 2 out of 3 footballs onto the bar
from the edge of the area. The first shot was fluffed.
'That was crap' cried Birchenall. The second hit the bar.
Pressure mounted as the third shot was again fluffed.
Consolation prize - a pair of Heskey's boots. Not the ones
he was wearing unfortunately. Get off Birchenall lets get
on with the game.
Man of the
Match - Darren Anderton
COUNTY 0 THFC 1 - Saturday 3rd October 1998
Scorer - Campbell
Free Yorkie bars at the turnstile from the match sponsor and a full Pride Park for this clash with Spurs whose fans were looking for a continuation of the spirit & passion seen in their last match v Leeds. We were not disappointed. Spurs started the livelier side . Early chances fell to Anderton & Nielson who were both unlucky. Fox was put through on goal & spurned an excellent opportunity. His effort was well struck but low & close to Hoult who saved easily. Nielson playing wide left had an excellent hardworking 1st half and was booked for a particularly robust no-nonsense challenge. Ginola did not look 100% and played in fits & starts without ever really opening up. Baardsen made a spectacular save from Baiano's free kick and a number of solid saves from long range efforts. The ungainly Wanchope was a constant threat and is incredibly awkward to mark. Vega proved he is the man for the occasion and did as well as probably anyone has done in looking after Paulo who was obviously not enjoying the attention of Ramon judging by the way he constantly whinged to all around him.
Half Time 0-0
maintained the momentum after the break & took a well
deserved lead on 60 minutes. Carr was fouled wide on
the right. Ginola was quick to see the potential &
from a quickly taken kick the magnificent Sol Campbell
raced forward & dipped his head to meet the ball
& send a header to the far corner of the net, 'One
nil to the Tottenham' sang the Spurs fans in retaliation
to the earlier predictable cry from Derby fans ' Are you
Arsenal in disguise' Following the goal Derby had their
best spell & piled on the pressure. The Spurs defence
stood resolute. (Haven't said that often lately !)
Baardsen looked unbeatable & made a further superb
point blank save with his feet from Wanchope. Gradually
Derby realised this was not their day and it was
Tottenham who came close to scoring again when Armstrong,
on for Ginola, hit a post and late sub Clemence
just chipped over. All round a fine performance but
the team does need strengthening with priorities at left
back & central midfield. Fox will be lucky to retain
his place. A welcome & deserved 3 points
taken from the team lying 2nd at the start of the day.
Well done David Pleat. Over to you G.G.
LEEDS UNITED 3 - Saturday 26th September 1998
This was the match that saw one club with a manager pitted against one without, but with intentions toward that of the other. A 0-0 draw seemed the most likely result, with Spurs desperate for anything and especially a clean sheet. Leeds were having trouble in the scoring department, but as always, Tottenham like to help out their suffering Premiership colleagues. It only took them three minutes to give Halle a free header from a corner to open Leeds' account. It was another early setback, but one which could have been the equalising goal of the match, had Les seized on a low cross instead of striking it over the bar.
Without the injured Ginola, Tottenham's attacking options were limited, with Les and Armo upfront, supported by Nielsen, Dazza, Clemence and Fox. Ferdinand did look more up for it today, despite still suffering with his tummy bug and Armstrong also fared well with the stitches still in place. It was all going Leeds' way, with Vega and Campbell having to make good challenges to prevent further goals, but the unlikely hero at the other end scoring with a header from an Anderton corner was big Ramon. Spurs had a period of good play and Les put a free header over the bar, before Hasselbaink gave the Yorkshire side the lead, stealing in front of Vega and Baardsen to touch home a low cross from the right. A few shots flew wide of Espen's goal before half-time and Armstrong forced a save, but Spurs returned the brighter of the two sides following the break. During the interval however, one of the Leeds Directors (possibly Ridsdale) ran over to his fans and obviously said something that raised a big cheer. You can just imagine our Chairman doing that, can't you ??
Although Martyn was rarely called on to make saves, Tottenham's passing and movement was much better and it was against the run of play that Wijnaard wriggled luckily away from Vega and his shot got through Baardsen to restore Leeds' two goal lead. The introduction of Iversen for his first game in ages saw Spurs step up their pressure. His keen running and good aerial ability upset the Leeds defence, providing chances for Clemence and Armstrong. It was from the right wing that Tottenham's second goal came - Carr lofting a ball beyond the last Leeds man, where Steffen volleyed home sweetly from 10 yards. It was then that two interlopers ran the width of the pitch to make gestures to the Director's Box. This was a bit strange, because Sugar was absent and Graham had moved down to the bench. The two invaders were hilariously dealt with by the stewards.
This distraction seemed to upset the rhythm that the team had got into and Kewell, Hasselbaink and Wetherall all had opportunities to put the game beyond Tottenham. In fact, it was only a superb reflex save at the foot of his post that stopped Sol's deflection going in and killing off the match. A Dominguez cross landed on top of the goal netting, just clearing the bar and Iversen and Armstrong had chances. Even as we entered injury time it seemed as though our chance had gone. High balls into the box were not being dealt with that well by England's No. 2 keeper, who was electing to punch and it was from one poor punch that Nielsen hooked the ball back across the face of the six yard box for Campbell to head home. There was barely time for any more action and the final whistle blew to deny Leeds at the death. They are unbeaten and if Tottenham show such commitment and heart in every game, they will win more than they lose.
The team let in three sloppy goals, but the defence all played reasonably well despite that (odd though it sounds). The midfield eventually showed more movement, but there was a tendency to give the ball away too much. All three forwards played much better, giving something to aim at, working hard to get away from their markers and looking sharp. Although we had enough chances to win, a draw was about the right result and the performance was perhaps the most important thing. May there be many more like this.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL CAMPBELL
BRENTFORD 2 [AGG: 6-4]
(WORTHINGTON CUP 2nd Round 2nd Leg) Wednesday 24th September 1998
What a start. An early goal inside 60 seconds was just what the game needed. Unfortunately, it was just what Tottenham didn't need. A through ball inside Carr was latched onto and Scott went on to beat Segers at the foot of the post. The Brentford aggregate equaliser on top of all the speculation about George Graham was another potential nail in the coffin. However, the early storm was weathered with a fingertip save from Segers and with some last ditch defending, Spurs managed to turn the game around. It was all done in a manner which was none too impressive considering that the Bees are in the Third Division. Chris Armstrong had a couple of free headers that he failed to get on target and apart from headers off target from Sol and Dazza, the only other effort to hit the mark was an Armstrong shot that Piercy saved, but Nielsen seized on the loose ball lashing it low between the keeper's legs to make it 1-1. The second half started in the same vein as the first, but this time it was Tottenham through Sol who got the goal. A shot by Fox went across the goal instead of in it, but fell kindly for Ginola. His fierce shot was well kept out by the keeper, but the ball looped up for Campbell to head home while virtually prostrate. The third came when Nielsen hit a low drive against the post and Armstrong found the ball at his feet, four yards out with only a defender on the line to beat. He composed himself, despite having suffered a nasty gash on his forehead, to score his first goal of the season. Brentford didn't give up though and scored the goal of the game - a well worked effort from front to back, rounded off by a good finish from Owusu. Tottenham could have had more if Armstrong had set someone up instead of producing a fancy back-heel and Dominguez hit a free-kick high and wide, but many shots failed to trouble the goalie and the score was probably just about right.
Unimpressive, but at the moment even a victory over a Third Division side is welcome. The formation seemed to be more fluid tonight with Anderton and Ginola swapping flanks, but more often than not, the moves ended unsatisfactorily. I know that he is just back from injury, but Darren had another showing that did nothing to convince me that he is likely to reproduce his England form. Nielsen ran and worked really hard, liberating Ginola and Anderton to their creative role. Sol produced some of his now trademark two-thirds of the pitch runs beating five or six players and that got the crowd going. Even though it was against a lower league side, Justin put in a decent enough performance and looked a better prospect than Spamezzani in our dodgy left back slot. But, the thoughts of the meagre crowd (22,000 officially, but with the number of season ticket holders who didn't turn up, more like 18,000) were elsewhere as the anti-George Graham songs demonstrated. Word was that he was on his way, but when ? Surely not before Saturday's home game against Leeds !
MEHSTG TOP MAN : SOL CAMPBELL
1 THFC 1 - Saturday 19th September 1998
It had to happen and at it was going to
happen to us, wasn't it. But at least we didn't lose, so
that was something. It all started so bizarrely, with
some old grey bloke plucked from the crowd to play in
goal. And if he wasn't grey before, it didn't take long
for our defence to turn him grey. Ostenstad, Bridge and
Gibbens all had good chances in the first half, but the
only goal came from the boot of Ruel Fox. Carr made a
good run down the right flank and played the ball inside
to Fox. Taking the ball on the turn, in one move he spun
away from his marker and shot low past Jones. It was just
Tottenham's luck that Jones, who had been so erratic in
the early games, decided to play a blinder, producing
excellent saves to deny Calderwood, Campbell and
Clemence. Berti was also denied, but this time by the
crossbar, when his header bounced back into play. Spurs'
inability to finish off the sorry Saints blew up in their
faces, when Matt Le Tissier (who else) latched onto a
long pass from Mark Hughes that got behind Vega and
twisted and turned past the Swiss defender before hitting
a shot past Segers. In fact, it was only the old
Wimbledon custodian who stood between Southampton and all
three points at the end, as he produced a solid save from
Le Tiss's free-kick (Walker please note) and then flew
out to block a header from Gibbens at the death after Vega had headed across his own goalmouth.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA
2 THFC 3 (WORTHINGTON CUP 2nd ROUND 1st LEG) -
Tuesday 15th September 1998
a tricky little match overcome in style. Well, not quite,
because despite the score-line there were still some dodgy
moments. The early goal to the home side came from a
corner, which wasn't attacked by the Spurs defence and
went in via Scott's knee. There were some scares
involving Baardsen, especially when he kicked the ball
straight into the on-coming forward and was relieved to
see it go past the post. The equaliser came just before
half-time when Stephen Carr moved onto a good lob through
from Rory Allen (in for Les) and lashed it high into the
net. Dominguez latched onto a sliced clearance and shot
home number two, before Andy Sinton decided to slip the
ball past Espen, as he came out, right into the path of
Darren Freeman (the man who has a Spurs tattoo on his
leg) who put it into an unguarded net. The match was
saved by Ramon Vega, who headed home Ginola's corner to
give Tottenham a slight advantage in the return. Ginola
was the main source of supply, but seemed to be a bit
peeved about things at half-time, as did David Pleat, who
allegedly stormed away after the game. These games should
be a formality, but, as West Ham found out, they can so
easily become a minefield.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : DAVID GINOLA
MIDDLESBORO 3 - Sunday 13th September 1998
It all seemed set fair for a third win in a row with Sol returning in place of Vega, but oops ! It all went wrong. Baardsen had already had to make an athletic save (similar to that in Wednesday nights match) to prevent Townsend giving Boro the lead, before Ricard ran onto a ball that split the Tottenham defence and lashed it past the Norwegian. On the half hour, Beck set up Ricard who had turned Calderwood and although Espen got a hand to it, he could not keep it out. It was down to Baardsen that Spurs were not further goals behind and his presence is a source of comfort at such a testing time. Ralph Coates looked on form the Legends seating and must have wondered what he was seeing. The Boro players hungrily closed down any space Tottenham had and every time Ginola had the ball, two markers came along with it. For all his fancy footwork and flicks, today he could not get into a dangerous position to deliver the crosses to Les. Indeed, our players seemed to turn out without their brains for this match, lumping high balls for Pallister and Vickers to head away without too much trouble.
The game continued in the same vein in the second half, although Armstrong came on for Clemence and soon after Saib replaced Nielsen, who took two hefty blows in the privates (and unlike Bill Clinton, was unable to continue). The passing and movement so evident on Wednesday had disappeared and the team looked like strangers again. Boro were still finding plenty of room and ran at the Spurs defence pulling out three more sharp saves from Baardsen. Berti almost scrambled one in from a corner, but Schwarzer stopped it on the line. Ginola did float one cross onto Armos head, but he failed to make a proper contact and late in the game he also got on the end of a Saib cross, which came back off the post. But by then, Kinders long shot, following a half-cleared corner, slipped through Espens fingers (a la Clemence v Barcelona in 83) for the third. He was exempt from criticism however, as without him the margin would have been greater and better that he does it when we are 2-0 down than at a vital point in a game we might get something out of. How can four days change a team so much. These are the easy games were playing now. After mid-November, we come up against the big boys and things get tough. Points on the board are needed now, to store against a hard winter. Get to it boys !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN: ESPEN BAARDSEN
BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 - Wednesday 9th September
Having removed Sherwood from the Rovers midfield by unsettling him and losing Sol and Dazza from our side, the match looked all set for an away win. Nobody seemed very hopeful beforehand, but once the match kicked off, the side appeared to have rediscovered the will to play. It always surprises me when a team plays for a new manager. What changes within those few days?
Anyway, Ferdinand looked lively and Nielsen was fighting hard in the middle of the park. Then, as almost always happens, Spurs went a goal down. Sutton lobbed the ball into the box, Flitcroft headed back to Gallacher, who controlled on his chest and volleyed past Baardsen from the edge of the box. Les headed just over and Espen came to our rescue, when Dailly ran through into the box unchallenged. He produced an even better save when springing across his goal to push out a shot from Wilcox unmarked on the penalty spot. Baardsen dived amongst the feet to get the ball and a follow-up shot was deflected just wide by Berti. Tottenham got an equaliser when Ginolas sharp free-kick found Ferdie elude his marker and power a header past Flowers. Ginola went close and Spurs were putting together some good football. The action was still at the other end though and Baardsen got down smartly to keep out a low drive from Dailly again.
Into the second half, Spurs started the quicker and five minutes after the break took the lead. Ginola took the ball from Nielsen, beat his man and switching inside, placed a perfect cross onto the head of the inrushing Nielsen, who beat Flowers from ten yards out. It was no more than Spurs deserved and although Baardsen was brave and agile in keeping Rovers at bay, Blackburn also rode their luck in their own area. Vega came in for some booing after he let a ball go between his legs for Baardsen, but almost let in Gallacher and Fox played well, making me wonder why he cant play like that all the time. Three times Flowers spilled the ball after shots from Spurs players, but just managed to recover in time. Tottenham owe their victory to Dailly, who toe-poked an easy chance a long way wide when it looked easier to hit the target and the lead was preserved by Baardsen, saving a late effort from Peacock.
A much better display from Tottenham tonight and a much better shape to the team. Berti, Clemence and Nielsen worked tirelessly in midfield and Les looked more like the old Les upfront. At the back, Calderwood and Vega played well and Tramezzani had his best game so far. Ginola showed what can happen when he uses the ball and Baardsen looks like he will be keeping Ian the Saxon on the bench for a little while.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : ALLAN NIELSEN
0 THFC 1
- Saturday 29th
'We're Spurs and we're proud of it' sang the Spurs following after this gritty & determined performance secured Spurs first points of the new campaign. There was no booing of Spurs players from the hard-core fans who were firmly behind the team. Barmby did however get some justifiable stick until he was substituted .It must soon be time for him to move on to a club nearer home!
Gross made some brave team selections. Walker was replaced by Baardsen. Vega again partnered Campbell in the centre of defence. Calderwood was brought in to the centre of midfield alongside Anderton with Fox wide right and Nielson wide left but 'tucking in'. Ginola joined Ferdinand up front.
Spurs started well with some good passing and movement. An early cross by Fox from the right eluded Ferdinand but found Nielson arriving to win a corner. Ginola's corner was high and hanging. Ferdinand made an excellent run and leap to power a downward header which went through Collins legs and bounced on the line on its way past Myhre and into the net. Just over 5 minutes on the clock and Spurs 1-0 up. Now we had a lead to defend and defend it we did . Plenty of hard work for Mr. Gross throughout the team with Spurs players closing down tackling and hassling and not allowing Everton to settle. None epitomised the effort more than Ferdinand who worked tirelessly for the cause. When Everton did get chances Baardsen was equal to them saving at point blank range from Cadamateri and tipping over a free kick from Dacourt. Spurs even created the odd chance with Carr making an excellent run into the box . He was found by Fox but the attempt was blocked by Myhre.
Half Time 0-1
The second half saw much of the same. Everton pressured but were not playing well. Ginola had gone down on a number of occasions and had been booked in the 1st half, Early in the second half he was picked out wide on the left by Anderton and outpaced Unsworth as he raced into the area. As he closed on goal Unsworth caught Ginola's heel and down he went. Penalty ?. No said the referee play on. It was the most blatant penalty ever seen. Ginola could not believe what had happened and for a couple of minutes took no part in the game as he showed his frustration at one end of the pitch whilst the game continued at the other. He eventually regained his composure sufficient to join in but was then intent on giving a solo display. There is no doubt that Ginola goes down theatrically. Sometimes he is fouled sometimes not. The referee must take a balanced view. Mr. Jones did not and was wrong. Eventually close to the end of the game he whistled for a foul on Ginola. Hallelujah Hallelujah came the chant from Spurs fans.
Ferguson did get the ball in the net for Everton but was Offside before he bundled over Campbell and then beat Baardsen. Espen the Viking made further excellent saves from Ferguson twice and was also brave enough to clatter into him when coming for a cross although Baardsen got the worst of that challenge.
The whole team certainly played for each other with a spirit that has been missing. Baardsen was outstanding and Walker will find it difficult to get back in. Campbell was a Colossus again and Vega supported him well. The midfield worked for each other and made Everton look a poor side, John Collins included. Up front Ferdinand was outstanding until replaced by Armstrong. We rode our luck a little but this was the sort of performance that was needed to boost confidence. The fact we got 5 yellow cards confirms the commitment. We must now take it from here . The problems have not been solved and there is much to do . Everton are not a great side but they probably thought this was their game and Spurs commitment was too much for them.
' We're Spurs and we're proud of it'
MEHSTG TOP MAN : ESPEN BAARDSEN
Eric the Viking
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 3 - Saturday 22nd August
This match report writing is getting very hard. What do you write that is new when the team produce a performance that was much the same as the previous week ?? Unbeaten at home since December, you wonder how we ever managed that. The side only decide to get going after conceding twice at the moment. The first, a cross that eluded the defence for Atherton to head past Walker and the second, a ball lost in midfield and a lob over the defence to Di Canio, who Walker denied, then did the same to Booth before the Italian scored at the third attempt. Sol had a powerful header come back off the post with Pressman beaten, but other chances were few and far between. Ginola ran at the new Owls right back and went down in the box early on, but nothing was given. Second half saw Spurs switch to a three man back line, with Saib replacing Vega, but there was little difference in the outcome. Too often the ball was given away and when the Yorkshire side attacked, they had so much time and space, they must have thought they were playing in a testimonial. The third came from a free-kick bent around the wall and past Walker. Saib had a shot blocked and a couple of efforts off target, while Armstrong was denied by the on-rushing keeper. Nielsen also had a header from 10 yards well saved. There was the now usual booing of the Tottenham players - not something that is designed to encourage them - with Vega, Fox, Walker and Ferdinand the main targets. Do the people doing this really think it is going to help the team ?? Sol got really upset and tried to get some support going. If the trend continues, then he won't hang around at White Hart Lane and who would blame him. Walker did nothing to deserve the catcalls either - in fact, he saved Tottenham on a number of occasions and was left exposed too often. Tramezzani had another dodgy game, while Darren failed to produce a telling contribution. Only two games in and there is talk of crisis, with fans gathering outside the main entrance to call for Sugar's resignation apparently. Tottenham lost their opening two fixtures last season, but on this showing there will have to be some drastic change in effort, tactics and understanding for things to be turned around.
WIMBLEDON 3 THFC 1 - Saturday 15th August 1998
What a difference a summer makes. If I used rude words on this site, then I would be using a very rude one now after witnessing a pitiful display by Tottenham Hotspur. The first half saw Wimbledon take the initiative and attack from the start, with the ball regularly flying across the face of the Spurs goal. Sol Campbell had Tottenham's first meaningful shot after about half an hour, but then Walker had to dash from his line to smother Earle's shot when he was left free on the edge of the box. Spurs offered very little and looked disjointed, going in at half-time lucky to be level. It didn't last long though, with the home side taking the lead just three minutes into the second half. A free-kick was swung in and Walker came to punch, but got nowhere near the ball, which Earle nodded in. He had a free header, as did Ekoku for the second, finishing off Hughes' cross after he easily went past Carr.
Walker partly made amends for his earlier error with good saves from Perry and Euell, but it was only then that Tottenham decided to start playing, with the introduction of Saib for the ineffectual Anderton being the spark they needed. His first touch was intercepted, but his second was a precise pass to Fox which opened up the Dons defence and was hit on the turn to pull a goal back. Fox had been booed by the Spurs fans for his lacklustre display and made a cupped hand to his ear gesture as the team lined up for the restart. Whilst not condoning booing of any Spurs player during a game, Fox had no right to respond in such a manner and will not endear himself to the Tottenham crowd if he continues to do so. David Ginola made his only telling contribution to the game (apart from getting booked for diving just a minute after the ref had warned him about it), when his mazy run into the box ended with a shot crashing against the bar and away from the goal. Ferdinand was anonymous for long periods, being easily knocked off the ball and his weak shot from three yards out summed up his performance. Armstrong had a header tipped over the bar and there were a few goalmouth scrambles as Vega was pushed upfront in an attempt to confuse the Wimbledon defence, but he only got in the way of the Spurs players. Then, against the run of play, a low cross into the Tottenham box in the last minute was knocked past Walker by Ekoku, who stole in front of a static Tramezzani.
All in all, a pretty poor showing and on this evidence, a long hard season lays ahead.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : MOUSSA SAIB
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