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Spurs v Tranmere, 17.02.02

AXA FA CUP 5TH ROUND
SUNDAY 17TH FEBRUARY, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (2) TRANMERE ROVERS 0 (0)

Scorers:-
Ziege, 9
Poyet, 36, 90
Sheringham, 64

Referee:- David Elleray

Attendance:- 30,696

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards, Thatcher; Taricco, Davies, Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege (sub Etherington, 87); Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand (sub Iversen, 77)

Subs not used:- Keller; Thelwell; Leonhardsen

No bookings

Tranmere (4-4-2):- Achterberg; Allen, Sharps, Hill (Capt), Roberts; Navarro, Koumas, Henry (sub Mellon, 70), Parkinson; Price, Rideout (sub Barlow, 70)

Subs not used:- Murphy (GK); Allison, Hinds

Booked:- Sharps (foul)

Spurs repeated their October Worthington Cup 4-0 beating of Tranmere, thanks to two goals from Gus Poyet, and one apiece from Christian Ziege, making a welcome return from injury, and Captain Teddy Sheringham, gratefully accepting a gift from goalkeeper Achterberg in the second half. The quarter-final draw has been made, and Spurs reward is a home tie with Chelsea to continue the almost symmetrical dual cup runs.

A healthy crowd was boosted by a strong away support, and all credit to those from west of the Mersey, as they gave their team a great reception at the end of the game, and to be honest, Tranmere gave Spurs one or two scares in the second half, and one would not have begrudged them a goal. All is well for Glenn Hoddle, as he can pick his Worthington Cup Final side from just about a full pack, being able to rest Darren Anderton and Ledley King completely from tonight's game. Thatcher played left side of a back three, but Ziege was given licence to attack, and it was more like a back four for Spurs most of the time. Simon Davies played in the middle, alongside Gus Poyet, with Sherwood taking on the defensive midfield duties. Sergei Rebrov did not even appear on the bench.

Tranmere played the veteran Rideout alongside free transfer acquisition Jason Price, who they snapped up from Brentford earlier in the season. Price gave Thatcher more than a few difficult moments, and had a good scoring chance in the second half. Starlet Jason Koumas played a more attacking role after the break when he was seen at his best, with some useful runs and dribbles.

Spurs had the more promising moves in the early stages, but there was little significant action before Ziege gave them the lead after 9 minutes. Teddy held the ball in one of those situations where he often looks like he will lose out, but this time he managed to feed Simon Davies behind him. Davies found Ziege in plenty of space on the left, and the left wing-back made no mistake firing the ball high into the net. Five minutes later, Teddy won a battle for the ball on the right flank, and Les Ferdinand found Ziege with a good ball, before making it into the area to receive the pass. Les turned and should have scored, with only the keeper in his way, but he contrived to pull the ball wide. A minute later Acterberg had to make a double handed punch to clear a 30 yard Poyet dipper.

Ziege had another chance after Sheringham and Poyet worked the ball into the box, but the German hit the ball across the keeper and wide. Christian started a good move from the back with a clearance to Ferdinand, who held then delivered the ball to Davies, who sent Taricco away. Tano tried a long shot, but the keeper smothered it at the near post. Sheringham missed a golden opportunity when Ferdinand found Ziege with a lovely overhead pass, and Teddy fired wide at the near post from the resulting cross. Spurs were worth more than their one goal lead, and yet they had difficulty with a corner, when a Tranmere header was blocked by one of a team-mate in front of Sullivan.

Gus Poyet started and finished the move which led to the second goal. He started from the right and the ball was once again worked to Ziege. Gus made it into the box to receive Ziege's cross, before rounding the defender with a left foot shot to the right of the diving keeper, for his tenth goal of the season. Tranmere had a couple of other chance before the break, when Rideout at least got a shot on target after a Price pass, and then Sullivan was up comfortably for a Hill header from a corner.

To their credit, Tranmere gave it their best shot in the second half, and there were times during the game when they looked like a 4-3-3 with Parkinson offering strong support for Price and Rideout. Spurs could have had at least three or four more goals, and it was less to do with the Tranmere keeper than their hesitancy at times in front of goal. An example of this was when Ferdinand sent Davies down the line, Simon's cross was put into Sheringham's path by Poyet. Teddy could have scored, but chose to offer the chance to Ziege in a worse position on the left. Ziege dollied his cross too high for any danger.

Henry and Navarro tried long shots, one of which was wide and the other going easily to Sullivan. Allen gave Thatcher a hard time as he carried the ball into the right side of the area, but Sullivan was down well to take Henry's shot. Sullivan then made one of his poor clearances, nearly gifting a goal to Rideout. Dean Richards kept the veteran striker at bay, but he slipped and Rideout (who scored the winning Cup Final goal for Everton against Man Utd in 1995) hit the side netting.

Spurs took a three goal lead somewhat against the run of play after 64 minutes, when Achterberg dropped Taricco's lofted ball, under pressure from Ferdinand, and Teddy accepted the gift offering, firing low to the keeper's left for only his eighth goal of the season. Sheringham could have had another a few minutes later, when Davies fed Ziege, who hit a beauty of a cross in front of the keeper, and Teddy failed to get the right touch at the back post, only managing to put the ball into the keeper's path, enabling Achterberg to clear at the second attempt.

With eight minutes left, Sullivan could only parry a soft looking shot, before Price had two nibbles at the ball, finally hitting the ball way over the goal. Navarro then found substitute Barlow in space on the left, but he managed to shoot across goal and wide, when he could easily have scored. In the closing moments, Gus Poyet received a neat pass from Sheringham and his shot was deflected into the net by Hill.

So, there is plenty to look forward to after next week's Cardiff final. Chelsea will be out for some revenge when we meet in three week's time, and we will have to play them at Stamford Bridge a few days later in our re-arranged league fixture. What chance of meeting Fulham in the semi-final, and a certain other London side in the FA Cup Final?

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