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Spurs v Fulham (FA Cup), 05.01.98

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published January, 2018, but first written in 1998 by the late Brian Judson

Monday, January 5th, 1998
Football Association Challenge Cup, Third Round
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (2) 3, FULHAM (0) 1

Tottenham Hotspur: Walker (sub Baardsen, 80); Carr, Vega, Campbell, Wilson; Calderwood, Brady, Ginola (sub Mahorn, 43), Dominguez, Clemence; Klinsmann.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Mabbutt, Hill, Clapham.

Booked : Dominguez.

Goalscorers : Clemence 20, Calderwood 28, Taylor (own goal) 61.

Fulham: Taylor; Lawrence, Neilson, Coleman, Herrera, Smith, Bracewell, Trollope, Hayward, Peschisolido, Moody.

Substitutes *NOT* used : McAnespie, Walton, Carpenter, Thomas, Blake.

Booked : Neilson, Trollope, Smith.

Goalscorer : Smith 54.

Referee : Mr G Poll (Tring, Hertfordshire).

Attendance : 27,909.

Tottenham negotiated a potential banana skin in the form of Fulham to safely qualify for the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. The game probably came too early in the cycle of creating the Harrods version of Fulham Football Club for them to seriously entertain any hopes of pulling off a shock win at Tottenham. But Fulham had their moments and, perhaps, with a touch more steadiness, might have severely embarrassed Tottenham.

The injury situation at Tottenham shows no sign of abating. In fact, the list seems to grow longer than ever. The seriousness of the situation was highlighted by the fact that Mabbutt was the only recognised first team player sitting on the bench.

Tottenham desperately need new players and look to be on the verge of strengthening their defence. The Evening Standard reported that Hinchcliffe, the Everton defender, already rejected by Kendall once before, had signed for Tottenham but this has yet to be formally confirmed by the club. (Ed (2018):- This did not happen)

Until Ginola went off shortly before half-time, he was the most influential player on the park. Ginola was the one player who was capable of slowing the game down and switching the attack to a different flank. Fulham tried to play their normal passing game but found it increasingly difficult to do so as they had to switch players to help their over stretched defence to deal with the bubbly runs being made by Carr and Brady.

The first real shot of the night came from Klinsmann. In the 16th minute, Carr sent Brady scampering down the right wing. As he neared the bye-line, Brady steadied himself and chipped a centre that Klinsmann acrobatically met but whose shot was inches too high.

But shortly after that, Tottenham took the lead. Dominguez slipped the ball to Clemence, who almost lost the ball to Neilson. Neilson, however, fumbled his clearance and Clemence regained possession of the ball and slip it past Taylor.

Some ten minutes later, Spurs were 2-0 ahead. Dominguez took a corner. The ball rebounded off a Fulham defender to Vega, who quickly hooked the ball back into the packed area. Calderwood reacted first, sticking out a leg to divert the ball behind Taylor.

Spurs were fortunate to go into half-time with a clean sheet. Spurs conceded a free-kick on the edge of their penalty area. From the free-kick, Trollope thumped the ball onto an upright.

After half-time, Spurs seemed to be content to knock the ball around carelessly and to waste as much time as possible. They now had no one to stand over the ball and vary the pace as Ginola had done before his early departure. There were also too many players, particularly Vega, who were not thinking properly when they distributed the ball.

It came as no surprise to me when Fulham pulled a goal back. For some time, Spurs had been allowing Lawrence scope to rifle lobs into Tottenham's area. It was inevitable that one of them would cause maximum panic in Tottenham's ranks and so it proved. With Tottenham running around like head-less chickens, a lob from Lawrence was met by Smith's outstretched leg and Tottenham no longer looked the sure-fire bets to meet Barnsley in the Fourth Round of the Cup. The Fulham supporters in the lower echelon's of Tottenham's rebuilt North Stand made the most of the moment.

It was soon after that that Walker was injured at the height of a Fulham attack. Walker needed lengthy treatment before resuming. Memories of Ray Clemence's injury in 1983 were revived. In those days there were no substitute goalkeepers and Graham Roberts had played the final half-hour in Tottenham's goal to preserve a goal-less draw.

Walker played on but was looking increasingly unhappy as he did so. On more than one occasion, he signalled to the bench that he wanted to come off. But the bench did not seem to want to perform a substitution and referee Poll would not stop the game to allow Walker to receive more treatment.

But soon after the hour, Tottenham received a stroke of luck that left Fulham deflated like a balloon that had been spiked. Clemence and Dominguez swapped passes before Jose rifled in a cross that was headed down by Brady. Taylor seemed to have gathered the ball safely but then allowed it to squirm out of his grasp. As he tried to recover the situation, Taylor only succeeded in pushing the ball over the line.

Fulham were beaten and they knew it. Their only chance was to try to make the most of Walker's injury but Tottenham's defenders now had the measure of Peschisolido and never allowed him the scope to create havoc. Their chance finally disappeared when Walker was allowed to trudge off with ten minutes left to be replaced by Baardsen. The young lad soon made his presence known by bawling Vega out for an ill-considered pass back.

The remaining minutes saw Tottenham trying to create a chance for Klinsmann to score a goal. Typically, Klinsmann looked for players in a better position than he was, given the fact Fulham quickly had three players covering him as soon as he received the ball.

This was not a rousing Cup-tie but neither was it a match to cure insomnia like Everton -v- Newcastle had been on Sunday. Tottenham are light years away from being a team that can win honours but if they enjoy similar luck as they experienced with Taylor's goalkeeping howler, Tottenham may yet surprise everybody. But they must remember that Middlesbrough progressed to two Wembley Cup Finals last year and forgot the priority of Premiership survival. Tottenham *MUST NOT* make the same mistake!

Cheers, Brian

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