FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 9TH AUGUST, 1999
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) NEWCASTLE UTD 1 (1)
Referee:- Rob Harris
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Scales, Taricco ( sub Young, 90 ); Leonhardsen, Anderton, Sherwood ( capt), Ginola; Ferdinand ( sub Dominguez, 46, sub Freund, 79), Iversen
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Fox
Newcastle( 4-4-2):- Harper; Barton, Hughes ( sub Maric, 66), Goma, Domi; Dyer, Dumas ( sub Robinson, 73), Speed, Solano; Ketsbaia, Shearer
Subs not used:- Caldwell; Serrant
Bookings:- Solano, Speed, Goma, Barton, Ketsbaia
After a poor start, during which Newcastle ( particularly Solano, Dyer, and Ketsbaia ) buzzed, and overawed Tottenham, taking a deserved lead through Solano, Spurs knuckled down, and provided a determined, energetic, and skilful performance to truly dominate the last 60 minutes of the game, and win convincingly. Whilst Anderton played out of his skin; showed where his heart lies, and won the fans over; for me the man of the match was new signing Leonhardsen, who tonight played right, left and centre. Wherever he was he showed speed, grit, and a good engine. He had the chances to score, and indeed should have converted a lay up towards the end of the game, but on this occasion, Harper bravely dived at his feet to deprive Oyvind of a goal. On this form, he is going to take some shifting out of the side. Although there were a lot of empty seats, the crowd was truly roused once the equaliser arrived, and thereafter were treated to one of the best displays I have seen from Spurs in the last two years. The midfield dominated, with quick, short passes, and penetrative off the ball running. This was the Spurs we love, and on this form, there is reason for optimism.
Despite heavy rain for most of the day, the pitch held up well, and both sides played with vigour. Dyer had put in a dangerous low cross, from a Solano crossfield pass, before Spurs' first chance arrived in the shape of a lofted ball over the defence from Anderton, which Ferdinand allowed to be smothered by the goalie. At the other end, Ian Walker dropped a Barton cross, under pressure, and Shearer nearly scored with a curved shot from the edge of the area. The next minute, Walker was having to act as sweeper, when he made a terrific diving headed clearance to deprive the England centre-forward a scoring chance.
Newcastle's early pressure was rewarded, when a long ball from the goalkeeper reached Solano on the left. He was allowed to cut in, and fire a terrific low right foot shot into the corner, just beating Walker's dive to the right. Within a minute, Ketsbaia forced another save from Walker, as he was allowed to shoot inside the area. At this stage, the Spurs defence was in disarray, but they soon composed themselves, as the whole team settled down to some good football.
Ferdinand had another close range chance, where Harper saved at his feet. Les went down in this incident, and had to be replaced at half-time, but not before he got his customary early season goal. ( Just another 4 to go, Les ! ) On 25 minutes, Iversen showed a touch of real class, as he latched on to a pass with a powerful right foot shot on the turn, which only just missed the target.
Spurs started to pick up the momentum, and the pressure paid off, when Iversen rose to meet an Anderton corner unchallenged, and he headed home, with power. The pressure was maintained, and both Ginola and Anderton forced their way into the penalty area, only to be deprived by some desperate defending. During this period, Spurs had a good appeal for handball against Goma turned down.
Spurs took the lead on the stroke of half-time. The build up consisted of urgent short passes on the left, featuring Anderton, Sherwood, and Taricco, getting forward. In a sense this was a hint to Ginola, and showed what can be achieved through early release of the ball. Taricco got almost to the bye line, and sent his low cross into the 6 yard area. Ferdinand scored with a clever flick that deceived Harper.
There was still another chance for Les, as he nearly got on the end of a left wing cross from Anderton. However, Les did not come out for the second half, and was replaced by Dominguez, who played on the left wing, whilst Ginola move up front with Iversen. Overall, David had another quiet game, but as always showed some great skill, with some good long balls to Iversen, some good holding play, and one or two scoring opportunities.
Spurs really put Newcastle under the cosh in the second half, and could have scored more than the one more goal that arrived. Leonhardsen had a good shot deflected for a corner, and Ginola hit a left foot volley that swerved viciously to the left of the goal. The yellow cards started to come thick and fast for the Toon, as they tried to stay within reach of the home side. Barton, in particular was lucky to stay on the pitch, following a very late challenge on Dominguez, who took more than one hard tackle, and himself was substituted by Freund towards the end of the game.
The game was settled in the 61st minute, when Anderton drifted a free kick in from the left, and Sherwood met it to head home. Paul Robinson brought some imagination when he came on, and had a couple of chances. Spurs defended well, though, and on one occasion, following some excellent defensive work by Perry, and Sherwood, the ball broke to Ginola on the right, whose cross was nearly met by Iversen, who won a lot of ball in the air tonight.
Shearer then had a "goal" disallowed for offside, and it was clear that this was not to be Newcastle's night. There were to be more chances for Iversen, and Leonhardsen, before the final whistle, and a rapturous reception from the faithful, who in those early stages had feared the worst. As it is, it is Ruud Gullit who feels the early season pressure with two defeats in a row, whilst Spurs face Everton on Saturday with their confidence at a deserved high.
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