FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
WATFORD 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Watford Scorer:- Smart, 78
Spurs scorer:- Armstrong, 51
Referee:- Uriah Rennie
Watford (4-4-2):- Chamberlain; Cox, Page (Capt.)(sub Williams, 74), Palmer, Robinson; Wooter, Hyde, Johnson, Kennedy (sub Perpetuini, 66); Helgeson (sub Smith, 66), Smart
Subs not used:- Day (GK); Bonnot
Booked:- Helgeson, Williams, Johnson, Robinson
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Scales, Taricco; Leonhardsen (sub Clemence, 26), Anderton(Capt.), Freund, Ginola; Iversen (sub Ferdinand, 76), Armstrong
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Young, Korsten
In the three months since Spurs beat Watford 4-0 at White Hart Lane, George Graham's side have won only three of their twelve games, and gained twelve points including the one from today's lack-lustre draw. This is hardly European form, and for all the talk by certain players that a UEFA place was still within their grasp, you would hardly have thought that they believed such a possibility by the way that they played today. The so-called Spurs thoroughbreds (captained by Darren Anderton in the absence of injured Sol Campbell) were too easily hassled and closed down by a Watford side that knows its relegation fate, but still shows plenty of spirit. This was a poor game, lacking sufficient skilful ground football, and after Allan Smart equalised Armstrong's goal with 12 minutes to go, it has to be said that it was Spurs that were forced to defend more desperately.
Watford pushed Spurs back from the start, with Peter Kennedy impressing with his left field runs, and Wooter and Hyde threatening down the other flank. A poor defensive header by Perry put the ball into the path of Smart, and Walker was forced to make an early save. It was 11 minutes before we saw the first piece of Ginola magic, when he jigged past Richard Johnson with a mazy run, and crossed for Armstrong. Page did well to clear the danger. Thereafter, it has to be said that apart from a late shot on goal, Ginola had a pretty quiet and ineffective game, although there were one or two useful exchanges with Anderton.
Anderton looked the most effective Spurs midfielder, making some good probing passes for Iversen and Armstrong. Leonhardsen had to be replaced early on, having suffered some sort of knock. Another early chance fell to Armstrong as Iversen flicked on a Freund throw, but Armstrong (who played well today) was wide with his soft header. Armstrong has visibly gained in confidence in recent weeks, putting Iversen into the shade, and indeed for the second week running it was Iversen who was replaced late in the game by Les Ferdinand.
Robinson got forward in support of Kennedy, and after 25 minutes put a good cross over from the left, which was headed wide by Helgeson. Anderton had a good low shot well saved by Chamberlain after a good exchange with Ginola, and then had a low free kick saved after piercing the wall. Iversen went down after being kicked in the face by Hyde, who could have been booked for dangerous play, but it was Iversen who nearly went into the referee's book for too much protesting about his injury!
A Neil Cox throw reached Kennedy lurking at the back of the penalty area thanks to another inadvertent Perry header. Fortunately Kennedy put the ball over the target.
Five minutes of the second half had passed before the first decent bit of football from either side. The Spurs midfield found Carr, after some good short passing, and the right back made an excellent run into the area and to the bye line. the defender chasing him did just enough to take the strength out of Carr's cross, which fell into the grateful Chamberlain's arms.
A minute later, Spurs took a fortuitous lead. Iversen walked back from an offside position as a long clearance from the left went towards the advancing Chamberlain. Give Armstrong credit for making the challenge, as the goalkeeper failed to collect the ball, and the Spurs striker was able to walk the ball into the net. After 55 minutes, Ginola fed Clemence from the right, and the young midfielder made a good run to the edge of the box, only to be brought down by Cox, who escaped booking. Clemence himself took the free kick, from a similar position to that which he converted on Tuesday night for the reserves, but this time the shot was deflected for a corner.
Another good build up on the hour, involving Armstrong and Ginola put Iversen clear on the left side of the box. He fluffed his chance with a woeful shot. It is almost as if he and Armstrong have switched personalities at the moment! Armstrong was next to be seen breaking typically with pace from the right side of the field, and putting the Watford defence under pressure as he entered the box. However, the danger was cleared, and in fact the home side responded with a break that led to a good chance for Wooter.
Wooter became increasingly dangerous and won a free kick 45 yards out when he was fouled by Scales. Scales himself headed the resulting kick to Palmer who fired a powerful shot wide. It was a Wooter run from the right that led to the equaliser. Taricco allowed him too much space to cut inside, and a short pass, and some clever footwork later, Smart was lifting the ball delicately over Walker from only 6 yards.
Taricco redeemed himself with some excellent defending soon after as he cleared another attack single handed. Some good work by Clemence ended with a short cross to Ferdinand, but the ball lacked the strength for Les to do any harm. Ginola got down the left, and a low cross was met at the near post by Armstrong, whose flick was saved. The last chance to take all three points fell to Ginola on the edge of the area, receiving a clearance from an Anderton free kick. His powerful shot went just over the target.
Spurs drop to eighth, and West Ham play at home to Wimbledon tomorrow, with every chance of going above us. Even Middlesborough are only three points behind us now, and the end of season fight could be to retain a top half placing, rather than to seek George Graham's declared aim of a top six position.
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