FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 26TH DECEMBER, 1999
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (2) WATFORD 0 (0)
Sherwood, 55, 82
Referee:- Mike Reid
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell, Taricco; Clemence, Sherwood, Nielsen, Ginola ( sub Dominguez, 75); Armstrong, Iversen
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Edinburgh; Gower, Korsten
Watford (4-4-2):- Chamberlain; Cox, Williams ( sub, Miller, 46), Page, Robinson; Hyde, Palmer, Johnson, Perpetuini ( sub, Foley, 46); Ngonge (sub, Gudmundsson, 46), Smith
Subs not used:- Day; Gibbs
Booked:- Perpetuini, Hyde
This match was sold out well before last Wednesday's debacle at Newcastle United, and whilst the club conveniently failed to make any reference to events in the programme or pre-match announcements, they did release 20 doves of peace - not as an offering to the fans, but to herald in the new millennium. In the circumstances, Spurs fans were given the best Christmas presents they could hope for, with the return of Stephen Carr to the defence, and a convincing four goal victory over a side which, it has to be said, do not resemble premiership material, despite their depletion through 9 injured players. There was even a mystery man called Korsten on the bench, but he was not introduced to the home fans in the playing sense.
Tim Sherwood capped a fine performance with two headed goals, the second of real quality; Ginola starred, and even Armstrong had a good game, deserving a goal for his best performance of the season, and perhaps since the Christmas Bank Holiday game against Everton last year.
Spurs could have been three up in the first quarter of an hour, with Iversen, Nielsen and Sol Campbell missing the target. In the first minute, Taricco brought a strong Ngonge run to an end, passed to Sherwood, who released Iversen on the right of the area. His shot across the goal was too wide of the mark. Stephen Carr's influence was soon to the fore, as he crossed for Nielsen, only for the Dane to get only the slightest touch on a header, when a stronger effort may have found the net.
Then, on four minutes, Sol Campbell met a Ginola corner with a strong header - also wide. Watford were being allowed a little too much licence, and another Ngonge run resulted in a shot over the bar. It was difficult to gauge Spurs efforts against such weak opposition, but there were many good performances today, with Taricco, Perry, Sherwood, and Ginola on top of their game. Even Walker's kicking became passable after about 35 minutes!
Veteran full back Neil Cox was quite prominent for the visitors, getting a couple of shots on target. Watford's first real threat came after 22 minutes, when Micah Hyde forced a stretching save from Walker, and Carr had to clear for a corner. This was soon followed by Ginola's first real effort on goal, as he went on a typical mazy run cutting in from the left, before putting a useful shot on target. He soon followed this effort with a cracking goal. Iversen flicked on a long clearance from Walker, and Ginola made a special run from the left, across the area, until finding room to hit a powerful drive to the right of the helpless goalkeeper.
After more Spurs pressure, another Ginola shot was blocked in front of the goal, before Iversen increased the lead after 32 minutes. This followed an angled pass inside from Carr to reach Armstrong, who used his pace to good effect, making an excellent cross from the right, for Iversen to head home.
Watford are plucky, if nothing else, and Walker had to make a good save at the feet of young Tommy Smith, as he ran onto a long ball to the edge of the Spurs area. Just before half time, Iversen collected a poor goal kick from Chamberlain, passed to Taricco who quickly fed Ginola, who capped a fine run with a curling, dipping right foot shot, that only just missed the left post.
Graham Taylor made a bold triple substitution at half time, moving Palmer back to his accustomed central defence role. Whilst they had one or two efforts, it was all to no avail, as the chances came thick and fast for Spurs, and an increased scoreline looked all to likely. Armstrong had a couple of half chances, before Foley found Gudmundssen, whose shot went across the goalmouth.
A superb long ball from Taricco reached Iversen, who crossed for Sherwood to force a good save from the goalie. With 55 minutes gone, Spurs went three up, after Watford cleared from Sherwood and Armstrong. Ginola on the right made a superb cross which landed on Sherwood's head, and he hardly had to move to ensure the ball hit the back of the net. His celebration was very cool too.
Ginola's last telling contribution to the game came after 68 minutes, when another cross from the right was headed just wide by Armstrong. Ginola was replaced by Dominguez, with 15 minutes to go, and the crowd let Graham know what they thought in no uncertain terms. He had a stand-up row with those close at hand, and later claimed that Ginola was a "jewel", and needed to be protected for future important games, starting with Villa Park on Wednesday night.
The sting was taken out of the Spurs side though, and Foley forced a flying save from Walker. Good work by Armstrong and Sherwood led to a corner which was taken by Clemence ( who was greeted at the corner flag with chants for Ginola! ). Sherwood rose beautifully, and headed into the corner, despite a defender on the line. Taricco nearly made it five with a superb chip from 30 yards, but he was thwarted by a good save.
The next two games will be a sterner test of Spurs' level, and "Spurs Odyssey" will be at both games to report!
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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