FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 22ND APRIL, 2000
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2) WIMBLEDON 0 (0)
Referee:- Dermot Gallagher
Spurs (4-4-2);- Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell, Clemence; Anderton, Freund, Korsten, Ginola (sub Etherington, 73); Armstrong, Iversen
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Gardner; Davies; McEwan
Wimbledon (4-4-2):- Sullivan; Jupp, Cunningham, Hreidarsson, Kimble; Hughes, Andersen, Roberts (sub Andresen, 59, sub Francis, 78), Euell; Gayle (sub Lund, 83), Cort
Subs not used:- Heald; Blackwell
Spurs have surpassed last season's points total, with three games still to play, yet they remain in tenth place. Is this a sign of a better standard in the Premiership this season? I think not. Manchester United confirmed their sixth championship in eight seasons today, and they have won it at a canter. In my view, the standard of the Premiership as a whole has been poorer this year. Despite losing their seventh game in succession, Wimbledon are still five points clear of danger, and may escape the drop, despite such poor form, with the lowest "escape" tally since the inception of this league.
For the second home game in a row, Spurs took a two goal lead, through Chris Armstrong, with his thirteenth of the season, and his tenth this year, and Darren Anderton. This time they didn't surrender, although the pace of the game dropped significantly in the second half, and you would never have thought that the Dons do have a relegation fight on their hands. Such was the lack of urgency displayed by the visitors today, who had to make do with two or three half chances, but never really threatened Ian Walker's goal.
It was pleasing to see the bench occupied by all our promising youngsters, all of whom, with the exception of Baardsen, have been acquired this season. Only Etherington was allowed his home debut though. Although he was welcomed, and impressed with his runs and ball control, the home fans were frustrated at being deprived of another fifteen minutes of entertainment from Ginola, who had a showboating session today. Clemence filled Taricco's left back slot admirably, and Korsten was permitted a rare full game, although as usual, he drifted in and out of the affair.
It was the visitors who had the first chance after 5 minutes, when Gayle picked up a good long ball, and crossed from the right for Carl Cort (one of many alleged Spurs' targets of this season) to put a free header wide. Spurs were sparked into action, and Armstrong put them in the lead after seven minutes with a goal that demonstrated that this is a striker regaining his confidence, and displaying his best form for years. Walker took a free kick just outside his area, and Iversen headed the ball through the defence for Armstrong to collect and in one movement volley with a cool right foot into the far top corner of the goal.
After 17 minutes, Ginola back-heeled for Anderton, whose shot was pushed round for a corner by Sullivan. (Another Spurs prospect?) Once again it was being left to Stephen Carr (presented with the Supporters club Player of the Year award before the game) to take the lead role in attacking down the right, as both Ginola and Anderton had more freedom of movement. Having lost out on the half-hour, Carr won back the ball from Euell in midfield, and then Freund put Armstrong in the clear for a run. He went down in the box under Hreidarsson's challenge, but referee Gallagher turned down the penalty appeals.
Then, Spurs increased their lead after 35 minutes. Clemence sent a long pass to Iversen, who was given options by Ginola and Armstrong, moving into space. Iversen chose the more difficult move, and cleverly put Anderton through, who after one touch, deftly flicked the ball across Sullivan into the corner. having had two assists, Iversen nearly scored himself, but just failed to get enough on his header from Anderton's right field cross.
An over-hit cross from Armstrong reached Ginola, who nonchalantly chipped over the goalkeeper, but the ball landed on the roof of the goal. Wimbledon did have one more chance, when Michael Hughes (playing out of position on the right of the field) hit a cracker straight at Walker. Just before half-time, Iversen had a close range shot saved by Sullivan, after a Ginola cross. Iversen's header from the resulting corner was also saved by the goalkeeper.
It took a while for the second half to spark into any real life, and the closest anyone came to goal for a while was when Sol miscued a kick, and Walker was forced to save the air ball on the line. Iversen was then clattered over the advertising hoardings after a challenge with Jupp, and for a while the crowd were energetic. Ginola crossed from the left, after making good ground all the way to the line, and Armstrong put the ball in at the near post. Assistant referee Wendy Toms clearly signalled offside at an early stage, and the "goal" was disallowed, although Sullivan booted the ball towards the centre circle, thinking that the goal was good.
Armstrong and Ginola combined to give Anderton a shot, which just edged past the post, after a delicate chip from the Frenchman, and then Korsten had a powerful drive saved after a good sequence of passing play begun by Ginola. Stephen Carr has made many good long ball clearances recently, and Armstrong did well to make the ball his own after 68 minutes, testing Sullivan with a decent low shot.
There was one moment of panic in the Spurs defence, when Walker was rattled and seemed to mishandle the ball, but the Wimbledon shot went safely over the bar. Ginola led a quick break out of defence with a pass that put Anderton in the clear. Anderton might have taken the chance with more haste, but his run fizzled out, and his shot was blocked.
Having replaced Ginola, Etherington was on hand at the far post to pick up Sullivan's deflection of Armstrong's shot. He put a quick cross back, but Armstrong headed over. Towards the end of the game, Sol Campbell indulged himself with a long run, and a 30 yard shot, safely held by Sullivan. At the final whistle, the old "Glory, Glory" tune was rolled out, but there was a hollow feel to this game. Armstrong is probably the only Spurs player not looking forward to the end of the season, as he is on top of his game. This, of course, is not to say that he should be a first choice striker in a Premiership side.
In addition to Carr's award, Luke Young was presented with the "Young Spurs Player of the Year" trophy. I was surprised to see that he was not taking part today, but I expect him to feature in a strong reserves side on Tuesday for their important last game of the season.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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