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Match Reports
Spurs v Brentford , 23.09.98

WORTHINGTON CUP ROUND TWO
(Second Leg)
WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) - BRENTFORD 2 (1)

(Spurs win 6-4 on aggregate)

Spurs scorers:-
Nielsen 24
Campbell 46
Armstrong 54

Brentford scorers:-
Scott 1,
Owusu 74

Attendance:- 22,508

Referee:- Alan Wiley

Teams:-

Spurs:- Segers; Carr, Calderwood, Campbell (capt), Edinburgh; Fox, Nielsen, Anderton, Clemence ( sub Gower 81 ); Ginola ( sub Dominguez 63 ); Armstrong

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Vega; Berti

Booked:- Nielsen (13), Ginola (43)

Brentford:- Pearcey; Boxall, Anderson, Oatway ( sub Rapley 70), Powell, Bates; Freeman (sub Owusu 59 ), Aspinall, Quinn, Rowlands, Scott (sub Folan 70 )

Subs not used:- Watson; Hebel

Booked:- Boxall (52), Anderson (77)

It would of course be nice to record that Spurs sailed through to the third round of the latest version of the league cup, but I suspect the headlines tomorrow will read "Spurs survive early scare", or perhaps even more likely "Graham to accept Spurs challenge". The stories about the likely appointment of George Graham were getting stronger by the minute. I heard that the board had an emergency meeting before the game, that Graham had visited the ground today, although he was not at the match, and even David Pleat announced on the radio that formal approached had been made, in a style that suggested an appointment is VERY close. A friend of mine sees Bill Nicholson before most games, and did catch a quick word with the maestro tonight. Bill's words were apparently to the effect that it would be a good appointment despite his antecedents!

Anyway, on to the game. Once again the team featured several changes, of a voluntary and involuntary nature. As predicted, Segers played again, although this time, Espen was well enough for the bench. Anderton played from the outset, Vega was relegated to the bench, and Chris Armstrong was drafted in for the striker's role. Les Ferdinand was not even on the bench. I don't know whether he was injured, or being rested. The other surprise was the inclusion of one Justin Edinburgh, that lost soul. I confess here and now, I thought he had a decent game.

I was quite staggered to hear such a high figure for the gate, because the crowd looked really sparse. I do, however, sit in the "cheap seats" in the north stand, where the bulk of the crowd must have been out of my line of vision, underneath, or behind me! I do sometimes wonder if absent season ticket holders still get registered as attendees.

We had hardly had time to settle down before Scott scored a cracking goal for Brentford within the first minute. Nielsen made probably his only mistake of the game, when he failed to track a midfield runner, who found Scott with a long ball. Now, I put the goal down to Calderwood, being slow off the mark, dawdling, hesitant - call it what you like. He could, and should have made the ball his own, and it looked as if he was going to make it to the ball to nudge back to Segers. Indecision reigned, however, and Scott was round him in "Ricard" style, and left with only the goalie to beat with a powerful drive.

Although Ginola found Armstrong in those early stages, only for the striker to head wide, it was the third division side who dominated, playing effective short passes, and snappy football. Spurs always seemed to need longer for the build-up,and too often relied upon speculative balls. Ginola had a different role for this game, playing in front of the midfield, in a more central, but free ranging position just behind and in support of Armo. If anything, he seemed to play towards the right hand side closer to Fox, rather than in his usual left wing slot. Darren Anderton did most of his work on the left in the first half, and to be honest it wasn't too effective defensively, although he grew in confidence as the game went on. In the second half, Darren was to be seen more on the right, and he played some of his best football that I have seen from him in the Spurs shirt for a while, regularly spraying long balls across the field.

Possibly because of the proximity of Ginola, and support of Darren in the second, I felt that Ruel Fox had a pretty good game, getting a lot of crosses into dangerous areas.

Brentford had a number of chances during the game, and forced a tip over the bar from Segers from a long shot in the 11th minute. Soon after this, Sol put a glancing header just wide of the goal from a Ginola free kick, taken from the right of the field. Sol got forward quite a bit tonight, with one or two powerful runs, and he started and finished his well deserved goal later in the game.

The equaliser came after 24 minutes. Ginola combined with Fox, who squeezed a low cross into the box, through one or two defenders. The ball reached Armstrong, whose shot was well saved, but was pushed out to Nielsen who scored from the edge of the 6 yard box. Nielsen had a very good game tonight, and I would put him alongside Sol as the outstanding player for the team. Allan displayed some trickery when going forward, and an inclination to battle for the ball. He lacks pace however, and this was lower division opposition, but he won more cheers than I can recall him getting in any one game.

With the goal, Spurs became more confident, and dominant. Chris Armstrong had to leave the field briefly before half time for stitches to a head wound, but he saw the game out. Ginola got booked just before half time for a late tackle. I'm not sure whether these league cup bookings count for the premiership. If they do, Daveed is close to a suspension that we can ill afford. We never looked as strong after he was substituted by the diminutive Dominguez.

Spurs came out with more purpose in the second half. The switching of Anderton had a positive effect. Daveed still tended towards the central zone, and left it to Clemence, and Edinburgh to do more of the work on the left flank. With only one minute gone, Sol carried the ball to the edge of the area. His short pass to Ginola was sent out to Fox on the right, who sent a cross to the far post, where Ginola's shot forced another save. However, the goalie was only able to deflect the ball into the path of Sol who headed home, and stayed on the ground to enjoy the adulation of his team mates, and the crowd.

We went further ahead after 54 minutes from a quickly taken corner. From a short corner the defence pushed out, but the ball found its way to Nielsen just inside the area. He looked suspiciously offside, but was allowed to play on, shoot, hit the post, for the rebound to leave Armstrong with an open goal. Thus, Nielsen repaid the favour done for him in the first half. Further chances came from Campbell, and Clemence, before the replacement of Ginola.

Spurs started to relax a little, and with about 15 minutes of the game remaining, an attack by Nielsen broke down; Brentford swiftly countered, and a right field cross found Calderwood floundering, and Owusu with space to shoot home from close range, with a quick turn and shot. Had Brentford got a further goal, the match would have been really interesting, but they didn't manage a real chance after the second goal. Mark Gower got on the field for the last 10 minutes, and didn't disgrace himself at all. In fact, he managed a useful shot on goal.

The loudspeakers rang out "Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur" at the final whistle, but there was no glory in this result, although a premiership side is always on a hiding to nothing in a game like this. There should be a big atmosphere on Saturday for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which will be the tough opposition. I for one think the task will be too much for our team, although I would love to be proved wrong.

Read Brian Judson's preview of this tie.
Brentford 2 Spurs 3. First leg report.

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