SATURDAY 3rd APRIL, 1999
FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) - LEICESTER CITY 2 (1)
Referee:- Neale Barrie
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell, Edinburgh ( sub Sinton, 73); Fox ( sub Armstrong, 65), Freund, Nielsen, Ginola; Ferdinand, Iversen
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Nilsen ( squad number 5 ); Dominguez
Booked:- Edinburgh, Freund, Young, Ginola
Leicester(3-5-2):- Keller; Sinclair, Elliott, Ullathorne; Impey, Savage, Lennon, Izzet ( sub Kaamark, 54 ), Guppy; Heskey, Cottee
Subs not used:- Arphexad (GK); Gunnlaugsson, Miller; Marshall
Booked:- Guppy, Sinclair, Heskey
It was a case of "after the ball was over" for Spurs today, as they surrendered their 6 month undefeated home record, and their pride to a Leicester side that gained sweet revenge for their cup defeat two weeks ago, with a convincing and deserved victory.
Without a doubt, Spurs missed the guile of their absent midfield duo of Anderton, and Sherwood, who were both suspended for today's game, but they were second best to virtually every ball today, whilst Leicester harried and beavered away to silence the home crowd, who concentrated their energy towards Savage. In fact, just about the biggest home cheer came in the first half, when Justin Edinburgh beat Savage convincingly in a one to one challenge. The Leicester players sportingly lined the field for the entrance of the home side, but this gesture failed to silence the boo boys.
After a bright start by Tottenham, the game fizzled out into a similar style to the Worthington Cup Final, and was not helped by the regular interference of the referee, who booked 6 in the first half, and also the delaying tactics of the visiting players rolling about on the floor with various injuries. How the fourth official calculated that there were only two minutes of injury time, I do not know, but Spurs made such a hash of their attempts on goal, that he was clearly only seeking to put us out of our agony.
Sinclair made a very strong challenge on Nielsen as early as the first minute, and got away with a "talking to" from the ref. He was one of very few given that luxury. After 3 minutes, Ginola back-heeled to Nielsen, whose cross was headed down by Iversen for Ferdinand, whose shot was wide. Lennon and Guppy were given too much room after 5 minutes, but Spurs counter-attacked with style, as a long clearance reached Les Ferdinand, who was able to feed Iversen. Steff got a shot in, but it was saved comfortably.
A Ginola cross could not be converted by either Iversen, or Nielsen in the box, and the ball fell to Freund on the right edge of the area. His shot was well wide of the mark. Another good cross from Ginola was nearly converted by a Leicester defender under pressure from Nielsen and Fox, who made his first start today, since the FA Cup match away to Wimbledon on 23rd January. Fox's withdrawal after 65 minutes, may be his farewell appearance - who knows ?
On 12 minutes, it was a long ball from Fox that led to a run into the area from Ferdinand, but his low shot was just wide. Soon after this, Justin Edinburgh was the first into the book for holding back Heskey, who had too easily beaten on the right wing. The game entered a lull. Leicester always seemed to have two or three players surrounding their opponent, and whilst they were not pretty to watch, you have to give them credit for their success today. They are becoming another bogey team for Spurs, who haven't beaten them in the league for four years.
After 28 minutes, Ferdinand and Fox combined well on the right, and Fox's long cross reached Ginola beyond the back post. Ginola's low and powerful shot was deflected for a corner. After 35 minutes, Heskey blocked a Ginola free kick and ran powerfully with the ball to the edge of the Spurs area. He was foiled by some good defensive work from Freund, Campbell, and Edinburgh, who within half a minute was at the other end crossing for another Ferdinand effort to go wide.
Heskey and Freund got involved in a set-to. Heskey got booked for his challenge, and I think Freund got booked for going bananas at Heskey! Freund took a swing at the air in his frustration, and was nowhere near striking Heskey, but he will have to cool down, otherwise he'll spend one match in three out of action next season ! Leicester took the lea through a somewhat soft goal after 42 minutes. Campbell was adjudged to have fouled Heskey; Guppy took the free kick, and Elliott looped the header high over Walker, under an ineffective challenge from Ferdinand. Just before half time, Ginola and Edinburgh worked the ball over for Iversen, but his header was wide.
There wasn't too much in the way of excitement in the second half. Whilst the home side had the territorial advantage, even Ginola was having a mediocre and frustrating game for much of the time. Spurs first chance in this half came on the hour, when a Nielsen throw was controlled by Ferdinand, and Luke Young followed up with a shot that went over the bar. Fox's substitution may have been a form of punishment for failing to score, when another Nielsen throw, was only half cleared by a defender, and the ball was falling perfectly at the feet of Fox, who missed his kick completely.
As soon as Armstrong replaced Fox, Leicester were on the attack on the right flank, and Spurs were caught napping, as Heskey was allowed to run all the way to the bye line, and cross for Cottee to score from close range. This was Cottee's 200th league goal. It was the visiting fans that chanted "Savage, Savage, what's the score", and the name of "Ginola, Ginola" as things went wrong for the Frenchman.
Spurs tried to get back into the game, but nothing would go right for them. A Ginola cross fell behind Iversen, who tried an overhead kick, and failed. The ball fell to Nielsen who got in a quick shot, but Keller tipped the ball over the bar. Leicester nearly went three up when Heskey cleverly back-heeled for Kaamark, but the shot was inaccurate.
Steven Carr tried as hard as ever, and his were the more telling crosses, but neither Ferdinand or Armstrong could put them away. Iversen slipped back into a midfield role, when Armstrong appeared. There were also a couple of penalty appeals for Spurs as both Armstrong, and Sinton went down under pressure in the box. I think Armstrong was obstructed, and that Sinton's appeal was doubtful, but referee Barrie was not interested.
No doubt the side will have a different shape for the semi-final rehearsal on Monday. Newcastle won 4-3 at Derby today, so on form, they look formidable opponents for the next two games.
· Brian Judson's preview
· Read a further report on this game from Dave Gallagher
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