FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 21ST NOVEMBER, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) - NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0 (0)
Referee:- Stephen Lodge
SPURS:- Baardsen; Carr, Scales, Campbell (Capt), Edinburgh (sub Sinton, 65); Anderton, Calderwood (sub Clemence, 77 ), Nielsen, Ginola; Iversen, Armstrong (sub Allen, 83)
Subs not used:- Walker (GK); Fox
FOREST:- Beasant; Stone, Hjelde, Chettle, Armstrong, (sub Edwards, 46), Rogers; Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Quashie; Freedman (sub Bonalair, 54), Van Hooijdonk
Subs not used:- Crossley (GK); Harewood, Shipperley
Booked:- Stone - then sent off for second yellow card in the 47th minute. Van Hooijdonk, Gemmill
The newspapers tomorrow will probably regard the sending off of Steve Stone as the turning point in this game, but in my view it was the moment after about half an hour when George Graham deserted his usual first half lofty perch for the dug-out to fire his team up, after they started the game giving too much respect to this lack-lustre Forest side. Dave Bassett clearly came for no more than a point, playing 5-3-2, packing the defence, and hoping for a breakaway goal. The fact is that Baardsen was hardly troubled, and after the opening 15 minutes, Forest hardly looked like scoring. The game was therefore frustrating for the home fans for much of the first half. Many will no doubt describe this as a below par Spurs performance, but the fact is that any team can prevent the opposition playing attractive football, if they are physical enough ( Forest were ), and if they show little intention to explore their opponents half of the field.
Forest did, in fact, start the more lively team, and early on created danger in the Spurs area, with a crossed ball, that found no target. The earliest chance for Spurs came after 8 minutes, when Iversen met an Edinburgh cross, but his header lacked power. The early play was tentative; the referee was whistle happy, and the game lacked flow for a considerable time.
After 13 minutes, Steve Stone, playing in the right wing-back position, shook off Edinburgh in the Spurs box, but fired his shot well over the goal. Stone, even though his team mates tried to back him up, was always second best against Ginola, who enjoyed a hey day today, and the Forest player was booked for blatant foul play after 22 minutes, holding the French winger supreme unfairly. Stone was lucky to survive the first half, as he later deliberately handled the ball to try and score, and continued to foul Ginola.
As the game wore on Ginola became more and more prominent, feeding many balls into the area, which sadly were not converted, try as hard as Iversen and Armstrong might. One cross was well met by Armstrong, but headed straight into Beasant's arms. I thought Beasant and the whole Forest defence were there for the taking, if only we could string our passes together, and be more composed with our shooting. As far as our midfield was concerned, Anderton was the piercing passer, and crosser of the ball, whilst Calderwood, and Nielsen were the work-horses. Perhaps too many balls landed at Calderwood's feet in the first half, giving the wrong player responsibility for creativity, and ball control.
Stevie Carr had a couple of cracking shots on goal today, the best was in the second half. Someone mentioned to me today that (ahem) an Arsenal supporter described Carr as the best away player seen at Highbury last week.
The referee spoilt the flow of the game in the first half, and he was most indecisive, and lacking in bottle. He ignored the further offending of Stone in the first period, and when Bart-Williams crunched Ginola, the ref was going for his card, but then got distracted by an injured player. Bart-Williams escaped punishment, as did too many of Forest's indiscrepancies.
After about 30 minutes, Spurs started to put the opposition under pressure, inspired mainly by Daveed, who surely was man of the match today. Armstrong teed Nielsen up for a shot, to no avail, and Anderton put Iversen through for a half chance. The ball was a scrambled clear. The best chance fell to Armstrong in injury time when he only had Beasant to beat with a cross shot. He did the right thing by aiming across the goalie, but the ball curled agonisingly wide of the post. This chance should have been converted, and we should have been 1 or 2 up at the interval.
Stone was sent off very early in the second half. He appeared to elbow Ginola, who went down, and sat on the ground, appealing for a decision. The referee only sent off Stone ( and treated it as a second yellow card, rather than violent conduct ) after consulting his linesman. Forest were upset at what they considered theatrics by Ginola, but as I have said, Stone deserved to go a lot earlier in the game. Thereafter, the pitch was Daveed's oyster, and he gave one of his most taunting displays, popping up everywhere, even fighting back for the ball, and winning loose balls on several occasions.
Justin Edinburgh suffered a knock winning an early corner in the second half, and never really recovered before Sinton took his place. Sinton and Ginola combined and piled on the agony down that left flank.
A goal was an inevitability, and came after 58 minutes, when a scintillating run by ( who else ) Ginola took the ball to the bye line. His simple cross was touched in by Armo reaching out with his right ( did I need to mention that ) foot. The ball looped into the air, and just fell in time to fall into the net. It didn't look as if it was going in at first.
The confidence grew, and even Colin Calderwood was getting involved in attacking moves, picking up a short Ginola pass in midfield, running forward, and finding Iversen. The second goal followed a free kick conceded by Gemmill ( booked as well ), when he brought down guess who. Anderton took a powerful and sharp free kick, which arrowed across the area, and was headed home by Allan Nielsen to cap another strong performance by the Dane.
Thereafter, Graham took the opportunity to make sure each permissible sub got a run out. I thought Clemence played well in his short appearance. He and Gower were strong in mid-field for the reserves in the middle of the week. Clemence was involved in some fine attacking moves with Ginola and Anderton. Without going through the whole team, it is a fact that everyone worked hard, including the flair players. Once again, I thought Iversen and Armstrong played well together. Iversen provided plenty of clever touches today, and we were ( to quote GG ) defending from the front. This really should have been a more convincing win, BUT to finish on a couple of rally high notes - we have kept a clean sheet for two games running, AND Arsenal AND MANU were beaten today. Sadly the results were not the best they could have been for our league position, but we are back in the top half overnight at least, and have our eyes on the right end of the table
· Brian Judson's match preview
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