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Spurs v Wimbledon, 02.02.99

FA CUP 4th ROUND REPLAY
TUESDAY 2nd FEBRUARY, 1999
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) - WIMBLEDON 0 (0)

Spurs scorers -
Sinton 2,
Nielsen 55,84

Attendance:- 24,049

Referee:- Dermot Gallagher

Teams:-

Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Edinburgh; Anderton ( sub Tarrico, 87 ), Freund ( sub Young, 89 ), Nielsen, Sinton; Ferdinand ( sub Armstrong, 87 ), Iversen

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Dominguez

Booked:- Freund

Wimbledon (4-4-2):- Sullivan; Jupp ( sub Cort, 46 ), Perry, Blackwell, Kimble; Ardley, Roberts ( sub C. Hughes, 80), Earle, Kennedy; Leaburn, Euell

Subs not used:- Heald (GK); Castledine, Hodges

Booked:- Jupp ( not confirmed )

Many people voted with their feet and stayed away tonight. Perhaps because of boredom with this long running saga; perhaps because even season ticket holders were expected to pay for the fare on offer, and they may consider that a hidden price rise. Ironically, they missed a more rousing game, three goals, and many good performances, as, in the end, Spurs coasted through to the fifth round, where they will meet George Graham's old side Leeds at Elland Road.

Spurs were without Ginola, and Wimbledon were considerably weakened by the absence of Cunningham, Thatcher, Michael Hughes, and several choices of striker. Any Wimbledon team is going to be full of running, and physical power, but in the early stages, they gave too much room to Tottenham, until Joe Kinnear appeared on the touchline, barking orders to his midfield ( and receiving some good humoured abuse from the home crowd ).

After an early shot by Ardley, Spurs took an early lead through a superb build up from their own box. Carr intercepted a Kimble throw, and headed out to Iversen who was on the right of the area. After some good control, Iversen sent an accurate long pass to Ferdinand, who headed down beautifully for the advancing Nielsen. Nielsen fed Sinton on the left, who ran into the Wimbledon area, and made space for a cracking right foot shot that just beat Sullivan, and went into the top left corner.

Another good build up by Spurs after 14 minutes, featuring Carr, Sinton, Ferdinand, and Nielsen led to a long throw into the area from Nielsen, which was cleared, but only as far as Justin Edinburgh, whose shot went just wide. Les Ferdinand justifiably won the man of the match award tonight, and I don't think I have seen him run so effectively at defenders in a Spurs shirt. He and Iversen seemed to have the better of Perry and Blackwell, holding the ball up well, and offering each other, and their supporting midfielders several chances to develop attacks.

Nielsen had another good performance tonight, crowned by two goals more of which later ), and whilst Sullivan wasn't pestered too much, it was Spurs who had the better chances again. Steven Carr deserves a home goal, for all his endeavour. He had another super performance tonight; defending well, passing intelligently, and having several shots on goal.

It was certainly not all one way traffic though. Ramon Vega seems to have had a "good defender transplant", and I felt had an excellent game tonight, which makes three on the trot, and augurs well. If I told you that it was Sol who made the biggest defensive error, would you believe me ? It's true, but it didn't lead to a problem, when he miscued a clearance on the edge of his box.

Mid first half, Wimbledon were being allowed too much space and time on the ball. Kinnear switched Ardley, and Kennedy, and it was the latter who had a powerful shot go just over Walker's goal. This period of pressure from the visitors led to more determined play from Tottenham, as half time approached, but they failed to capitalise on their early goal, leaving the game in the balance at the re-start.

Kinnear put Cort on for Jupp, and withdrew Euell to the midfield. There was some initial panic for the Spurs defenders, and one shot whisked past the post with an attacker in close proximity, but the offside flag was up. Ferdinand was to be found helping his defence out at this stage.

Spurs increased their lead after 55 minutes with another well worked goal. Carr passed down the line to Iversen who won a throw just inside the Wimbledon half. Iversen took the throw quickly, and the ball reached Ferdinand and Perry running into the penalty area. Perry, uncharacteristically, lost possession under Ferdinand's pressure ( a touch of their own medicine ), and Les crossed for Nielsen to convert with an easy tap-in. Ferdinand nearly repeated shortly after with a cross for Iversen, which was blocked.

The Dons kept trying, and Sol Campbell conceded a free kick just outside his area. Ardley's powerful low shot was well held by Ian Walker, diving low to his left. Some more Wimbledon pressure followed, and culminated in Justin Edinburgh clearing just in front of his goal, after some threatening head tennis.

The win was sealed with a somewhat bizarre second goal for Nielsen. Euell was trying to clear from about 22 yards out, but only succeeded in firing against Nielsen's shins. The ball rebounded into the net, rather than being put there by the Dane, who chose to demonstrate his ability to perform press-ups as a celebration routine! No doubt there is a reference there to George Graham's training techniques. Whilst notably Anderton looked tired towards the end, the remainder of the team looked strong, and will feel with justification that they have the psychological edge for the second leg of the forthcoming Worthington Cup semi final.

Brian Judson's preview

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