Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey Match Report - Spurs v Leeds United, 24.02.01
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Spurs v Leeds, 24.02.2001


Spurs scorer:-
Ferdinand, 33

Leeds scorers:-
Harte (pen, 45)
Bowyer, 57

Referee:- Jeff Winter

Attendance:- 36,070

Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Doherty, Campbell (Capt.), King; Young, Freund, Sherwood, Davies (sub Thelwell, 46), Clemence (sub Iversen, 78); Rebrov, Ferdinand (sub Etherington, 78)

Subs not used:- Walker; Booth

Booked:- Sullivan (Dissent), Freund (Foul)

Leeds (4-4-2):- Martyn; Mills, Ferdinand (Capt.), Matteo, Harte; Bakke (sub Kewell, 46), Batty, Dacourt, Bowyer; Viduka, Keane

Subs not used:- Robinson; Maybury, Burns; Wilcox

Booked:- Keane (Foul)

The big mystery for most Spurs fans was the half-time substitution of Simon Davies by George Graham. Whilst Davies had not set the game alight, I thought he was having a decent game, and after the first 15 - 20 minutes was linking up well with Luke Young on the right flank, and leading to a number of decent attacks. He was not afraid to get stuck in, and I saw little wrong with his passing. I have now seen a suggestion that he had 'flu, but if that was the case, I am surprised he started.

The fact is that after a taking that first period of the game to compete with this Leeds side which is a class above us, Spurs did get themselves into the game, and could so easily have taken a one goal lead into the interval had it not been for a contentious penalty decision by Jeff Winter, when for me Doherty fairly shoulder-barged Lee Bowyer. There was every chance that Spurs were going to at least preserve a point, but in my mind Graham completely upset the equilibrium with his substitution. Gary Doherty was pushed up, to became largely ineffective. (He had been struggling today at the back against the pace of Keane and the guile of Viduka, both of whom kept switching sides to confuse the defence). Replacement Alton Thelwell was too lightweight for the job, and as the midfield failed to match the passing and moving of their opponents, Sol Campbell and Ledley King were heroes at the back, and needed to be. Neil Sullivan, too, had to make a number of excellent saves.

Les Ferdinand was taken off with 12 minutes left, and Steffen Iversen got his first run-out for four months, but Spurs rarely looked likely to score in the second half.

There was early panic at the back for Spurs, as Viduka put Keane through the defence. In the end, Sol was strong enough to save the situation. Spurs did respond with a little one touch play, as Rebrov crossed from the right, Davies flicked on, and Ferdinand shot just wide with his first touch. Sullivan made his first excellent save from Keane after 4 minutes, when Keane appeared at the back post and shot to the far corner. The goalie was down sharply to push the ball round the corner.

George Graham was down to the dug-out early, as Spurs succumbed to mounting pressure and conceded countless corners. The big change to me seemed to be sending the wing-backs further forward, and to get Davies to assist Young more. For reasons best known to George himself, Stephen Clemence seems to have almost the freedom of the pitch, as he turned up left right and centre, even quite often toe most advanced Spurs player. Sadly for Clemence (and despite his efforts I have to agree for the most part), the crowd do not take to him. As a result the left flank was left exposed and sometimes Sherwood was having to try and cover this area, which the likes of Bakke and Mills exploited. There was a lot of flair on show today, and most of it was in a yellow shirt.

For example, Viduka set up Mills with a delightful back-heel, and Sullivan had to tip over the powerful shot. Almost on the half-hour mark, Rebrov was fouled on the left and Sherwood floated in a long free kick, which Les Ferdinand back-headed. Nigel Martyn was somewhat bemused as the ball passed him, hit the post, and then bounced off his arms for a corner.

The officials frustrated the home fans today. The first controversy was the decision by the referee to ignore the linesman's clear flag for offside against Keane who had left Doherty standing. Keane was allowed to advance, and in the end it was our hero Sol Campbell who rescued the situation, with a timely boot to concede a corner.

Spurs took the lead when Rebrov picked up a poor headed clearance from Rio Ferdinand, then neatly slipped the ball past the 18 million defender. Cousin Les raced forward and beat Martyn with a good right foot shot to the bottom right corner. Ferdinand the striker nearly scored a goal of the season contender a few minutes later, when he picked up a long clearance, turned and hit a right foot cracking drive from 30 yards, which had Martyn flying, and beaten, but which drifted just wide of the post.

Leeds countered well after Tim Sherwood dallied too long in an advanced position near the touchline. The ball reached Bowyer, whose piercing pass found Robbie Keane in the box. Somehow Sol and Doherty closed him down, and did just enough to put him off, meaning that his soft shot went straight to Sullivan. Then, on the stroke of half-time came the penalty awarded against Doherty, which Harte converted with ease, and chose to flaunt himself in front of the Paxton stand - not wise!

Alton Thelwell's arrival onto the pitch was announced, but ace Leeds substitute Harry Kewell was allowed to sneak into the game, as he replaced Bakke, working on the left, allowing Bowyer to switch to the right. Both wingers wore black gloves, and tormented the defence. Another rumour doing the rounds after the game was that Graham panicked to respond the imminent substitution. I do think there is an unhealthy agenda between our Mr Graham and David O'Leary, as former under-study has now eclipsed his former mentor, whilst that said mentor still manages to twist the press around his little finger and claim much of the credit for the current success of Leeds.

Kewell was soon to have an impact as he fed Viduka with a powerful low cross. Viduka shot from close range, and it looked to us at the other end of the ground like a superb double save from Sullivan as Bowyer latched onto the rebound from his first save. However, Stephen Clemence made a somewhat miraculous on the line save with his chest as he lay on the ground!

Bowyer, who had been roundly booed throughout, gave Leeds the lead after he was allowed to drift inside from a short corner, and his left foot shot was to beat Sullivan as Viduka cleverly skipped over the ball. Spurs attacks were spasmodic. There was a notable chance after a good build up, when Freund fed Luke Young, whose shot was blocked for a corner, taken by Clemence. Sherwood headed a good chance over the bar.

Despite Graham's intentions to throw everything at Leeds, they held firm, and countered well, when given the opportunity. Thelwell did well to block a Keane shot after he had been put through by Kewell. Gary Doherty had the best chance of the second half, as Sherwood tried to reach a Rebrov corner with 6 minutes left. The ball fell to his feet, and he really should have swept it home, but he somehow missed completely. I much prefer Doherty at the back, from where he does make effective forward runs. (BTW - Can anyone clarify if his name is pronounced DOCERTY OR DOUGHERTY? - I still hear various efforts from official Spurs people)

Sullivan had one more ace save to make as injury time loomed, when Kewell picked up a short ball from Campbell in the middle, raced forward, and gave Viduka a close range chance.

So ends the unbeaten home league record for this season; the unbeaten record this year; the consecutive clean sheets record; and the 10 year reign of Sir Alan Sugar who hands over his controlling interest on Wednesday to ENIC. Perhaps George Graham was also panicking about his own future?

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