Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey Match Report - Spurs v Middlesbrough, 23.12.2000
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Spurs v Middlesbrough, 23.12.2000

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 23RD DECEMBER, 2000
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) MIDDLESBROUGH 0 (0)

Attendance:- 35,638

Referee:- Rob Styles

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Campbell, Thelwell; Carr, Anderton, Sherwood (sub Leonhardsen, 85), King, Clemence; Rebrov, Ferdinand (sub Armstrong, 46)

Subs not used:- Walker; Doherty, Korsten

Booked:- Sherwood, Perry (both for fouls)

Middlesbrough(5-3-1-1):- Schwarzer; Mustoe, Ehiogu, Vickers, Cooper, O'Neill (sub Gordon, 90); Karembeu, Ince, Okon; Whelan (sub Fleming, 87); Boksic (sub Deane, 75)

Subs not used:- Crossley; Festa

Booked:- Okon, O'Neill, Deane (dissent).

The Christmas cheer ended at the Lane before the game, when Stephen Carr was presented with the members' Player of the year award for the second year running, and after a local school choir entertained us with traditional carols. Ex-Spurs boss Terry Venables came for a point and got everything he wanted for Christmas, through keeping his men behind the ball, and managing to waste more time during the game than I can recall seeing from a visiting team. Spurs did have some defending to do in the first half, when Sol Campbell excelled against Boksic, but they didn't get out of second gear, failing to capitalise with several excellent chances in the second half.

Now that Mr Sugar has jetted off to Florida for the festive season, who are we going to moan at now over the mid-table mediocrity that still exists? We are stuck in 11th place, and must break our away hoodoo to manage a win in December, with the next two games at The Dell and Portman Road. Mr Graham made one enforced change at half time for the injured Les Ferdinand ( another head injury), but left it till the last five minutes before trying to change things, when Leonhardsen replaced Sherwood. Too late for my money. Too often Spurs were stuck for ideas, with Anderton playing at half pace for much of the time, and Sherwood failing too often with his passes and tackles. Middlesbrough retreated so much that Perry was often to be found with space down the right, whilst Carr got into more forward positions.

Chris Perry took an early knock but managed to run it off during a tepid early spell of the game. Compared to the frenetic atmosphere of the North London derby, the place was like a morgue. Carr teased O'Neill on the edge of the box before hitting a left foot shot across the goalmouth and just wide of the mark. Carr was involved in most of the decent attacks, and his cross was deflected for a corner after a neat interchange with Anderton and Rebrov. Rebrov was pretty sharp today, but sometimes his passes are too clever for his team mates, or just plain inaccurate!

There was a little panic after Perry lost the ball on the right allowing a cross to Karembeu lurking in space on the right. He was soon closed down, and his chipped centre was intercepted by Sol and sent accurately to Rebrov in style. After 23 minutes, a good build up started with a long ball from Carr to Rebrov. Anderton and Clemence combined until Clemence crossed, but Carr's header was cleared in front of goal by a defender. Five minutes later Anderton found Ferdinand, who headed to Rebrov. The cross reached Sherwood, whose diving header at the near post was pushed round by Schwarzer for a corner.

It was Spurs who had the only real chances from here on in, as Schwarzer mis-judged a Clemence cross/shot, and had to tip it over the bar for a corner. Then he cleanly held Ledley King's powerful shot from a chest-down by Ferdinand.

When Armstrong replaced Les, he was often to be found working down the right flank, which at times put Carr off, as he worked inside. There were one or two occasions when Sherwood or Anderton were on the ball, and no-one was moving for them. Confusion reigned. Armstrong started a move down the line, which led to a Rebrov cross being cleared as far as Sherwood on the left of the area. His shot was deflected into the path of Armstrong who was adjudged offside before he put the ball into the net. Armstrong's pace worked when he picked up an Anderton through ball. A back pass to the goalkeeper was cleared only as far as Rebrov, whose super shot was deflected onto the bar and out for a corner.

At the other end, Boksic took advantage of a poor pass to try a curling shot that failed to bother Sullivan. Armstrong again picked up a long ball - this one from Sherwood - chested it round the advancing Schwarzer, but was too ambitious with his effort from a sharp angle. With fifteen minutes left, Stephen Carr worked his way in from the right, and his driven left foot shot was parried by the keeper. Armstrong emerged from the pack to fire home, but again an offside decision thwarted him. This one looked doubtful at the time.

By now one was in fear of the visitors managing to snatch an undeserved goal on the break, and nothing would go right for Spurs. Sherwood and Armstrong were deprived in a goalmouth scramble, and then both Perry and Anderton tried long range shots from the corner. Schwarzer saved from Perry, but Anderton's shot was wide. The best chance fell to Clemence, after Ledley King chipped the defence. Clemence was in the perfect place to shoot - for Chris Armstrong - he completely duffed his effort as it was on his right foot.

All that was left was for Mr Venables to use all the time wasting tactics under the sun. Referee Styles did add a fair amount of time, but it was never going to be enough for Spurs. Two points off these low table merchants is an insufficient return in the two matches we have played this season.

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