My thanks go to "Wyart Lane" for this report from the MEHSTG web site. "Reproduced with permission from "My Eyes Have Seen the Glory"
Tottenham 3 (2) AC Fiorentina 0 (0)
Bill Nicholson Testimonial
Wednesday 8th August 2001
Weather : - Wet surface, warm with a chilly breeze.
Crowd : - 35,877
Referee : - Mr. P Jones
Spurs: Sullivan, Taricco (Piercy 87), Ziege, Bunjevcevic, Doherty (Perry 65), King, Freund (Davies 59), Poyet, Clemence, Ferdinand (Iversen 45), Rebrov (Etherington 83).
Fiorentina: Taglialatela (Manninger 45), Agostini (Repka 58), Adani, Cois (Amoroso 58), Roberto, Di Livio, Morfeo, Rossi, Chiesa, Gomes, Pierini (Gonzales 58).
With a near capacity crowd (just the West Stand letting us down), Bill Nicholson celebrated his second Testimonial at Spurs and even if he had been awarded one for each of the six decades he has served the club, it would not be enough. I was only pleased that the team could do justice to the club and traditions that he built in the late 50's and through the 60's and 70's.
The long queues outside held kick off up for a while, but when play got underway, Spurs in their light blue change kit made an early chance through Ziege who blazed over. Up at the other end a delightful passing move cut Spurs open and the ball out to Chiesa on the left, put him in on goal. However, Sullivan was sharp off his line to block the former Juventus man's shot. The play was open all game and it ebbed and flowed from end to end. Ziege set up Rebrov with a great chance when the Ukrainian was in the clear in the box, but tried to be too deliberate with his volley that bounced wide. Spurs didn't have to wait too long for their opener though and it came about from a high ball pumped into the box from Taricco. Les jumped with the keeper, who seemed to have the ball, but then dropped it on Ferdinand's head. It was a bizarre incident, as the ball bounced away from goal off one of the corners on Sir Les' bonce. He did react quickly enough though to strike it low past the man on the line to open the scoring. This infuriated the Italians who surrounded the ref begging him to award a foul, but he would have none of it. It did lead to some retribution.
Having conceded, Fiorentina did not take kindly to the fact and started to exhibit some of the more cynical tendencies in their game, which, even for a friendly, could not be withheld. A blatant trip on Rebrov when he was through and some clattering tackles from behind were de riguer for the Italian side. However, they did show glimpses of the delicate way they could play the beautiful game. A pass through the middle of the Spurs defence skidded off the wet turf and seemed to be going to Sullivan. The Scottish keeper came, then went back and finally decided to make the ball his, but it somehow went straight through his advance and it rolled towards goal. In came running the youngster Rossi and with Doherty throwing himself into a block, the Italian managed to spoon the ball over the bar from about three yards out !! How he missed, I will never know. A few minutes later, a long ball over Doherty's head saw Chiesa in again on the right hand corner of the box and he took a first time lob with the outside of his foot that left Sully stationary and he was unlucky to see his shot just fade past the far post.
Play then moved towards the Fiorentina goal, with a bout of Spurs wide men crossing it from one side to the other, before Rebrov lofted a cross to the far post, where Les rose and headed it into Taglialatela's hands. A couple of minutes later, Ziege was taking a left wing corner, which he whipped in low to the edge of the six yard box and Poyet lost his marker and side-footed the ball into the far corner. It was a sublime piece of finishing and one where he let the pace on the ball take it into the net, just using his foot to divert it in the right direction. Spurs were a little loose at the far post for a corner near half time and Pierini (who won't be joining West Ham) hit the post with a header.
The second half saw few changes, but Iversen came on for Les and he made his mark soon after. A classy run by Poyet saw him exchange passes with Iversen, before slipping the Norwegian in for an opportunity to delicately chip the ball over the advancing Manninger. It was a well-crafted and well-taken goal, which saw Poyet at his best. Unlike in the first half, when he rattled the bones of one of the Fiorentina defenders with a late challenge, showing his "harder" side. Spurs continued to press forward, while the Violas attacks inevitably broke down around the edge of the area. Rebrov had a fierce shot turned over by the keeper and Ziege almost embarrassed the ex-Arsenal man with a corner driven in at the near post that he had to claw away for another set-piece. He did well to save Iversen's downward header, which he should have scored from and was a virtual replay of the one by Simon Davies who didn't get enough on to trouble the goalie.
As for the blond defender for the visitors, who had a bootlace tied around his head, it was a night to forget. He was involved in a running battle with Clemence in the first half, got nut-megged by Rebrov in the second and only managed to get near enough to kick Spurs players. It was hard to assess this win as Fiorentina were not at the top of their game, but a win is a win and against quality opposition, they proved that you could not allow them the opportunity to show how good they were. Spurs worked hard, passed well and Clemence who comes in for a hard time from the Spurs crowd, should be praised for his showing. Davies looked at home against this side and got stuck in, while Ziege looked like a potential provider for the future with a string of good balls into the box.
But most of all, the man watching down from the front row of the West Stand was the hero of the night. Bill Nicholson made this club and deserves everything he receives from this match and more. The delight on his face was plain to see and he will be pleased to have witnessed a Tottenham performance worthy of the name. The Glory is to come.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - GUS POYET
Read Jonathan Adelman's account of this special evening
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