WORTHINGTON CUP 4TH ROUND
THURSDAY 29TH NOVEMBER, 2001
FULHAM 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Fulham (4-4-2):- Taylor; Finnan, Quaddou, Goma, Harley; Goldbaek (sub Malbranque, 60), Davis, Collins, Clark (Capt); Boa Morte (sub Saha, 77), Hayles
Subs not used:- Van Der Sar; Brevett, Melville
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Bunjevcevic, King; Davies, Leonhardsen (sub Thatcher, 84), Freund, Anderton, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Rebrov
Subs not used:- Kelly; Thelwell; Piercy; Iversen
Booked:- Bunjevcevic, Ziege (both fouls)
It was an honour and a privilege to be sitting just 4 places away, and one row behind the one and only Ricky Villa tonight. This Spurs legend was not in a privileged seat, but in amongst the real fans, taking the opportunity to watch his beloved Spurs at Craven Cottage. It seems that he likes to take the opportunity to see his old team play as often as he can make it, and his trips to England are becoming quite regular, as he was at the lane last new year. Ricky was gracious and obliging to all those who sought his autograph, and in return the fans only sought an audience before the game and at half time.
Ricky will no doubt have enjoyed the two Spurs goals, but only a little of the football, much of which was played in the midfield, where Fulham dominated the possession, but rarely found any punch when it counted. Spurs, on the other hand did look threatening when they did manage to get into the area, but their attacks became more of a rarity as the game progressed.
For a match that was allegedly sold out, there were plenty of spaces on the home terraces, and Fulham have attracted crowds of four thousand more for the Premiership. It seems that Jean Tigana is concentrating on Sunday's league clash with Leeds, as he rested his number one keeper, and both Brevett and Melville who are also regulars in defence, were given the benefit of the bench.
These days of course, Fulham have plenty in reserve, and Luis Boa Morte was keen to prove a point against his ex-manager Glenn Hoddle, who had authorised last season's loan deal with Fulham, when managing "big club Southampton". Boa Morte was a thorn in Spurs side, and often gave Ledley King a hard time. He also drew the hatred of Spurs fans, being an ex-gooner. There was some fuss when he came to take a corner near the away support, and was showered with what looked like paper to me. Boa Morte also liked to moan a lot when decisions did not go his way, and I could see why he attracts referees' concern for diving in the box.
Leonhardsen got a rare start for Spurs, who were missing Poyet, Ferdinand, Richards, and Taricco, and Leo had an early shot saved by Taylor. At the same time Rebrov went down injured, and was off the pitch for some time with a head injury. Fulham were concentrating on Spurs left flank, and Finnan and Goldbaek were the main perpetrators of their efforts. Hayles picked up one ball, and tried a delicate chip over Sullivan who nonchalantly and correctly judged that the ball was missing the target. Boa Morte left King standing after 13 minutes, but managed to run the ball out of play, with no harm done.
Then Spurs had the lead! Teddy collected a long ball through the middle, chested it, then turned and headed it to Sergei, who had found space on the right, and who hit a sweet shot to the left of Taylor. Ten minutes later, Ziege was at the back post to receive a cross from the right, then hit the post with his shot. Shortly after, Sergei was on the left, and Ziege was inside him to receive the ball, but his shot was deflected for a corner.
Fulham were working hard, and just when it seemed that Spurs would take a lead into the interval, Hayles burst through the defence to head a Goldbaek ball over Sullivan, literally seconds before the half time whistle.
Clearly, the second half was going to be hard, and Spurs struggled to keep possession and find a rhythm, whilst Fulham had plenty of quality possession in the middle, without really giving Sullivan a hard time. After a long build up, Lee Clark at least brought a save from the Spurs keeper, but it was an easy one. Goldbaek was replaced by Malbranque, and Boa Morte switched to the left, where Simon Davies and Perry struggled to contain him. Davies was eventually switched to the middle, and Leonhardsen took over right wing-back duties. 6 minutes before the end, Ben Thatcher replaced Leo, and Ziege was given licence to roam.
Malbranque put a piercing ball into the penalty area, and Boa Morte went down under pressure from King and others, but any penalty appeal was ignored by Halsey, and rightly too. Boa Morte put his shot high over the bar, when Clark fed him again. This was his last chance before being replaced by Louis Saha, who had little effect upon the game. Indeed, Spurs suddenly found some attacking flair again in the latter stages. On 71 minutes, Sheringham and Sergei worked their way down the right; Sergei put Freund in the clear, and Steffen's deep cross was headed just wide by Ziege.
Five minutes later, Rebrov's cross was so nearly converted from short range by Teddy, but Taylor saved well, and Simon Davies shot, following up, was also blocked. To be honest, Davies, and in fact the whole Spurs team, had not had a good game, but Simon popped up with five minutes to go, when Ledley King headed down and Anderton free kick, for Simon to drive a low shot to the left of Taylor for the winner. The delighted Davies ran to the Spurs support, heartily applauded by our esteemed guest, who left happily before the throng.
Spurs have won a home tie in the fifth round, against our next league opponents, Bolton. The match is to be played in two weeks time, but the exact date is yet to be fixed.
Oh, and Ricky, if you are reading this - can I have my pen-top back, please?
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Declan Mulcahy's Last Five Stats for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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