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Ipswich v Spurs, 12.01.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 12TH JANUARY, 2002
IPSWICH 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Ipswich scorers:-
Bent, 12
McGreal, 81

Spurs scorer:-
Poyet, 58

Attendance:- 25,077

Referee:- Matt Messias (replaced by fourth official, Rob Stiles after 71 minutes due to injury)

Teams:-
Ipswich (4-4-2):- Marshall; Makin, Venus, McGreal, Hreidarsson; Wright, Magilton (sub Peralta, 63), Holland (Capt), Reuser (sub Clapham, 46); Armstrong (sub Stewart, 57), Bent

Subs not used:- Sereni; Naylor

No bookings

Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards, King; Taricco (sub Etherington, 85), Anderton, Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege (sub Davies, 46); Rebrov, Ferdinand (Capt) (sub Iversen, 28)

Subs not used:- Keller; Gardner

Booked:- Poyet (Foul)

It looks like the Tractor Boys will be grateful to Spurs for the six points gifted to them over the last three weeks, as they have now won four out of their last five games (two against us), and look more and more likely to survive and defy that "bottom at Christmas always relegated tag". There was too much of the ridiculous and little of the sublime from Spurs today, as even Hoddle blasted his defence for their amateurish defending of the two corners that led to the Ipswich goals by Marcus Bent and defender John McGreal, who was involved in that Sheringham skirmish that meant our skipper was missing for this match amongst others.

Other ridiculous moments included the ball landing at Sherwood's feet from a corner, and he not realising he had a golden opportunity to slot the ball home; Anderton and Ziege conspiring at length over a free kick outside the area, before Ziege put the ball too far beyond Anderton and out of play to draw ridicule from the home fans ("What the f***ing hell was that?"), and Iversen (who replaced Les Ferdinand early on) and Rebrov missing good chances in the box. Rebrov put a Poyet cross away, when he was offside, but badly missed an easy chance to score when he was not offside, but probably thought he was. In short, what could go wrong for Spurs did. Ferdinand pulled up with an ankle injury after only 20 minutes, battled on for a while, but had to succumb, and Ziege suffered a knee injury before half time, having to be replaced by Davies after the break. Both Les and Christian may be missing for weeks, as our season starts to crumble before our eyes.

Sergei Rebrov was allowed a rare start today, and this was his chance to shine. It has to be said that he failed, being too often forced off the ball, and whilst showing the glimpse of genuine class that we know is there, I am finally convinced that the time has come to cash in if we can. Tim Sherwood got his first start of the season, and played well, giving us skilful passing options that Steffen Freund does not provide. Yes, there were times when Sherwood nearly lost the ball, but he showed the determination to recover well, and arguably was the Spurs man of the match. Mauricio Taricco was welcomed back to Ipswich by the home fans, and made his 250th league appearance in the English game before his old fans. Taricco made good headway down the right early on, but his crossing was poor. Spurs had a bright start, and Ferdinand was impressing with his power and strength to win and hold the ball. Dean Richards made two valuable interceptions in defence in those early exchanges.

I have to say that despite the result, this was one of the most entertaining games I have seen this season. Both sides were keen to win for different reasons, and it was end to end stuff. It is so frustrating to report that Spurs dominated the possession for so much of the game, but failed to capitalise on their pretty approach play, too often giving the ball away cheaply. Some good close passing down the right led to Gus Poyet trying a shot from 25 yards after 7 minutes, but it was a soft save for the keeper, Marshall.

Ledley King had his hands full throughout, as former Blackburn player Marcus Bent showed strength and pace. Bent beat King by letting the ball do the work, and Ledley gave a corner away, perhaps too cheaply, which Venus took after 12 minutes. Bent was allowed the freedom of the box to powerfully head past Neil Sullivan who had replaced Keller in goal, after a three game lay-off. Ipswich had the next meaningful attack, as Armstrong got past Perry, but the Spurs defender recovered well to get a valuable tackle in, and win a goal kick by getting a deflection off the striker.

The limping Ferdinand managed a 1-2 with Sherwood, before Tim passed back to Rebrov, who put his shot straight to Marshall from 18 yards. Sergei then gave Les a chance on the left side of the box, but Les hit his left foot shot wide across the goalmouth. Gus Poyet tried an audacious 45 yard shot when a King clearance fell to him. The shot was less than a yard over the bar. Iversen replaced Ferdinand, and it wasn't long before Ziege went down. He was off the pitch for a while, and never recovered before half time, and should have been replaced earlier than the break. Sherwood and Poyet worked the ball from right to left before Iversen's cross hit Sergei's feet, and simply ran out of play.

Ipswich nearly grabbed another goal against the run of play when Hreidarsson sent Reuser through the defence. Reuser's shot was parried by Sullivan, ran to Bent, whose return header was easy for the keeper. Rebrov was given another chance before the break, by Poyet and Iversen, but hit it straight at Marshall.

Ex-Spur Jamie Clapham replaced Reuser after the interval. Davies and Iversen did well to get the ball to Rebrov on his own in the box, with only the keeper to beat, but he hit the ball woefully high and wide to the right of the goal. Ledley King then brought the ball out of defence and hit a high ball over the defence. Iversen was on his own in the box, but the keeper beat him to the ball. Ipswich had an excellent chance after 51 minutes, when Simon Davies lost out to Clapham on the Ipswich left flank. Clapham sent a long ball to Armstrong, who set Bent up in a one on one with Sullivan looking beatable. Thankfully, Bent hit the ball wide.

A poor Anderton pass led to the Ipswich build-up that gave us the one sublime Spurs moment.Jermaine Wright took the ball to the bye line on the right, and Bent met his cross with a powerful header that looked a goal all the way. Sullivan flew to his right, stretched out his hand, and punched the ball clear. What a save! Brilliant! Then Spurs did get the ball in the net, but the linesman's flag soon stopped the celebrations. Iversen had sent the ball to Taricco who put Poyet through on the left of the area. Gus hit a shot to the far post that Rebrov headed home. The celebrations were soon curtailed.

Five minutes later though, Spurs were on level terms. Anderton passed through the middle to Rebrov whose sharp pass to his right found Poyet, who fired home. Gus and Iversen then combined to give Sergei a chance, which he spurned, perhaps thinking he was offside, when he should have scored. Bent did look offside when he collected just beyond the half way line then gave Ledley King the slip to work his way into the box. His shot was deflected for a corner by a timely intervention by Sherwood.

The action showed no signs of abating, and the only break in play was when the referee had to concede to injury, handing over to Rob Stiles. A Taricco throw was passed on by Rebrov and Iversen before Darren Anderton hit a good low drive just to the right of the post. Rebrov and Iversen (twice) had further opportunities, but failed to hit home, before Ipswich took the lead from another Venus corner. This time McGreal was allowed to advance without marking (probably Iversen's responsibility), and his header took a deflection, but beat Sullivan. Taricco was replaced by Matthew Etherington, and Spurs had one more real chance when Simon Davies collected Sullivan's clearance and the ball was worked over to the left, before Darren Anderton's chip to Rebrov was offside.

Wednesday night's game at Coventry looks an entertaining prospect, but real stability is required from Hoddle's boys to keep the season alive over the next two weeks.

Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
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