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Spurs v Ipswich, 22.12.01

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 22ND DECEMBER, 2001
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) IPSWICH TOWN 2 (1)

Spurs scorer:-
Davies, 12

Ipswich scorers:-
George, 40
Armstrong, 88

Referee:- Mike Riley

Attendance:- 36,040

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2/4-4-2):- Sullivan; Perry (sub Gardner, 46), Richards, King; Taricco, Freund, Davies (sub Poyet, 75), Anderton, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Rebrov (sub Ferdinand, 67)

Subs not used:- Keller; Sherwood

Booked:- Anderton (foul) Sent Off:- Sheringham (Violent Conduct)

Ipswich (4-5-1):- Sereni; Makin, McGreal (sub Bramble, 83), Venus, Hreidarsson; George, Magilton (sub Armstrong, 71), Wright, Holland (Capt), Reuser; Bent (sub Naylor, 76)

Subs not used:- Branagan; Clapham

Booked:- Wright, McGreal (ungentlemanly conduct)

Question:- If the referee books an Ipswich player for an infringement upon a Spurs player that occurred in the penalty area whilst waiting for the corner to be taken, and he sends off the Spurs player for apparently retaliating violently, should there not have been a free kick or a penalty awarded in the area?

Answer:- Apparently not, as the ball was out of play at the time of the offences.

Question:- Have Spurs reached the level where they can afford to "rotate" or rest players for the first in a four game Christmas fixture list?

Answer:- Without a doubt, NO! Ferdinand and Poyet started on the bench, and only when Ferdinand was introduced did we look like a team that might get something out of the game. Unfortunately we were already down to ten men.

Question:- Can Spurs really creep into contention for a Champions League slot?

Answer:- On this form - definitely NO - again.

The signs were there for all to see unfortunately. Glenn Hoddle had paid tribute to Ipswich's performance at Villa Park on Monday night, and described them as "not a bottom of the table side". The programme made reference to our unbeaten home record since September, and Ipswich had not won a league game since August, and no away game yet. It had to happen, didn't it?

Why then did Spurs play the first half like an outfit that was entitled to win, and not fight as hard as valiant Ipswich, who easily out-played us in the first half, and deserved their Finidi George 40th minute equaliser. It was a surprise to see Christian Ziege in the starting line-up (Hats off to Topspurs Jim Duggan's "snout" - who always gets the teams right), but Ziege had one of those games where he looked a threat going forward, but left too much space for the opposition to exploit in his absence. Anderton played as poorly as he had played so well last week, and the team as a whole seemed to expect things to happen for them, without too much work.

Whilst Ipswich had not given Spurs Player of the Year Neil Sullivan anything to worry about, it still came as a surprise when the home side took the lead after 11 minutes. Spurs had to break out of defence, and Teddy Sheringham headed to Davies who found Rebrov on the right. Rebrov made one of his few useful contributions to the game, when he hit a powerful cross into the box, and Simon Davies stuck a foot out to prod the ball home from 15 yards. Ipswich's appeals for offside fell on stony ground, and referee Riley obstructed the visitors path to the linesman.

Minutes later, Steffen Freund nearly gave us a Christmas goal when he entered the penalty area after a 1-2 with Teddy, and then shot to the near post forcing a good save from Sereni. Ipswich were still getting most of the ball, but Spurs seemed to be happy to sit back, and try to take advantage of more effective attacks. After 26 minutes Richards headed on a Freund throw, and Rebrov managed a shot, but although he was unsighted the keeper managed to save the weak effort comfortably.

A Reuser shot had Sullivan stretching, but the shot had already had a slight deflection for a corner. The equaliser came as no surprise and certainly no injustice. Venus headed down a corner which was blocked by the defensive barrier. However, Finidi George scored with his back to goal with a clever overhead kick. The tractor boys were in ecstasy "He comes from Africa, he drives a big tractor". Ziege nearly regained the lead with a right foot shot that went under the keeper and hit the bottom of the post, but then George and Bent were away as another Ziege attack broke down, and Magilton hit a shot that Sullivan had to stretch up for.

Anthony Gardner replaced Perry at half time, and Ledley King switched to the right side. Ziege was now committed to the attack, as Spurs reverted to 4-4-2. Within minutes Anderton sent Rebrov away down the right. Sergei's cross was nearly put into the net by a defender, but it hit the bar, and bounced to safety with Ziege close by. Gardner was getting forward often, and had a shot saved after Simon Davies fed the ball to him. This shot led to the corner at which Mike Riley went berserk with his whistle whilst we waited for Ziege to take. Riley must have been the only one who saw anything more than the usual shenanigans between defenders and attackers at corners. However, he booked McGreal, and to the surprise of all, showed a straight red to Teddy. (The referee has promised to look at the video, and Spurs will hope for the decision to be rescinded, as Sheringham is destined to miss both the forthcoming Cup games at Coventry and Chelsea, and the return of this fixture at Ipswich). This was Teddy's first red card since he played for Millwall in 1989.

Now Spurs were fired up, and Darren Anderton got booked for a determined challenge. It looked like Mr Riley had it in for us! Jermaine Wright hit a shot across goal from the right, before Ledley got forward on the right providing a chance for Rebrov via Simon Davies. Rebrov's shot went straight to the keeper. Ferdinand came on to cheers, and nearly scored with his first touch. He won a header then collected a knock back from Ziege before having his shot saved, collecting the rebound, and crossing into the box, only to see the defence clear.

Les then provided a shooting chance for Taricco, keen to score against his former team, but his shot was deflected for a corner. George Burley was clever with his substitutions - timing them to ease the threat from some pulsating Spurs attacks. Anderton hit a free kick from the right that reached Anthony Gardner at the back post. Unfortunately the ball hit Gardner rather than the other way round, and his looped header went wide of the target.

With two minutes left, George was the provider from the right and Armstrong met the ball at the near post to send a glancing header past the keeper. In the desperate closing stages, Taricco got through but Sereni saved at his feet, then seemed to make such a fuss that the Spurs players were worried that Mr Riley would be after Taricco for an infringement. Sereni made sure that Ipswich held the lead, with a point blank save from a Poyet header after an Anderton corner.

Congratulations to Ipswich then, who are still at the foot of the table. I fancy them to get at least 6 more points from their holiday campaign, but despite this set-back, I also fancy Spurs to match that tally, starting with a fired-up show on Boxing Day at Southampton.

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