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Spurs v Leeds, 01.04.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY APRIL 1ST, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2) LEEDS UNITED 1 (0)

Spurs scorers:-
Iversen, 10
Sheringham, 30

Leeds scorer:-
Viduka, 52

Referee:- Mr U. Rennie

Attendance:- 35,167

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Perry, Richards, Gardner, Thatcher; Anderton (sub Poyet, 61), Davies, Sherwood, Etherington (sub Clemence, 82); Sheringham (Capt) (sub Rebrov, 87), Iversen

(Sherwood was handed the Captain's armband after Sheringham's substitution)

Subs not used:- Hirschfield; Thelwell

Booked:- Etherington (alleged dive), Thatcher, (alleged foul on Smith)

Leeds (4-1-3-2):- Martyn; Mills, Woodgate, Matteo (Capt), Harte; Batty (sub Keane, 65); Smith, Bowyer, Bakke; Fowler, Viduka

Subs not used:- Robinson; Kelly; Wilcox, Johnson

No bookings

Against all the odds, Spurs took a two goal half time lead, and despite Mark Viduka reducing the deficit early in the second half, Spurs held on for their first league win against Leeds in ten attempts, since 15th March, 1997. After Robbie Keane replaced David Batty with 25 minutes to go, Leeds had four strikers on the field, and much as it was frustrating for the Spurs fans, this was an occasion for stout defence, and there was plenty of that from Perry, Richards, Gardner and especially Thatcher, who would be man of the match for many Spurs fans. Glenn Hoddle said after the Charlton game that he may have to abandon his flair play principals, and with 7 points from the last three games, who can argue that he has not done the right thing to ensure stability?

Tim Sherwood played the vital role in front of the defence, and will go under-valued for his part, due to a number of misplaced passes and clearances. The home fans will also not be used to the last two performances, where midfield creativity has been sacrificed for backs to the wall stuff. It wasn't pretty but these were three points that I did not expect, and for them I am grateful!

Teddy Sheringham replaced Rebrov as expected, whilst Gus Poyet was rested on the bench, and Ledley King was given a complete break. Leeds were missing Rio Ferdinand and also lack the flair of Dacourt in the middle, but we knew they were going to give us a hard time anyway, didn't we?

The one minute's silence for the passing of the Queen Mother got off to a false and early start, but was impeccably observed, and ended by the playing of the National Anthem with a hearty rendition inside the ground. The game had a very lively start, and Matthew Etherington found Sheringham early on. The skipper passed to Iversen who once again missed in a one -on - one situation. Gardner made an early mistake with a short back-header, but Kasey Keller saved well from Robbie Fowler. Leeds put us under a bit of pressure for a while, but Keller was once again well-protected by his defence for the most part. Smith got well forward, and an ball across the box beat Keller but found no team-mate.

Then with only ten minutes on the clock, Ben Thatcher had time to measure his cross from the left. Steffen Iversen jumped well from 8 yards out to beat Martyn with his header. Straight after the kick-off, Teddy Sheringham shocked Martyn with a 35 yard drive, that skimmed the left post. It was end to end stuff, and after Keller took the ball off Viduka's head, Ben Thatcher raced in to clear from the feet of Mills. Only 16 minutes had gone, and Matthew Etherington had a good chance when a ball from the right reached him. Matty's low shot forced a good low save from Nigel Martyn, diving to his right.

Thatcher was instrumental in Spurs second goal on the half hour. His long throw was headed on by Richards; Davies shot was blocked, and Teddy was on hand to shoot high into the net from 6 yards. Up till this point, referee Uriah Rennie had been doing well, but he soon caused rancour in Spurs fans' hearts for a number of seemingly perverse decisions. Firstly, Etherington got booked for an alleged dive way out near the corner flag, then Thatcher saw yellow when he tried to shepherd a ball out for a Spurs throw near the half way line whilst under pressure from Fowler and Smith. Why he got yellow, I don't know, and I don't know why Leeds got a free kick either!

It was almost one way traffic in the second half, and Viduka had a shot deflected which Keller did well to save. Then Viduka himself was bemused as he deflected a Bowyer shot off the target and out of play, only for Mr Rennie to award a corner! This saw the start of some friendly banter between the south stand Spurs fans and Viduka, with chants such as "You fat B*****d!". Viduka could afford to smile about it though, as just after Keller had saved a right foot shot from Harte, he was beaten by a Viduka shot across his goal from the left.

Gus Poyet replaced the tiring Anderton, but this did not stop the tide in Keller's direction. Another weird decision was the award of a free kick against Davies when he rounded Harte just outside the Leeds box, only for Harte to go down and con the linesman into awarding a foul. At the other end, Harte had a shot blocked which ran to Keane, but Keller was equal to his effort. Keane then had a great right to left run across the midfield, passed to Bowyer, who shot over the target.

Towards the end, Leeds looked less like scoring. Stephen Clemence made his first appearance since Blackburn away at the start of the season, and Iversen forced a great diving save from Martyn when he headed on Sherwood's cross from the right. A Sherwood free kick found Poyet, but Gus could only find the side netting.

Leeds' Champions League hopes have taken a severe denting this week-end, whilst Spurs move up to seventh place, and hold very tentative hopes of a UEFA Cup place. And I do mean VERY!

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