FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 4TH NOVEMBER, 2001
LEEDS UNITED 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Referee:- S. Bennett
Leeds (4-4-2):- Martyn; Mills, Ferdinand (Capt), Matteo, Harte; Bowyer (sub Johnson, 38), Dacourt (sub Batty, 80), Bakke, Kewell; Keane (sub Smith, 73), Viduka
Subs not used:- Robinson (GK); Duberry
Booked:- Johnson (Foul)
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards, King; Taricco, Freund (sub Rebrov, 86), Anderton, Poyet (sub Davies, 86), Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand
Subs not used:- Keller; Bunjevcevic, Thatcher
Booked:- Poyet (foul), Sheringham, Ziege (Dissent)
At half time, Spurs had done very well to go in on even terms, as they had suffered something of an onslaught from Bowyer, Keane, Viduka, and Kewell. The visitors came out with purpose, and Gus Poyet's third league goal of the season (a superb left foot shot to the top corner) was the first that Leeds had conceded at home in the league. Sadly, Spurs failed to hold that lead, and have to admit to erring badly defensively, particularly with Kewell's 82nd minute winner, when Richards headed weakly from a wing position into Kewell's path.
Spurs were penned in their own half on the right for the first few minutes, but Taricco and Poyet got some strong challenges in to keep our heads above water, before we managed to fight our way into the Leeds half. Chances for Spurs were rare though in that first half, whilst Sullivan and co were well occupied. Either Glenn had instructed the wing-backs to withdraw, or they were forced back, but the back line was fully engaged. This was one of those days when Ziege was in and out in defence, and Leeds sought to take advantage through Bowyer and Keane down that side. Bowyer had to be substituted early through injury, and was missed badly, although the home crowd welcomed debutee Seth Johnson warmly.
It was Bowyer who had the first shot on goal. He looked suspiciously offside, but could only shoot straight to Neil Sullivan. Spurs did manage a counter attack, and Gus Poyet hit a left foot drive a yard or two over Martyn's bar. (Just setting his sights for later!) Dean Richards was perhaps the least convincing of the back three today, and struggled with the pace and trickery of Keane. It hurts me every time I see him play to remember that "The Predecessor" did not rate this guy, who was disappointed to be replaced by Smith in the second half. Keane got the better of Dean after 10 minutes, crossed to the back post, where Kewell's on target effort was well blocked by Taricco.
Poyet then lost an important midfield ball, and the pass reached Bowyer who was 1 on 1 against Sullivan, shot across the goal, and wide of the mark. Sullivan was down well at his right post to stop a Kewell shot, as he ran onto a lofted ball down the left.
I thought that Darren Anderton had an excellent game today (England squad announcement pending!), as he showed more of a gutsy side to his game than I have seen recently. He showed resilience after 22 minutes to get the better of three defenders, and hit a cross/shot. The ball reached Ziege on the left, and his return was headed over by Sheringham.
Spurs were not helping themselves at times, as they failed to make the best of the ball, and Bakke took advantage of a poor throw-in to feed the ball to Bowyer, who hit a sharp-angled shot across Sullivan. Neil got down well to hold this ball. The referee seemed to be favouring the home side, and both Teddy Sheringham and Christian Ziege got their names taken for their frustration at a couple of his weird decisions.
Spurs took the game to their opponents after the break, with Ziege at last getting forward to good effect, having two half chances to score, which were blocked. Darren Anderton hit a 30 yard shot over the bar from a cleared corner kick, before Gus Poyet gave Spurs a spectacular lead. He received a low Ziege cross at the back of the 18 yard line, moved inside, before sending that left foot shot into Martyn's top right corner. It was unstoppable!
As was to be expected, Leeds fought back, and equalised on the hour, when a cross from the right reached Ian Harte, lurking about 22 yards out. He might even have hit his shot with his weaker right foot, and I thought that Sullivan had got hold of the ball, before letting it go to roll over the line. You might have guessed that I was at the wrong end of the ground, and I learnt later that apparently the ball hit the post, rebounding into the net of the back of Sullivan's head. Whatever the circumstances, Harte cart-wheeled in celebration.
Five minutes later, Bakke and Mills were at work on the right, before Mills hit a strong shot into Sullivan's arms. Anderton made a mistake when gifting a thrown ball to Dacourt, who fed Keane, who was thwarted by Sullivan in another 1 on 1 challenge. At the other end, Darren had a shot heading for goal, but deflected wide by one of his colleagues (possible Freund!). Johnson got booked for dangerous play against Taricco, who was absent being treated for his head injury for a few minutes. Spurs held out for this period, and in fact had a decent chance on goal when Ledley King's shot was blocked by Rio Ferdinand.
Smith, Viduka, and Dacourt worked the ball left to right across the edge of the box, before Bakke hit a useful shot over the bar. Then came a horrid goal from Spurs' point of view. Dean Richards was only about 5 yards inside the left touchline, and a good 35 yards away from Sullivan, but he chose to head back towards the goalkeeper. His header was way too weak, and Chris Perry had an impossible task to try and recover the situation. Kewell accepted the gift gratefully and slotted past the keeper. Richards might have made amends almost at the final whistle, when a corner bounced in front of his feet, but he could not get the slightest touch, which could have brought the equaliser.
Spurs had looked as if they would hold out for a precious point, but on the balance of chances, it is difficult to argue that the result was unfair. Once again, Glenn left it till late to use fresh legs. With injury time there were nearly ten minutes for Sergei and Davies to make an impression, but it was not enough. Many would argue that Les Ferdinand should have made way. In my view his first touch was poor too often today, and he was too easily out-paced by the defence.
The win takes Leeds back to the top of the league, and whilst Spurs fans might put forward various "What if" arguments, the table does not lie, and result-wise, we still have to prove ourselves against the recognised top teams. The next chance to impress comes on November 17th!
· 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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