FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 9TH FEBRUARY, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) LEICESTER CITY 1 (0)
Referee:- Andy D'Urso
Attendance:- 35, 973
Spurs (4-4-2):- Sullivan; Taricco, King, Richards, Thatcher (sub Thelwell, 64); Davies, Anderton, Sherwood (Capt), Etherington; Iversen, Ferdinand (sub Rebrov, 82)
Subs not used:- Keller; Leonhardsen; Sheringham
Leicester (3-5-2):- Walker; Sinclair, Elliott (Capt), Laursen; Impey, Savage, Oakes, Davidson, Stewart; Scowcroft, Piper
Subs not used:- Royce; Marshall, Heath, Stevenson, Reeves
It should have been an easy win for Spurs, and it could have been if Steffen Iversen's lob over ex-Spur Ian Walker had not bounced off the bottom of the bar, and then over the head of the advancing Les Ferdinand. Spurs would then have gone three up with 15 minutes to go, but then referee Andy D'Urso (who must have been enjoying his quiet day) intervened to give a doubtful indirect free kick on the edge of the area against Sherwood, and then allow Taricco to be pulled to the ground, to create a gap for Stefan Oakes goal, which made the last part of the game more edgy than it should have been for the hosts. Leicester naturally fought tooth and nail to get something out of the game, and Sullivan was called into action to prevent an equaliser from Davidson.
Glenn Hoddle once again rested several players to prevent the yellow card that would keep them out of the Worthington Cup Final, but he did risk Les Ferdinand who so nearly came to grief in the melee that followed a tackle by Impey on Taricco with 10 minutes to go. D'Urso took an age to make a decision, consulting both his assistants; had words with Ferdinand and boo-boy Savage, then booked Impey. Leicester's manager, Dave Bassett was livid after the game, claiming that Taricco had dived and was guilty of gamesmanship. He said nothing about the incident leading to his side's goal though!
Spurs once again played 4-4-2, but Matthew Etherington had a harder time against the stronger Impey, getting little joy in the first half. Simon Davies started on the right, but in the second half had an inside role, whilst Iversen switched towards the right flank. Anderton was once again man of the match for Spurs, scoring another goal from open play, and laying on Simon Davies winner. Ledley King possibly tried a little too hard to make a last minute impression, but he wasn't helped by the decision to switch him to right back, when Alton Thelwell replaced Ben Thatcher, injured in a clash of heads with his team-mate Dean Richards.
It was nearly 20 minutes before we had any meaningful action, and then Ferdinand at one end and Davidson at the other threatened. Les's first chance was a right foot drive to the back of Walker's side netting, after an exchange with Iversen, before Davidson brought a save out of Neil Sullivan on the break. Ferdinand was then on target from another Anderton pass, which ended a lengthy build up by Spurs. The ball went straight to Walker, who clearly enjoyed his return to the Lane, and was warmly received by the fans. Ian could occasionally be seen sharing a bit of banter with ex-colleagues, and was then embraced by the Spurs bench at the end of the game.
Sullivan had to stretch to his left to hold a deflected Davidson shot following a corner on the left. After 28 minutes, Ferdinand and Iversen had a good exchange before Les sent Matthew Etherington away down the left with a long ball. Etherington hit a good shot just wide of the post, with walker standing, and beaten. Spurs took the lead after a free kick on the half way line. There was a little head tennis between Les and Steffen in the box, before Anderton, in the middle of the area, hooked the ball home. Two minutes later, Iversen had the goal at his mercy, after Anderton took the ball into the box, and delivered. However, Iversen fired just wide of the far post, when he really should have scored.
Savage hit a glancing header into Sullivan's arms from a free kick, but he also looked offside. Dean Richards missed another good chance with a header over the bar from the middle of the goal area, after an Anderton corner. After the break, Leicester took more of the initiative, but rarely threatened Sullivan. There was one occasion when a cross from the right beat Sullivan, but Richards was there to clear. Also, I have to say that our keeper was guilty of one or two "Wimbledon" type clearances.
Spurs increased their lead after a good move on the hour. Iversen took a throw on the right flank, Les turned and raced down the wing, passing inside to Anderton, who took the ball past two defenders before delivering a low ball for Davies to finish tidily. On 69 minutes, Les was up well to a Taricco cross from the left, but he did not get enough on the ball which harmlessly passed Walker's goal. Taricco had switched to the left after the replacement of Thatcher. It was Ferdinand's determination that led to the chance for Iversen, who hit that lob onto the bar.
Walker was tested by Matthew Etherington who picked up a long cross field pass from Anderton, but then came that free kick. Leicester took ages to take the kick, Davidson set the ball up for Oakes, who fired through the now-vacant slot in the wall. It was shades of Pearce for Forest v Spurs at Wembley in '91. Sergei replaced Ferdinand, and it was interesting to note that some fans are turning against him now, especially after his expressed desire to leave at the end of the season. Rebrov was once again to be found in the right places, but lacking the necessary touch or strength to do the right thing. He took too much time over an opening for goal, and was easily bundled off the ball on another occasion.
Leicester took a quick and effective free kick, feeding the ball to the left. When the cross came in, Davidson shot from close range bringing the brilliant save from Sullivan, that preserved the lead. A nice move at the other end between Rebrov and Anderton led to an Iversen shot to Walker's left, which was saved. Oakes was not far off the mark with a long range effort that drifted past Sullivan's left post, and on 90 minutes, D'Urso awarded another kick about 25 yards out, which Oakes hit straight at the keeper.
As I write, Darren Anderton has indeed been selected for the England squad to play Holland next week, along with Ledley King. Now that the yellow card worries are over, perhaps we shall see some relaxed football against Tranmere next week, and a Chelsea style performance at Cardiff on February 24th!
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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