FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 11TH MAY, 2002
LEICESTER CITY 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Sheringham (pen), 53
Referee:- David Elleray
Leicester (4-4-2):- Walker; Ashton (sub Stevenson, 57), Elliott (Capt), Sinclair, Rogers; Impey, Izzet (sub Williamson, 90), Marshall, Davidson; Piper, Dickov (sub Taggart, 76)
Subs not used:- Royce; Reeves
Spurs (3-5-2/4-4-2):- Keller; Perry, Gardner, Thatcher; Davies (sub Etherington, 71), Anderton, Clemence (sub Doherty, 73), Poyet, Taricco; Sheringham (Capt), Iversen
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Leonhardsen; Rebrov
It was always on the cards, wasn't it? In their last game at Filbert Street, Micky Adams' young Leicester side sent their fans home happy with only their fifth Premiership win of the season, to end their relegation season on a relative high. This victory was their 48th in the Premiership in all, and their overall record is marginally above average. The difference between the two sides was all about desire really. Spurs came for an end of season kick about, whereas the likes of Ashton, Marshall, and Piper took advantage of the absence of Robbie Savage, Dennis Wise and others to stake their claim for prominence when the Nationwide season starts for the Foxes at the nearby Walkers Stadium.
Spurs fielded the same starting line up as they had two weeks ago in that impressive victory over Premiership runners-up Liverpool. Sadly the performances did not match up. In fact, the first half was generally lack-lustre, and most of the entertainment came from the banter between the supporters, with Spurs bidding Leicester farewell, and then apparently before the break, the Leicester fans were fighting between themselves (or perhaps setting upon a steward). Indeed, at the end of this game, some of the worse side of football could be seen, as the home fans ignored pleas not to invade the pitch, and then some had to be restrained by riot police, as they tried to goad the Spurs support into action. These supporters and those of Millwall will be made for each other next season!
Glenn Hoddle has been quoted as expressing his anger at the collapse of the Spurs side who did take a lead through a penalty after 53 minutes, but surely, Glenn himself upset the rhythm of the side when he changed his first half 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2, switching Taricco to the right behind Simon Davies, leaving Thatcher more exposed to the Leicester right side attack. Somewhat mysteriously, Hoddle replaced Davies (one of the best players on the park) with Etherington, and then removed another competitor - Clemence - with Gary Doherty, who tried to impose himself up front, whilst Sheringham reverted to the middle. Sheringham had been playing just about everywhere but in the box for much of the game anyway, and Iversen and Poyet had never really made a mark on the game. Whilst Clemence did not play as well as against Liverpool, he had won deserved applause on occasions, and once he was removed, any semblance of backbone in the Spurs midfield was removed, and once they got back on terms, it was really a question of how many Leicester would score.
There had been half chances only for Clemence and Poyet in the first quarter hour, before Gardner sent Iversen away, who won a corner. Unfortunately, Leicester broke from this attack, and young Marshall left Taricco standing, before sending a dangerous cross low into the area, which evaded everyone. Spurs had some pressure before half time, and played a little stylish football, but there were no real chances Three minutes after the break, Dickov got through Taricco, pulled the ball back to Muzzy Izzet, who fired over. Izzet received emotional applause as he was substituted at the end of what will probably be his last game for Leicester.
Spurs responded with a fine move, when Anthony Gardner chipped over the defence to Taricco, who found Sheringham outside the box in a central position. Teddy hit a powerful shot to Walker's left, but the ex-Spurs made a great save to push the ball round for a corner. Walker had been fondly greeted by the Spurs contingent. From this corner, the ball reached the back of the area, where Stephen Clemence was up-ended by Marshall, who raised no real complaint when David Elleray pointed to the spot. Sheringham made no mistake from the spot kick, to become Spurs equal top scorer in the league with his tenth goal. (Gus Poyet shares that tally, with Ferdinand one behind).
Things started to go wrong for Spurs, when Chris Perry was harshly penalised for a foul against Piper. Spurs lost the ball in the middle after the free kick, before Dickov's powerful shot was cleanly held by Kasey Keller, playing in front of his former supporters. On the hour, a ball from the right reached Marshall, who was tackled by Perry, but the ball ran to Dickov who crashed the ball into the net. Simon Davies did respond with a decent shot just over the bar, but Leicester took the lead when Elliott flicked on a throw from the left, and Piper finished beautifully. Spurs could hardly muster anything in response, although there was one move featuring Anderton, Doherty and Sheringham where the shot from Sheringham (I believe) went straight to the keeper.
So, it is good bye to one of the worse remaining grounds in the Premiership, where away supporters are given a low viewing position, treated like herd animals (for the second time this season (the other was at Highbury)I was forced by the riot squad to take a long way back to my car), and for the moment farewell to those that wear the Walkers logo. What are their chances of getting straight back? It will be tough, but all three of the relegated sides have enough young talent to fight their way back next season, and in the case of Leicester Micky Adams already seems to have instilled some new confidence, and enthusiasm.
As for Spurs, some re-grouping is required, and this supporter for one will not be satisfied with one more season of mediocrity bearing in mind the extra money we are being asked (nay forced) to pay. Most of the players don't care enough for their club, and maybe they forgot that they probably cost the club about £1,000,000 in prize money as they surrendered two places with this result today, and dropped to ninth.
· 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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