BARCLAYCARD FA PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 27TH OCTOBER, 2001
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) MIDDLESBROUGH 1 (1)
Sheringham (pen), 58
Referee:- Mr M. Dean
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards, King; Taricco (sub Thatcher, 74), Freund, Anderton, Poyet, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand
Subs not used:- Keller; Leonhardsen, Davies; Kamanan
Middlesbrough (4-4-2):- Schwarzer; Stockdale (sub Windass, 76), Ehiogu, Southgate, Quedrue; Marinelli, Mustoe (sub Johnston, 82), Ince (Capt), Greening; Nemeth (sub Cooper, 63), Boksic
Subs not used:- Crossley; Wilson
For nearly an hour, it looked as if Middlesbrough were going to steal the points at the Lane, as they poached a goal after just 8 minutes, then put their men behind the ball to neutralise any Spurs threat, whilst also managing to look a little dangerous on the break. Spurs had their chances in that first session, but failed to capitalise, and also lacked a lot of initiative in attack. Then came a three minute spell during which Teddy Sheringham converted a penalty won by Taricco, and Les Ferdinand finished off a Taricco cross. It could have been 3-1 too, when ex-Borough left back Christian Ziege hit the bar with a dipping volley.
Glenn Hoddle had said before the game that he feared Steve McLaren's side, and would rather have played local enemies Arsenal on his 44th birthday. Middlesbrough came with a game plan that so nearly paid off, and might feel aggrieved about the penalty decision. Sergei Rebrov was mysteriously absent even from the bench, but Glenn has been quoted as saying he picked up a knee injury. Yannick Kamanan got a vote of confidence, and will collect a win bonus, despite remaining on the bench. It would have been so good if Spurs could have got that third goal, and Yannick could have made his debut in front of the welcoming home crowd.
Middlesbrough had their fair share of possession from the start, with Marinelli looking useful on the right, and Stockdale, a much-improved player under McLaren, in support. Their long term loan player Quedrue likes to get forward too, and Alen Boksic is always a handful. Marinelli had an early shot but was wide of Sullivan's left post. Les Ferdinand was brought down on the edge of the Borough box, and both Ziege and Sheringham had their shots blocked.
After 8 minutes, Dean Richards was penalised for handling forty yards out, and Spurs were caught unawares, as Paul Ince floated a long ball in, Perry hit a weak back-header into the path of Boksic, who made no mistake with a right foot shot past Sullivan. It was great to see that Taricco was fit, after all the pre-match doubt, and he seemed to be more of a threat than his counterpart today. Clearly, McLaren saw it that way too, as more often than not there would be three defenders to try and prevent Taricco getting a decent cross in. They failed when Mauricio reached Les Ferdinand who chested down into the path of Poyet, who sadly fired well over the bar, when it should have been easier to at least hit the target.
Of the Spurs defenders, I thought Richards was outstanding today. King stumbled once or twice, but recovered well, but all the back three were on top after that early set-back. Deano was getting forward regularly, and after 12 minutes sent a long free kick to Ziege, who had a low right foot shot saved after an exchange with Teddy. Steffen Freund (who managed to avoid getting a fifth booking today, to be available for the Arsenal game) hit one of his specials two yards over after Darren Anderton and Les Ferdinand provided the chance for him. I thought Anderton had a good game today, managing to find himself a little more time on the ball, and at the heart of most creative work for Spurs.
Another Taricco cross was passed by Les to Gus Poyet, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Ferdinand hit a shot well over the bar from 6 yards after Anderton and Poyet set him up. After the break, Spurs looked more eager, but still took a long time to force Schwarzer into any significant action. Referee Dean awarded a penalty when Taricco was impeded by Quedrue as he raced into the area, and Teddy sent the keeper the wrong way with a powerful low shot to Schwarzer's left. Within minutes, Taricco was the provider again, as his cross was headed on as a result of an aerial challenge by Poyet, and Ferdinand made no mistake with a right foot shot.
The Ziege effort came after 62 minutes, when Freund picked up a cleared corner and chipped the ball to Ziege, who was still lurking on the right, having taken the corner. Ziege (predictably subject of the away fans' jeers) hit a glorious left foot volley that dipped onto the bar, and out of play. What a goal it would have been!
Steve McLaren used all his subs, and switched the system to match Spurs 3-5-2, using all available strikers to try and get the equaliser. Spurs defended well, and Sullivan was rarely threatened, although I do remember him diving low at his left post to save a shot from distance. Taricco was replaced by Thatcher, who played in his usual position, whilst Perry and Freund took on right sided-defensive responsibilities. Thatcher was part of an intricate piece of build up on the left, with Ziege and Sheringham, before Darren fed Poyet who hit a left foot drive just wide of the keeper's right post.
So, Spurs have won all four of their games in October, and Glenn must be a candidate for Manager of the Month. Those wins include three consecutive Premiership wins, and some enterprising football that lifts us to a respectable 7th place. The last time we had such a sequence of league wins was August 1999 (Newcastle, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday). Sadly, I do have to report that the sequence was brought to an end by Leeds, who we play next week.
Happy Birthday Glenn, and thanks for everything you've done so far!
· 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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