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Spurs v Newcastle, 30.01.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
WEDNESDAY 30TH JANUARY, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) NEWCASTLE UNITED 3 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Iversen, 16

Newcastle scorers:-
Acuna, 66
Shearer, 69
Bellamy, 78

Referee:- Mr M. Dean

Attendance:- 35, 798

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards, King; Davies (sub Etherington, 69), Sherwood, Poyet (sub Leonhardsen, 86), Anderton, Taricco; Sheringham (Capt)(sub Rebrov, 86), Iversen (Captain's armband handed to Anderton when Sheringham left the field)

Subs not used:- Kelly; Thelwell

Booked:- Richards (foul on Bellamy)

Newcastle (3-1-4-2):- Given; O'Brien, Dabizas, Distin; Hughes; Solano, McGlen, Acuna, Elliott (sub Robert, 46); Bellamy, Shearer (Capt)

Subs not used:- Harper; Barton, Kerr, Ameobi

Booked:- Distin (Foul)

It was typical of Tottenham. Glenn Hoddle warned in his programme notes that we did not want tonight's performance to be a case of "After the Lord Mayor's Show", but sadly, it turned out to be exactly that, as the old master Bobby Robson outwitted Hoddle from the start of the second half. Robson had elected to play cautiously in the first, with Aaron Hughes man-marking Gus Poyet, and his team making a better job of matching Spurs 3-5-2 system than they had at St. James Park earlier this season, when Spurs had taken the points. Since then however, Newcastle have been on the up and up, and must now believe that they really are title contenders, as they have established themselves in the top three, and with a decent goal difference to boot.

Robson's replacement of Robbie Elliott with French winger Laurent Robert was to prove the catalyst for a dominating attacking second half show from the visitors, who, with the ever-threatening pace of Bellamy, and the switch to attack on all fronts, ripped a suddenly lack-lustre Spurs to shreds. Given was given no work to do in front of the Paxton Road stand until the late arrival of Leonhardsen and Rebrov, but once again, it was all to late for Spurs.

Most of the action throughout the game then was at the South End of the stadium, as Spurs had been on top in the first half, and the Magpies only threatened in patches. Solano had the first shot though, after he took a free kick 35 yards out, had a quick 1-2 with Bellamy, then fired just over the bar. Spurs had a super move on 9 minutes, when Sherwood passed inside to Poyet, who back-heeled to Sheringham, who pushed the ball just too far in front of Iversen, once again in for the injured Ferdinand.

Taricco then made a good run down the left to receive a long return ball from Ledley King, before Given beat Davies to his deep low cross. Spurs took the lead after a quarter of an hour. Anderton took a corner on the right, and Ledley King's shot was blocked, then headed by Richards into Iversen's path. Steffen scored his second goal in as many games from 8 yards out. Spurs continued to play their passing game, and Anderton received a quick pass from Poyet on the left, but Iversen just failed to reach this cross.

Richards had a couple of good chances. The first came from a long free kick, which Deano headed on, but too lightly to Given. His second came from a corner, when he was in space in the 6 yard box, but fired over the bar. At the other end, Richards nearly gave the ball to Bellamy, who was just beaten to the short pass-back by Sullivan. Ledley King won deserved applause for great close control to beat three opponents in his own half, before finding Taricco, who passed inside to Iversen in a central position. A more confident striker might have tried a shot, but Iversen passed the buck to Davies, who cut back inside, but could get no power on his left foot shot, collected by Given.

Newcastle showed they meant business from the outset after the break, and Dabizas demonstrated the desire to get forward, running into the Spurs area, only to be thwarted by Richards with a good tackle. A Spurs counter-attack failed and the ball reached Shearer who was getting out to the flanks, and his cross from the left was headed to Sullivan by Acuna. Even Jamie McGlen was adding to the attack, and Hughes now felt able to leave Poyet to add strength to the efforts to equalise. Both Robert and Bellamy were penetrating the Spurs half with ease. Bellamy had several attempts on goal, and had a shot across goal from a Solano-led counter attack.

Bellamy may have been lucky to avoid a second yellow card, when he fouled Bellamy outside the box, but Spurs were punished as Acuna stooped to head home from an unmarked space at the back post, when the kick was taken. Three minutes later, Bellamy was leaving the defence stranded out on the far left wing, before his cross was finished off at the back post by Shearer. Hoddle immediately replaced Davies with Etherington, and switched Taricco to snuff out Robert (more successfully).

Spurs efforts to get back into the game were sporadic though. Anderton sent a good long ball over the defence, but Iversen failed to control, and get a shot in. There was a good move down the right when Taricco homed in on the area, passed to Poyet, who turned the ball quickly to Sheringham, whose first time shot went straight to Given. With 12 minutes left, the points were sealed for the Toon, when Hughes crossed from the right of the area, and Bellamy sneaked in at the near post to push the ball past Sullivan. We didn't even get an immediate substitution, which was required really, but when the double subs did come, it was Leonhardsen, not Rebrov who had the best chance in front of goal from another Taricco pass, only to shoot at Given.

All eyes seem to be on Cardiff then, but Spurs had better keep an eye over their shoulders as they are only 7 points ahead of the relegation zone! It is time for the team to convince in the league, as the last such performance was against Fulham six weeks ago.

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