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Preview Spurs v Tranmere, 17.02.02

Spurs go on the cup trail again this Sunday at 4 p.m. We are not on TV, but the team down the road has to play on Saturday because they have a game next Tuesday. Our opponents are Tranmere Rovers, who we beat 4-0 at Prenton Park last October. Spurs should be at pretty much full strength, with Teddy Sheringham, Gus Poyet, Les Ferdinand, Darren Anderton, and Ledley King expected to be available. Darren Anderton has been the key to many great Spurs performances this season. Despite his absence from the England set-up this week, I expect him to play a full part in the Tranmere game, and then at Cardiff next week.

This time last year, Simon Davies scored two great goals in our 4-0 win over Stockport, having been denied a start by "The Predecessor". See the links at the end of this preview to re-live that game, and our win over Tranmere this season.

Tranmere have beaten no great opposition to get this far, but they did knock out Cardiff in the last round, after the Welsh team performed that great giant-killing feat over Leeds! I expect Spurs to win by a good margin again this week, but Glenn Hoddle will not want to over-stretch the team, with that Worthington Cup Final looming!

Here is Brian Judson's match preview:-

The following are the statistics for Spurs v Tranmere Rovers.


38-39   2     3-1     2-0

Football Lge  P  W  D  L   F   A  Pts
Home (Div 2)  1  1  0  0   3 - 1   2
Away (Div 2)  1  1  0  0   2 - 0   2
Total(Div 2)  2  2  0  0   5 - 1   4



52-53   3    A      1-1   Bennett
        3R   H      9-1   McClennan 3 
                          Hollis 2 
                          Baily 2
                          Duquemin 2



89-90   4    A      2-2   Gascoigne
                          Higgins (o.g)

        4R   H      4-0   Howells 
01-02   4    A      4-0   Sheringham (p) 
                          Anderton Poyet  

Our Cup tie with Tranmere Rovers this weekend is our first clash with them in the FA Cup since being paired with them in 1952-53. At that time, the Wirral-based side were one of the stronger teams in the old Third Division (North). The game was played in a pall of fog that swept in from the Wirral and Spurs were extremely lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw. Les Bennett scored the vital goal. But the replay was a very different story! Syd McClellan grabbed a hat-trick whilst Duquemin, Hollis and Baily each scored two in front of a 31,541 crowd. Spurs went on to the Semi-Final where Alf Ramsey made a tragic misjudgment and prevented Spurs from appearing in their first Cup Final since 1921.

One of the unhappiest 5th Round ties Spurs have ever played in was the 1959 5th Round tie with Norwich City. In those days, they were a Third Division club with few aspirations for promotion before Archie Maculay, a former player with West Ham, Brentford, Arsenal and Fulham, had become their manager in 1957. In reaching the 5th Round, Norwich had struggled to beat Ilford, a non-League side, and had almost been knocked out by Swindon Town, another 3rd Division side. They then beat a Manchester United side, still recovering from the Munich disaster, at Carrow Road, and Cardiff City, before being drawn to play Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Over 20,000 fans travelled to Tottenham for the tie with the Canaries from Norwich. The match was not a pretty game to watch as Norwich bustled Tottenham out of their stride. Twenty five minutes from time, Allcock drove the ball home to give Norwich the lead from four yards. There were only 40 seconds left to go when Spurs dramatically equalised. Cliff Jones had had a poor game and was being roundly barracked by the Spurs supporters. Dunmore centred from the left, Smith allowed the ball to fly straight past him, which confused the Norwich defence, and Jones volleyed the dramatic equaliser.

The following Wednesday saw Carrow Road electrified. Blanchflower was recalled to the side to play at inside right. Nethercott pulled off a brilliant save to prevent Bobby Smith from scoring. Spurs pressed forward but could not score. Then, in the 63rd minute, pandemonium! Ashman chipped the ball forward, the ball fell to Bly and Hollowbread could not prevent him from scoring. Norwich went on to reach the Semi-Final where they lost to Luton Town.

Many of the 5th Round ties I have seen have ended in defeat for us but there was one comically funny 5th Round tie that has stuck out in my memory. On our way to the 1967 FA Cup Final, we were drawn at home to Bristol City. The West Country club frustrated Tottenham for much of the match and were very unlucky to lose. Mackay was very nearly sent off in the early stages of the game when Quigley tapped Mackay's ankle and the Scot's fiery temper came into play. At first it appeared the referee was ordering Mackay off as he was clearly pointing to the dressing rooms. The players swarmed around the referee, volubly protesting. The referee hesitated and changed his mind, lecturing both players for a considerable time.

Spurs took the lead after 10 minutes. Venables found Greaves from deep inside the Spurs half. The ball beat the offside trap and Greaves timed his run to perfection, lashing the ball under Gibson, as the goalkeeper committed himself to a dive. But the expected deluge of goals never materialised. Practically every one of the outfield players peppered Gibson's goal - even Joe Kinnear! - but City frustrated the lot.

After the break, the West Country side should have equalised. Jennings could only beat out a shot from Crowe and Bush intercepted the loose ball and volleyed it ..... into the side netting. Later, Kinnear was forced to perform acrobatics to prevent Peters from equalising. And then, disaster! England needlessly handled the ball in the penalty area and Ford stepped up to take the penalty. Jennings saved the poorly taken penalty but the referee insisted on the penalty being retaken. Crowe took the second penalty and ...... lashed it well wide of the goal. Then, in the last minute, Low, the City captain, needlessly handled the ball and Greaves took the penalty. Jimmy demonstrated the art of taking a penalty and Spurs had won the match.

A brief word about the 5th Round tie played against Oldham Athletic in February 1979. The 4th Round had been delayed because of bad weather and Spurs did not succeed in getting the tie against Wrexham wrapped up until mid-February. A week after that tie had been settled, Spurs travelled to Oldham. On an awful night, Spurs beat Oldham by one of those very rare Perryman goals. It was his first goal of the season.

So how shall we fare against Tranmere. We have already beaten them in the League Cup but our form has been up and down since we qualified for the League Cup Final. Hoddle may be tempted to rest players in advance of next weekend's Final. But whatever the line-up for this match, Spurs SHOULD win without too much trouble. Hoddle will doubtlessly remind the team about his experience of playing Tranmere with Southampton in the FA Cup. I take us to win at least 3-0.


Cheers, Brian

Read a Tranmere Fan's Preview here

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Last season's Fifth Round match
Read the full report of the corresponding fixture from last season here, when Spurs beat Stockport 4-0
Tranmere v Spurs this season
Read the report on our 4-0 away victory over Tranmere in the Worthington Cup
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