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Spurs v Sunderland, 02.03.02

BARCLAYCARD FA PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 2ND MARCH, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) SUNDERLAND 1 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Poyet, 31
Ferdinand, 63

Sunderland scorer:-
Mboma, 45

Referee:- Rob Styles

Attendance:- 36,062

Teams:-
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; King, Richards, Thatcher; Taricco (sub Gardner, 88), Davies, Poyet, Sherwood, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand (sub Rebrov, 75)

Subs not used:- Kelly; Leonhardsen, Etherington

No bookings

Suunderland (4-4-2):- Sorensen; Haas, Craddock, Bjorkland (sub Schwarz, 58), Gray (Capt); Kilbane, McAteer, Reyna (sub Williams, 53), McCartney; Phillips, Mboma (sub Quinn, 71)

Subs not used:- Macho; Bellion

Booked:- McAteer (foul on Taricco)

The old guard of Tottenham, in the shape of Gus Poyet and Les Ferdinand, restored a bit of faith and boosted morale before the next two toughies against Man Utd and Chelsea, to pocket a very well-deserved three points against the Black Cats of Peter Reid. Sunderland were missing regular defenders such as Varga and Thome, and also had their flair attacker Arca missing. They did introduce Parma loanee Patrick Mboma, who scored an injury time equaliser that had Spurs fans thinking that wasted chances were going to cost a lot.

Indeed, Spurs had no less than 7 really good chances in the first half alone, and over the game, Captain Teddy Sheringham must take responsibility for missing two gilt-edged chances, which would have made the scoreline more representative against a struggling Wearside team. As it was, Kevin Phillips did have a late chance to level the scores, and will have been more frustrated because he was being watched by England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. Mr Eriksson will have been casting his eye over Ledley King, and Teddy Sheringham, as well as Phillips, and none of them did enough in my view to convince the manager that they should be first choice for the national side. In fact they may have failed to convince to such a degree that they could all be left behind in the summer. As much as he impressed for much of the game, it was Ledley King again, who made the crucial mistake to give Mboma the equaliser.

Despite the sad loss of his father this week, Glenn Hoddle was present and directing operations as normal, but he would no doubt have been greatly moved by the club's gesture of a one minute silence before kick-off, that was observed impeccably by all present. Whilst Sunderland had one or two sorties in the Spurs area, it was the home side who dominated, playing more direct football than seen of late. Darren Anderton and Chris Perry were both rested, and Simon Davies got a welcome start alongside the evergreen Gus Poyet. With Sherwood closing down his opponents in a determined fashion, and spraying the ball around effectively (mainly in Ziege's direction), Davies and Poyet were free to venture further forward, and both did to great effect. The trend seems to be for the left wing back to get further forward in the first half, and for his partner on the right to do so after the break, and so it was today. Ziege was on top form, and is a great attacking weapon, as we have all seen. Taricco was just as determined, but less able to pass players.

Teddy had the first scoring chnace, getting into the box through a 1-2 with Les Ferdinand, but hitting a left foot shot at Sorensen. Then it was Ferdinand in the six yard box, only getting a slight touch on a Davies cross from the right, when he might have hit the ball goalward. The next chance fell to Poyet who latched onto a Ferdinand header from Sullivan's clearance, to fire wide with his left foot.

Sunderland could create too, and Kilbane made his way down the right, passed inside to McAteer, who pulled the ball back, when he might have shot on goal, only to miss his team-mates completely. The impressive Mboma got in front of Richards to head a McCartney cross over the bar. There was great cameo for Spurs fans in front of the Shelf stand, when Poyet and Ziege showed great skill in winning the ball near the touch line, preventing a throw-in and starting a Spurs attack. After 24 minutes, Davies found Ziege on the left, and his cross was cleverly back-heeled goalward by Poyet, but read by Sorensen. Ferdinand then tried a bit of rough stuff to shoulder-barge Sorensen over the line as the keeper held another Ziege cross. Referee Styles (who I thought had a good game today) correctly awarded a free kick against the valiant Sir Les.

The inevitable goal arrived from a corner, taken by Ziege in front of the away fans, and met by Gus Poyet on the six yard line. Gus chested the ball in front of him, and finished off with a simple prod. Peter Reid later complained that he was a player short at the time of the goal, as Poyet's marker, McCartney was off the pitch getting stitches in a leg wound at the time of the goal. Almost immediately, Ziege was sending a great deep cross across the area, and Ferdinand stretched to meet it, but could only put the ball over the goal.

Sheringham's first stunning miss came after 34 minutes, when Ferdinand stole the ball off a defender outside the right side of the area, fed Sheringham an easy finish, but Teddy contrived to fire over the target. Still the chances kept coming for Spurs, and you just knew they were going to pay for their failure in front of goal. Ziege was next up with a long left foot shot that crossed the goal and missed, and then after some more intricate build-up, Ziege crossed to the back post, for Richards to head back across the goal and over! In injury time, Spurs paid for their short-comings, when three players failed to try hard enough to reach Sullivan's goal kick, Haas immediately returned the ball into the Spurs area. Ledley King did a great job to recover and get between Mboma and goal, but instead of clearing, he then allowed Mboma to get his shot between his legs and past Sullivan.

After their half time pep talk, Sunderland looked more threatening after the break, but they started losing more players to injry as soon as the 53rd minute when Reyna had to be replaced by Williams. Before long, Williams was being drafted into the defence as Bjorklund also succumbed to a knock, but not before he headed a Mboma flick from a throw-in towards Sullivan who retrieved safely. Mboma was to threaten again, when he raced ahead of Richards to a long clearance. The Sunderland view is that Richards impeded Mboma in the box, but (I was at the other end) it looked to me like Mboma had let the ball get too far ahead of him, allowing Sullivan to make the save. The Cameroon striker beat the ground in his frustration.

Sheringham then put another great chance to waste, as he met Ziege's cross with great strength, but put his free header over the gaping goal. Teddy soon got another chance as Les Ferdinand headed down Taricco's cross, but Sorensen was out sharply to smother the shot. Teddy redeemed himself with a great long ball to Ziege, who fed Ferdinand the easiest of finishes in front of the goal.

Despite the lead, the crowd was on edge and was baying for Sergei Rebrov, before he was introduced after 75 minutes. Sergei managed to slip over several times, unchallenged, and did not make a mark on the game. McAteer got booked for a nasty foul on Taricco outside the Spurs area, and the Spurs wing-back had to be replaced by Anthony Gardner. Phillips had that last chance inside the area, but Spurs took a welcome three points to secure their eighth place.

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