WORTHINGTON CUP 3RD ROUND
WEDNESDAY 6TH NOVEMBER, 2002
BURNLEY 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)
Referee:- Dermot Gallagher
Burnley (4-4-2):- Beresford; West, McGregor (sub Little, 26), Gnohere, Branch; Weller, Grant, Davis (Capt), Briscoe (sub Cook, 89); Blake (sub Papadopoulos, 84), Taylor
Subs not used:- I. Moore, A. Moore
Booked:- Briscoe, West
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, Perry, Gardner, Bunjevcevic; Davies, Clemence, Poyet (Capt), Etherington (sub Anderton, 59); Iversen (sub Doherty, 80), Ferdinand, (sub Keane, 46)
Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Acimovic
Booked:- Carr, Bunjevcevic
On a night when no less than 7 Premiership sides made an exit from the Worthington Cup, Spurs were one of four sides that joined last night's Manchester City in being beaten by lower-league opposition. Have Spurs joined "The Big League" by playing a weaker side in this "worthless" competition? I don't think so, although Glenn Hoddle did make five changes from Sunday's side. He would tell you that the absence of Richards, Redknapp and Keane was down to injury, but Sheringham and Freund were rested completely, and it is clear that Sunday's game at The Stadium of Light is of greater importance.
As a travelling fan, of course, you go anywhere to see the best side representing your colours that is possible, and you hope for a win, especially in a Cup competition that historically has meant a great deal to last year's finalists. It may be worth bearing in mind that as we travelled back from Burnley, the lights at Ewood Park were still on, as last year's winners - Blackburn - struggled to despatch Walsall. There was a trend in last night's Premiership performances.
What about last night then? The bottom line, in my view, is that the team that wanted it more won it. Spurs had taken an early lead through a Poyet header from Stephen Carr's 17th minute corner, but the home side fought back with a gusto that indicated they had had enough of losing, having lost their previous three fixtures and conceding 12 goals in the process.
Spurs struggled most in the middle of the park, with a semi-fit Clemence failing to match the missing Freund, and Poyet having a Cavalier approach to any game, not being the man to support his defence. There were too many half-fit players in the Spurs colours, in my view, and it was very disappointing not to see Jonathan Blondel get a chance. The biggest disappointment was Steffen Iversen. His touch was awful most of the time, with mistimed passes and first touches. His biggest error was to give up on a ball which could so easily have given him a one on one chance, when he assumed wrongly that he was offside. The travelling support was baying for Robbie Keane and were only disappointed to see that it was Les Ferdinand, not Iversen, that he replaced, after the interval.
Spurs actually played some neat football in the first half, with Carr supporting Davies, as usual, and Etherington getting plenty of ball on the left, and punishment from Dean West, who eventually got booked for his trouble. Matty tired however, as the game went on, to be replaced by Darren Anderton on the hour, making his first appearance of the season. Iversen had an early header over the target from an Etherington cross, and Les Ferdinand hooked an impressive first time shot from a Davies cross. His shot was not far wide.
Burnley were giving us trouble though, and Anthony Gardner was struggling to dominate Blake. Carr got booked for a tug on Briscoe as he raced down the left wing, before providing the corner for Poyet's opener. Gus rose well to meet the cross and confidently planted the ball home with a header. Burnley were missing their first choice central defenders and replaced McGregor early on with Glen Little, who was to have a great impact in the second half. Blake collected a Taylor cross at the back post despite Gardner's attentions, but the shot went across and in front of goal. The Burnley crowd had been subdued apart from maligning Dermot Gallagher, who as usual preferred to let the game flow as much as possible, but they felt a resurgence in their players, as Blake again beat Gardner, putting a dangerous ball into the area, which was cleared. A Briscoe shot following a corner was deflected, but Kasey Keller managed to parry and collect the ball safely.
Spurs had failed to capitalise on their goal, and tried to soak up the home pressure. On came Robbie Keane, but it was Burnley who took the initiative. Gareth Taylor headed just over the bar, when the ball was crossed from the left, and then Grant collected another deep cross beyond the far post, turned the ball back when Taylor's shot was blocked by Gardner, who was the hero this time. A ball from Briscoe was only half cleared into Weller's path. Weller hit a powerfully driven shot just wide of Keller's right post. All that Spurs had to show at this stage was a Poyet shot to the keeper after an Iversen effort fell into his path.
In the 57th minute, Burnley got a deserved equaliser. Little crossed from the right and Blake hit a right foot cracker beyond Keller. I have since read that the shot was deflected, but did not see this on the night. Spurs nearly got on level terms with the first of a number of chances for Robbie Keane. The attack had come through Simon Davies on the right, Iversen chipped to Keane, who hit this first of three one on one efforts wide. Iversen held his head in his hands, as if he could have done better!
Burnley scored their second goal within four minutes, as Captain Steve Davis rose to a corner and headed home. Davis was one of just two players on the field who had played in the last match between these two sides 9 years ago at Turf Moor. The other was Stephen Carr, who made his debut here in September 1993 at the age of 17. Spurs were missing the guile of another survivor of that match - Teddy Sheringham.
Stephen Clemence made the cardinal error that nearly put the game out of reach, as he gifted the ball to Blake a minute after the second goal. Luckily for Spurs the shot hit the post and bounced out to safety. Time was ticking away, and with 14 minutes left, Iversen put Keane away again, but Robbie gifted the shot to the keeper. Gary Doherty replaced Iversen with 10 minutes left, but failed to make an impression. Keller was down ell to a Little shot, before Keane failed in his third one on one chance. Keane nearly forced the match into extra time with a sublime piece of skill, as he collected Bunjevcevic's ball with his back to goal, chested and turned in one motion, before sending a dipping shot that landed on the bar in front of the exasperated Spurs support.
All credit to Burnley, and good luck to them in the competition, but this must be seen as a missed opportunity for Spurs. It was a long, long drive home:(
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