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Spurs v Newcastle, 29.01.03

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
WEDNESDAY 29TH JANUARY, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 (0)

Scorer:-
Jenas, 90

Attendance:- 36,084

Referee:- David Elleray

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, Richards, Gardner, King; Davies, Anderton, Bunjevcevic, Poyet; Sheringham (Capt), Keane (sub Doherty, 35)

Subs not used:- Sullivan; Taricco; Freund, Acimovic

No bookings

Newcastle (4-4-2):- Given; O'Brien, Bramble, Dabizas, Bernard; Kerr (sub Solano, 60), Dyer, Jenas, Robert; Bellamy, Shearer (Capt)

Subs not used:- Harper; Elliott; Ameobi, Lualua

Booked:- Bernard (foul on Davies)

19 year old Jermaine Jenas popped up in the last minute of this game to score the killer goal that keeps Newcastle on target for a second successive Champions League qualifying place, and that pegs back Tottenham's UEFA hopes. Robbie Keane had taken a knock in the opening quarter of an hour, and had to be replaced by Gary Doherty with ten minutes of the first half left. Thus departed the main Spurs hope of a goal, and thus the nightmare scenario faces us. Who is there to score goals for Tottenham without Keane? Glenn Hoddle has just two days to obtain a striker, and it looks like Michael Ricketts is top of his list. Hardly an awe-inspiring choice, if he does arrive, to give us hope at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

This was a game between two well-matched sides. The first half was punctuated by too many whistles and flags from the officials, when Spurs seemed to be having the better of the game, but were being called offside too often. Such was the efficiency of Dabizas and Bramble that Doherty was caught offside just one yard inside the Newcastle half in the second half. Gus Poyet had a seemingly good goal disallowed in that second half too.

Anderton and Bunjevcevic had competed well in the middle, giving that extra half a yard of effort that so often stole the ball off the feet of the Magpies pacy attack. Dean Richards and the returning Anthony Gardner were magnificent in the heart of the defence, with Richards in particular making some superb tackles against Bellamy. Ledley King played an orthodox left back role, and he got forward more than Carr in the first half, with the roles being reversed after the break, as Carr committed to attack more.

Newcastle threatened the Spurs goal very rarely in the first half, and whilst Given had few saves to make, it was Spurs who had the most chances. Gardner nearly made his mark after just two minutes, when Teddy caught an Anderton corner, and the ball surprised Gardner inside the 6 yard box, where he headed over. Gus Poyet started and finished a neat move a few minutes later as he fed Davies and then met the cross, having his shot deflected for a corner, from which Dean Richards headed over the target. On the quarter-hour mark, Ledley King fed in a dangerous ball, Teddy cued it for Davies who miskicked and hooked the shot, although he did get a corner out of it. Simon's shot from Anderton's corner was powerful but driven two yards over the bar.

Bernard has the Toon's best chance in the first half, when he picked up a loose ball 35 yards out, and brought a fine diving save from Keller with his well-hit low shot going to Kasey's left.

The tempo picked up in the second half, and the referee seemed to let the game flow more. Again Spurs dominated as far as numbers of chances was concerned. Just two minutes after the re-start, a poor clearance from Given fell to Poyet who turned alertly and hit a dipping shot goalward. Given recovered well, and just stretched back to tip the ball out for a corner. 5 minutes later, sharp work from Bunjevcevic gave Anderton the chance to thread the ball to Poyet, who slotted home, but was unaware that the flag had already gone up (unfairly in my view).

Keller did have to make a fine save from short range from the breakaway Bellamy, and now the game hotted up more than a bit as several decisions were seen to be going against the home side. Gary Doherty was harshly adjudged to have fouled Bernard, when it looked like a fair old-fashioned shoulder barge, as he advanced on the area. Doherty is all heart and soul, but he never really made too much progress today. Hoddle had called for the fans to support Iversen in his programme notes, but there was no sign of the man on the bench, so we must assume that he has an injury too!

Doherty did have a headed chance at the near post from a Carr cross, but the chance went well wide of the mark. Spurs went for the one goal that looked like being enough to grab all the points. Anderton stretched and made a pass to Carr whose deep cross reached Poyet at the back post. Gus turned cleverly and got a shot in, but he could not make good enough contact to worry Given much. Another chance fell to Poyet, as Sheringham headed back Carr's long ball, Doherty headed to Poyet, whose shot was wide again.

The game became stretched towards the end, and Spurs were probably guilty of over committing just too much, although hindsight is always 20-20, isn't it? Firstly, after 84 minutes, Bunjevcevic lost out in the middle to Dyer, who raced away and fed Shearer, whose shot was well saved by Keller, but ran to Dyer, who hit the follow-up wide. Bernard got the only booking of the game for a cheating foul on Davies as he had rounded him outside the edge of the area, but of course the strategy worked and nothing came of the free kick.

Then came the killer for Spurs, as Newcastle advanced down the right, Bellamy shot, and the save ran to Jenas whose shot just trickled over the line. There was one chance for Spurs, as Teddy headed down for Doherty who hit a powerful rising shot just over the bar from 12 yards. So Spurs unbeaten run of two whole games came to a halt, and we return to our two steps forward - one step back mode. Next stop, The Bridge, and er get well soon Robbie!

I should just mention that new signing Kazuyuki Toda was introduced before the game, and it is also pertinent to note that Steffen Freund got a great ovation when he was announced amongst the substitutes. There were also several chants during the game to let Glenn know in no uncertain terms how unpopular his decision to let Freund go is.

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