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Spurs v Crewe Alexandra, 13.10.99


Spurs scorers:-
Leonhardsen, 54
Ginola, 62
Sherwood, 87

Crewe scorer:-
Smith (pen), 69

Attendance:- ( allegedly ) 25,486

Referee:- C. Wilkes

Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell (Capt), Taricco; Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola; Piercy ( sub Iversen, 74 ), Armstrong

Subs not used:- Baardsen; King, Young; Nielsen

No bookings

Crewe (4-5-1):- Kearton; Wright, Foran, Macauley, Smith ( Capt.); Cramb, Lunt ( sub Street, 32 ), Charnock ( sub Collins, 84 ), Sorvel, Little; Rivers ( sub Grant, 46 )

Subs not used:- Welsby (GK); Bignot

No bookings

Spurs coasted through to the fourth round, and an away tie at Craven Cottage. On a night when Manchester United did their usual trick of fielding a weak side, and together with Chelsea, they paid the ultimate penalty for a lack of desire in this competition, Spurs fielded their strongest available side, and must now be regarded as one of the favourites in the Worthington Cup. Fulham will not be easy meat, and success in that round would probably mean another contest with Leeds in this year's "tennis style" draw.

One young man who will remember this night more than most is 20 year old debutant John Piercy, who won the home fans' hearts with two terrific efforts on goal, and an eye catching performance all round. After the match, Graham said that Piercy was injured, which was the only reason that he brought on Steffen Iversen with 15 minutes of the game left. Iversen impressed in his short time on the field, and Spurs' fans will be relieved that the speculation about long term injury has not been borne out.

The first half was spent very much in the Crewe half, but Dario Gradi's men were full of running, and all but one ( target man Rivers ) were usually behind the ball, making things difficult for Spurs, who should have capitalised on their possession, but who failed to get into top gear until the second period. Crewe themselves were always ready for the counter attack, with Little and Cramb supporting Rivers, and switching positions cleverly to keep the returning Sol Campbell, and Chris Perry on their toes.

It was Piercy who had the first real chance after 8 minutes. His team-mates seemed to be doing their best to boost his confidence, by feeding him the ball, and whilst I was surprised to see the youngster playing in the middle ( he usually plays right wing for the reserves ), he had a useful shot blocked on the edge of the area.

David Ginola lasted the whole 90 minutes, and was the main source of flair and creativity, displaying his usual assortment of solo, shooting, and crossing skills. In fact, if the likes of Armstrong had made the most of Ginola's plentiful supply line, Spurs might have got closer to the well documented 13-2 victory over the same opposition nearly 40 years ago.

Ginola peppered the goal with shots, and was eventually rewarded with his first goal of the season. He beautifully picked out the advancing Leonhardsen after 12 minutes, but Leo scooped the ball over the bar from close range. Piercy had a second chance, when a Ginola deflected shot rebounded to him, but his shot was just wide with the goalkeeper beaten.

Piercy won the hearts of the fans with a super run on the break from the left side at the half way line. He cut in, Ginola-like towards goal, and curled a beautiful right foot shot only just wide of the corner stanchion. Perhaps we have our future Ginola in the making ? On 21 minutes, Piercy ( this time on the right ) landed the ball upon Armstrong's head, but the striker failed to convert.

The chances continued, and yet the atmosphere was very quiet. Leonhardsen got on the end of a Carr cross, forcing a good save from a close range header; Armstrong missed his swing at a Ginola cross; and Leo shot straight at the goalie after a lengthy build-up. After another Ginola shot, Sherwood headed another Carr cross well over the bar.

As half time approached, Sherwood ( who had been keeping a low profile till now ) found Piercy with a long ball to the left; Piercy put in a sharp low cross, which Armstrong stooped to head powerfully past the goalie. The ball hit the outside of the foot of the post. Even Campbell nearly scored with a shot from a Ginola corner, that bounced off a lucky defender.

Gradi replaced Rivers with the energetic Grant, and Crewe did have Spurs on the back foot on occasions in the second half, egged on by their decent support. The tempo of the game was lifted all-round, as both sides went in search of the elusive goal. Ginola received a Carr pass in a central position, turned and fired a left foot shot at the goalkeeper, but then Crewe were awarded a free kick from 25 yards, which their captain Shaun Smith fired just over, with Walker struggling. Then Armstrong lost the ball, to allow a counter attack, which culminated in a dangerous long shot from Grant.

It was Spurs who took a deserved lead after 54 minutes.Sherwood chipped a long ball to Armstrong, who whilst falling, managed to turn the ball into the path of Leonhardsen, who hit a right foot shot home from 6 yards, for his fifth goal of the season, to share the title of top scorer with Iversen. The lead was extended 8 minutes later with a fine solo goal from Ginola, who turned first one way, then the other; looked as if he was going to lose the ball, and then out of the blue hit a magnificent low 30 yarder to the right of the helpless Kearton, to squeeze in off the post.

Carr had one or two shots after receiving super long cross filed passes from Ginola, and poor Piercy hit the post with another fine effort.

After 69 minutes, Crewe were allowed to reduce the deficit, when a penalty was awarded for a clip from behind, and captain Smith made no mistake, with a rocket shot.

Piercy left to a terrific ovation, and Iversen made a good impression when he entered the field of play. Armstrong looped a Carr cross towards goal, but his header was tipped over for a corner. The same player then headed another Ginola cross into the goalkeeper's hands. With just three minutes to go, Iversen headed back a long Perry clearance, and Sherwood cleverly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.

This was a match played in a friendly atmosphere. Gradi used all his substitutes, no doubt to give as many of his players the experience of playing at a Premiership ground. I have no doubt that his team enjoyed themselves, and they acquitted themselves well. Iversen looked fit enough for Saturday's game to me. I'm not so sure about Sol Campbell, but I rather suspect he is back to stay.

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