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Spurs v Leeds, 28.08.99

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 28TH AUGUST, 1999
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) LEEDS UNITED 2 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Sherwood, 36

Leeds scorers:-
Smith, 52
Harte, 81

Referee:- M. Reed

Attendance:- 36,012

Teams:-

Spurs ( 4-4-2 ):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Young, Taricco; Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood ( capt ), Ginola; Ferdinand ( sub Dominguez, 46, sub Nielsen, 84 ), Iversen

Subs not used:- Baardsen; King; Fox

Booked:- Taricco, Freund

Leeds ( 3-5-2 - reverted to 4-4-2 second half ):- Martyn; Duberry, Woodgate ( sub Hopkin, 46 ), Radebe; Mills ( sub Kelly, 65 ), Bowyer, Batty, Kewell, Harte; Bridges ( sub Huckerby, 46 ), Smith

Subs not used:- Robinson (GK); Haaland

Booked:- Bowyer, Bridges, Duberry, Radebe, Smith

Sent off:- Smith ( for second bookable offence after 88 minutes )

Reality returned to the Lane today, when Spurs surrendered a well-deserved first half lead to a Leeds side that changed their strategy radically at half time, and took over the initiative, to snatch the points with goals from Alan Smith, and a rocket Ian Harte free kick. As for the home side, a quite scintillating first half performance, with Les Ferdinand leading the line magnificently, turned sour, as his enforced substitution caused them to lose their rhythm, and domination of a shaky Leeds defence. In my view, a draw would have been a fair result.

Ferdinand was on the ground in the first minute, after a nasty fall, and there were concerns as to whether he would be able to carry on, as he was off the field for a while. No doubt it was this incident which prevented him from coming out after the interval, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was a little concussed. Martyn was the busier goalkeeper throughout the game, and there was plenty of midfield battling to keep the fans happy, as this game ebbed and flowed, with pace and excitement.

Freund was the first to threaten goal, with an easy shot for Martyn after some excellent build up from the back. Ian Harte for Leeds was involved in all set plays, and also caused Carr some problems on the left flank. It was a dangerous Harte free kick that led to an important Perry clearance from the resulting shot. Bridges, who attracted the gall of the home fans, as he had turned them down in the close season, did show his skills, with a couple of useful runs, but his shots were either off target, or too weak. He did set up Harte for a scoring chance, but the full back sent this chance over the bar.

With 19 minutes gone, Spurs started to wrest control of the midfield and the game. Freund won a crucial battle on the edge of his area, and sent the ball to Leonhardsen in a central position. The little Norwegian found Ferdinand who set up Iversen, whose shot went over, when he should have done far better. This was the story of Iversen's game to a certain extent, as he had at least three good chances. Almost immediately, Taricco found him with a lovely long ball. Again, Iversen failed to score, and Ginola, following up made a better effort.

Kewell started to emerge with several runs from deep, but his shots were little worry. Chris Perry won deserved applause for leading a Spurs attack from the middle. Carr had put him in trouble with a 50/50 pass, and Perry had to beat two or three opponents before starting an excellent move that ultimately led to Sherwood being adjudged offside, before he slotted the ball away. Perhaps the best move of the match came, when Taricco again found Iversen, who headed to Sherwood. The captain returned the ball quickly, and Iversen rose magnificently to head to Martyn's right. The Leeds goalkeeper was at full stretch to save, and push the ball round the corner.

We didn't have to wait long for the goal. Freund took a long throw on the right; Iversen headed down, and Tim Sherwood volleyed home to become Spurs top scorer with his third goal of the season. Soon after, Freund found Iversen, but he failed to score with a relatively easy header. Iversen's next effort hit the side netting as Ferdinand and Ginola set him up.

Leeds were very physical, as the bookings indicate, and there was an off the ball incident involving Taricco, and the offender - Mills, which was missed by Mike Reed. David O'Leary later took Mills off, perhaps in fear that he would suffer severe punishment for his troubles.

Anther chance to score eluded Spurs, as a determined Taricco found Ginola, who whipped a low power drive across the goal. Les Ferdinand just failed to make contact.

So to the second half. Leeds reverted to 4-4-2, with Harte dropping back, and Kewell working more on the left, and Hopkin adding some more grit and determination in the middle, and on the right. Dominguez and Ginola harried eagerly at times. A Ginola shot went for a corner, and a Luke Young header was cleared.

Leeds scored somewhat against the run of play, but they had been building up the tempo. Kewell got a cross over that went to the right side of the area. This was one of those times, when you would like your left winger to be helping out in defence, but David was not interested as his team mates lost the battle for possession, and the ball reached Smith who beat Walker with a right foot drive across the goal.

Both Duberry, and Radebe were booked, and one felt, that with the resulting pressure upon the defenders, Spurs would get back into the game. A Ginola left foot cross drifted only just above the bar, as it turned into a decent shot. Tim Sherwood miscued a free header from a Dominguez cross, and then David nearly scored with a dazzling solo effort, as he shot across Martyn's goal. The goalie tipped this one round the corner, and the angle was very similar to "the goal that wasn't" in the FA Cup game last season.

Dominguez was quite a handful for the Leeds defence, and in my view, he was unlucky to be withdrawn in favour of Nielsen shortly before the end. Duberry didn't know too much about a Jose shot that he sent for a corner. Then Batty fouled Dominguez on the left; Ginola's free kick was met by Iversen, who headed down, when he should have scored easily.

Bowyer missed an easy chance for Leeds, after Hopkin had left men in his wake with a run on the right. After 81 minutes, Bowyer went down, perhaps too easily, when challenged by Perry on the edge of the box. Reed awarded a free kick. Leeds took it quickly, and Walker retrieved easily. Reed decided he was not ready, and demanded a re-take. There is some suggestion that Iversen was pulled out of the wall, but one way or another, a gap was left for Harte to hit a rocket shot into the middle of the goal.

Smith was sent off for his second bookable offence, but there was little time for Spurs to equalise. The last chance fell to Iversen, when a Nielsen pass was missed by the defender. Iversen had time to set himself for the shot, but failed again.

After the game, George Graham declared himself pleased with the side's performance, but accepted that Leeds edged the second half. He made the point that Martyn was the busier keeper, and without using the injuries as an excuse, did put them on the agenda. Whilst Sol Campbell is definitely out of the England reckoning, Darren Anderton will report to the camp to have his ankle injury assessed.

Spurs slip to seventh as a result of this defeat.

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