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Spurs v Newcastle, 12.12.99


Spurs scorer:-
Iversen, 56

Newcastle scorer:-
Speed, 77

Referee:- Graham Poll

Attendance:- 33,116


Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Young, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh ( sub Vega, 81); Fox, Freund, Nielsen, Dominguez ( sub Armstrong, 81); Ginola, Iversen

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Clemence, Gower

Booked:- Nielsen, Freund

Newcastle (3-5-2):- Harper; Dabizas, Helder ( sub Glass, 64 ), Charvet; Barton, Dyer ( sub Ketsbaia, 75), Lee, Speed, Pistone; Ferguson ( sub Gallagher, 64 ), Shearer

Subs not used:- Given (GK); Hughes

Booked:- Helder

Honours were shared at the lane this afternoon, and the two sides will meet for the sixth time this year at St. James Park, on Wednesday week. George Graham blamed the pre-Christmas replay on 15 minutes of madness in the second half, when Spurs panicked, and struggled with their handling of dead ball situations, conceding an equalising goal from a corner. Ginola and Iversen had combined for a super goal after 55 minutes, but it was not enough, despite some clear cut chances in the first half for the home side, which brought some good work out of Harper in the visitors' goal.

George Graham rung the changes today. Two of those were forced, through the suspension of Sherwood and Taricco, but he sprung a surprise with the insertion of Fox for Leonhardsen, who did not appear on the bench. I have yet to hear of the reason, but I suspect that the tiring Leonhardsen was dropped/rested. Luke Young made another decent show at right back, and Edinburgh appeared at left back, as anticipated. Newcastle, who are improving rapidly under Bobby Robson, featured Duncan Ferguson in the starting line-up, along with the recently returned Kieron Dyer.

Ferguson gave Shearer an early chance with a headed ball into the Spurs area. The England centre forward was in front of Sol Campbell in the box, but Sol recovered magnificently to deprive Shearer of his shot. In my view, Sol had Shearer in his pocket throughout the first half. He and Perry were outstanding in this period, as the Spurs line held firm on the edge of their area, preventing any real danger from Newcastle. Ginola was again given a roving commission, as Jose Dominguez played on the left wing, having convinced his manager that he deserved another start.

It was Dominguez who found Luke Young on the right, whose cross reached Iversen, but the header was deflected for an early corner after 5 minutes. Ginola had a superb solo effort tipped over the bar by Harper, and Young again put Iversen clear in the box, only for the striker to lose control at the vital moment. Shearer was being roundly booed for his antics, which included the usual repertoire of physical challenges and verbal haranguing of the referee. Shearer "won" a free kick down the right flank, from which Robert Lee had a long shot safely collected by Walker.

After 15 minutes, Ginola and Fox combined on the right, and the cross found Nielsen ( making only his fourth start of the season ) in a good position, but his shot was woefully wide. Nielsen lasted the 90 minutes, but in my view was the cause of too many moves breaking down, although I do not question his commitment. From one such occasion, Ferguson got a weak shot on goal, and on another Nielsen lost the ball, after Dominguez, of all people, had done the hard work in a tight spot near the corner flag.

Nielsen was a threat at the other end, though, as he got on the end of another Fox cross, with a close range shot at the near post, which Harper smothered. Iversen then took advantage of defensive hesitation, but Harper bravely and effectively removed the ball from the striker's feet.

After 25 minutes, Luke Young went on a battling run down the right wing, got his cross in, for Iversen to head on. Harper eventually won the ensuing scramble for the ball against Nielsen. Justin Edinburgh put a tempting angled pass just in front of Iversen advancing into the penalty area.

Spurs looked keen at the start of the second half, with Young, Iversen, Ginola, and Fox performing some trickery, but Nielsen failing to put the icing on the cake. A Spurs move on the left then broke down, and a right wing cross was headed down by Ferguson, and bounced over the goal. A long ball by Walker was won in the air by Nielsen, and Ginola tried a long range shot, but this time did not threaten the goal.

If you were a betting man, with Freund and Edinburgh in the team, you could always have a treble chance on 1) Freund getting booked, 2) Freund having a wild shot off target, and 3) Edinburgh giving away a penalty. The third of these choices did not occur today, but Freund had two shots off target !

Spurs took a deserved lead in the 56th minute, with a superb strike. Luke Young advanced down the right and won a throw, which he took and gave to Ginola. David put one of his whipped specials into the area, which was met by a flying Iversen to head past Harper into the corner. Bobby Robson later described this as a terrific goal, but he responded with three attacking substitutes, and the visitors put Spurs on the back foot for most of the remaining game, necessitating some stout defending.

With 15 minutes left, Dyer had a useful chance from the edge of the area, but he shot across goal, and wide. The amount of pressure was building, without causing Walker any heavy work, but Spurs conceded too many corners. Speed had been in charge of the kicks for much of the game, but he it was who rose after 77 minutes to meet Stephen Glass's corner kick and head home, to the ecstasy of the "Toon Army".

George Graham tried to complete the tie in one, with the double substitution of Vega and Armstrong with 10 minutes left. Perry moved to right back, and Young switched to the left, but it was Newcastle who came closest to scoring with a close range touch from Gallagher, that went into Walker's grateful arms.

The eventual winners of this tie will host either Sheffield United or Rushden and Diamonds. I anticipate that Sky will show the replay live.

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