Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey FA Cup Match Report - Newcastle v Spurs, 22.12.99
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Newcastle v Spurs, 22.12.99


Newcastle scorers:-
Speed, 4
Dabizas, 27
Ferguson, 44
Dyer, 72
Shearer, 82 (pen), 84

Spurs scorer:-
Ginola, 33

Referee:- Graham Poll

Attendance:- 35,415

Newcastle (4-3-1-2);- Harper; Barton, Dabizas, Helder ( sub Marcelino, 46), Hughes; Solano, Lee, Speed; Gallagher ( sub Dyer, 65); Ferguson ( sub Ketsbaia, 76), Shearer

Subs not used:- Given; Glass

Booked:- Lee, Ferguson

Spurs (3-5-1-1);- Walker; Perry, Vega, Campbell; Young ( sub Fox, 22, sub Armstrong, 71), Nielsen, Sherwood, Clemence; Ginola ( sub Dominguez, 75); Iversen

Subs not used;- Baardsen; Gower

Booked:- Clemence, Vega

One of the greatest cup sides of the 20th Century were knocked out on this the last FA Cup night of the Millennium in devastating style. Had Spurs won, they would have faced Sheffield United, who they beat famously in 1901. They will have to wait for the year to end in 1 again, for a chance of glory. Judging by this abysmal, shambling, woeful performance, there is much rebuilding work to be done, and any thought of achieving a European qualification based upon league performance is surely pure fantasy. The figures 6 and 1 are usually associated with the glorious Spurs double side, but tonight, defeat by that margin cast shame upon upon the players AND the management.

The last time a George Graham side lost by such a margin was in his apprenticeship days at Millwall ( 1985 v Norwich). He played three at the back tonight, and in my view neither Vega, or Perry looked at all comfortable in that formation. Perry was awfully exposed at times, and struggled against the height of Ferguson. The midfield was non-existent, with Sherwood looking under par and in need of his groin operation, Nielsen giving one of his dawdling, swanning performances, and Clemence out-classed.

Without a doubt, Spurs best player was Ginola, and mysteriously Graham replaced him with Dominguez, with 15 minutes left, but also at a time when the game was lost. There are two theories as to why Ginola was replaced. One being to remove him from the constant jeering, and abuse of the home crowd that once adored him; the other being that Graham was frustrated by Ginola disobeying instructions to use the ball more wisely. The certainty is that with his removal, any glimmer of Spurs scoring again was lost.

Newcastle dominated from the start, with Warren Barton getting too much space on the right, and Gallagher piercing the defence with ease. With only 4 minutes gone, a Barton cross was headed back across goal by Ferguson, towering above Perry, into the path of Speed to slot home. He was marginally offside, but the goal stood. Another Barton long ball over the defence found Gallagher, who forced a good save from Walker, 5 minutes later. Spurs were constantly on the back foot, as Shearer crossed for Ferguson's header to be deflected for a corner. The Spurs defence was in complete disarray, and not helped by the early loss of Luke Young to a calf injury.

Spurs' first effort on goal came after 25 minutes, when Ginola fired a Taricco pass well over the bar. Two minutes later, Dabizas ( a real thorn in Spurs' side this year ) was allowed to rise above Vega and head home Solano's corner. Spurs got back in the game with 33 minutes on the clock, when Nielsen on the right fed Ginola, who cut inside and hit a left foot shot from 25 yards, which dipped over Harper, after taking a deflection from Lee. Clemence shortly had a half chance in the area, as Iversen headed down another Ginola cross, but the reserve player needed to get the ball on his left foot, and took too long.

Just as Spurs showed more promise, Newcastle bounced back, and Ian Walker suffered the highs and lows of goalkeeping. First Walker made an excellent low save of a Shearer header at the near post, but then, with only a minute to go before half time, he fumbled a long cross from Barton, under pressure from Shearer, and Duncan Ferguson snapped up the loose ball to fire home under the crossbar.

Spurs had more possession early in the second half, but rarely threatened goal. Gallagher made a good run on 49 minutes, and crossed from the left for Shearer in the box. Sol Campbell superbly rescued the situation. Following some woeful passing in midfield, Shearer made a run, and crossed for Solano, whose shot was blocked. Spurs did have one more chance when Clemence made a short cross from the left, but Nielsen dollied the ball wide of goal.

Kieron Dyer replaced Gallagher on 65 minutes, and had a telling influence on the rest of the game. His first contribution was to round Perry with ease, and having time to pick his man, almost found Shearer, but Clemence hacked the ball over, to prevent a certain goal. With 18 minutes left, Dyer got on the score-sheet, as the defence was ragged, and Shearer found Dyer on the left. Dyer cleverly passed the ball into the net from 18 yards, with Perry and Walker helpless. By this time the match was over as a competition, and it was men versus boys. The Spurs heads were down, and the side was playing as badly as in other big defeats such as Chelsea and Bolton in recent years. There was a strong possibility of Newcastle repeating their 7-1 victory of three years ago.

The rout was completed by Shearer who scored once from the spot, having been dragged to the ground by Vega, as he shot, and then scored with a free header from a Ketsbaia cross, as the Spurs sorry defence ( including Campbell ) watched as if they were on another planet. This performance was as bad as any I have seen in recent years under both Christian Gross and Gerry Francis, George Graham has been in charge for well over a year, and whilst he will no doubt feel puzzled and aggrieved at his team's showing, he will also have some questions to answer, starting on Boxing Day against Watford.

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