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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Crewe Alexandra, 13.10.99

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This preview was written by Brian Judson

We have never played Crewe Alexandra in the Football League at any time.

Our previous Cup results against them are as follows :

30.01.60   FAC4   Away  2-2  L. Allen, C. Jones
03.02.60   FAC4R  Home 13-2  L. Allen 5, R. Smith 4,
                             C. Jones 3, T. Harmer
28.01.61   FAC4   Home  5-1  D. Mackay, C. Jones, R. Smith
                             L. Allen, T. Dyson
08.10.75   FLC3   Away  2-0  J. Pratt, A. Conn

We were first drawn against Crewe Alexandra in January 1960. We were top of Division 1 and looking forward to winning our second League championship and possibly winning the FA Cup. Crewe were in the lower half of the Fourth Division but fairly safe from having to seek re-election to the League. Spurs were probably cocky as they ran out on to the pitch at Gresty Road, Crewe. They had won five of their last six League matches and were seemingly cantering to the championship. But little Crewe surprised Spurs with their aggression and many neutral observers reckoned Spurs were lucky to be returning to London still in the Cup.

Spurs were a very different team the following Wednesday evening. They required only three minutes to score the first goal of the night when a corner swung in by White came back off a post for Smith to tap home. Seven minutes later, a Crewe defender slipped and Les Allen hammered the ball home. 2-0. A minute later, Smith made it 3-0 when he turned on an Allen pass and smashed the ball home. Crewe then pulled a goal back when Coleman lobbed the ball over Bill Brown. 3-1.

On 21 minutes, Jones pulled the ball back from the bye-line for Harmer to smash home from the edge of the area. 4-1. Les Allen made the score 5-1 after 29 minutes with a diving header from a Jones' centre. A minute later, the Crewe right back slipped and Smith had completed his hat-trick. 6-1. Nine minutes before half-time, Allen centred to Smith for the burly centre-forward to score his fourth of the night. 7-1. Three minutes after that, a peach of a pass from Harmer after a mazy dribble set Jones up from close range. 8-1. Then, Allen scored two goals in quick succession to send Spurs into half-time with an astonishing 10-1 lead. People began to wonder if Spurs could catch Preston's 26 goals against Hyde in 1888, the competition's record score.

In the second half, Spurs eased off. Jones scored the 11th goal of the night five minutes after half-time from a pass by White. The next goal did not arrive until 23 minutes later when a Jones shot was parried by the visiting goalkeeper and Allen was on hand to make the score 12-1. A minute after that Llewellyn scored Crewe's second goal and Cliff Jones scored the last of the 13 goals for Spurs from the penalty spot with eleven minutes to go.

Although Crewe were outclassed, they never resorted to dubious tactics.

After the game, one of the reporters remarked that Crewe had arrived on Platform 2 and were leaving from Euston on Platform 13, a neat ending to the evening's events.

A year later, Spurs again played hosts to Crewe at the same stage of the Cup. This time, Spurs had to be content with winning 5-1 but it _could_ have been another massacre but for the Crewe goalkeeper. He prevented at least three goals. White was hopelessly out of form that afternoon, disconcerted by Crewe's tackling. Spurs _should_ have been 3-0 up in the first five minutes. Smith completely missed his kick when well placed. Blanchflower was blocked as he was about to dribble over the goal line. Dyson missed from a header but made amends soon afterwards. Then Smith drove the ball home from an Allen back pass. Spurs looked set to run riot as they had the previous year.

But it was Crewe who next scored. Tighe sent three Spurs defenders the wrong way and sent a shot that eluded everyone and hit the back of the netting. But Mackay rushed in to head home an Allen corner and ensured Spurs regained their two goal advantage at half-time. Second half goals by Jones and Allen rounded off the scoring.

In the only meeting of the two clubs in the Football League Cup, Spurs were never seriously troubled at Gresty Road, although Pratt and Conn were the only scorers. This was the season which saw Terry Neill complete his only full season in charge at Tottenham as he resigned at the end of the season to take over as manager at Arsenal. Neill dispensed with many of Tottenham's experienced players, leaving Spurs with huge problems during the season in which they were eventually relegated at the end of Keith Burkinshaw's first season in charge.

And tomorrow night's match? I think that Spurs will probably take it easy and may well rest several players in readiness for more important matches later this month. I suspect Spurs will do little more than coast through the match as far as possible and those going should not expect a turkey shoot but be prepared for possible nail-biting and a very late goal by Spurs to secure victory as Crewe tire.

Cheers, Brian

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