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Southampton v Spurs, 20.11.99

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 20TH NOVEMBER, 1999
SOUTHAMPTON 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Spurs scorer:-
Leonhardsen, 81

Referee:- S. Bennett

Attendance:- 15,248

Teams:-
Southampton (4-4-2);- Jones; Tessem, Lundekvam, Richards, Colleter; Ripley, Hughes ( sub Le Tissier, 85 ), Oakley, Kachloul ( sub Boa Morte, 85 ); Pahars, Beattie ( sub Soltvedt, 78 )

Subs not used:- Moss (GK); Benali

Booked:- Lundekvam, Pahars, Colleter, Hughes, Richards

Sent off, 89 ( 2nd bookable offence ):- Lundekvam

Spurs (4-4-2);- Walker; Taricco, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh; Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola ( sub Dominguez, 64); Iversen, Armstrong

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Young; Clemence, Fox

Booked:- Campbell, Leonhardsen

It is a boring fact that Spurs could do with a top class striker to strengthen their side, but the fact that midfielders like Sherwood and Leonhardsen have contributed 8 goals between them to the Premiership cause has helped to put that issue in the background. Although both Iversen, and Armstrong went close, it was little Oyvind Leonhardsen who sealed the win for Spurs today, with his fourth Premiership goal of the season. Now that Spurs have consolidated a top six place, this goal may be heralded at the end of the campaign as one of the most valuable, if Spurs achieve George Graham's declared aim of holding a top six position.

After a pretty dire first half, where neither side created much in the way of clear cut chances, and Spurs seemed happy ( and comfortable ) to defend against the forays of Ripley, Beattie, Hughes and Pahars, the visitors dominated the second half, and were well worth their win. The number of bookings shows the pressure that Saints felt, as they had to get more and more physical. They finished with only ten on the pitch, as Claus Lundekvam was sent off as injury time loomed for a second bookable offence.

As I anticipated, Mauricio Taricco replaced the injured Stephen Carr, and I felt he had a mixed performance. he showed one or two skilful touches going forward, without over committing himself forward to the extent that we see from Carr, but I felt that he was caught out too often at the back. For me, the Spurs man of the match was Perry, who was particularly assured throughout.

It was Southampton who had the first chance, as Edinburgh slipped and allowed Ripley too much room to cross for a Hughes shot to go just wide of Walker's left post. Spurs best chance to score in the first half came after just 10 minutes, when Perry intercepted, and brought the ball out of defence; found Armstrong on the right, whose cross reached Iversen in the box. Iversen ( apparently completely recovered from the injury scare, after being stretchered off last week on International duty ) hooked the ball wide, and should have hit the target.

Spurs were then on the back foot, as Ripley, and Hughes got several shots on goal, but wide of the mark. Walker was never stretched in this game, apart from having to punch clear a Beattie corner during a spell of pressure for the home side. It was only when Sherwood managed to get a foot on the ball, and spray some decent passes around, that Spurs looked like achieving anything. One good move came from Sherwood's pass to Leonhardsen quickly being fed to Ginola on the left. Goalkeeper Jones took the cross off Leonhardsen's head, and caught the ball at the second attempt. Just before half time, a Sherwood lofted free kick was cleared as far as Iversen lurking on the edge of the box, and Steffen hit a snapped lofted shot with his left foot, that dipped just over the bar. The shot was reminiscent of his winner against Wimbledon in the Worthington Cup semi-final last season, except this was from the left of the goal.

From the kick off in the second half, Pahars went on a run all the way to the Spurs area, and took a dive under a Leonhardsen challenge. The referee gave a free kick to Spurs, and Pahars got booked for his trouble, either for the dive, or for dissent because he was denied a penalty. Ripley was once more the provider, as his cross reached Kachloul, who shot wide.

David Ginola had a quiet game today, policed by new signing Tessem, and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Jose Dominguez, who brought a new energy to Spurs attacks. Ginola was the instigator, however, of a brilliant piece of play, when from deep on the left, he sent a long ball to Taricco, who with skill and determination pierced the defence for Armstrong. Sadly, the striker made nothing of his chances, and sent the ball uselessly over the goal line. The last piece of skill from Ginola was a cross-shot that Jones had to tip over the bar.

Iversen picked up a poor Richards clearance, and sent a long drive just over the bar, and then Steffen Freund got into the box, and went down under a very good tackle from Colleter, who I recall had a torrid time against Ginola last year. Some good work from Jose shortly gave Armstrong a headed chance.

Kachloul got the better of Taricco, and sent a dangerous cross which seemed to bounce off Ripley, and wide of the goal. A long clearance from Walker was headed down by Armstrong for Leonhardsen, who passed back to Sherwood. Another good pass found Armstrong on the right, and he chipped a shot that ran along the top of the bar, with Jones beaten. Had this gone in, it would have been acclaimed as a spectacular goal.

In a perverse incident,Justin Edinburgh was forced to clear a high ball off the line, as a long throw bounced over Walker, and would otherwise have gone into the net. Apparently, the rules dictate that, had the ball gone in direct from the throw, then a goal could not be given, but Edinburgh was not to know that. Spurs were soon on the attack again. Richards was booked for his foul on Iversen, and Sherwood took the resulting free kick, which was chipped into the area. Sol Campbell put the ball back, and Leonhardsen was on hand from 12 yards with his left foot to slip the ball through the defence and beyond Jones.

Matthew Le Tissier made a cameo appearance, as Saints tried to cut their losses, but Spurs got stronger as the game went on, with Dominguez being particularly effective in holding the ball, and beating defenders. In my view, the result was never in doubt, once we scored.

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