FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 22ND JANIARY, 2000
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1 (1)
Referee:- M. Riley
Spurs (4-4-2);- Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh (sub, Young, 62); Anderton, Sherwood, Clemence ( sub Nielsen, 62), Ginola; Armstrong ( sub Korsten, 62), Iversen
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Dominguez
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2);- Srnicek; Nolan, Atherton, Walker, Hinchcliffe; Alexandersson, Haslam, Jonk, Quinn ( sub, Scott, 73); Sibon, De Bilde ( sub Donnelly, 88)
Subs not used:- Pressman(GK); Cresswell, Sonner
Firstly, I take my hat off to Danny Wilson and his battling side, who, through a mixture of effort; fight; desire; tenacity, and some skill, have maintained their run of form, and with this surprising but deserved result, have lifted themselves off the foot of the table, giving hope of survival, where there has been little other than despair for most of the season. This was another one of those "if only" matches for Spurs. "If only" we had won, we would have been in fifth place. "If only" Armstrong had passed the "barn door" test just before he was justifiably withdrawn in favour of the debutante Korsten, we would have at least have got a point. "If only" Armstrong or Iversen had got on the end of the countless quality crosses from Ginola, we might have won. "If only" Srnicek hadn't pulled off several quality saves, we might have scored the anticipated hatful of goals.
The fact is - Spurs never got above third gear today, and despite having the most chances, their desire, passion and ability was second best, and they got what they deserved. It seems that we need top class opposition to get a decent performance out of our side, too many of whom are not of Premiership quality, and based on today's efforts I include the following in that category:- Edinburgh; his replacement Young; Clemence and his replacement, Nielsen (please sell him soon, Spurs), Armstrong, and ( this may be a surprise to some ) Iversen who has failed to score since the Watford game, and who never looked like doing the trick today. Sherwood and Anderton did one or two clever things, but too often were easily hustled off the ball. As the game wore on even Ginola seemed to lose heart, as his work had gone un-rewarded.
The game started quietly, and Spurs did have their opponents pinned in their own half for much of the first half. An Anderton free kick from the left, was headed goalward by Iversen, but it was a comfortable save for Pavel Srnicek. Clemence nearly got on the end of a Ginola cross from the left, but the danger was cleared. From the resulting corner, Armstrong actually got in the way of a goalward shot from Clemence! Stephen Carr did well to keep the ball in play after a lay off from Iversen, and Anderton got a decent shot from his pass, which was well blocked by the defence.
Wednesday, having weathered the early shower ( never a storm!) gained their confidence, and Wim Jonk, who has always impressed me, was the architect for many of the visitors' attacks. After 23 minutes, he laid up the ball for Nolan, who shot across and just wide of the goal. Ginola responded with a series of excellent crosses, which were plucked by Srnicek from the reach of either of the Spurs' below par strike force.
Jonk gave De Bilde his first scoring chance, as the Belgian turned cleverly to get his shot on target, but it was into Walker's arms. A decent build up by Spurs culminated in Anderton feeding Ginola, whose powerful shot rebounded off the bar to Iversen, who turned sharply to shoot, but Srnicek was to hand. Anderton and Iversen threaded the ball through to Armstrong on the right of the area, but his rifled shot was again saved.
Wednesday took the lead against the run of play after 37 minutes, when a Perry half cleared ball was returned to the area, and Jonk found Alexandersson in space on the right of the area, to easily beat Walker.
Ginola tried the right hand side for a change, and collected the ball from Carr, typically ran across the edge of the box, but his left foot shot went over the bar. Spurs' last chance before the break came from an Anderton ball to Iversen, who needed a little too much time to shoot. The ball was blocked and reached Sherwood, but he hit the ball straight at the goalkeeper. Spurs went off to brief boos from the home support.
De Bilde got round Perry too easily early in the second half, but fortunately hit his shot straight at Walker. Frustration was not eased for the home fans, as another Ginola cross was wasted, this time by both Anderton, and Iversen. Even Sol Campbell got in on the act, as he flicked wide from close range from the resulting corner.
With 61 minutes on the clock, a Carr shot was half blocked, half passed by Iversen to Armstrong, 6 yards out, with an open goal. His shot went wide, glancing the post, and he looked hopefully at the linesman to indicate that he had been offside, only to be disappointed as the goal would have been allowed. This was his last act, as Graham made a triple substitution. Of the three substitutes, only Korsten showed some promise, as he at least got a couple of shots on target. However, in my view, Nielsen was no improvement on Clemence, and even Luke Young was passing short, and failing to impress.
Ginola kept trying, but from this point on, it was Wednesday who looked more likely to score, with De Bilde hitting two shots wide, as Sheffield looked dangerous on the break. Walker had a bit of luck as he managed to save a deflected header, and Anderton tried a dipping free kick to no avail. With eight minutes left, Ginola passed across the box to Carr, who was forced to run to his left and shoot with his left foot. Srnicek tipped the shot over the bar. Walker made a decent save from Sibon, and then Ginola battled his way across the area from the left, picked up a header from Iversen, but then shot into the side netting.
It was one of those days, and the players trudged off with their heads down to boos, and the crowd urged "Sugar - get your cheque book out". The despondency for the home crowd has not been as bad as this since the start of last season, when Wednesday beat us 3-0. As for Wednesday and their raucous army of fans, they were celebrating a crucial three points.
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