SATURDAY 13th MARCH, 1999
FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) ASTON VILLA 0 (0)
Referee:- Peter Jones
Spurs ( 4-4-2 ):- Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Taricco ( sub Sinton, 78 ); Anderton, Nielsen, Sherwood, Ginola (sub Dominguez, 78 ); Ferdinand, Armstrong ( sub Iversen, 78 )
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Young
Aston Villa ( 3-5-2 ):- Bosnich; Southgate, Barry, Scimeca; Stone, Thompson, Hendrie, Draper, Wright; Merson ( sub Joachim, 67 ), Collymore
Subs not used:- Oakes (GK); Byfield, Delaney, Samuel
Booked:- Barry, Draper, Stone, Hendrie
Just when I was looking for my dictionary to find a different word to describe "frustrating" ( for this is what this game was ! ), up popped Tim Sherwood to score a late winner, with his third goal in seven full games for Spurs. Spurs failed to impose themselves upon an under par Aston Villa side, and nearly paid the penalty for their lack of league ambition. Until he was substituted late in the game, the story for much of the game, in front of a near full house, was "Ginola serves, but the strikers failed to volley". David gave new signing Steve Stone another blistering, and laid on several excellent crosses leaving his strikers ( chiefly Armstrong ) the easy part of the job to do. The fact is that even with clear headers, Armstrong disappointed. Apart from Ginola, the players that stood out for me were the full backs, Taricco and Carr, and if the rest of the team had shown as much effort as these three players, the scoreline could ( and should ) have been much greater.
Spurs first attack of note followed a good ball from Ginola to Ferdinand, who seemed to have been brought down in the penalty area. However, the linesman's flag was already in the air for offside. At the other end, Thompson ran onto a long through ball, and Walker was forced to tackle him just outside his area, bringing the Villa player down. No foul was given, which may have fortunate for Spurs, and Walker, as there was no-one behind him. Taricco showed some real class this afternoon, and teased the likes of Stone with some good ball play in his own half. Campbell and Vega were comfortable for the most part, but Sol was a little short with a couple of back passes in the first half.
Even as many as four defenders were not enough at times to prevent Ginola getting his crosses in. The crowd were not disappointed with his tricks, and are licking their lips in anticipation of a match winning performance at Wembley next week. Perhaps Villa's most threatening moment came after 15 minutes. Wright and Draper were combining well on the right, and worked a ball in for Hendrie, who was brought down by Steve Carr. Thompson took the free kick, and hit a pile driver from 25 yards. Ian Walker was fully behind the ball, which he took comfortably in his midriff.
Anderton, and Ginola shared passes, before the Frenchman teed up Ferdinand, whose header was easily saved. Ginola then turned Scimeca with ease, and sent an inch perfect cross onto Armstrong's head. The striker only had to meet the ball cleanly, and put it on target, but he failed miserably. Spurs won several corners, but failed to capitalise. One cross following a short corner went agonisingly across the goalmouth, missing all and sundry. I felt Nielsen was disappointing, but every now and again, he will get involved in a crucial part of the game. He won a ball on the edge of the Villa area, and tried to set up Armstrong, but neither of the strikers could get on the end of the opportunity being created.
Another super piece of football came from Stephen Carr, who had the audacity to chip the ball over his attacker ( Wright ? ); ran round; and sent a beautiful long cross field pass to Sherwood. Carr was, as always, often at the heart of good attacks on the right flank.
After 34 minutes, Ginola sent a gorgeous whipped cross into the 6 yard box, and Ferdinand headed only just over the bar.
The second half started very tamely. It was very much a stop-go affair, as the referee was blowing for virtually everything. There was a loud penalty appeal when Ferdinand appeared to have been brought down ( again ) in the box, but the shout went un-heeded. Ferdinand got his name in the book a little later for dissent, as he became more and more frustrated by the number of decisions going against him. He may have had some justification, as he was penalised for a few shoulder barges. Wimbledon players seem to get away with this tactic, which, after all, is still allowed by the rules of the game !
The chances were few and far between in the second half, as Villa swamped the midfield, and Spurs rarely created decent chances. Armstrong had a chance in front of goal, which Bosnich saved easily; a long lofty cross over the defence was headed down by Armstrong for Ferdinand, but the ball was scrambled clear, and it looked like yet another 0-0 was the only result.
George Graham made another triple substitution, and of these, Iversen was the most impressive. As poorly as he played against Leeds, I really do think he does have a future at Tottenham, which is more than I would say for his striking colleagues. With two minutes of the game remaining, Nielsen passed to Iversen on his left; the Norwegian fired a shot at Bosnich, which the Australian ( despised at The Lane ) could only parry into the path of Sherwood. Sherwood headed, and the ball hit the post, and rolled back out. Bosnich scrambled to retrieve the ball, but Sherwood prevented him getting a clean grasp, and with a couple of touches and a stumble, Sherwood managed to tap the ball into the corner. He showed some attitude too in his celebration, with a clenched salute to the crowd.
Spurs move back into the top half, and are level on points with Liverpool. As far as I am aware, there are no injury problems for the crucial week ahead.
P.S - The home game with Arsenal has been re-arranged to Wednesday 5th May; kick-off 7.45 pm.
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