Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Wimbledon v Spurs (Worthington Cup semi-final 2nd Leg) Additional Report
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Wimbledon v Spurs, 16.02.99

Here is Brian Judson's blow by blow account of this momentous occasion:-

As the final whistle echoed around Selhurst Park, a tremendous whoop erupted from the throats of a reputed 15,000 Spurs supporters, many of whom rushed on to the very muddy pitch to acclaim their heroes. Many of them made a bee-line for Steffan Iversen, whose goal had ended eight years of exile from a Cup Final. Joe Kinnear hurriedly made an exit from the scene and was too distraught to make any post-match comments.

The game itself had been very close throughout the ninety minutes. It was always going to take one goal to settle the issue. Despite the dire predictions of an injury hit Wimbledon side being beefed up with youth team and apprentices, the Wimbledon side that emerged from the dressing rooms was pretty much their usual preferred eleven, including Michael Hughes who had been so prominent in the long list of players who had been expected to miss the match. But then, Joe Kinnear has always been a very wily and canny manager in the black arts of disinformation.

Spurs began the match on the attack. After 2 mins, Ferdinand went down in the centre circle under a heavy challenge and required brief treatment. It was a foretaste of the tactical thinking on the part of the Dons.

The early exchanges were rough and tumble stuff as neither side was able to gain the upper hand. In the 7th minute, Gayle won the first corner of the game for Wimbledon after a break down the left. Tottenham could only clear for that for another corner. The resulting kick from Hughes caused panic in the Spurs box, before Spurs cleared the ball none too convincingly.

After 12 minutes, Euell floored Campbell as the pair tussled in midfield. The referee took no notice of Campbell's protests.

In the 13th minute, Sullivan was in action in the Dons goal for the first time, pushing away a Ferdinand shot from inside the box away for a corner. Two minutes later, Walker had to make a magnificent save from Euell, who volleyed brilliantly from the edge of the area.

The tide was running in Wimbledon's favour at this stage of the game. In the 18th minute good work from Gayle found Ekoku in the Spurs box, but Campbell stepped in to clear the ball.

In the 21st minute, Spurs won a free-kick ten yards inside the Dons' half and then appealed half-heartedly for a penalty after Perry tugged at Iversen's shirt.

The first flash point of the game occurred in the 24th minute. Blackwell, who has not been booked at all this season, received a long lecture from the referee after pole-axing Ferdinand, who required lengthy treatment before he could resume. Looking at the incident in slow motion, I could not understand why Blackwell had not been dismissed as it was a clear foul with intent. But that was typical of the referee as he consistently ignored fouls from Wimbledon but penalised Tottenham at the slightest hint of contact.

In the 27th minute, Ferdinand received the ball on the edge of the Dons' six-yard box, with his back to the goal. He just failed to squeeze in a shot. A corner followed, which was dealt with easily by the home defence.

On the half hour, Ginola showed impressive control on an uneven surface to tease Roberts before firing in a deflected shot. Again Anderton's corner came to nothing.

And then Spurs had a wonderful stroke of luck in the 38th minute. Tottenham took the lead through a controversial goal. Latching on to a loose ball on the edge of the Dons' box, Iversen lobbed the ball perfectly over the stranded Sullivan - seemingly from an off-side position - with Wimbledon appeals for off-side falling on deaf ears. It took the slow motion replay to establish that Cunningham, attempting to pass back to Sullivan, who had left his goal-line, had played Iversen onside.

The Spurs fans erupted into joyous singing of "Are you watching, Arsenal," when, following a stoppage through injury in the 44th minute, Tottenham returned the ball back to Wimbledon.

During half-time, I wondered whether that goal was going to be enough. Certainly it had removed the prospect of penalties deciding the issue since Tottenham now had an away goal as a card to be played at the end of the match if the game went to extra time, as Wimbledon had not scored at White Hart Lane. It also meant that Wimbledon had to score twice to knock Spurs out, something which is becoming very difficult for opposing teams to achieve.

As Tottenham started the second half, with neither side making any changes to personnel during the interval, they might have had a penalty. In the 46th minute, Sullivan flattened Carr inside the Dons' penalty area as the keeper came out to collect a through ball. No action was taken by referee Willard, who waved play on.

Two minutes later, Ekoku and Cunningham were not on the same wave-length as Wimbledon wasted a good position on the right flank. They really should have equalised. Almost immediately afterwards, Ginola sent in a dangerous cross from the left wing, but Sullivan did well to collect the ball.

Finally, after several previous bad tackles had been ignored, in the 50th minute, Roberts was booked after Ginola tumbled in flight, while making dangerous inroads into the Dons' half of play. The Dons' defender was incensed, indicating that Ginola had dived.

Shortly after that, Gayle went down under challenges from Campbell and Allan Neilsen 20 yards from the Spurs' goal. The resulting free-kick from Ekoku was well charged down by the Spurs' wall.

A first-time shot from Ginola, in the 58th minute, from 18 yards sailed harmlessly past Sullivan's upright. Wimbledon struck back two minutes later when a snap-shot by Michael Hughes takes a deflection on its way over the bar, but the corner that followed was wasted. Sullivan then had to be quick off his line to scoop up a long ball from off the toes of Iversen.

In the 63rd minute, Sinton replaced Edinburgh for Tottenham. I thought Edinburgh had a tremendous game at left back and certainly deserved the applause he won from the Spurs fans as he went off. I assumed from the way he limped off that he had pulled a hamstring.

Just after that, Earle did well to get a header on target from a Euell cross, but Walker wasn't troubled. He seems to have recovered the poise and confidence that once took him to three England caps. Walker demonstrated his increasing confidence by saving under pressure from a Dons' aerial assault on his goal. He certainly made the majority of saves that he made look easy.

In the 68th minute, Ekoku won a free-kick after a challenge by Campbell, as Wimbledon began to exert increasing pressure on the Spurs' rear-guard. The free-kick was dealt with comfortably though. A minute later, another free-kick was awarded to the Dons within striking distance of Walker's goal, but Hughes' dead ball effort, though on target, was weak.

Spurs then broke away. Good work from Iversen inside the Dons' box set up a crossing chance for Anderton but the ball was scrambled away for a corner, which Thatcher subsequently cleared. Ginola controlled the ball well on his chest and volleyed first time, shortly afterwards, but the shot sails high and wide.

By this time, Wimbledon were becoming frantic. A strong run by Thatcher ended with a good ball across the face of the Spurs goal. Earle had a great chance to equalise, but his side foot shot rolled wide.

In the 76th minute, Ginola fell heavily after a heavy challenge from behind by Cunningham. He needed lengthy treatment before standing up again.

Wimbledon then sent on Kennedy to replace Euell in the 78th minute. Almost immediately afterwards, Ferdinand was booked for a challenge on Cunningham. Carl Leaburn then came on as a substitute for Ekoku a minute later.

With nine minutes to go, Gayle sent a looping shot just over the Spurs bar, as Wimbledon stepped up the pressure. But Ginola then escaped from Cunningham on the left flank but his cross was too deep for Iversen. Ginola was then called off to be replaced by Young as Spurs decided to defend their lead in depth.

Only five minutes were left when Spurs won a free-kick in a dangerous area on the right side after Kennedy upended Ferdinand. Anderton's cross towards Iversen was desperately hacked away by a Wimbledon defender.

Two minutes left of normal time and with the Spurs hordes in full cry, Hughes battled with Carr on the left. Spurs did well to clear the danger. Almost immediately afterwards, Thatcher was booked for a foul on Ferdinand in front of the dug-outs which infuriated the Spurs coaching staff. It looked as if Ferdinand was momentarily unconscious as he was prone for a few seconds before the referee stopped play.

Seconds left on the clock, with injury time starting, Perry did well to hold off a strong run by Ferdinand. The ball broke for Freund, who sent a rasping drive well over the bar.

With their fans anxiously calling for the final whistle, the Spurs defence was in huge disarray as Earle hit a first-time shot from the edge of the area which just skimmed off the Tottenham bar with Walker thoroughly beaten.

And then the full-time whistle echoed. The Tottenham fans invaded the Selhurst Park mud pack to celebrate the club's first visit to Wembley in eight years. Tottenham were back at Wembley at long last.

Back to main report
Brian Judson's preview of this tie

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