FAR PREMIER LEAGUE
MONDAY 28TH DECEMBER, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (1) EVERTON 1 (1)
Referee:- Graham Poll ( not as printed in programme )
Attendance:- 36, 053
Spurs ( 4-4-2 ):- Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell, Sinton; Fox, Anderton, Nielsen ( sub Clemence 46 ), Ginola; Armstrong ( sub Iversen, 88 ), Ferdinand
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Calderwood, Edinburgh
Everton ( 3-5-2 ):- Myhre; Unsworth, Bilic, Short ( sub Cleland, 6 ); Dunne, Hutchison, Collins ( sub Oster, 76 ), Dacourt, Ball; Barmby, Bakayoko ( sub Cadamarteri, 39 )
Subs not used:- Simonsen (GK); Grant
Booked:- Cadamarteri, Hutchison
There was no room at the lane, this afternoon. The visitors included a man in goal, called Myhre, and Spurs fans went home very happy with their presents of a convincing victory; a first double over league opponents this season ( at the first opportunity ); and a hat trick from top scorer, Chris Armstrong, which included a 20 yard half volley as good as any goal seen this season. It could all have been so different though, as the first half performance was quite lack-lustre, and I suspect a few tea cups were broken during the half time team talk, when once again, George Graham had to put some spark in the side.
Spurs could, and should, have been two or three up at the interval, but failed to capitalise on their many opportunities, either in front of goal, or in their build-ups. Then, having taken a deserved lead, they fell asleep, and let Everton score with their one decent chance of that half. Everton were then allowed to build up the pressure towards the 45 minute mark, but the Lilywhites showed some much needed fight, and determination in the second half.
Spurs' first opportunity came after 4 minutes, when Les Ferdinand took advantage of a break from defence to feed Ginola on the left. His accurate cross was met by Armstrong, who headed over the bar. Everton very quickly lost Craig Short to injury, and took a little while to find their shape. They eventually maintained a three man back line; with Ginola being very closely marked (successfully for the most part ). I felt that Dacourt was their most influential player. He was just in front of the defenders, but often carried the ball into forward positions, and in fact had several shots on goal. Old stager that he is, Hutchison too played well for the "Blues". Nielsen, and Anderton lacked the bite necessary for a central midfield duo, and the Dane was substituted at half time, and Anderton played a much more influential role after the manager's pep-talk.
Whilst Sol Campbell was generally up to his usual standard, the best defenders for me were Luke Young, and Stevie Carr. Neither of these players seemed to put a foot wrong, and they continue to win fans. It was Young who came to the rescue of his captain in the first half, when he was sold short by a weak pass, and it was Young who made a magnificent tackle, within the penalty area, right in front of the referee, to deprive his opponent of the ball. At the risk of sounding boring, this lad continues to exude the confidence, not only to win a tackle, but also to distribute the ball to good effect.
Nielsen was an enigma. At times he was given good opportunities to score; then he would redeem himself with a crunching tackle; then he would lose favour by spraying relatively simple passes astray. His replacement, Clemence, had an effective game, winning useful ball, and giving attacking passes to the forwards.
Fox seemed to be engaged in man to man marking task on Collins, and wasn't visible for much of the first half. However, he shares the credit for the build up to the first goal. Ruel tackled back when a defender was on his own goal line, and won the ball, passing it back to Ginola. Fox stood off the field of play, whilst Daveed crossed. Chris Armstrong headed back, and Les Ferdinand had to turn and shoot in one motion, but his right foot shot went high into the net. Les had scored the winning goal in the away fixture, so he too has a "double" to his credit.
Chances to increase the lead followed, when Armstrong was in a position within the area, from which he may have shot. He chose instead to try and set up his partner, but failed miserably. Soon after this Sir Les, met a short corner, and headed just wide.
Then followed the needless equaliser. Sol half cleared to the touchline; Cleland picked up the ball, unchallenged, passed to Barmby, who was given the space to lift the ball to Bakayoko, whose free header left Walker stranded. Bakayoko had to be substituted soon after scoring, and the sprightly Cadamateri was an effective replacement. He did get booked very soon after entering the field of play though, for a tackle from behind on Young, who for a brief moment, looked ready to give some physical retribution. He was gently advised by referee Poll to be more restrained!
Ferdinand forced a save, after an Anderton free kick, but the action was more in front of the Tottenham goal towards the interval. Cleland had a good shot just wide, although there may have been an offside decision in Spurs favour. Luke Young, as well as his captain, had chances in the attacking role, and the youngster hit a shot well over the bar from one corner.
Spurs came out fighting, and often deployed Clemence with Anderton on short corners. Les Ferdinand had an early header saved comfortably by Myhre, who is a useful goalie, and does not carry any significant blame for letting in four goals. Spurs were defending from the front more. It was Les Ferdinand who came second best in one challenge after 50 minutes. Dacourt picked up the ball, and was allowed to run and shoot on goal, firing just over the bar. Soon after this,Ian Walker dived quickly low to his right to save a shot from the right side of the area.
Sol Campbell nearly regained the lead, when he powered an Anderton corner with his head, just wide of the post. This was a super header, as the corner itself lacked power, and super Sol put all the oomph into his effort! Les Ferdinand got booked for a very heavy challenge upon the goalkeeper within the 6 yard box. I don't think Les likes Graham Poll much, but he did shake hands at the end of the game. In my view, it was a fair booking.
Everton will claim some controversy accompanied the second Spurs goal, either for an offside, or they may claim Armstrong handled the ball in the run up to the goal. I await the evidence on MOTD, but he looked as if he had legitimately beaten the offside trap, and I didn't see any handball. This incident did take place immediately below my position. Some battling by Anderton won the ball, which was lofted forward. Armo made it his; beat a challenge by the goalie, and scored from a very narrow angle. Myrhe raced after the celebrating Tottenham players, and Hutchison got himself booked for his over exuberant protest with the linesman.
It became almost one way traffic after this point. Spurs started to play some pretty football, and the Everton defence was crumbling. With 15 minutes left, both Spurs strikers were on the break, and exchanging close passes. Les back heeled to Chris, who hit a powerful shot from just outside the area to the left side of goal. At this stage, Collins was substituted, and the "Blues" seemed to lose all semblance of unity.
Chris Armstrong capped his day, when he controlled a Anderton pass with his chest, and cracked home that super goal with a wonderful half volley. He almost had a fourth goal, after a super spell of Spurs passing led to him having a headed chance on goal. He was allowed to milk the applause when Iversen replaced him with just two minutes to go. Les gave him a well deserved pat on the backside, and even Ginola bowed to him in adulation!
The spirit in the camp looks good, and we approach Saturday's FA cup tie with Watford with some confidence.
· Brian Judson's match preview
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