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Match Reports
Middlesbrough v Spurs, 20.02.99


Attendance:- 34, 687

Referee:- R. Harris

Middlesbrough(4-4-2):- Schwarzer; Cooper, Vickers, Pallister, Gordon; Stockdale, Mustoe, Gascoigne, Townsend; Beck ( sub A. Campbell), Moore ( sub Ricard, 58)

Subs not used:- Beresford (GK); Kinder, Maddison,

Booked:- Gascoigne, Townsend, Cooper, Stockdale

Spurs(4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Taricco; Anderton, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola; Ferdinand ( sub Armstrong, 46), Iversen

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Young; Nielsen, Sinton.

Booked:- Vega, Carr, Iversen

Spurs fans endured yet another day of league frustration, and will justifiably look upon this result as two points lost, rather than one gained, as they failed to score, despite an early shot cleared off the line; a Vega header against the foot of the post, and a seemingly good Ferdinand goal disallowed for offside. All these incidents occurred in the first half, and one felt that Spurs only had to step up a gear, and sharpen up their passing, but unfortunately they let Middlesbrough come back into the game, and share the spoils.

As expected, Sherwood made his full league debut, and Taricco was re-introduced to the defence. Only three minutes had passed before Taricco nearly scored his first goal. A cross from the right was headed on by Ferdinand, and cleverly back-heeled by Iversen to Taricco, who was in space on the left of the area. He correctly shot across the keeper, who was beaten. The shot lacked a little power, and Vickers was able to race back and clear for a corner. The omens looked good for Tottenham, who clearly dominated the first half, and quietened the home fans for much of the time.

Gascoigne played well against his old team, and a long ball from him nearly reached Moore, but Ian Walker was quickly off his line to prevent any goalscoring opportunity. Then followed some good build up play from Anderton, Carr, and Iversen, who tried to get a shot but was just frustrated by his first touch in the box.

Taricco passed down the line to Ginola after 13 minutes, and the Frenchman made an exciting run, and got his shot on target. Once again Ginola was policed by two players today, and overall, they had the better of him. I felt that this was one of those days when he needed to release the ball a little earlier. Those at the ground might be able to verify that he had difficulty finding a colleague in space though.

21 minutes were on the clock, when the ball broke to Iversen, who had a good long run, with a powerful right foot shot to finish, which forced a diving save from Schwarzer. He didn't hold this cleanly, but his own players were quicker to follow up. Iversen forced a similar save in the second half. Gordon responded soon after with a neat cross from the left, but Beck was too far out to cause Walker any real problem with his header.

Ferdinand suffered an early knock, and his treatment necessitated white powder on his head that made it look like he was wearing a skull cap. The disallowed goal came on 42 minutes, when a Ginola cross was headed on by Iversen for Les to tap in. He did not look offside to me Before the half time whistle, Vega headed an Anderton free kick against the bottom of the post. One felt that goals were inevitable in the second period, but it was not to be.

Chris Armstrong replaced Ferdinand immediately after the interval, and Spurs lost the initiative for too much of the time, surrendering territory, and possession. In my view, Anderton was too often guilty of weak passes, but the whole team seemed to lose the confidence to play the ball out of defence rather than aimlessly hoof it up the park. The defence was rarely troubled however, and both Vega and Campbell had solid games. I kid you not when I say that it was Sol of the two who made the most glaring error! ( There was only one, and it led to nothing)

After 58 minutes, Walker was troubled by a Stockdale cross from the right, which he had to stretch to reach and tip over the bar for a corner. A little later, Iversen received the ball from the left, and cracked a 25 yard shot, which Schwarzer was unable to hold cleanly. Ricard, who scored two goals against Spurs at the lane, replaced Moore, and was well covered by Carr when a Cooper cross reached the Colombian in the area.

Perhaps the best chance for Spurs in the second half came when Armstrong met a Ginola cross, and headed into the side netting. At the other end, Gascoigne took advantage of a rare Sherwood mistake, and re-kindled the old days with a typical run and shot. The shot was deflected just around the post by Campbell, but Walker was ominously statue-like, and would have been beaten. It was Spurs who built up the pressure towards the end, with an Armstrong overhead kick into the danger zone, and a last minute Anderton free kick saved by the goalie, but we are still looking for our first league win of 1999, although of course we haven't lost one either! We have lost a couple of places in the table this week, and 6 points from our next two home matches will be most welcome.

Were Spurs a little jaded after their midweek battle against Wimbledon? Are they keeping half an eye to the 5th round replay next Wednesday? Who knows? George Graham sounded like a fan after the game, when he made the point that we could have been one or two up at half time, and that we have been drawing too many of our games, and that if we had been winning instead of drawing recent games we could have been 6th in the table

Brian Judson's preview

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