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Spurs v Man Utd, 02.12.98

WORTHINGTON CUP ROUND 5
WEDNESDAY 2ND DECEMBER, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0) - MANCHESTER UNITED 1 (0)

Spurs scorers:-
Armstrong 47,54,
Ginola 86

Man United scorer:-
Sheringham 70

Attendance:- 35,702

Referee:- Peter JONES ( who did not book anybody ! )

Teams:-
Spurs:- Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell ( capt ), Sinton; Anderton, Nielsen, Calderwood ( sub Fox, 46 ), Ginola; Iversen, Armstrong ( sub Ferdinand, 86 )

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Wilson; Clemence

Man Utd :- Van Der Gouw; Clegg, Berg ( capt ), Johnsen, Curtis ( sub Blomqvist, 86 ); Neville, Butt ( sub Notman, 71 ), Greening ( sub Beckham, 86 ), Giggs; Sheringham, Solskjaer

Subs not used:- Culkin (GK); Wallwork.

The great entertainer, David Ginola, capped a match winning performance with a cracking left foot strike from outside the area, which was his first goal of the season, and the best so far for Spurs ( this season ), to seal a 3-1 victory over a Manchester United side that whilst it contained many reserves, was always threatening and kept Spurs on their defensive toes throughout the game. Ginola won mighty adulation from the crowd following this goal, which was fully deserved. Spurs now proceed as favourites for this competition, and meet Wimbledon in the two legged semi-final.

Before the game, Mauricio Tarrico was officially presented to the crowd, as his signing was formally completed today. It will be interesting to see what the "party line" will be about Walker's inclusion. Was Baardsen dropped? Or, was Walker simply given the opportunity to stake a claim for re-instatement in the regular first team. I prefer the latter theory. Walker's kicking showed some of the old traits, but he did look more mobile in his area, and gained some confidence through one or two smart saves, notably a quick reaction to a last minute Giggs header, and a good low dive early on to save a Butt shot. Most of the Man Utd shooting seemed to be confined to long range, which more often than not did not directly threaten goal.

The first half was a fairly dull affair, with Spurs starting brightly, using the right flank in the early stages, with good combination play from Anderton, Iversen, and Nielsen, who truly was to be found fore and aft, left and right. Whilst he had a mixed game, I thought his main failing was lack of ball control, and imagination when he was put in some very promising positions. Ginola was not brought into the play for several minutes, but when he did enter the fray, he put a telling cross over, which Armstrong just failed to meet.

There were some long spells in this period, when the reds had too much of the ball, and too much control in the middle of the park, despite the inclusion of several youngsters, such as Greening, Curtis, and most prominently, Clegg in the left back position. The un-initiated might have mistaken Giggs for the novice, as he made one or two terrible mistakes in his own half.

Spurs best chance fell ( sadly ) to Calderwood after 29 minutes. Iversen ( who worked unstintingly throughout ) showed some good skill on the right and fed the ball to Nielsen just inside the box. Nielsen's poor shot was cleared as far as Colin, who really had the goal at his mercy, but sadly mis-cued to send the ball well wide .Soon after this opportunity, Solskjaer nearly punished us with a powerful low shot across the goal, which just went wide of the post.

Ginola showed a sign of things to come with a super right foot shot from the left of the field, following a Sinton throw. Nielsen had two goal scoring opportunities towards the end of this half, where he failed to show the skill that he had in the last round of this competition at Anfield.

George Graham obviously felt that a more threatening approach was required, and brought Fox on for Calderwood at the start of the second half. The adventurous style was rewarded after just two minutes. A throw in on the left was fed to Nielsen who chipped the ball into the area. It was Ruel Fox, who headed the ball on for Chris Armstrong to head home for the lead. The crowd was lifted, and the game was on! Man U responded positively, and Solskjaer had another good chance with a shot that went just wide, after he had been set up by Teddy Sheringham. I should mention at this stage that Teddy, inevitably, was roundly booed throughout the game, and that the familiar "went to Man Utd and won **** all" was a regular chant.

It wasn't long before Spurs took control with a second Armstrong goal. Ginola, who was again on super form, ran the ball all the way to the byeline, and sent a whipped cross, which was well met by Armstrong at the near post for a second headed goal. He had a hat trick chance soon after that, when he was fed a cross by Fox.

Nicky Butt managed to lift the ball over the bar from inside the 6 yard box, and in the 69th minute, Iversen should have converted another Ginola pass from within the goal area. A minute later, Sheringham got his name on the score sheet, to exact some revenge for the crowd baiting. Phillip Neville, who played a midfield role tonight, reached the bye line and chipped a short cross to Sheringham, whose angled header left Walker with no chance.

Soon after this goal, another new face, Notman, replaced Butt.

Yet another headed chance fell to Armstrong, following good work by Ginola and Iversen, but the ball went straight to the goalie. Sheringham nearly repeated his goal, but this time, his softer header, was easily held by Walker.

The pressure was removed, and the match was won by Ginola's scintillating goal. It followed some good build play down the right involving Armstrong, Fox and Anderton. Anderton passed the ball across to Ginola who was outside the are, towards the right side. He turned, and lifted a superb and powerful left footed strike well to the goalie's right. The stadium erupted, and the hero acknowledged the acclaim. I understand that George Graham was ecstatic at this point, although I write this report without the benefit of examining TV pictures. It was truly wonderful to be in the midst of such applause. The crowd chanted his name as one, and the "Spurs are on their way to Wembley" chants followed.

Immediately after the goal, Les Ferdinand replaced Armstrong, but he never got a chance to dazzle. As the final whistle blew, Walker made a good close range save from a Giggs header. The crowd lingered, and savoured the atmosphere,and once again senses the twin towers beckoning. We've certainly been through enough bad times to justify some glory, but there is a little matter of a tough Wimbledon side to pass yet!

Brian Judson's match preview

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