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Match Reports
Newcastle v Spurs, 05.04.99

MONDAY 5th APRIL, 1999

Newcastle scorer:-
Ketsbaia, 77

Spurs scorer:-
Anderton (pen ), 50

Referee:- M. Riley

Attendance:- 36,655

Newcastle (4-4-2):- Given; Hughes, Charvet, Dabizas, Griffin ( sub Barton, 46 ); Solano, Speed, McClen ( sub Georgiadis, 56 ), Domi; Maric ( sub Saha, 56 ), Ketsbaia

Subs not used:- Harper (GK); Brady

Booked:- Speed

Spurs (4-4-2) :- Walker; Carr, Campbell, Nilsen, Taricco; Anderton, Freund, Sherwood, Sinton; Iversen, Armstrong

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Young; Nielsen, Fox, Dominguez

Booked:- Nilsen

George Graham rang the changes for this game, and there were 6 new faces compared to the team that lost to Leicester on Saturday. He rested Ginola and Ferdinand ( cheekily suggesting that he had dropped them both when asked about it after the game ), blooded new boy Roger Nilsen, who had an impressive debut, and must have a chance of playing in the semi-final on Sunday. Sherwood and Anderton returned to the fold, and Spurs were very much in control for the first hour of this match, once again failing to take advantage of at least seven good scoring opportunities in the first half. Gullit too, may well be playing his cards close to his chest when it comes to predicting his semi-final team. He did hint after the game that some of his injured players may return. These include the likes of Shearer, Hamann, Lee and Ferguson. Gullit gave a youngster Jamie McClen a debut. Ketsbaia scored a stunning equaliser to cancel out Anderton's penalty, and the Georgian will take some shifting out of the Newcastle side.

To accommodate Nilsen, who is very much left footed, Sol Campbell took up the right side of the central defence. Nilsen was really quite impressive, and made some good passes to forward players. Anderton had an early shot, just wide, and Spurs dominated the early stages, but there was little action in either penalty area for over 10 minutes. Then Steffen Iversen was running forward on the right, in a similar position that led to the Worthington Cup winning goal. This time, he hit a cross-shot, that beat the goalie, but found no team-mate.

Newcastle responded through a good passing movement involving Domi, Maric, and finally Ketsbaia, who shot just wide of the mark. On 17 minutes, Sol Campbell fouled Maric on the right edge of the area, and Solano bent a dangerous free kick just over the goal. Spurs regained their composure, and following some good short passing build-up, Sherwood put Iversen in with a piercing pass on the right. Steff hit a short chipped cross, which was just over Armstrong, and held by Given. Shortly after that, Given hit a poor clearance, and Iversen was on the ball in the centre. He passed to Sinton on the left, whose cross was met by Armstrong in the six yard box. The shot was instinctively saved by Given with his legs, and by this time Brian Marwood in the commentary box had sussed out what we all know - that Spurs fail to capitalise on their chances. Hence we have now drawn 13 games !

Griffin was a bit of a Newcastle mouthpiece before the game, but he played poorly, and was substituted at half-time. Spurs did exploit his weakness on several occasions, through Carr chiefly, but also Anderton, and the strikers. On one occasion, Anderton robbed the full back in his own half, and ran at goal, but his shot was weak. Freund passed to Carr on 26 minutes, and the Irish full back made a great run, and cross to the back post, where Iversen had time to measure his shot, but sadly, straight at Given. Next to have a pop at goal was Armstrong, but he shot wide.

Nilsen got booked for a foul on Maric, but play was waved on, and Sol Campbell had to make an important interception in the Spurs area. After 37 minutes, Sherwood chipped a good pass to Armstrong to run onto in the Newcastle area. He went down under a Hughes challenge, but the appeals for a penalty were dismissed. Armstrong had another good chance just before the interval, following good work by Sherwood, and Carr, but he shot wide at the near post.

Barton came on at the start of the second half, and it wasn't long before he was in the thick of the action, conceding a penalty. Nilsen had made a forward run into the centre of the park, and passed to Anderton on the right. Carr made the forward run, tracked by Barton, who definitely made contact within the area. Referee Riley had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, which many refs would snub. Whilst Anderton did not hit the shot cleanly, and Given got his right arm agonisingly close to the ball, Spurs did take a deserved lead.

Newcastle responded, and Walker made a superb save tipping a Charvet header over the bar. Following the penalty award, Carr was getting booed by the home crowd at every touch, and perhaps he felt the pressure a little, as a mistake by him gave Ketsbaia a half chance to score. Spurs managed to scramble the ball clear.

Armstrong had a "goal" disallowed following a Carr cross which he headed at the goalie, and then converted the rebound. He was adjudged ( fairly, I have to say ) to have fouled the defender in making the first header. Once again, the action was more central, as the home side gained more possession, and Spurs relied on their twin bank of four defenders to resist the pressure.

After 77 minutes, Ketsbaia scored with one of very few decent chances for Newcastle. Domi passed from the left, and Ketsbaia was hanging back from Campbell and Nilsen, and managed to crack a superb shot from 28 yards. Ian Walker bravely reached the ball, but was unable to turn it round his right post. The nearest Spurs came to scoring after that was three minutes before the end, when Carr sent a long ball into the area. Armstrong headed the ball too early, and weakly towards the goal, when he might have taken more time, and scored.

After the game, Gullit claimed his men were very tired after their game on Saturday. George Graham was in a chirpy frame of mind, and said he was "a bit disappointed. Too many times this season we have not been punishing teams. To be 0-0 at half time was most disappointing".

This was a much better performance than Saturday's game, and Spurs appear to be in good shape for Sunday's match at Old Trafford.

Brian Judson's preview

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