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Match Reports
Spurs v Newcastle, 24.10.98

FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 24TH OCTOBER, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) - NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 (0)

Iversen 38, 76

Attendance:- 36,047

Referee:- Graham Barber

Teams:-
Spurs:- ( 4-4-2 ) Baardsen; Carr, Scales, Campbell, Edinburgh; Anderton, Calderwood, Nielsen, Ginola ( sub Clemence 88 ); Ferdinand ( sub Iversen 18 ), Armstrong

Subs not used:- Walker; Vega; Fox

Booked:- Scales 21, Nielsen 25, Ginola 55

Sent off:- Calderwood (second bookable offence - 85, having been booked after 9 minutes)

Newcastle: (4-4-2) Given; Griffin, Charvet, Pearce, Serrant; Solano, Lee, Batty, Glass ( Sub Speed 54 ); Dalglish ( sub Guivarch 54 ), Shearer

Subs not used:- Perez (GK); Barton; Hughes

Booked:- Dalglish 39, Lee 70

Predicted headline:- "Steff slides home for Spurs"

Not so many years ago, this game would not have been played due to the atrocious weather conditions, before and during the game. There was prolonged heavy rain, which led to quite a few games in the Nationwide, and in Scotland being postponed, or abandoned. Credit must be given to drainage systems, because not only did we get a game of football, but we were entertained and excited, despite the best efforts of a referee who booked Spurs players at the first opportunity, but seemed to ignore similar infringements by the opposition. He did his best to take the fight out of the game, and it was inevitable that someone was going to see red before the game was out. Let me say here and now that Calderwood's first offence was stupid, and deserved a card, but he was unlucky to see a second yellow, and to be sent off. By that time, however. the game was won.

I was excited to hear the team news on the way to the ground. Having been led to believe we were going to see the same team as played at Leicester, we were pleased to hear that Graham had removed Vega and Fox in one stroke, and that Anderton was to play on the right. With Scales taking Vega's position, and performing very well, the changes paid off. Now I know that Fox has his fans, but Anderton also had a very good game, and is far more penetrative than Ruel.

Another surprise was that George Graham was not formally introduced as "our new manager" on his home debut. I wonder who made this decision? I was rather looking forward to the chants of "Yiddo"!

On to the football, and the full house provided plenty of encouragement to the home team, who started brightly, with chances falling swiftly to both Nielsen, and Armstrong. Newcastle seemed to rely on the long boot up the field by the goalie for much of the first half, looking for Shearer or Dalglish to take advantage. In my view the apprentice was more dangerous than the "master", although Dalglish was to be subbed early in the second half.

Spurs' best move in those early stages followed a Ginola corner. The ball was cleared to Anderton, who set Carr up for a run into the box, giving Ferdinand a half chance to score. The shot lacked power, and the attack petered out. Ginola was roundly booed by his former fans, and of course the Spurs fans simply cheered him louder than ever. Why the Newcastle fans have turned so much against him, I don't know, but I suspect they helped to fire him up. I remember a scintillating run from the half way line, down the left, which culminated in a low shot/cross, and also a marvellous shot from outside the area, which Given had to acrobatically push round his right hand post. On Capital Gold, 90% of Londoners voted in favour of Ginola staying at Spurs. Calderwood was interviewed after the game, and there is every suggestion that Daveed is going nowhere.

Ferdinand was substituted early on by the man who was to become the hero of the hour. I don't know the nature of Les's injury, but I do feel that Iversen and Armstrong worked very well, as a team, boding well for the future. A former holder of the number 18 shirt scored a crucial goal the last time we played "The Toon", and his successor most definitely became man of the match with his two goals, and an all round good performance.

After 21 minutes, Scales was carded for what looked like an innocuous sliding tackle. From the quickly taken free kick, Dalglish got a shot that went just to Baardsen's right.

Spurs took a deserved lead after 38 minutes, when a long ball found Armstrong, who headed across the box. The ball was helped on by another Spur, and reached Iversen who was able to slide the ball into the lower left corner.

Newcastle could have equalised 5 minutes later, and believe it or not it was Justin Edinburgh who saved the day, and got a fine tackle in to dispossess Shearer who had a goal scoring opportunity. With this stroke, Edinburgh redeemed the one mistake he had made earlier with an inaccurate pass, that set up an opposition attack.. Ahem - he's actually playing quite well!

Espen Baardsen was called into action more regularly in the second half, having to make a number of good quality saves. My recollection is that Solano, and Serrant brought the best saves of the game, with powerful shots from outside the box. Shearer hardly had a look in, although he did hit the target a couple of times in this period.

Gullit made a double substitution, and there was more ground football in the middle of the park after this move. The entertainment value got better. Spurs at times played some close intricate football, featuring particularly Anderton, Iversen, and Armstrong, each of whom had shots on goal. Armstrong on several occasions was in positions almost as good as the one he reached at Leicester, but he just hasn't got that final touch. As I said earlier, he and Iversen were regularly finding each other, but Armstrong could easily have matched Steff's goal tally. One of the referee's worst decisions was made when he denied Armstrong a corner when he had a powerful curving shot saved by Given.

Iversen had a hat-trick of shots around the time he scored the second goal. The first was a magnificent chipped shot that just went over the bar, after Armstrong set him up; the second was a weaker shot, from an Anderton pass; and then came a gifted crossfield defensive pass, which Iversen pounced upon and eased home with a shot to the goalie's left. Once again Steff is showing the style, and form that he did when he first arrived, and NOT when Francis played him whilst unfit. Sir Les may have a fight on his hands to get back.

I thought the team played very well all round. Nielsen was not at his best, but does show plenty of fight, and we all know that Calderwood is not the man for the holding position. These two obviously gave the defence plenty of support, but their passing was lacking. Scales looked very competent, and it was noticeable that the centre backs were covering each other all the time. I think Ramon will be saying bye bye very soon.

As a result of this win, we have leapt up to 8th in a league which is very tight in the middle. Charlton beat West Ham 4-2 today, suggesting that our next home game will be as challenging ( if not more ) as this one.

Brian Judson's preview

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