Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey FA Cup 5th Rd match preview - Leeds v Spurs, 13.02.99
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Spurs Odyssey FA Cup Fifth Round Preview - Leeds v Spurs, 13.02.99

This preview was written by Brian Judson

The following are our FA Cup results against Leeds United :

1953-54 FAC3  A  3-3  Bennett 2 Walters
        FAC3R H  1-0  Bennett
1971-72 FAC6  A  1-3  Pratt
1981-82 FAC4  H  1-0  Crooks

The first tie against Leeds was the start of a run that took us to the Sixth Round of the FA Cup where we lost to the eventual winners, West Bromwich Albion. It was the last throw of the dice for Rowe's team. Rowe was already feeling the effects of the strain of being at the helm of the club after five years. Les Medley had already gone back to Canada and most of the rest of that great team were going to disappear from the team sheet during 1954. The team throughout that last Cup run was virtually the same throughout it. It was : Ditchburn; Ramsey, Withers; Nicholson, Clarke, Burgess; Walters, Bennett, Duquemin, Baily and Robb. The only change came for the tie against Hull City in the 5th Round replay when Ralph Wetton replaced Ronnie Burgess. Otherwise the same team appeared in all six ties.

Spurs were fortunate to get a draw at Leeds, thanks to goals by Bennett (2), and Walters. In the replay, Bennett scored the only goal of the game the following Wednesday afternoon.

For the Cup tie in 1971-72, Spurs fielded : Jennings; Evans, Knowles, Pratt, England, Beal, Gilzean, Perryman, Chivers, Peters (sub Coates), Morgan.

Spurs had reached the Sixth Round by making extremely hard work of removing Carlisle from the Cup in their 3rd Round tie. Gilzean had scored the goal that took them back to Brunton Park. The replay was on the radio and I remember asking my mother to listen to it for me (Ed: Brian was deaf) whilst she was doing the weekly ironing. Carlisle were winning 1-0 as the second half started. Spurs weren't playing well as they rarely performed well on grounds such as Carlisle's, where it is compact. But then Gilzean and Chivers struck twice in a minute to swing the tie round. I remember going berserk in the kitchen and making so much noise my father couldn't hear the TV in the living room and told me to quieten down. Chivers scored a second goal to make the tie safe.

In the Fourth Round, Spurs beat Rotherham United, 2-0, Gilzean and Pratt scoring the goals. Rotherham were probably overawed by the size of the crowd (36,903) and did not, as I recall, give Tottenham much trouble.

In the Fifth Round, we won 2-0 at Everton, much to my surprise. In the past, Goodison Park had not been a happy hunting ground for us. Yet Spurs played very well with Gilzean and Peters scoring the goals that gave us the tie at Leeds. Hunter Davies described the game in his book 'The Glory Game'.

The tie was the first time that a team limbered up as a unit for a warm up. Even at that late stage, most teams just came out five minutes before the kick-off and lazily kicked old footballs about and took pot shots at their goalkeeper. That day, Leeds went out a full 10 minutes before the kick-off and went through the sort of routine that is now commonplace at most grounds.

For the first twenty minutes, Spurs were on the rack as Leeds switched on to provide their best football. They could have been 4-0 ahead after twenty minutes but for poor shooting and Pat Jennings, who saved at least three certain goals. And then, just before half-time, Pratt, of all players, skied a high ball into the Leeds penalty area. Chivers outjumped the Leeds defence but couldn't get to the ball. Sprake flapped at the ball and completely missed it and no one could prevent the ball bouncing and running loose into Leeds' unguarded goal. It was a stunning turn around after Spurs had been under the cosh for most of the first half.

Leeds immediately struck back. Within two minutes they were level. They peppered the Spurs goal from every conceivable angle before one shot by Clarke eluded everyone in the Spurs defence.

The second half saw Spurs under the cosh again as Leeds piled on the pressure. During it, they won a free-kick. Charlton went up for the free-kick and stood in front of Pat Jennings. The ball came over and Charlton simply nodded it into the goal.

Leeds could have scored several more goals but eventually ran out of steam. For much of the last twenty minutes, Spurs had the home side on the rack but an equaliser simply refused to come, even with Sprake continuing to make mistakes that his defenders retrieved for him.

In the dressing room, the Spurs players bickered over the responsibility for conceding two goals. Very likely it was probably Knowles who had most to be blamed for, because whilst he was very good at going forward, like many other defenders before and since his time, he was not very good at recovering his defensive position on some occasions. This usually occurred when he was feuding with the opposition.

Leeds went on to win the Cup, beating that anonymous little team from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road, 1-0. That Final saw something very odd happen for the first time. The referee was David Smith from Stonehouse, in Gloucestershire. He was a no-frills referee who played strictly by the book but he was fair and he would play the unofficial advantage rule if he saw a team would benefit by committing a foul. McNab fouled one of the Leeds players right in front of the Royal Box in the very first minute of the game. Up to that time, nobody had ever been booked in the Cup Final before but McNab was shocked to the core when he not only received a long lecture but was also booked. Since then, of course, we have seen Kevin Moran sent off in a Cup Final .....

But I digress .....

The last time we played Leeds in the Cup, they were sliding to relegation at the end of 1981-82. We had beaten Arsenal in the Third Round, courtesy of a very, very rare mistake by Pat Jennings. Crooks had unleashed a shot that Pat had saved but then allowed the ball to squirm under his body and roll into the goal. Later in the game, Jennings was injured and had to go off. It was destined to be the longest he had ever been out injured.

In the Fourth Round we had played Leeds. Again, we did not have much trouble in winning 1-0 with Crooks again scoring. It could and should have been a bigger victory for Tottenham as Leeds were very poor that season.

Spurs, of course, went on to win the Cup, beating QPR after a replay in two eminently forgettable matches. Most fans thought the true Cup Final that season had been played in the 6th Round when we had beaten Chelsea, 3-2. The period when Spurs scored their three goals was probably the best fifteen minutes of football in Keith Burkinshaw's time as a manager.

So to Elland Road for this season's Cup tie. It has been billed as 'The Master versus The Sorcerer's Apprentice' by the tabloids but I don't think it is as simple as that. Whilst David O'Leary is still very inexperienced as a manager, he is clearly destined to be one of the leading managers of his generation. A very dull and ploddy defender with that very anonymous team on the other side of North London, O'Leary has metamorphosed from being an ugly duckling into a beautiful white swan. Leeds are a much more attractive side under O'Leary than at any time since the 1973-74 season.

Spurs will have to watch players such as Harry Kewell and Alan Smith very carefully if they play. They seem to have a knack of conjuring up goals out of nothing. Hasselbaink has been out of form recently but has still set up chances for others to score. Even if they fail to score, Leeds have a very good goalkeeper in Nigel Martyn at the other end to block Tottenham's shots.

I will be very surprised if Tottenham win first time out because Elland Road is not one of our lucky grounds. I think we are capable of snatching a draw and winning the replay at Tottenham but we have to ride the storm of the first twenty minutes or so. If we can do that, the crowd will start to become edgy and that may have an effect on their team. Much, of course, will depend on Ginola's mood. He must not allow himself to be deflected from the crunching tackles the Leeds' defenders will throw at him in an attempt to reduce him to a whingy, peevish player, as he is sometimes wont to do when the referee fails to spot what is going on.

Cheers, Brian

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