Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey Worthington Cup semi-final match preview - Spurs v Wimbledon, 27.01.1999
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Spurs Odyssey Worthington Cup semi-final Preview - Spurs v Wimbledon, 27.01.99

Previous League Cup results :

1977-78 Rd 2 H    4-0  Duncan 3 Osgood (pen)
1985-66 Rd 3 H    2-0  Mabbutt, Leworthy   
The 1977 meeting was Wimbledon's first ever League Cup tie following their election to the Football League two months earlier. As the score line indicated, Wimbledon were playing with the team that had won the Southern League championship two seasons on the trot and had recently beaten Burnley in an FA Cup tie at Turf Moor. At that time, Burnley were still in the old First Division and had yet to tumble to the nether regions of the League. I forget now why I didn't go to the game but I do know I missed this one and had to wait until Wimbledon, by then a very different team, were promoted to the old First Division before I saw them for the first time.

Ed:- Brian must have also missed the November 1985 meeting between the two clubs, also in this competition, when goals by Gary Mabbutt and substitute Dave Leworthy gave us a 2-0 win. Wimbledon's side included Dave Beasant, Nigel Winterburn (pre Arsenal days), Ian Holloway and Lawrie Sanchez. Leworthy had replaced 20 year old winger Richard Cooke making only his 12th start for Spurs.

As there are few memories to recall, I thought I would have a look at some of the previous matches we have played at this stage of the competition. Our first semi-final appearance was against Arsenal in 1968-69. I saw both legs of that tie. In the match played at Highbury, they scored in the last thirty seconds of the game (bloody John Radford - grrr!) to snatch a slight advantage. The second leg was a bad-tempered affair with both sides more intent on paying off old scores and feuding throughout the game. The red shirted heathen unfortunately secured a 1-1 draw to go through to the Final. Greaves scored our goal but perhaps was guilty of missing a few good chances. (The one redeeming feature of this result was that we were able to enjoy the sight of Swindon Town stuffing the Gooners 3-1 and observing Bob Wilson looking a total prat in goal for them.)

Two seasons later, we were on our way to our first League Cup win. We played Bristol City at the Semi-Final stage. We drew 1-1 at Ashton Gate thanks to a vital goal scored by Alan Gilzean. We won the second leg 2-0 at Tottenham, Chivers and Pearce scoring the vital goals. But Mike England broke an ankle and missed the rest of the season.

A year later, we lost to Chelsea, a result that still rankles. We lost 3-2 at the Bridge, Naylor and Chivers scoring for us. Naylor played a brilliant game, making only one mistake, but it cost us that single goal difference. We drew the second leg 2-2, Chivers and Peters (penalty) scoring our goals. But it was the last minute goal that Chelsea scored that really rankles. The referee awarded a free kick to Chelsea on the left and definitely indicated it was an *INDIRECT* free kick. Hudson took the kick and Cyril Knowles looked to have it covered. We all screamed to Cyril to "Boot it anywhere!" as there were only seconds left. But Cyril evidently remembered the referee's decision and somehow allowed it to creep over the goal-line. It was then the referee - bloody Rex Tinkler, if I correctly recall - awarded a goal to Chelsea. We were all stunned. The Tottenham players swarmed like angry wasps around the referee but he was awarding a goal and wasn't listening. Unsurprisingly, Bill Nicholson heavily criticised Cyril Knowles for not playing to the whistle. However, we had the last laugh as Chelsea lost to Stoke City in the Final.

Another twelve months and we were in the Semi-Finals again, this time to Wolves. Memories were still fresh in our minds of our UEFA Cup victory over Wolves in the previous May. Peters and Pratt scored the goals that gave us a slim 2-1 lead for the second leg. At Tottenham, the match was played on a Saturday afternoon because of the three day week and energy crisis. We should have been playing Wolves in a League match anyway. The tie went to extra time before we knew we were going back to Wembley. Chivers and Peters scored the vital goals. We went on to beat Norwich City in what was undoubtedly our worst ever Cup Final victory. It was so boring that the only things that stick in my mind was Pratt's unlucky substitution because of injury after only nine minutes and Ralph Coates' lucky mis-kick that won us the Cup.

We then had to wait until 1975-76 for another journey to the Semi-Finals. This time it was Newcastle United. The team had been totally transformed with all our better players transferred out by Terry Neill, quietly preparing us for relegation before achieving a successful mission and returning to Highbury. John Pratt gave us a solitary goal to defend in the second leg on Tyneside but we lost the second leg 3-1. Don McAllister scored our only goal up there. Manchester City beat Newcastle 2-1 in the Final.

Our next semi-final was not until 1981-82 in a season where we looked likely to win four trophies but ended up with only one. We drew 0-0 at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion but won the second leg 1-0 thanks to Micky Hazard. In the Final, we were leading 1-0 with four minutes to go when Archibald hit a post to prevent us winning 2-0. Liverpool broke away to equalise and then beat us in extra time.

We then had to wait until 1986-87 for our next Semi-Final, which was against Arsenal. George Graham was in his first season as their manager. Clive Allen scored the only goal of the match at their place but we lost the second leg 2-1 after extra time. Allen again scored. In those days we did not have penalty kicks to settle a result so we had to play a third match. We won the toss to decide where it should be played but lost the replay 2-1, despite Clive Allen giving us an early lead. They went on to lift the Cup, beating Liverpool, 2-1.

Our last Semi-Final was in 1991-92 when we played Nottingham Forest. We drew 1-1 up there, thanks to a Gary Lineker penalty. No one will ever forget the replay. The start of the game was delayed for 90 minutes because of a hoax bomb alert by the IRA which kept everyone standing in the High Road in a torrential downpour whilst the bomb squad checked to see whether there was a bomb there. Forest were least affected by the delay and won 2-1, Lineker scoring our goal. The lasting impression I have of that game is the tireless way Stuart Pearce marshalled his defence. He always led from the front, a typical hard working, hard but fair tackling and honest.

I personally admired the way he sent himself up in the pizza commercial in the wake of Gareth Southgate missing *his* penalty for England. It must have hurt Pearce (and Waddle) to be reminded of their failures but I still laughed as Southgate walked in to a pillar as Pearce chortled, "'e it the post again!"!

As to the outcome of tomorrow night's tie with Wimbledon, we do need to extract an advantage if we can do so. If we can do that, Wimbledon will have to recover their position at Selhurst Park and will have to attack us, leaving themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack as they were exposed when Klinsmann scored four goals against them last May. But I suspect it will be another very tight and very close match. I will not be surprised if it ends goal-less. If there is a goal, then whoever scores that will, I think, go on to the Final. Let us hope it is Tottenham who benefit from a goal!

Cheers, Brian

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