FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 9TH JANUARY, 1999
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee:- Gary Willard
Wednesday (4-4-2):- Srnicek; Atherton, Emerson Thom, Walker, Hinchcliffe; Alexanderson, Jonk, Stefanovic, Rudi; Carbone, Humphreys
Subs not used:- Pressman (GK); Newsome, Briscoe, Sonner, Sanetti
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell, Sinton; Anderton ( sub Clemence, 27 ), Freund, Nielsen, Ginola ( sub Edinburgh, 67 ); Iversen, Ferdinand ( sub Arnstrong, 8 )
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Calderwood
Booked:- Freund, Nielsen
This was possibly the worst Spurs performance to date under George Graham. We went to Hillsborough looking for our first away premiership victory under the new master, and Sheffield were hoping to achieve their first league "double" of the season. Neither team's aspirations were met, but it was Wednesday, and in particular Carbone, who came out of this game with the most credit. In fairness, the absence of Fox, and the early loss of Ferdinand, and Anderton to injuries, deprived Spurs of some of their wing options, but the away fans were given little cause to cheer, and the atmosphere was flat for much of the game. Steffen Freund made his debut, and has the number 4 shirt. He looked off the pace for much of the game,but he did show fight, skill, and determination, which is more than I can say for his midfield colleagues. I thought Nielsen was quite appalling today, particularly with his ( lack of ) passing.
Ginola was well marshalled by Atherton and Alexandersson, and was eventually withdrawn, to be replaced by Edinburgh midway through the second half. No doubt, by this time, Graham saw no chance of a win, and wanted to shore up against a late home goal. Although he was kept relatively quiet, Ginola was at all times our main hope of a break through, and it was a disappointment to see him leave the field.
Ginola was this week named Carling Player of the month for December, and Carbone was given a similar award by a football publication before the game. It has to be said that it was the little Italian who stole the limelight, weaving his magic over any Spurs defender, toying with them at times. Rudi and Jonk were talented colleagues for him, and there were many threats to Spurs throughout the game from long penetrating balls through, and over the defence for the likes of Humphreys to chase. Luckily for Spurs, Wednesday had no decent finisher. Their best chances fell in the first half to Alexandersson, and Stefanovic in front of goal, but they both fired over the bar. Whilst not making any spectacular saves, Walker was on his toes throughout, and anticipated a lot of the danger by gathering the ball on the edge of his area on many occasions. Sadly, his misguided kicks failed to ease the pressure too often.
Stefanovic had already had two weak headers on target, when Carbone was robbed of the ball on the edge of our area, and Spurs had a decent counter attack, which culminated in Iversen hitting the side netting. After some more magic by Carbone, good work by Freund gave Iversen a chance on goal, but his shot was well saved.
Whilst he had been on the field, Anderton seemed to want to play in the middle, and hardly made it out to the right flank, where he should have been.
With 8 minutes to go before half time, Nielsen shamefully let Stefanovic go clear, to feed the ball to Carbone, whose shot was deflected over by Sol Campbell. The game warmed up before half time, as the home crowd started to get on Ginola's back, leading, of course to increased support from us ! A Ginola cross was met by Steffan Iversen, forcing another save from Srnicek, who seems to have found a new lease of life.
Ginola had a penalty appeal turned down, when he was seemingly brought down by Atherton, and there was considerable Spurs pressure for a while including a Freund shot on goal.
In the second half, Rudi gave Steve Carr a hard time down the left, and he soon fed Humphreys whose shot was well saved by Walker. Then Ginola evaded his markers for once, and reached Iversen with a cross. The Norwegians header across the goal was cleared off the line by Emerson. Another chance came for Spurs when Freund won a free kick down the right; Clemence took the kick, and Chris Armstrong's close range effort was punched clear by Srnicek.
Rest assured there was plenty ( most) of (the) action at the other end, as Rudi had a long shot saved by Walker, and Carbone continued to penetrate. Stevie Carr got forward a bit more, and one pass to Nielsen was nearly converted, but the Dane shot wide. Jonk had a long range shot that nearly went in off a deflection, forcing Ian Walker into action again. The re-instated number one came to the rescue with seven minutes to go, when clearing from a goalmouth scramble.
The fact that Freund and Nielsen were booked indicates the struggle we were having at times, to hold back the surge. The game got a bit messy towards the end, and Carbone got himself booked for expressing his dissatisfaction with an offside decision by kicking the ball away.
Generally speaking, Spurs attacks came in spasms only, and very few chances. Armstrong, and Iversen were well controlled by Walker, and Emerson. Our passing was very poor, together with ball control, and inability to control the middle of the park. We have done well to come out of this game with a point,and will have to improve vastly when we meet Wimbledon next week, and the week after, and the week after that!!!
· Brian Judson's match preview.
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