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Spurs v West Ham, 24.04.99

SATURDAY 24th APRIL, 1999
FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) WEST HAM UNITED 2 (1)

Spurs scorer:-
Ginola, 72

West Ham Scorers:-
Wright, 4
Keller, 65

Attendance:- 36,089

Referee:- Uriah Rennie

Teams:-

Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell, Taricco; Anderton ( sub Allan Nielsen, 73 ), Freund, Sherwood, Ginola; Iversen ( sub Armstrong, 83 ), Dominguez

Subs not used:-Baardsen; Roger Nilsen; Fox

Booked:- Anderton, Ginola, Taricco

West Ham (4-4-2):- Hislop; Lomas, Pearce, Ferdinand, Minto; Sinclair, Lampard, Moncur, Keller; Berkovic, Wright ( sub Lazarides, 90 )

Subs not used:- Forrest (GK); Mean, Bullard, Cole

Booked:- Berkovic, Moncur, Ferdinand, Lomas

Sent off:- Moncur ( violent conduct, 89 )

If Spurs hadn't played like a bunch of patsies for so much of the game, until Ginola scored out of the blue after 72 minutes, then they might have got something out of it. As it was, they were outplayed until that point, and only then did they get the bit between their teeth, and play with passion. The enigmatic Hislop rode his luck, and managed to pull off a number of good saves, whilst escaping when he mis-cued a clearance towards an opponent. West Ham were full of speed and endeavour; with plenty of running off the ball, whilst Spurs were too often static, expecting things to happen for them. Of the Spurs defenders, only Ian Walker can hold his head up high, and say that he was not embarrassed by the Hammers attack, for each of the back four was exposed at various times ( Yes - even Sol Campbell, but particularly Taricco ) by the piercing passes of Berkovic; the skill of Sinclair, and whilst it hurts to say so, the speed and ability of Wright. Freund harried away as always, but surprisingly, little Jose Dominguez ( making his first start of the season ) got some of the most telling tackles in during the first half. Even Sherwood looked a little below par in those early stages. Too many passes were short, and the home side were fortunate to be only one down at half time.

The dust had hardly settled before Lampard found himself in front of goal, with only Walker to beat. Somehow, he contrived to fail to make a decent contact on the ball, and Walker retrieved the ball. Dominguez had one or two forays, but there were only four minutes on the clock, when Spurs went behind. Berkovic pierced the defence to put Sinclair clear; Walker raced out of his area to make an emergency clearance, but unfortunately the ball went straight to Wright, who casually chipped home from at least 30 yards. He got his usual abuse from the home crowd, but quite honestly, he seems to thrive on the attention. He also shared a bit of banter with his mate Walker, after the re-start.

It didn't look like becoming a physical game in the early stages, as the play went from end to end ( mostly towards ours ! ). The West Ham defence made a few rickets, but got away with it all the time. For instance:- Sinclair passed into his own central defensive area, into the path of Anderton, who shot over the bar. One of Hislop's poor kicks fell to Iversen, who fluffed his opportunity to score. Sherwood picked up another poor clearance on the edge of the area, and chipped for goal, but the ball was headed clear just in front of the goal. Then Sinclair left Taricco standing, and forced a good save from Walker.

Berkovic got booked for making a meal of a Freund challenge, and this set a pattern for Rennie's attitude, as he later booked Ginola for allegedly diving in the area. I suppose his only other option would have been to give a penalty. Lomas, playing at right back, got in on the "Let's beat Taricco" act, and had a powerful cross-shot saved by Walker. This was the least impressive performance I have seen from Taricco today, and gives some cause for concern. Still in the first half, and Lampard easily beat Sol ( perhaps worrying about the forthcoming flight to Hungary ), but shot wide.

Presumably, Graham issued at least 9 kicks up the backside at half time ( I exclude Walker and Dominguez ), but it didn't work initially, as Keller had a shot tipped round for a corner, and then fired against the post from the set piece. It was Dominguez who showed the first piece of passion to fire the crowd, when he won the ball in the middle of the park, and sent Ginola on a run. The shot went just over the target. Jose himself then shot for goal, but was unable to beat Hislop.

On 65 minutes, the visitors went two up. Berkovic split the defence, and Keller ran clear, with only Walker to beat, and he didn't make a mistake as he slid the ball home. Spurs got back into the game on 72 minutes, with a solo goal from Ginola. I was just thinking he may be substituted as he was having an off-day generally speaking, when he carved out the chance for himself, and hit a superb right foot shot from at least 25 yards. Allan Nielsen came on for the jaded Anderton, and had an immediate effect. Another Hislop miskick spun all around Iversen, who just couldn't get near enough to the ball to score.

Dominguez forced another fine save with a 20 yard shot, and soon after there was an almighty melee involving just about everyone on the pitch. I don't know what started it, and Rennie had to consult his linesman, and ended up booking Taricco and Ferdinand. The chances for Spurs came thick and fast as full time beckoned. Campbell headed a Carr free kick just wide; Sherwood had a useful header from a Ginola free kick. Then with less than ten minutes to go, Armstrong replaced the less than impressive Iversen. He did have an impact as he won a few balls in the air against the injured Pearce. One such ball led to a quite spectacular overhead effort from Sherwood. Nielsen had a flying header saved, after another Carr cross, and Hislop saved another Sol header.

Just before the final whistle, Moncur was sent off after a desperately late tackle against Dominguez, but it was too late for Spurs to take advantage. At various stages, Spurs fans taunted the visitors with "We're in Europe - you're not !", but West Ham could still find a path into the EUFA cup, and on this performance, they deserve the opportunity.

There was a marvellous reception before the game for the one and only Bill Nicholson, wearing his Freeman of the Borough pendant, as "Bill Nicholson Way" was officially named today. Bill stepped out onto the pitch, accompanied by the likes of George Robb, Tommy Harmer, Dave Mackay, Ron Henry, Pat Jennings and David Pleat. Brian - you would have been chuffed for I believe it was Harmer ( still sprightly looking ) who cheekily demonstrated a bit of ball play as the players warming up greeted the entourage.

Brian Judson's preview

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