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Wimbledon v Spurs, 23.01.99

FA CUP ROUND 4
SATURDAY 3RD JANUARY, 1999
WIMBLEDON 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Wimbledon scorer -
Earle 60

Spurs scorer -
Ginola 72

Attendance:- 22,229

Referee:- Dermot Gallagher

Teams:-
Wimbledon:- (4-4-2) Sullivan; Cunningham, Perry, Blackwell, Thatcher; Ardley ( sub Cort, 74 ), Roberts, Earle, M. Hughes; Leaburn, Euell ( sub C. Hughes, 85 )

Subs not used:- Heald (GK); Kimble; Kennedy

Booked:- Ardley, M. Hughes

Spurs:- (4-4-2) Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Edinburgh; Fox ( sub Ferdinand, 72), Anderton, Freund, Ginola; Armstrong, Iversen

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Calderwood, Tarrico, Sinton.

George Graham put a flair team out on the mud patch that is Selhurst Park, and it was his finest "flair" player who scored the sweetest of equalisers, after it looked like Robbie Earle's overhead kick would be enough to put the Dons into the next round. As it is, these two sides will have to meet YET again, in ten days time, as this encounter resembles more and more the marathon replays of cup ties of yesteryear. One gets the feeling that, if only Spurs would keep the ball down and play the sort of ground football of which they are capable, then they would overcome this opposition. However, Freund, Fox, and Anderton had trouble with their passing game too often, and Spurs were often on the defensive against the physically challenging Wimbledon forwards, although Sullivan was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Graham selected Vega ahead of Calderwood, perhaps because of his more physical presence. Whilst not wishing to damn the Swiss defender, Spurs fans did often have their heads in their hands as Ramon made the occasional lapse. It is only fair to say that Sol Campbell too had a little trouble handling Leaburn and Euell, but overall the impending assault prosecution did not seem to affect the Spurs captain's game. Luke Young was not even on the bench. One wonders if his 9 match sojourn will be his last taste of the Premiership for a while ?

As is the norm, Spurs fans easily outnumbered those of the home side, and David Ginola got a special welcome onto the pitch. It was however Spurs who had the early fright as Jason Euell found himself in front of goal in the first minute. He fired wide to the delight of the visitors. Soon after that Armstrong won a free kick on the right; Anderton took, and Iversen headed into Sullivan's hands.

Justin Edinburgh was to feature prominently in this game ( more later ), but he defended strongly, and supported Ginola very well. One such build up, involving Edinburgh led to an Anderton shot just over goal in the eighth minute. Whilst not threatening Walker, Wimbledon were attacking strongly, and Thatcher had a powerful shot from a corner.

There were to be no theatricals from Ginola today, but he did excel for Spurs. After 16 minutes, he waltzed into the area past Ardley, delivering the ball to Fox, whose short range shot seemed to be beaten down by a hand, but the crowd's appeals were more vociferous than any by the players. Ardley was in action at the other end when Anderton only half cleared a Cunningham cross to allow the shot on goal from the Wimbledon number 12.

It is a fact that since the arrival of George Graham, David Ginola is to be found more often actually helping in the defending half of the field, and mid-way through the first half, he drew rapturous applause for a wonderful piece of skill, which, without him even touching the ball, deluded the opposition. Ginola was able to lead a counter attack as a result.

As the first half progressed, Spurs started to play some pretty football, and built up the pressure. Fox, Anderton, and Freund were linking up well going forward at this stage. There was action at the other end though, notably when Carr cleared a Euell header off his line.

In the 39th minute, Ginola had a cracking right foot shot saved by Sullivan, and converted by Iversen, but unfortunately the linesman's flag was already up, and the goal was disallowed for offside. Soon after this, Carr had a superb cheeky 30 yard shot saved by the keeper

Into the second half, and there were no clear cut chances for a while, although Fox was to be found defending and usefully clearing the ball from the feet of Euell in a dangerous shooting position. There was a marvellous counter attack by Iversen, with Chris Armstrong desperately making ground to give Steff a pass. Understandably, Armo was too tired to put any real power into his shot, although he forced another save. The nearest thing to a penalty appeal for Spurs today, was an occasion when Armstrong was impeded as he entered the area. I thought at least an obstruction would have been appropriate.

The stalemate was broken on the hour. Earle started this attack, and passed to Ardley on the right. Ardley crossed; Leaburn headed down, and Earle spectacularly scored past the stranded Walker with an overhead kick.

As you would expect, this did cause the Spurs to go up a gear. Within two minutes, Ginola was crossing for Armstrong to head powerfully towards goal, but once again, he was foiled by Sullivan. Another Armstrong header from an Iversen cross went over, minutes later.

Then came the piece de resistance; one of the best goals I have seen this season, carved by the one and only Ginola. An attack from the right led to the ball being passed to David about 25 yards from goal in the centre of the park.There were plenty of men between him and the goal, but he jinked to the right, made a bit of room for himself, and then hit the sweetest, most powerful, low drive into the bottom left corner (goalie's left ) of the goal. This is a video you will want to watch time and time again ! The Spurs fans were naturally ecstatic, and the name "Ginola, Ginola!" rang around the ground for a considerable time.

It was clear that both managers wanted to win this match, as they both substituted attackers for a midfielder. There was pressure at both ends, but the main talking point was the foul by Edinburgh upon Euell, which led to the latter taking no further part in the game. Now I should mention that it was Edinburgh who was fouled by both the Wimbledon players who were booked, and that shortly before this infringement, Euell had given Justin some stick. I didn't see what Edinburgh got booked for in the first half, but most observers agree that he was lucky not to get sent off for a second bookable offence.

After the game, George Graham called both the referee and David Ginola the man of the match, making the point that both had been put under a lot of pressure during the build up to this game. Graham was clearly alluding towards the various quotes from Joe Kinnear. Graham also said "It's nice to still be in the cup. There's not more than one goal between us, in the FA Cup or the Worthington Cup.

Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear praised Ginola after the game. He said "It looks as though he's cleaned up his act. I think Spurs are happier with the result than we are "

Rumour has it that Dermot Gallagher asked Ginola for his shirt after the game.

Brian Judson's Fourth Round match preview

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