Looking Forward

 

TORQUAY UNITED

Worthington Cup Round 2

Thursday 13th September 2001

Having just avoided relegation tot he Vauxhall Conference last season by beating Barnet on the last day, the Gulls have started this season where they left of last term.  They are rooted at the bottom of Division Three again and new manager Roy McFarland has a job on his hands to raise them from the basement of the League.

He has only been in post for a few weeks and has little money to work with, thus has had to rely on free transfers and youngsters to build a squad around the existing experience at the club.

In goal they have a familiar face to Spurs fans of 10 or more years service.  Kevin Dearden, latterly of Brentford and Wrexham, has found his way to Plainmoor and is the current custodian.  He follows in a long line of large goalkeepers including Neville Southall.  There are a number of other keepers at the club and Stuart Jones was the one who played at the end of last season to keep them up, but he did make some rickets on the way to safety.

In defence, the Gulls have a number of players who have been at the club for a little while.  Robbie Herrera (formerly of Fulham and QPR), Paul Holmes (from WBA in 1999), Lee Russell from Bournemouth in 1998) and the referee's favourite Jimmy Aggrey all have experience in the lower leagues, while Ryan Green and David Woozley are youngsters at Torquay with experience at a higher level with Wolves and Palace respectively.  Stephen Woods has come in from Chesterfield, Jason Rowbothan from neighbours Plymouth Argyle and Martin McNeil on loan from Cambridge to provide some competition for places.

Midfield boats the presence of a South African on loan in the shape of Anton Greyling from Supersport United, who McFarland is assessing before making a decision on a permanent move.  Jason Rees has knocked around the South-West football scene and had a place in the side at the end of last season, scoring one of the goals at Barnet to help Torquay stay up.  Mick O'Brien and Brian Healey have been in and out of the side over the last few years, but score important goals from midfield, while Richard Kell was signed on a freebie from Middlesbrough in March and has the potential to do well.  Chris Brandon has come through the ranks at United and could feature strongly this season.  Alex Russell has been brought to Plainmoor by his former manager from Cambridge United and is an attacking midfielder.

David Graham is a former Dunfermline striker, who grabbed the vital third goal at Underhill to maintain the Gulls League status.  Small, but nippy, he has given the forward line a new dimension.  Neville Roach has been brought in from Oldham Athletic, and will be one of the strikers vying for a place along with Eifion Williams the record signing from Barry Town and Kevin Hill who came through the youth system at Torquay and was another goalscorer on that crucial day in North London.  The other strikers available to the Torquay boss are Kevin Parker who was signed for free from Norwich City and Tony Bedeau, another home-grown forward.

The Gulls have started this season off with a few dodgy results - a loss on the opening day to Bristol Rovers, followed by a 0-3 at home against York, then a 0-1 loss at Kidderminster.  The side got a 2-1 win over Carlisle at Plainmoor, before going 2-0 up away to Cheltenham before being pegged back to 2-2.  Next Saturday they visit Plymouth Argyle in a Devon derby before travelling for this match.

They did beat Bournemouth of Division Two away from home to get to this stage and should not be underestimated.  Last time we met at the same round of the League Cup, it was over two legs and they beat us 1-0 at their place on a rainy night, but Spurs did the necessary in the second leg.  This time the result is determined on the night, so Spurs cannot afford to make any mistakes and therefore, I think they will go through as long as they keep the midfield tight and put away the chances that they make ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham   4    Torquay United  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

 

 

Tottenham  2    Torquay United  0                                 (Half time score:  0-0)
WORTHINGTON CUP Round 2
Thursday 13th September 2001
Weather : -  Rainy, chilly.
Crowd : -   20,347
Referee : - Mr. M. Warren (Walsall)

Scorers : -  Tottenham -  King 61, Ferdinand 69
                  Torquay United   -   None

CARDS

Spurs :   King 56 (dissent)

Torquay United :  Williams 10 (foul), McNeil 19 (foul), Brandon 60 (foul)

TEAMS 

Spurs:  Keller, Taricco, Doherty (Bunjevcevic 12), Perry, Ziege, Freund, King, Leonhardsen (Sheringham 45), Davies, Ferdinand (Etherington 74), Rebrov.
Subs Not Used:
Sullivan, Thelwell.

Torquay United :  Dearden, Tully, Alex Russell, Hill, Rees, Douglin, Brandon (Nicholls 86), McNeil, Woozley, Graham (Benfield 77), Williams (Roach 74).
Subs Not Used:
Lee Russell, Northmore.

As usual, Spurs did little to set the fans nerves at ease with a performance that left them a crossbar's width away form going behind to the League's bottom club, before going on to win.

The impeccably observed minute's silence for those who died in the American terrorist attacks was only interrupted by a sudden, short heavy downpour of rain which made the moment more poignant.  When the match kicked off and with the chance to rack up some confidence building goals, Spurs started sluggishly.  The visitors made themselves busy with terrier-like tackling, earning two early bookings and some neat passing.

As usual, when Spurs got near the goal, they missed the target by going over or wide.  Torquay were obviously going to give it a go and Spurs started like they would never be in any danger, but they soon were.  A Williams hit a shot weakly after kicking the ground, when well placed on the edge of the box with only two minutes on the clock, then a Chris Perry clearance bounced off a Gulls forward and almost went past Keller, who had to scramble back to grab the ball.   By this time Doherty was being laid out on the turf by a late tackle from Williams that earned him a yellow card and it saw the Doc disappear on a stretcher and take no further part in this evening's game.  Nor would he ready to play for quite a while by the look of it and we later heard that he had suffered a suspected broken leg or ankle ligament damage - both of which could mean a lengthy lay-off.

Balls into the box by both sides were easily taken by the respective keepers and neither was directly troubled until Taricco hit a shot straight at Dearden, returning to White Hart Lane, in the Torquay goal.  This was quickly followed by Leo slipping Les in on the right hand corner of the box, but his shot across the goal was easily held by Dearden.  Spurs had built some good passing, but Davies and Ferdinand both failed to gather the ball on the skiddy surface when poised to strike on goal.  But, that was exactly what Woozley did from the edge of the penalty area after a quickly taken free kick on the half hour.  Hill crossed the ball in low and the centre half on loan from Crystal Palace hit a first time shot on the turn that crashed onto the crossbar.

The ex-Spurs keeper played a controversial role in the match with two penalty shouts going against Torquay and he was involved in one of them.  The first came when he went up to punch away a deflected shot by Les, but a defender seemed to shove Leonhardsen over in the area, but the ref did not give a spot-kick.  The second featured the former Tottenham custodian more strongly.  This was in the second half, when Rebrov was put through and he lobbed the ball over the advancing keeper.  Dearden got hands to the ball, but he appeared to be outside his box when he did so.  Once again, the ref let play go on and nothing resulted from the move.

Les had Spurs' best chance before the break when Ziege's inviting low ball was poked over the bar of his shin from a couple of yards out.  Ziege also had a weak shot, as did Rebrov, before Kasey ran out form his goal to head away a through ball as Williams closed in.

At the end of the half there was more silence as the teams trooped off and the poor souls watching on ITV Digital must have wondered which was the Third Division team, as Torquay had really played the better of the two sides.

The second half saw things change, with that made by Glenn Hoddle - Sheringham on for Leo.  Ted's flicks didn't pay off straight away as he did give the ball away a bit, but the longer the half went on the better he linked up with Rebrov and Ferdinand.  However, the best chance early in the half fell to Torquay, when a cross form the right was completely missed by Williams, before it fell to hill, who couldn't compose himself enough to hit the target, blasting the ball high over the goal.  

Then came the Dearden handball incident, before Brandon pulled Freund's shorts down as the German ran away form him.  This earned Spurs a free-kick and the Gull a booking.  Having kicked the ball away, Brandon then handed Spurs an extra ten yards, which Ziege made the most of.  A wicked bending free-kick between defenders and keeper found Ledley King racing in to prod past the goalie.  Even though his marker was trying to extricate Ledley's shirt from his back, the young Spurs defender still managed to get ahead of him and get in a scoring position.  

Spurs now felt that they could take the game to Torquay and Sergei flashed a shot past the post as Dearden could only watch.  But it was only a few minutes later before Les got Tottenham's second.  An intricate passing move found Sergei running in towards the box with two defenders closing him down.  The little Ukrainian slipped a reverse ball between the Gulls and left Taricco the easy task of hoisting a delicate cross to the far post, where Ferdie leapt above his opponent to head home form a foot out.  It was a nicely worked goal and one which showed the importance of a decent cross, not something that Spurs practiced all night.

As keep ball was the name of the game with time running down, Spurs made the only remaining significant contribution of the evening, with Sergei Rebrov bending a shot from 20 yards beyond Dearden, but unfortunately not the post, which it struck firmly at the base.  The Devon side had not disgraced themselves and in fact, were unlucky not to go in front in the first half with the chances they made.  They could return South with their heads held high and with confidence to pull away from the bottom of their division.

With some teams having succumbed to lower league opposition, it was important that Spurs progressed, despite the slow start and the ranking of the visitors.  It was not the most convincing or thorough of performances, but the result was what mattered.  You would have hoped that the passing game would have been more prominent tonight, but the showing in the second half was better and more clear cut chances were created.  Hopefully, there is still better to come !!

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  LEDLEY KING

PETE STACHIO

 

GULLS CAPPED

 

With matches like this against teams from the lower leagues, it is always a nightmare.  Not because there are no easy matches any more, but Spurs would be expected to thrash Torquay (currently sitting at the very of bottom of the League) to within an inch of being relegated.  The fact that Spurs had lost to the Gulls in the past in this competition did add a little spice.  But when all is said and done, the match paled into insignificance when compared with what went on in America this week.  Everybody stood silently while the minute marked by the referee's whistle showed how it had affected every person in the world.  One man among the 22 players standing around the centre circle had more to pray for than others - Kasey Keller making his Spurs debut at a time when his fellow countrymen and some friends and family might have been involved in the attacks in Washington, New York and Pittsburgh.

With the postponement of some games across Europe the night before, it was thought that this game might also be put off, but the FA decided that all the Worthington Cup games would continue.  Therefore, the teams kicked off in front of a 2/3 full stadium and the visiting supporters made a lot more noise than Spurs in the early stages of the match, mainly because Torquay were more keen to tackle, harrass and generally put in some effort.  That is why the scares at the start of the match all happened at Keller's end.  One freak goal was nearly scored off a Gulls' back, thanks to Chris Perry lashing the ball against him and it bouncing back towards the Spurs goal.  Spurs were lax and were allowing Torquay to pass the ball to players in space, probably thinking that it would be an easy game for them to win.  However, when David Woozley hit the bar from the edge of the box after 31 minutes, I think the team realised it was a game they still had to win.

Not that it prompted them to create a great deal more.  Les sliding in got a Ziege cross over the bar by connecting with his knee rather than a more pliant part of his body that could direct the ball in.  Kevin Dearden was coming back home as he made a couple of appearances for Spurs before leaving the club and he must have thought it was an easy life playing against his former club.

The key move of the match was the appearance of Teddy Sheringham a few minutes before the second half began to warm up and then when play resumed, to replace Oyvind Leonhardsen.  It produced a supply to the forwards suddenly started to reach them on the floor rather than in the air, where Woozley and Russell won most of what was thrown at them.  This also allowed Spurs to maintain possession of the ball more, whereas in the first half (and at the start of the second to be truthful) Spurs had given the ball away to the opposition.

The breakthrough came courtesy of Chris Brandon trying to debag Steffen Freund and then kicking the ball away in disgust.  The ref appeared to be booking him for dragging the German midfielder's shorts off, but moved the free-kick 10 yards forward.  Now, I thought he could only do this if he booked the player for dissent (i.e. kicking the ball away), but the ref knows what's going on, doesn't he ???  Ziege stepped up to slide the ball in the corridor of uncertainty ( Geoff Boycott) where Ledley King arrived (although his shirt nearly didn't) to shoot home past Dearden from close range.  This goal seemed to hearten Tottenham and they did begin to lay like they had in the pre-season friendlies.

Spurs were then denied a penalty when Dearden rushed out to stop Rebrov's lob over him with his hands, which were obviously outside the area to all save the assistant referee, who, it seemed to me, had failed to flag for almost anything but throw-ins and corners.  Rebrov then decided that he should get among the scorers and hit one wide, one that just bent wide of the post and another that went around Dearden (quite a feat as he is a bit tubby these days) and hit the upright.  He didn't make it off the mark for the season, but Les did, getting on the end of a Taricco cross after he was put in on the right wing by a smart Sergei pass.

In the end the win takes Spurs through to the Third round, but there will have to be a big improvement in the way the team approach that game, because the opposition will be a bit more difficult and Tottenham will need to be on their toes if, as Glenn has said, they want to go all the way in this competition.

Gavin Thomas

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