Saturday 14th April 2001
|After a Black
Sunday and a Grey Tuesday, it's back to Saturday for this week's
match. And another trip to the other end of the country for our
fans. But the Stadium of Light has been nothing but a black hole
for Tottenham in terms of points since Sunderland moved there.
Travelling without a whole team of players means that there could be starts for some of the fringe and even youth team players. Young Steven Ferguson, signed from East Fife earlier in the season could even get a look-in as Les, Ivo, Armo and McEwen are all out injured. He has pace and will be an unknown element in the Spurs team should he start the match. Another option would be to start with Willem Korsten alongside Sergei, but he doesn't seem to be favoured with a place in the side at 3 p.m., rather he comes on as a sub. The lack of available forwards is not the only area where Spurs have been hit by injury. Lacking five defenders and a couple of midfielders, the side is a bit patched up.
On the other side, Sunderland have few major injuries to hamper their progress in the top half of the table. Gavin McCann, the midfielder who has been elevated to the England team this season, will be out with a knee injury. Niall Quinn has shaken off a back injury that has plagued him for a month. Quinn will renew his partnership with the prolific Kevin Phillips and the little and large pairing has caused problems to Spurs in the North on previous occasions. Funnily enough, they do not seem to have given Spurs the same concerns at White Hart Lane. Despite their good understanding, they are in the middle of a goalscoring slump that has affected the whole side. One source of goals from midfield, Don Hutchinson, will be back in that area and he has scored against Spurs quite a few times during his career. Head-butter and head-case Alex Rae will miss the game ... and not through suspension, but he is ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Flighty winger John Oster may be thrown into the action, although he recently got sent off and could be on the bench to begin with. Man mountain Stanislav Varga could also feature and if he is played alongside Emerson Thome, they could be the biggest central defensive pair in the world !! Argentinian Julio Arca and Michael Gray will play on either side of the two big men. Arca is deadly from free-kicks, while Gray gets forward to float in crosses for Quinn to nod on. Another wide man providing service for the front two is Irish winger, Kevin Kilbane who can be very dangerous, but could also be totally ineffective. Doing the legwork in midfield with Hutchinson will be ex-Gooner Stefan Schwarz or Darren Williams, who cannot be classed as a cultured midfielder.
The basis of Peter Reid's side's success is that they all stick to their roles and know what they have to do within the team set-up. At home with a feverish crowd cheering them on, they are formidable, but as some sides have shown they are not invincible. For Spurs to get a result there, we would need a fully fit, regular side out and as we haven't, it will probably end up ...
PREDICTION : - Sunderland 1 Tottenham 0
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Sunderland 2 Tottenham 3 - Saturday 14th
Weather : - Dry; Bright
Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Julio Arca,
Patrice Carteron, Jody Craddock,
Michael Gray, Emerson Thome, Don Hutchison, Stefan Schwarz, Kevin Kilbane,
Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn (Darren Williams 67)
Tottenham : Sullivan, Carr, Doherty, King
(Gardner 20), Young, Perry, Clemence, Sherwood, Leonhardsen (Korsten
46), Davies (Piercy 85), Rebrov
This was a truly magnificent turnaround by a young inexperienced Spurs team. Trailing at the break by two goals to nil and looking well beaten Tottenham came out in the second half and hit back to secure all three points. Ledley King came in at the back to join Perry and Young. King’s height would be needed to combat the aerial power of Quinn returning to the Sunderland side. Doherty moved to play up front alongside Rebrov. The midfield consisted of Carr, Clemence, Davies, Sherwood and Leonhardsen. This looked to be a tough fixture with Sunderland anxious for a win and still in contention for a European place.
The game kicked of in front of an almost full Stadium of Light. The home side started at a furious pace. Within a couple of minutes they had taken the lead. A cross from their right by Carteron eluded the Spurs defence and was hit home by an unmarked Kilbane at the far post. Sunderland continued to press forward and after five minutes there was a nasty clash of heads between Ledley King and Kilbane. After lengthy treatment both players continued, but Ledley looked very groggy. Then came another body blow for Spurs. A free kick from Schwarz was well saved by Sullivan. He was however only able to push the ball wide and Quinn was on hand to hook it in. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse. King had to leave the field after 19 minutes clearly dazed and was replaced by Gardner.
Having taken such an early lead Sunderland seemed content to play within themselves creating and missing a number of chances. Gardner was starting to come to terms with Quinn after his first couple of headers were misdirected. One of the unusual sights at this Stadium is the continual movement of people from their seats during the game. I assume they are off to get another beer or get rid of those taken earlier. As half time approached this steady stream of people out of their seats became a torrent so that when half time arrived half the seats were empty. The whole thing was bizarre and just to add to the scene it took some people eight minutes into the second half before they were back in their seats. In all the Premier grounds I have never seen such movement of supporters during a game. I thought these Sunderland fans loved their football. They clearly value their refreshments more!
Glenn Hoddle made changes at half time both to personnel and attitudes. Korsten replaced the ineffective Leonhardsen and the shape was changed with Korsten positioned on the left side of midfield. Spurs began to pass the ball and gain some confidence. On 52 minutes Korsten passed across the penalty area to Carr on the right. Carr flicked the ball to Davies who in turn helped it on to Clemence, who without hesitation volleyed past Sorensen to pull a goal back. Spurs had new belief and pressed for an equaliser. A free kick found an unmarked Doherty at the far post but he placed his header wide as the goal beckoned. Shortly afterwards Sherwood slotted a ball through to Doherty who outpaced Thome and with the goalkeeper advancing, he placed his shot into the corner to equalise. Sunderland were in disarray. They did not seem able to raise their game and Spurs pushed for the winner. With perfect timing Korsten went on a mazy run. As he drifted in to the penalty area he looked to push the ball round Thome and run on to it. Thome stumbled, Korsten went to play the ball to Doherty the shot was blocked, but Doherty was quick to seize on the loose ball and slot home from close in. The Spurs fans were delighted. The home fans quiet as they made their mass exodus without waiting to see time added on.
This was a superb victory snatched from the
jaws of defeat. Whatever Hoddle said at half time it clearly worked. The
Spurs players worked really hard in the second half to a man. Sherwood
was a rock in the centre of midfield and Doherty and Rebrov caused the
Sunderland defence all sorts of problems. Korsten had his best half in a
Spurs shirt. Hoddle suggested there might be a player in Korsten waiting
to get out and I hope he is right. Davies had another promising game,
but seems unable to last ninety minutes yet. Gardner can take confidence
from his overall performance. The magnitude of this away win should not
be underestimated. Well played Spurs, well done Hoddle.
MEHSTG TOP MAN - GARY DOHERTY
Eric the Viking
|Who would have thought it would
happen ?? Two down and no chance of getting anything away form
home, it was another "How many ?" game. But for those
who travelled to the other end of the country for the second time in a
week, there was some great reward.
Glenn Hoddle's inspirational team talk and the performance of the side who went out in the second half did him and the club proud. Ledley had to go off after a sickening clash of heads with Kilbane and Anthony Gardner came on in his place and did very well against the lanky Quinn. After going two down, it was difficult to see that there was much interest in getting back into the match. Carr was sleeping on the far post as Carteron's low cross came in and he let his countryman Kilbane fire past Sullivan from a tight angle. It was even tighter when the ball fell to Quinn from Sully's free-kick save, when the other ex-Gooner in their side - Schwarz. Slow reaction meant that we were two down with little time gone.
Although the second half went Tottenham's way, Sullivan again produced two crucial saves. One from Arca'a powerfully driven free-kick and then another to deny Kevin Phillips (a Gooner fan - what is it with Sunderland and Gooners ??). As he got into the box and prepared to shoot, Neil knocked the ball away from his feet without pulling him down. It was left to the other members of the team to do their stuff at the other end of the pitch. That they did. Willem Korsten, for once looking like he had seen a football before, played a crossfield pass to Stephen Carr. HE knocked the ball up and passed on the volley to Simon Davies just inside the right hand corner of the box. He controlled it on his knee and crossed to meet the run of midfielder Clemence, whose first time volley took Sorensen by surprise and hit the net. The ball had not touched the floor after Carr received it and it was a well taken goal by Clem.
With only a goal to draw level, Spurs sensed they could get something form the game. Doherty was playing as a makeshift forward because of injuries in that department and when Sherwood won a header in his own half putting the ball into the Sunderland half. Gary ran on and although not entirely convincingly, he went wide of Thome and the goal and shot low and across the keeper to put Spurs on equal terms. He could have added to his goal when a free-kick found him on the edge of the six yard box, but his tame header didn't trouble Sorensen. However, he was to have the last laugh as Korsten shocked the Spurs fans as well as the Mackem defenders by taking them on and got into the box, where he nearly collided with Doherty. Wisely, the Dutchman left the ball, as did Doherty, although his second go was a better connection and the ball went in for the winner two minutes from time.
Korsten was at last showing why Leeds were upset that we signed him. He also had a stinging drive saved well by the goalie and looked interested all the half he played. Gardner again looked sound and will be a really good player given a couple of years. Sullivan once more proved that Ian Walker may have to move on to get first team football and Sherwood also had a better game in midfield today. For all the talk of passing and attacking, it was the defence that caused most concern. Losing two goals in the first 12 minutes makes getting anything out of a game very hard. While we all want to see "our Tottenham back", this is one part of that memory that we could well do without. There is little doubt that playing the way that the side had been away from home, they would not have come back into the match, so there are things to be taken from this win. However, it was not a good second half performance form Sunderland, as evidenced by the boos that rang down from the Stadium of Light seats at the end of the match. For a minute there, we could have been at home !!
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