into this game (writing on 14th Feb), both sides have an identical
record in recent matches with 3 wins, 2 defeats and a draw.
However, the difference is that Tranmere are eighth in the Second
Division, while Spurs are awaiting a Worthington Cup Final and in the
same position in the Premiership. But the Cup, as they always say,
is a great leveller. Rovers will be keen to maintain their push
for promotion, while the Cup run is a bonus for them. For Spurs,
the prospect of a European place through a league placing is slipping
away and the cups are the best bet for a place in the UEFA Cup next
season. Tranmere will have their thoughts on a League match on
Tuesday 19th with Oldham Athletic. Different priorities, but both
have a keen interest to progress further in this competition.
Young keeper Joe Murphy
has battled out with John Achterburg for possession of the gloves and
the youngster has got hold of them recently. The big Dutchman is a
good shot stopper and good with the ball, but can prove to give his
defenders the jitters sometimes. That
is why Murphy has been favoured and his all round game is better than
Achterburg's. However, Achterburg's experience might be the reason
for his inclusion, should manager Dave Watson feel it is needed.
The defensive options
include Dave Challinor who can make problems for the opposition defence
out of any throw-in past the halfway line. Skipper Clint Hill has
calmed down a bit and is a tough tackler, who likes to pass the ball
well out of defence. Graham Allen is another rugged defender and
Gareth Roberts, who has played abroad and knows how the game
works. Ian Sharps has come through the youth system at Prenton
Park and is a tall centre half, who has impressed so far this season.
While Hill has been better behaved this season, some of the other
defenders have picked up quite a few yellows and reds ,so expect no
quarter to be given.
Unfortunately, just for that reason, ex-QPR
central defender Steve Yates is suspended and will miss this game.
In midfield, Jason Koumas
has attracted the attention of many clubs, including Spurs. He
excels at passing, has good vision and can also finish. It is
obvious that he will leave Prenton Park soon and a fee of £2.5 million
probably makes good value for this talented Welshman. Former
Blackpool man Micky Mellon is a fiery character, who was dismissed in
the earlier match between the two clubs for two rash challenges soon
after each other. Sean Flynn has been playing in a manner that belies
his years and almost put the Second Division side in front against us in
the League Cup tie. Nicky Henry is a hard working midfielder, who
has played for Sheffield United, Walsall and Oldham among others.
Andy Parkinson is a pacy winger, whose goals have propelled Tranmere
into the latter stages of Cup competitions in recent years. He
will need to be watched, as he can shoot from any angle or distance
too. New addition, Alan Navarro was signed from Liverpool and has
a good pedigree, using his dynamic running to cause problems breaking
into the box from his usual position. However, Rovers might have
to make do without him as he broke his nose last week and might be ruled
out for the FA Cup tie.
Veteran Wayne Allison has
been knocking around for years and has also been knocking them in for
years. A natural striker who knows where to be and one who Deano
will have to mark closely. Partnering him up front is the ex-Everton
man - Stuart Barlow. A teenage star, he never really fulfilled his
potential. He's got quite a few goals for Rovers, but has been
ousted from his place in the side by another oldie and former Toffee,
Paul Rideout, who has had a new lease of life. A typically
strong English type centre forward, he gets on the end of the crosses
from Koumas and Parkinson. Six stitches in ahead wound last week
might make him unavailable for this game, but don't be surprised if he
does make it. Jason Price is another newcomer having signed from
Swansea City after a spell on loan at Brentford. A tall rangy
striker, he has always had a knack of getting goals and his height and
athleticism makes him a problem for defenders.
Tottenham will be keen to
keep up their good cup form this season and I can't see Tranmere
stopping them ...
- Tottenham 3 Tranmere Rovers 1
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
Tranmere Rovers 0
(Half time score: 2-0)
|FA CUP FIFTH ROUND
|Sunday 17th February 2002
|Kick Off : 4.00 p.m.
|Weather : - Dry,
sunny, but chilly later
|Crowd : - 35,696
|Referee : - Mr. D.
Scorers : - Tottenham
- Ziege 9, Poyet 35, 90, Sheringham 63
Tranmere Rovers - None
Spurs : Sullivan;
Taricco, Perry, Richards, Thatcher; Davies, Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege
(Etherington 85); Ferdinand (Iversen 75), Sheringham.
Unused Subs : - Keller, Thelwell, Leonhardsen
: Achterberg; Roberts, Hill, Sharps, Allen; Henry (Mellon 70),
Koumas, Parkinson, Navarro; Rideout (Barlow 70), Price.
Unused Subs : - Murphy, Hinds, Allison
: White shirts, Navy shorts, navy socks.
: Yellow shirts, shorts and socks
When David Elleray (or
Sir ! as he prefers to be known) started off by letting a couple of
harsh challenges go unpunished, it looked as though eh favoured the
underdog, but when Christian Ziege smashed home his ninth minute goal,
Spurs were on their way to the quarter finals. And the chants of
"Sign on, Sign on" to the Tune of "Walk On" from the
Spurs fans to their Merseyside visitors made it seem like the Nineties
stuck to playing their football throughout the match, while Tranmere
stuck to their game plan throughout and troubled Spurs to the end, but
not very seriously. While they did create chances, there was
little to worry Spurs as the game went on.
Ferdinand losing control of the ball and then winning it back of a
Tranmere defender, it fell for Davies, who hit a first time pass out to
the left, where Ziege was waiting ... in acres of space. He took
his time as the ball arrived at the edge of the box and taking one step
forward, lashed it past Achterberg. It was a cool and fierce
finish that put Tottenham one up with their first attack. Things
could have been out of Rovers reach soon after, when Ziege floated a
ball in for Les, who managed to turn his marker and then dragged his
shot wide from the edge of the penalty area. He should really have
hit the target from there.
Poyet did somewhat better from 30 yards, when he flicked the ball up and
hit a screamer of a volley that the Tranmere keeper did very well to
was enjoying the space afforded him on his flank. He firstly cut
inside and with his right foot curled a shot along the ground that
missed the far post by about a foot and then slipped a low ball in to
the near post, where Teddy met it, but poked the ball wide of the
goal. In between, Taricco tried a pot shot from 30 yards that
Achterberg had to move sharply to save at his near post.
wasn't all one way traffic, as Tranmere caused the Spurs defence
problems from set-pieces. A few times the ball flew through the
penalty area to Neil Sullivan, when a touch from an opposition forward
could have taken it past him and one Hill header hit Allen before it
reached the Spurs goal. There were a couple of blocked efforts
too, but mainly, the supply was poor and the Tottenham defenders ties up
the visiting strikers well.
was the key to opening up the Tranmere defence for the second goal, as
he was played in by a perceptive Sheringham pass and the German's low
cross was met first time by Poyet. His crisp shot left Achterburg
rooted to the spot.
half-time must have come a roasting for the Tranmere team, as they
started the second period with a verve previously not shown beyond the
first couple of minutes. It was a bit of a torrid time for
Tottenham, but only Henry's and Rideout's wide efforts troubled the
Spurs goal. In fact, Rideout's failure to capitalise on Sully's
poor sliced clearance was perhaps the turning point of the
at the other end, it was a case of "after you Claude", as
Spurs players tried to set each other up, with nobody willing to take
the responsibility of having a shot. Twice, perfectly good chances
were spurned by the forwards messing about with the ball. Taricco
almost put in Davies, but the ball was just a little too far ahead of
him as he burst into the box. Eventually, Spurs did cash in, when
Taz floated a cross in, which Les challenged for. Expecting a
whistle from the over-fussy official as Achterberg could only flap at
the ball, the crowd were surprised when he didn't blow, leaving Teddy
the simple task of passing the ball past a defender into the net.
For once, the ref got it all wrong, but it was an important goal in the
game, as if it had gone to Tranmere, it could have been a different
It was a
shame Teddy couldn't have been more clinical when he met Ziege's cross,
but unfortunately, he was too far ahead of the ball and instead of
planting the ball into an empty net, he put it behind him !!
Another chance late on was blocked by a defender and if it hadn't been
for his goal, he would have had a bit of a 'mare. As it was,
Tranmere pushed on and had two of their best chances late on, with
Sullivan not being able to hold onto a low shot and as the ball ran away
from him, Price twice tried to nudge it past the Scot, but ended up
blazing wide. Then a few minutes after, Koumas hit a shot from
outside the area, that Sully had to be alert to grab. Barlow hit a
cross-cum-shot past the face of the goal, with no other colleague
available to apply the finishing touch, but it was Spurs who had the
time running out, Etherington, on the left wing, passed inside to
Teddy. He found Gus Poyet, who's run into the box was well timed
and his shot was deflected off Hill past the goalkeeper. It was
cruel on Tranmere, who had not disgraced themselves, but Tottenham were
a class apart. The early goal, as Gus had suggested earlier in the
week, had helped, but with Ziege in this form, his return will be most
welcome. The rest of the side functioned well and Perry was
particularly good in defence. While not being at the top of their
game, they strolled through this tie to set up a re-match with Chelsea
in the Sixth Round. Bring 'em on !!
|MEHSTG TOP MAN : - CHRISTIAN
|There was little that Tranmere
could do to break Spurs down and they provided little threat on the
Tottenham goal. Every time they went forward, their finishing was
weak or they invariably found a white shirt with their passes. For
Spurs, who worked quite hard, the task was made easy with Ziege's first
strike and the goals that were tucked away by Poyet and
Sheringham. Although the team did fanny about trying to score the
goal of the season again, they did take some of the chances to put the
game out of Rovers' reach.
Such clinical finishing will be
necessary next week, as I feel that Blackburn might think that their
best bet is to tighten up the game and restrict Tottenham's chances of
playing the game that they want. That will mean that they will
protect the edge of their box vigorously and then opportunities will be
at a premium, so Tottenham will need to be at their striking best.
Today Poyet moved well in the
first half and was the major threat on the Tranmere goal, Not only
did he take his goal quite crisply, tucking away Ziege's low cross
without hesitation, but he also forced a flying save from his long range
volley and nearly got on the end of another low ball into the six yard
box. However, in the second half he faded a bit, but still popped
up in the box for the last minute shot that deflected past the
keeper. His overall contribution was good after missing the
Leicester game as he was suspended, but how he will fare next week, with
some Rovers players snapping around his ankles, we will see. Mind
you, a goal from him in the 90th minute in the same scenario would be
Teddy hasn't really been on top
of his game for the last couple of games. His flicks haven't come
off and his short passing game has been out of kilter too. It is
disappointing that he can't maintain that aspect of his game, as his
high standard makes fans think that he's not trying when it doesn't work
for him. He is trying, but it's just not quite there. As
most of Tottenham's play revolves around him, we need him to be
functioning at full throttle. However, if he does nothing else but score
a goal, then he has made a useful contribution. Greaves used to be
able to get away with 89 minutes of quietness, then burst into action
and win the game. Maybe, that is what we should expect from
One cause of concern today was
Sullivan's handling. He did come for more crosses than usual and
did catch them all, but his handling of low shots was a bit loose.
One left Price with a three-time chance, but he blasted it well wide in
the end, but the other from Henry, almost left Price with an open
goal. With few chances expected next week, I hope he was getting
the errors out of his system today.
Perry did well, getting all over
the player he was marking and Richards was strong enough to throw a few
blocks to stop anything getting through to Sully. Thatcher was
good, but his use of the ball was a little rudimentary sometimes.
Ziege played a good game after
being out for so long. His getting set to thunder the ball past
Achterberg for the first goal showed his experience and set Tottenham up
for a comfortable in win the end. His delivery of low passes into
the box make it difficult for the other side to defend and creates good
chances for his team-mates. Even the one that ended up behind
Sheringham in the first half opened up the Tranmere back four. It
was a case of Sheringham being two yards ahead of his time !!
Taricco also played well and
managed to not get involved with anyone. Not that he needed to. He also
played a couple of nice balls into the box - one of which lead to Ted's
goal - and he almost scored his first goal with a thirty yard drive from
way out on the right wing !! It will come one day !!
Davies was relatively quiet, but
did well and didn't do anything wrong, while Sherwood had another
effective game. Etherington didn't have much of a chance in the
last two minutes, while Iversen also didn't get much to do. Les
had done well without getting much opportunity to score, but he did muff
a decent chance in the first half when he turned on the edge of the box
and pulled his foot across the ball and shot wide.
Tranmere didn't let themselves or
their fans down. Their fans deserved better as they were up for
the game and made a lot of noise, but in the end Tottenham's class
showed. Stuttering at times, but they didn't have to be at their
very best to get the win to take them through to the next round
today. Next week, they will need to be on their mettle.