|After losing to Coventry City last week, another
charity case turned up at White Hart Lane in the form of Derby
County. Many a time in the past we have seen Spurs surrender points
to needy clubs coming a begging and I thought this would be the case
today. When you think how Spurs struggled to get a point in the
corresponding match last season, another draw would not have seemed an
However, from the start, the side seemed
determined to ensure that the home advantage would be made to pay.
Three minutes in and Leo hits a cracker from the edge of the area and
leaves Poom grasping at fresh air. What should have been two for
him and the team saw the keeper spread himself well and the rebound came
at Sergei so fast, he only had time to direct it towards goal and
unfortunately wide. You felt a goal then would have really opened
the floodgates ... even for a team like Spurs who find goals hard to
come by. But not for the first time this season, Tottenham failed
to turn their chances into goals. Bad finishing and good keeping
kept it to one and then before you knew it, Riggott got on the end of a
free-kick and it was all square. It seemed to unnerve Sullivan who
shortly after took a quick goal-kick to Vega on the edge of the box, but
the Swiss centre-half had two men on him and did well to get away from
them, only to give the ball away as another closed him down. The
panic of not putting the game beyond reach was setting in.
Luckily, as is becoming a regular feature, Stephen Carr came to the
rescue. A little passage of play saw Spurs actually retaining
possession and Clemence put a pass right for Carr to run on to. He
hit the ball across the keeper and it flew off the wet turf and into the
net. He seemed reluctant to celebrate as the fans had turned on
the team when the equaliser went in six minutes earlier and he seemed to
want to point out to the crowd that they should get behind the team.
They did that two minutes into the second half,
when Oyvind Leonhardsen hit a second and put the game into Tottenham's
hands. Even then, some slack defending let in Derby for a couple
of chances. Sullivan twice saved shots when Derby players were
through and another from outside the box. The defence played OK,
but Perry had a nightmare. His distribution was very poor and he
seemed on edge. Whether that had anytihng to do with Vega playing
alongside, I don't know, but Ramon had a solid game today. Didn't
try anything flash and did what he had to do. Thatcher even had a
better game (I know it was only Derby, but still) and got booked for a
succession of fouls (two as I counted them, one of which I would have
debated with the ref). Carr as usual was superb.
Sherwood had a better day today and his passing
was short and accurate. When he did lay one off too far ahead for
someone to get, he at least acknowledged the fact and didn't berate them
for not breaking the land speed record. Leo had his best game in
ages and it was a shame he had to go off as he did. Losing him
with a hamstring injury could be a big blow and just as he was
starting to come into some form too. Anderton also had a good
game. Although his legs seemed to go at the end and his head wound
made him look like a turbaned starlet from Hollywood, he did provide
some good passes and show his usefulness to the side.
Clemence was all over the place, but in the best sense of the
words. He covered large amounts of ground and got tackles in and
passed well and challenged. It is what he can do very well, but
until now, he has seemed overawed or lacking sufficient strength.
Now he looks like he has filled out a bit and is all the better for it.
The only worry was up front. Rebrov patently
was not 100% fit. His misses were uncharacteristic and his all
round play seemed to lack a little commitment. He could still have
had two goals with a little luck, but although Les was on for the whole
90 minutes, he never looked like scoring. Perhaps the guilt of the
Blue Peter Garden scandal was hanging over him !! One opportunity
in the first half saw him sprint away from the Derby side, but get
caught and wanting to unload to someone else. Without another out
and out striker fit for some time, Graham will have to consider playing
someone else alongside Sergei as Les just doesn't do it any more.
Jose Dominguez came on to replace Leonhardsen and
the cheers went up from the crowd. How ironic that they see this
diminutive winger who is on his way out of the club, struggles to get a
game and when he does appears to want to beat the same man as many times
as possible as worthy of their support, while others get stick.
Would Jose be part of any Tottenham side that they wanted back ??
If you want a dominant Spurs, then he would not really fit into any
shape of team that would be seriously challenging for honours.
So, not a win we should get too excited about, but
something that might have been a surprise in previous years. As
for Derby, Wyart predicted that if they got off to a poor start, they
could be certs for the drop. It looks like that might
happen. While not wanting to appear like a vulture, Spurs could do
worse than line up for Malcolm Christie if they go down. He had a
quiet time today, but he will be a big star.