Tottenham 3 Derby County 1 - Saturday 21st October 2000
The knives were being sharpened as the game awaited kick-off and certainly before the game, the much heralded protest failed to materialise. The Spurs team seemed set to show what they are capable of and had a series of attacks before a cleared corner fell to Oyvind Leonhardsen on the left-hand edge of the box, which he hit powerfully and curved into the goal past Poom. 3 minutes and twenty eight seconds gone and Spurs were 1-0 up !! Not a common occurrence, but what would Spurs do to build on it.
Similar to a few games this season, they went forward, but could not finish off their chances. The best fell to Rebrov after Leo had forced the Estonian keeper to save and the rebound came quickly to the Ukrainian and he stubbed his shot wide of an open goal. Leo himself had another chance tipped over from long range, Clem had a shot charged down, Les had a free header go wide - halfway to the corner flag and Anderton hit a shot wide of the mark. It seemed as it would be only a matter of time before Spurs increased their lead, but then they began to sit back. Derby began to put some moves together and from a free-kick on the right, Seth Johnson bent the ball in and Riggott got a touch with his head that took it past Sullivan. It looked like Les had not gone with the young centre-half and he needed only to deflect it in.
Immediately the boos rang out from some areas of Tottenham supporters. The players seemed to drop their heads and as every missed pass was groaned at, there was a visible reaction from some of the players to the crowd. It changed when, with injury time running at the end of the half, Stephen Carr received the ball after three or four passes between Spurs players, and hit a strong, low drive that zipped off the surface and in for number 2. His celebration was similar to that of Chris Armstrong's last season and following his request for the fans to get behind the team, it was probably a stark comment on how he feels about them.
The second half began with Spurs going forward again. Within minutes of the restart, a challenge was won on the edge of the box and the ball broke towards Sherwood, who let it go and Leo shot across Poom for his second of the game. It was from a similar position that half the ground thought he had notched his hat-trick, but his shot rippled the side netting and fooled the fans on the wrong side of the goal !! Sherwood and Rebrov both missed chances from inside the box, with Anderton also forcing a save from the Derby goalie. At the other end, Sullivan had to make diving saves to prevent Schnoor and Sturridge shots and lax defending left Burton on his own, but a poor lob straight at the Spurs keeper stopped him cashing in.
As the game wore on, Tottenham dominated without looking too impressive and then as Leonhardsen was breaking out of defence, he just fell over. The game stopped and he had to be carried off on a stretcher with a hamstring pull that means he could be out for weeks. Not a classic game, but three points against a team Spurs could well have gone down to in the past.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN CLEMENCE
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|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.
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