Looking Forward

 

SOUTHAMPTON

Premier League

Wednesday 26th December 2001

What Tottenham are doing playing against a giant of the modern game like SCBC, I just don't know.  While Tottenham strive for a European place there is no such worry for the Saints fans (especially that huge porker who was wobbling his belly at the Sunderland game recently).

With the unflappable Paul Jones in goal, with the even safer Neil Moss, who came from high flying Bournemouth, in reserve.

The defence has been a major success for new manager, Gordon Strachan, who left the security of his Coventry City post for the big job he had been craving.  With him he brought the outstanding Paul Williams, who is often to be found out standing while forwards run past him.  Major signing, Jason Dodd (50,000 from Bath City) is a pillar (I think that's what they said) of the defence, while Francis Benali has seen it all ... mainly go past him or red cards flashing in front of his face.

Some foreign stars have made the pilgrimage to the New Dell to ply their trade.  Tahar El Khalej came from Morocco and Lundekvam from Norway . None would look out of place playing in any of the top teams in the country (as long as that country is American Samoa).  The last, but not least, one likely to feature is little Wayne Bridge from their youth system, who looks like he can fill the boots of Benali and might actually make the move to an even bigger club one day.

Big Jo Tessem has been out of favour with the new boss and could be looking to move on, while big Matt Le Tissier is probably in his last season at the New Dell.  The star who burned so brightly in the Saints side, might have to say halo to a new club after not featuring for the majority of a season and a half.  Even record signing, Rory Delap (4 m from Derby Co.) has found it difficult to break into this team of superstars. More likely to play is the highly experienced Chris Marsden, who has worked his way through the Midlands clubs to reach the promised Land of St. Mary's.  Sometime Romanian international (as he prefers club to country), Dan Petrescu could play if he has overcome his recent injury worries, while the Saints will be hoping that Matt Oakley can be fit too, as he really makes things tick in the midfield (his hobby is restoring old clocks).  But they are without the influential Mark Draper, who is out until March and Kevin Gibbens 'til the New Year.  Newcomer Anders Svensson bosses the midfield with a swagger and Paul Telfer, who might break into the Scottish squad for some pre-World Cup friendlies works hard and has a great skill for timing his shots so they just go over the bar.  Tahar El Khalej came from Morocco via Benfica, as the lure of the red and white stripes proved too overwhelming to turn down.

Up front, the England international Stuart Ripley will not be able to terrorise the Spurs back line as he has done so many defences this season and Agustin Delgado, who has been talked about as a possible Ecuadorian cap, is unlikely to feature until the Third Round of the Cup.  However, there are ample reserves in this area, with young James Beattie, who nearly secured a dream move to Crystal Palace last season and youngster Kevin Davies, who set Chesterfield alight in his time there.  

The names that feature here are truly frightening.  Marian Pahars, who might have a girl's name, but knocks them in regularly for Latvia and new signing Brett Ormerod, who has been a goal machine for Blackpool in the Third Division.  German hit-man Uwe Rosler has been on loan to West Bromwich Albion and could be a sub if he is available, as a player of his experience tries to force his way into the terrific squad at the New Dell.

It's quite frightening having run through the quality and depth of the SCBC squad and it is not hard to see why they are where they are in the league this Christmas.  A daunting task for Tottenham coming of the back of the defeat against Ipswich Town.  I can see no other result than ...

PREDICTION : -  Southampton  3  Tottenham  0

(no, not really ... it's going to be Southampton 1  Tottenham 4)

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

 

 

Southampton  1  Tottenham  0                                  (Half time score: 0-0)
PREMIER LEAGUE
Wednesday 26th December 2001
Kick Off : Noon
Weather : -  Cold, clear, bright.
Crowd : -   31,719
Referee : -   Mr. P Jones (Loughborough)

Scorers : -   Southampton  -   Beattie 56
                  Tottenham  -  None

CARDS

Southampton :   None

Tottenham :  Gardner (foul) 3, Richards (foul) 87, Taricco (dissent) 89

TEAMS 

Southampton : Jones; Bridge, Wiliams, Lundekvam, Dodd; Telfer, Svensson, Marsden, Delap; Beattie, Parhars (Ormerod 82)
Unused Subs : Moss, El Kahlaej, Petrescu, Le Tissier.

Spurs :  Sullivan; Gardner (Davies 76), King, Richards; Taricco, Anderton, Freund (Sherwood 71), Poyet (Rebrov 86), Ziege; Ferdinand, Sheringham
Unused Subs : Keller, Perry

With one defeat to relegation strugglers, Ipswich Town, under our belts, Spurs travelled to the New Dell and came home empty handed to another lowly club.  In what as possibly our worst away performance since Blackburn Rovers, there were still enough chances to win the game.

Just like Saturday, Tottenham could have won this game after dominating periods of it, but let the game go when conceding a soft goal.  In the first half especially, Tottenham played with a style that intimated that they could have swept Southampton aside, as the home side looked so out of sorts that Spurs created chances that were either blocked or off target, almost at will.  Gus had a shot deflected wide at one end, while Delap headed over when unmarked at the other.  Ziege, Teddy and Ferdinand brought good saves out of Jones, while Les missed the sort of opportunity that he has been slotting away recently.  Anderton lofted a shot over the bar and Sheringham was denied by a good tackle by Bridge, while at the other end Sullivan had been virtually untroubled.  In fact, just before half-time, Gus had an effort blocked on the line and Les blazed wide form 10 yards out, when he could have taken us in at the break in the lead.

However, that was to change when the second half started.  The half time team talks must have been radically different, as Southampton came out roaring at Spurs who were a bit taken aback.  Sullivan had to produce sharp saves from Svensson and Parhars, but in between all was lost.  A long high ball was pumped into the box by Williams from around the half-way line.  Sullivan, with the sun in his eyes, came for the ball, but was beaten to it by Beattie, who nodded it over him and into the goal. 

The second half was not entirely one way though.  Les had a great early chance, but put Freund's cross wide with his head and Teddy was free inside the area, but his effort was stopped on the line by Dodd and cleared.  Anderton again tested Jones, who touched his shot over the bar, while Sullivan had to be on his toes to prevent Delap extending the home side's lead.

In the first half, when Gorman and Strachan try to start the Battle of the Little Big Men, it was the best entertainment of the day.  That says a lot.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  NEIL SULLIVAN

Keith Mendament

 

BLOODY (ST.) MARYS

 

Losing to a big club is no shame.  Losing to SCBC therefore comes into this category and if you look at it carefully, there are many parallels with the game against Liverpool at Anfield.  Having the best of the first half without scoring, being hit with an outstanding goal and the home side holding out for a narrow one-nil win.

In truth, Tottenham should have wrapped the match up in that first half, but the chances that went begging like a vitriolic comment held within Rupert Lowe's vacuous mind, cost Spurs dearly. For SCBC, the only decent attacks by the home side had were the ones that Chris Marsden had on Christian Ziege.  Referee Mr. Jones is obviously no relation to the one who was booted out of the South Coast club, as he allowed the Saints to sin regularly.

Obviously, Gordon Strachan had blasted his side for having too good a Christmas dinner, so they came out in the second half looking to recover from their cold turkey, while Spurs played like ones.  For once they looked the huge sleeping giant that are and out of the blue they scored.  Or should that be out of the yellow, as a NASA sponsored cross from Paul Williams dropped out of orbit and out of the sun for James Beattie to head over Sullivan, who had still to unwrap the present of a goalie's cap that lay in the back of his net, where the ball was on it's way to.  Although there were no extra buses put on for the match, Route One had never been so popular.

Sir Les almost got Spurs back on level terms, but missed.  Teddy did the same and Dazza was jeered for forcing their keeper to a save.  How sad the Saints fans are.  And where were their 80 shirt lifters ??  A number of the Arsenal squad were most upset they had a morning kick off and couldn't be there to see them in action !!

Don't know if it was just me, but did this remind anyone of the pre-season match at Reading in terms of ground and crowd ??  A sell-out and all the atmosphere of a pub on the moon.  New ground, old story.  Three points thrown away, but then at least they went to a deserving cause ... and it is the season for giving.

RALPH LAWRENCE

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