Looking Forward

 

FULHAM

Worthington Cup - Round 4

Thursday 29th November 2001

Making the rapid rise to the Premiership from the lower divisions has been a dream come true for Fulham fans.  Made possible by Al Fayed's millions, the West London side have done it the continental way with toothpick chewing Frenchman Jean Tigana instilling a fluid style of play that has seen even the most traditional English player at the club passing the ball well.

How far this will get the club is questionable.  They took a while to settle into the idea that they needed to strengthen their side in the top flight and then spent big.  Not always successfully.

One big buy was Edwin van der Sar, the Dutch keeper, who was brought in to oust Maik Taylor, who had done the club proud for a number of years.  Van der Sar is a tall, lanky goalie, who is an excellent shot stopper as he has proved for his country, where he is still first choice.  However, he has been a bit suspect at crosses and at free-kicks, so Tottenham might profit from these areas of their game.  Taylor is a solid keeper, who will not let his side down if called on.

The defence is not greatly changed from their First Division campaign.  Rufus Brevitt, the former QPR full back, is still in the side and he likes to get forward with the ball, but Tottenham should ensure that he concentrates on his defending by pushing onto him.  In the middle of the back line there is a choice of players.  The veterans Andy Melville and Kit Symons have been together for a few years in the white shirts of Fulham, while they have been joined by Alain Goma from Newcastle.  Melville and Goma are the two who have been occupying the two central berths, while on the other flank, Irishman Steve Finnan has been running the line.  He is an industrious player, but will be up against Christian Ziege, who might need to give him something to think about too.

Other defensive options are Abdeslam Ouaddou, a ball playing Moroccan who cost £2 million and John Trollope, who didn't.  He came from Derby County for just £600,000 and is used sparingly these days as he is one of the old guard.  Youngster Zat Knight has been blooded this season and is one the club have high hopes for in the future.

Midfield opens up a treasure chest of names old and new.  Sunderland and Newcastle saw the best of Lee Clark, or so they thought.  He has been turning in good performances for the Cottagers and might make an appearance in typical shrewd running and passing style.  Former Celtic and Everton star John Collins can still cut it even though he is now 33.  He uses his experience and can still take a mean free-kick.  Another old-timer is former Denmark and Chelsea player, Bjarne Goldbaek, who usually comes on from the bench these days.  His place in the side has been taken by the young hope in the shape of Sean Davis, who is established in the England Under-21 side and his energy between the boxes makes life a lot easier for the Fulham team.  An aggressive player, but not often a dirty one.  Rounding off the younger elements in the midfield is Jon Harley - another ex-Chelsea player.  It was a surprise that Ranieri let him go, as he had been touted as a possible England international, but after a loan spell at Wimbledon, he was shipped down the Fulham Road and has settled in well at the Cottage.

Two imports that have made a big splash are Sylvain Legwinski and Steed Malbranque.  The first came from Bordeaux for £3.3 million, while his fellow countryman left Lyon for £4.5 million.  Both are skillful and have the ability needed in the Premiership to open up opposing defences, but have added goals to the team from the middle of the pitch.  They move well off the ball, so Spurs will need to be aware of their movement away from the focus of play.

Leading the line is Louis Saha, who had a tough time when at Newcastle United.  But having rehabilitated himself with a spell at Metz, his £2.1 million signing was a stroke of genius by Tigana, as he scored the goals that took Fulham up to the Premier League.  A smooth mover with an eye for an improvised finish means he can score from almost any angle and from any distance, he can also bend a free-kick almost anywhere he wants.  Partnered by the British style of Barry Hayles, they have made a formidable duo.  Spurs know about Hayles from their Worthington Cup defeat a couple of seasons ago, but he links well with Saha and likes nothing more than to spin off his marker or to pop up at the far post.  If Hayles is not selected, Tigana will plump for Luis Boa Morte, the former Arsenal and Southampton forward, who has had trouble this season.  He has been dismissed once and is just returning from suspension and his temperament is suspect as he had a spitting charge against him in a game last season too.  A player who sometimes runs into blind alleys, but can often surprise with an unexpected piece of skill.

Also under consideration are Latvian Andrejs Stolcers, who provides an alternative style, although not height to the attack.  Youngsters Kevin Betsy and the marvellously named Elvis Hammond, may not be called into the squad quite yet, although both have been tried out in the first team on occasion.

With £11.5 million man Steve Marlet out until January at least with a broken leg and Chris Coleman for the season following his car crash, their injuries are few.  The depth of their squad is quite good, but it is the quality beyond the first XI that needs to be considered.  There is not a great deal more there than came up form the First Division, so the fact that they are maintaining the same side helps, but could also hinder them when suspensions take their toll.

Hopefully, if both teams are on form, it should be a great game to watch ... the only thing detracting from a good game of football might be the conditions.  However, as Spurs are in a good run of form and Fulham are having trouble scoring, they should be able to get the following result ...

PREDICTION : -  Fulham 1  Tottenham  2

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

 

 

Fulham  1  Tottenham  2                                  (Half time score: 1-1 )
WORTHINGTON CUP - ROUND 4
Thursday 29th November 2001
Kick Off : 7.45 p.m.
Weather : -  Cloudy; mild; light, persistent rain
Crowd : -   15,006
Referee : -  Mr. M. Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)

Scorers : -  Fulham   -   Hayles 45
                  Tottenham  -  Rebrov 15, Davies 86

CARDS

Fulham :  

Spurs :  Bunjevcevic (foul) 74, Ziege (foul) 89

TEAMS 

Fulham :  Taylor, Finnan, Harley, Goma, Ouaddou, Clark, Collins, Goldbaek (Malbranque 61), Davis, Boa Morte (Saha 77), Hayles. 
Unused Subs: Van der Sar, Brevett, Melville.

Spurs : Sullivan, Perry, Ziege, King, Bunjevcevic, Freund, Anderton, Leonhardsen (Thatcher 84), Davies, Rebrov, Sheringham.
Unused Subs: Kelly, Iversen, Thelwell, Piercy.

Spurs are on their way to Cardiff! At least to a quarter-final Worthington Cup tie at home to Bolton after this good away win at Fulham.  It was sweet revenge for an exit in this competition at a similar stage two years ago.  This Spurs side is however much more professional as evidenced on the night. 

Craven Cottage is a ground where time has stood still.  The visiting fans were crammed into a corner of one of the oldest stands in the country.  Wooden seats, no legroom and a potential death trap.  The sooner it goes the better.  There is still uncovered terracing behind both goals, so to provide some protection against the rain free rain-macs were being distributed outside before the game.  Some Spurs fans decided they were useful to pelt Boa Morte with after he came too close when taking a corner.

Richards was unavailable, as he was cup-tied; Poyet was recovering from concussion and Ferdinand apparently has a strain.  In came Bunjevcevic, Leonhardsen and Rebrov up front for a welcome start.

Sergei had a great game beavering away with his skilful touches.  In the first Spurs attack, Sergei clashed with a Fulham defender and spent some 10 minutes receiving treatment on the sidelines.  When he returned to play it was to great effect.  Teddy cushioned down a header and Rebrov stormed through to smash home a half volley.   It was an excellent goal and gave Spurs the impetus to go on.

Ziege hit the post with a left foot volley from a deep cross and then Christian hit one of his trademark crosses, which just evaded Teddy.  As half time approached Fulham started to claw themselves back into the game.  Right on the stroke of half time, Finnan was allowed to get his cross in behind the Tottenham defence.  Hayles got beyond the defenders and guided his header in.  

The second half saw Spurs containing Fulham’s attacks.  Boa Morte’s pace was a threat but there was no end product and Ledley gradually took control.  With extra time beckoning, Spurs were awarded a free kick on their right flank.  Anderton floated the ball in, Ledley King knocked it square with his head and Simon Davies hammered home with his left foot whilst Fulham’s defenders stood and watched.  A great finish again from Davies and enough to win the game and send Spurs into the quarter-finals.  

For Tottenham Ledley did well and Freund worked hard, but in the second half particularly, both Sheringham and Anderton looked out of sorts.   Leonhardsen looked out of his depth again, but there was enough in the overall team performance to deserve the win.  Sergei will no doubt be pleased with his contribution and deserves the Man of the Match award.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  SERGEI REBROV

Eric the Viking

 

HAVE YOU GOT A 
WHITE MACON ??

 

The Glenn Hoddle comments about winning when not playing well really did hit the spot today, even though neither side were at their attacking best.  After Tottenham's game at Upton Park, where they had in modern parlance "passed them to death", that passing game stuttered a bit on the night at Craven Cottage.

Fulham are also a good side with the ball and although they enjoyed the majority share of possession, they were unable to create a great deal with it in the end.  Their swift, incisive passing was only evident in the two thirds of the pitch nearest their own goal and not anywhere likely to hurt Tottenham.  This meant that apart from the goal and a couple of long distance efforts, there was little that Sullivan had to deal with in the Spurs goal.  The one that did get past him was a poor piece of defending from Tottenham.  Both in terms of shutting down the crosser - Finnan - and by Bunjy, who left Hayles to run in behind and have a free glancing header past Sullivan.   Ledley had been caught out a couple of times by the ball over his head, but luckily, his well timed tackling got him out of jail.

An early clash of heads, meant that Rebrov missed most of the first quarter of an hour but returned to slam home Teddy's neat headed pass into space on the edge of the box.  Sergei looked a bit out of it, as he hasn't had much match practice playing alongside Sheringham, but then Ted was hardly firing on all cylinders, so it can't be used as an argument for or against their partnership.  Ziege had been pinging in tempting crosses that no-one got on the end of, but had to do that very thing, when Rebrov's delightful ball across the face of the goal evaded everyone.  Unfortunately, what seemed like the pace of the ball off the pitch, the surprise of it getting that far and the narrow angle resulted in Christian hitting the outside of the post with his effort.

With Anderton looking a bit lost, Gus missing and Simon Davies concentrating on his defensive duties, there was not a great deal of support form midfield.  Indeed, Leo did more as a sub at West Ham than he showed at Fulham.  This made it hard to get out of defence and the ball kept being ceded to the home side, which, as it turned out, wasn't the worst thing that Spurs could do with it !!  Davies was on hand to save the blushes of the side and the need for extra time, with a low shot drilled just inside the post for the winner five minutes from time.  While, Simon is still learning, he shows the right stuff when it comes to finishing and for that we should all be grateful.  His willingness to play out of position meant that he did not perform as well as he had, but he stuck it out and didn't let anyone down.

Bunjy looked like he had been out for a while and although he did head the bal a few times, he looked like he was worried about the cheekbone injury that kept him out.

It was a shame that an unnecessary booking for Ziege means he will miss the league game against the same opponents, but I suppose it shows commitment and that was what mostly got the team through on the night.  Little flowing football was on offer and apart from the goals, there was only Teddy's close in effort that Taylor did well to smother.

The major talking point, unfortunately., was the showering of Luis Boa Morte with shower coats provided to those who were entitled to a terraced view in full exposure to the elements.  It is reported that a cigarette lighter was among the things thrown, but whatever, Spurs fans are now being looked at more closely after the events of November 17th.  Let's not give anyone from another club or the FA that opportunity ... it's more of an Arsenal thing.

In the next round, so mission successful.  Let's save that football for another day when we need it.

PETER BUTLER

Back to homepage