Cup - Round 4
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
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
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.
(Half time score: 1-1 )
|WORTHINGTON CUP - ROUND 4
|Thursday 29th November
|Kick Off : 7.45 p.m.
|Weather : - Cloudy; mild;
light, persistent rain
|Crowd : - 15,006
|Referee : - Mr. M. Halsey (Welwyn
Scorers : - Fulham - Hayles
Tottenham - Rebrov 15, Davies 86
(foul) 74, Ziege (foul) 89
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
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
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
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
Eric the Viking
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
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
In the next round, so mission
successful. Let's save that football for another day when we need