Looking Forward

 

NEWCASTLE UNITED (Home)

Premier League

Tuesday 2nd January 2001

For all the matches that Spurs could have welcomed the New Year with, it had to be Newcastle !!  Not that things have been too bad at home against them in recent years, but the memories of away games haunt the recollections of all Spurs fans.  However, this one has a painful evening written all over it.  Newcastle United haven't won in London for about 200 years and then they come to play Spurs.  I wonder what will happen ??

At home, the Magpies have been more impressive than on the road, especially recently, where they have lost to Derby County and Arsenal.  Their form has been patchy, but usually a good result comes along when they need it - like the recent home win over Leeds United.  With Tottenham's good home record, the signs should be good, but Spurs do seem to have problems with Newcastle and their players.  The good news is that Alan Shearer might be out for a while after suffering an injury (rather than dishing one out) as will be summer buy Carl Cort. Winger Kevin Gallacher should be ready to return, but the bad weather may have hampered his recovery.  Other injury victims will include Dabizas (so no debate over whether or not it was a handball this time) and Rob Lee.

The likely pairing up front will be Solano and Speed.  Not the first choice coupling, but then when your forward line is decimated, the midfield men are pushed forward to fill the breech.  Both have scored against Spurs in the past and Tottenham will need to prevent the midfield breaking forward to support these front men.  Cardone, Dyer and Acuna are all capable of moving up to poach a goal.  Whether Lomana Lua-Lua, a player Tottenham considered buying for some considerable time, plays is unknown, but his trickery and speed could be a problem down the wing.  He also has a ferocious shot when he gets in range.

At the back, Charvet has been sold to Manchester City, Marcelino and Goma are both rumoured to be on their way out of St. James' Park and Didier Domi has failed to return from a trip to France, which could spell the end of his Newcastle career.  Still there is the Gooner Warren Barton, Griffin and Aaron Hughes.  If Tottenham can get amongst these relatively inexperienced defenders, then they could profit - especially in the air, where even the foreign defenders don't dominate in the air.

Midfield is the strongest part of the Geordie team.  Acuna was rumoured to be coming to Tottenham before he moved to Newcastle and can be a shrewd passer of the ball, prompting the forwards from all areas of the middle of the pitch.  Fellow South Americans Bassedas and Gavilan have been used sparingly, while Cordone is Dyer has a great engine and Spurs will have to try and curb his forward runs to prevent him breaking away.  Stephen Glass, the quick Scotsman with a terrific shot, could also be called upon to bolster this part of the side.

In goal, Shay Given could be ready to be recalled back between the sticks.  The Irishman has excellent reflexes, but his height can be a disadvantage and should Spurs have Les Ferdinand available, then his height could be crucial to any success they may have.  Should Given still be out injured, Steve Harper will deputise and he is a capable keeper, especially good on one-on-one's.

Tottenham have good form at home coming into this match, but will find Newcastle in determined mood.  It will be an exercise for Tottenham to dictate the pace of the game and to ensure that they are ruthless in finishing off moves which get into the last third of the pitch.  Too many missed chances could be their undoing.  However, for this game I think this will be the outcome ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham 1  Newcastle United 1

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

 

 

Tottenham 4 Newcastle United 2 -  Tuesday 2nd January 2001

Weather :  Dry, slightly windy.
Crowd : 34,324
Referee : Mr. S. Bennett  (Orpington)
Scorers : Tottenham - Doherty 27, Anderton (pen) 30, Rebrov 35, Ferdinand 77.
                  Newcastle United :  Solano 23, Dyer (pen) 49.

Tottenham: Sullivan, Doherty, Campbell, Perry, Anderton (Young 82), Sherwood, Leonhardsen (Walker 48), Clemence, King, Ferdinand, Rebrov.
Subs Not Used: Korsten, Davies, Thelwell.

Newcastle United : Harper, Barton, Goma, Griffin (Glass 69), Hughes, Bassedas, Speed, Acuna, Solano, Dyer, Ameobi (Lua-Lua 69).
Subs Not Used: Given, Stephen Caldwell, Cordone.


Where do you start with a match like this ?  It had everything - even someone being asked to move their red Honda !!

The early exchanges were fairly innocuous and it was only when Sherwood made another awful pass, which was intercepted by Amoebi that things went wrong.  Tim tried to mug the young Newcastle striker to get the ball back rather than tackle him and was shrugged off, as he laid the ball square to Solano to drive past an unprotected Sullivan.  Groans rang around the Lane, but Tottenham managed to get back into it within minutes.  A scramble from a corner resulted in a header being poked forward by Les, but it was smuggled away, but almost immediately Clemence swung over a cross that Doherty, still up from the corner, met with a firm header to equalise.  With the Irishman playing in a more familiar defensive role (as he does in the reserves), he appeared happier than he looked at Ipswich days before as a striker.

Things went even better three minutes later, when a ball in from the left found Gary Speed (who seemed to have some sort of match rage going on with constant shouting at the ref (how he stayed on is a mystery) and lunging tackles on Spurs players) dragging Anderton down as the ball passed him.  It was a foolish "challenge", as the ref was ideally positioned to see what was going on.  Anderton took the penalty kick himself and lashed it in to give Spurs the lead.  He could have repeated the feat just a couple of minutes on, when another corner was headed goalwards by Doherty and Solano, on the line, stuck out a hand to stop it going in.  A red card for the Peruvian and another spot kick was awarded, this time though, Darren was foiled by the flailing leg of Harper.  Not to be denied though, Doherty picked up the ball just inside the Newcastle half and ran forward with the ball.  He reached the edge of the box and slipped a little pass in to Rebrov standing onside a foot inside the right corner of the area.  As it came, he switched feet and hit the ball with the outside of his right foot and it flew over the keeper and went in off the far post as he looked at the goal.  It was a sublime finish and one we hope to see more of from Sergei.  His fierce drive just moments later saw Harper throw up a hand that luckily diverted the ball away as it swerved all over the place.  The keeper also needed to be agile when a header from his own defender nearly crept inside the far post from a free-kick.

At half-time, with a man and a two goal advantage, it was hoped that Spurs would press forward to finish the game off.  From a corner at the Newcastle end, the ball broke to Acuna, who fed Dyer running half the field to meet Sullivan just inside the box.  As the Spurs keeper dived at his feet, the young England international went down and the ref again pointed to the spot.  Another red card meant that Spurs had to sacrifice Leonhardsen to bring on Walker, but his first action did not result in a save with Dyer rapping the ball in to make it 3-2.  As a striker, Dyer was pushing forward and on another run about five minutes later, he was floored as Perry took the ball from him.  It was not inside the box, but for some reason the player went ballistic at the linesman - calling him all sorts of names.  When he flagged to attract the ref's attention, Dyer was shocked to see a red card produced and he became the third player to leave the field courtesy of the referee.  

Spurs now had the space to play as they would have liked.  However, this did still not produce a perfect passing display with too often the ball being given away.  It did allow some of the players to show what they were capable of and King showed some good skills, while Campbell rampaged forward at every opportunity.  Spurs had to wait until the 77th minute before their two goal lead was restored; Sir Les heading in a goal from an Anderton free-kick reminiscent of the goal Derby scored against the Magpies recently and the one that Ferdinand notched on the opening day of the season against Ipswich.  It was left to Ian Walker to show what he could do in the last few minutes, as he pushed away a close in shot from an in-running Speed and then tipped a powerful header over the bar, as Newcastle pushed for a consolation.

A night of excitement and a win which was desperately needed.  In truth, the football on offer was not of the highest technical quality, but the Spurs goals were welcome after a barren time and were all well taken.  There was more to be positive about, with quite a few promising performances, but there are still some who need to step up their form to help push Spurs up the table.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - GARY DOHERTY

Pete Stachio 

 

An Off Night

 

Mr. Bennett, I thought before kick off was the ref who sent off two players and awarded three penalties in the Ipswich Town vs. Bolton Wanderers play-off semi final last season.  So tonight was just an average game for him really !!

The queue outside at the turnstiles was deathly silent and a funereal atmosphere descended over White Hart Lane before the kick off.  The action sort of matched that for a bit as there were few hints of what was to come  ...

Who would have thought that Gary Doherty would be seen bringing the ball out of defence like the new Franz Beckenbauer ??  Who would have thought he would be up for set pieces and cause havoc like the new Ramon Vega ??  Who would have thought we would have seen Ledley King doing a double drag back in the middle of the pitch ??  Who would have thought we would have seen Rebrov scoring such a delightful and delicate goal after his recent troubles ??  Who would have thought we would have seen two penalties awarded to Tottenham in one game ??  Who would have thought we would only score one of them ??  Well, most of us actually.  It was almost too good to be true.

Almost, because as always with Spurs nothing is 100%.  Some players appeared to be off their game again.  Sherwood gave the ball away for the first goal and was guilty of still doing that when Spurs were numerically ahead and should have been making Newcastle work extra hard to get the ball.  Leo still hasn't regained his full fitness after his injury and was struggling, while Perry played better when the visitors were down to nine men, but showed he is still not fully confident in his play.  Walker was sharp when he came on to stop a couple of injury time chances; the one from Speed was a very good save.

Nice to see Rebrov playing a bit further forward and getting on the end of things - especially Doherty's nice pass to stick the ball away with an expert touch.  And Les did better today, taking his goal well even though he was unmarked.  Anderton was brave enough to take the penalties, but perhaps having got one, Spurs should have opted for another taker to try and outwit the keeper, but Darren was obviously up for it after putting the first away confidently.  Clemence again had a solid match, with King playing the ball around and finding space nicely. He looks like a real talent.  Sullivan was rarely troubled until he took Dyer down (according to the ref).  His was just one red card amongst the splash of seasonal red.  I don't think I have ever seen three players sent off in one match at the Lane before !!  

It still didn't help Spurs being three-one up at half time with an extra man, as from a corner in the first few minutes, they let the Toon break away and get the game back to 3-2 and the numbers back to 10-10.  It all looked a bit dodgy until Dyer rashly abused the linesman and got his marching orders.  Then the space opened up for Spurs to play the ball around a bit better.  Still not as accurately or damagingly as they could have, but a win was needed after the recent run and the prospect of falling further down the League.  A nice start to 2001.  May they all have the same result, but perhaps not the same amount of excitement - the old heart won't take it !!

One major highlight I haven't mentioned so far was the half time appearance of Ricky Villa, to award cheques for a competition for fans to hit the crossbar from the edge of the penalty box.  Chants of "Villa, Villa" and "One Ricky Villa" rang out as the crowd stood to applaud the 1981 winning goalscorer as he ventured out onto the pitch.  His presence was a keen reminder of what Tottenham were all about in the "Glory Days".  While they are not back to that level yet, hints flicker across the White Hart Lane turf to suggest some might be coming back in the youngsters on show.

Benny The Ball

 

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