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Spurs v Barnsley, 24.01.98

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published 18.09.2017, but first written in 1998 by the late Brian Judson

Saturday, January 24th, 1998
Football Association Challenge Cup, Fourth Round
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (1) 1, BARNSLEY (0) 1

Tottenham Hotspur: Baardsen; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Wilson; Fox, Ginola, Berti, Sinton; Klinsmann, Ferdinand (sub Calderwood, 62).

Substitutes *NOT* used : Brown, Howells, Clemence, Brady.

Booked : Calderwood.

Goalscorer : Campbell 30.

Barnsley: Watson; Eaden, Moses, De Zeeuw, Redfearn, Sheridan, Marcelle, Tinkler (sub Bosancic, 46), Barnard, Ward, Hendrie (sub Liddell, 88).

Substitutes *NOT* used: Leese, Bullock, Morgan.

Booked : Sheridan.

Goalscorer : Redfearn (penalty) 59.

Referee : Mr G.R. Ashby (Worcester).

Attendance : 28,722.

At the outset of this match report, I have to say this match was killed stone dead as a spectacle by a very officious referee who followed the Laws of the Game to the letter. Referees these days are not supposed to use commonsense but most do and football is all the better entertainment when that happens. Mr Ashby has always been a fussy and pompous referee but yesterday he excelled himself so that neither side managed to establish a rhythm until quite late in the game.

Having said that, Tottenham did not help their cause. I did not think Ferdinand was really sharp enough to justify his selection and would have liked to have seen someone else up front. But there were signs that Tottenham are beginning to respond to Christian Gross's thinking. Until he faded late in the game, I made Berti my best player Spurs player of the match.

The first half was so devoid of incident other than Tottenham's goal the main priority was trying to keep warm and awake. Barnsley had learned from their lesson in December and did not bother to mark Ginola. Their thinking seemed to be that if Ginola was given enough rope, he would literally hang himself.

Tottenham took the lead on the half hour. Ginola took a corner on the left. Campbell timed his run to perfection, running from the edge of the penalty area into a ruck of players under the crossbar, and the ball suddenly billowed in the back of the net.

Spurs could have put the game beyond Barnsley's reach from a number of other dead ball situations but were either foiled by woodwork or extremely poor finishing. The best chance came early in the second half when Ginola took a free kick that was a fraction too high and rattled the crossbar. But there were two other occasions when the ball was kicked off the line and a further occasion when Klinsmann shot weakly into the goalkeeper's arms.

But Barnsley were beginning to flex their muscles. Hendrie, in particular, was becoming a nuisance. It came as no surprise to me when Barnsley equalised. Wilson had been having a torrid time for a while on the wing and was clearly becoming frustrated. Ward nutmegged Wilson, who responded by upending the player in the box and then had the gall to appeal when Ashby pointed to the penalty spot. None of the other Spurs players even bothered to appeal. Baardsen had no chance to prevent Redfearn from equalising.

Four minutes later, Spurs called off Ferdinand (a sensible decision) but replaced him with Calderwood. I simply could not understand the logic of this decision at all : I would have preferred to have seen just about anyone else other than Calderwood coming on as a substitute for Ferdinand.

Spurs now had an edgy spell as Barnsley threatened to score the winner but Spurs rode the storm, despite Calderwood's efforts to create unnecessary chances for Barnsley to score. At least one corner for Barnsley was conceded by Calderwood when not under any pressure at all.

In the end, the game fizzled out. The Spurs' supporters began to drift away long before the end. The only people in the ground who were really singing were the Barnsley fans, who have become used to seeing their team thrashed on their various visits to London.

After the game, Christian Gross defended his decision to call off Les Ferdinand. "I make the decisions here," he said. "With Les it was a fitness decision. We spoke before the game about him coming off more or less when he did."

Spurs will have to do much better than this if they are to survive the replay at Oakwell. There are still far too many players who do not seem to have the energy to play a full game for 90 minutes. Carr, however, seemed to have the energy to run for ever out on the right wing but seemed to lack support from Fox. Berti is still clearly a long way from being match fit but showed signs of the reputation he made during his Serie A days.

But why the hell Spurs feel a need to play Calderwood when Howells is available on the bench is beyond belief. Every time Calderwood touched the ball, he generally pushed it back towards his own goal, sometimes putting Baardsen needlessly under pressure.

Cheers, Brian

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