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Spurs v Derby County, 15.10.97

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published October, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson

Wednesday October 15th, 1997
Coca-Cola Cup 3rd Round

Spurs scorer:- Ginola, 22

Derby scorer:- Wanchope, 27,71

Attendance:- 20,390

Referee : D Gallagher (Oxon).

Tottenham Hotspur : Walker; Carr, Campbell, Vega (sub Calderwood, 64), Edinburgh; Fox, Dominguez, Howells, Sinton, Ginola; Armstrong.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Nielsen, Fenn.

Derby County : Poom; Kozluk, Rowett, Dailly, C Powell, Van den Lann, Carsley, Trollope, Sturridge (sub Solis, 89), Wanchope, Burton.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Hoult, Hunt.

Booked : Kozluk.

The knives came out with a vengeance in the wake of yet another home defeat on Wednesday night. Most of the crowd seemed to be demanding the dismissal of absentee manager, Gerry Francis. This is certainly understandable from the point of view of the results that Spurs have produced this season but it was only the second home defeat of the season.

Spurs fans have been demanding flair from their players and flair was fitfully present during much of the game. What was lacking was organisation but to pinpoint the absence of Mabbutt from the team as a reason for the lack of organisation is a refusal to face up to the fact that Mabbutt now finds the pace of top level football too much for himself. There were other more compelling reasons why Tottenham failed to overcome Derby.

The team that started the game was almost the first choice team Spurs would pick. All that is lacking is a fully fit Anderton and either a fully fit Ferdinand or Iversen to support Chris Armstrong. With those back it will then be merely a matter of the team beginning to gel, possibly with a new midfield player to replace Howells in the holding role.

Spurs began brightly enough and showed flashes of the silky skills that Spurs supporters have demanded down the years. Ginola and Dominguez were leading tormentors of the Derby defence in that opening half hour.

It was the erratic Ginola who put Spurs ahead in the 22nd minute. Picking up the ball, he slipped past two Derby defenders to chip in an equisitely placed goal from the edge of the penalty area.

Soon after that, Armstrong squandered a chance to make the score 2-0, which might ultimately have led to a far different result than the one we had. For soon after that dreadful miss, Derby equalised. The goal was credited to Wanchope but, to be truthful, he knew very little about it. Rowett took a freekick from outside the penalty area. Walker had that covered but the ball hit Wanchope's backside in flight and flew into the opposite corner of Walker's goal.

When the two teams emerged for the start of the second half, Derby began to take an iron grip on the game they seldom lost. And it was then that I began to notice that all may not be well in the dressing room. When Dominguez had the ball and could see Ginola was better placed for a pass, Jose passed to the French player. But many times Dominguez demanded the ball when he was often unmarked but Ginola and several of the others, particularly Carr, seemed to ignore him and pass to someone else.

The Derby tactics were quite clear. As soon as either Ginola or Dominguez gained the ball, there was a cluster of three Derby players around them. If either managed to elude the markers, one or other of the markers swiftly and clinically upended them. Derby seemed to be quite happy to concede numerous free kicks. Their gamble paid off as Dermot Gallagher only made one booking. Both Ginola and Dominguez became frustrated by these tactics and, understandably, lost their confidence.

With some 26 minutes left to play, Spurs called off Vega and replaced him with Calderwood. I gather Vega was injured but he did not look obviously injured to me. Calderwood's limitations in defence have been all too often dissected in my reports before and I will not repeat them here. Suffice to say that the defence from that point on became more disorganised than ever with Campbell trying to plug gaps everywhere.

In the 71st minute, Wanchope broke away down the wing, pursued by Carr. Sturridge had the ball as he pressurised Calderwood. Having eluded Calderwood, Sturridge released the ball to Wanchope, who had left Carr in his wake. Wanchope hit the ball and Walker was far too late in diving to prevent a goal.

From then on, Spurs looked a beaten side. Despite the frequent appearances on the touchline of Chris Hughton with fresh instructions for a different approach, Spurs laboured to string passes together. Right at the end, though, they had a chance to pull the game out of the fire when Dominguez unleashed a shot that Poom was grateful to hold on to.

Although Spurs lost the game, I did not think they were as bad as some people seem to think they were. Certainly in the first half, there were signs the team was beginning to gel. We are not a bad side, certainly not the shambles that Everton are, for example. All we need is a bit of luck coming our way. And that *could* happen on Sunday when we play Sheffield Wednesday.

Cheers, Brian

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