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Spurs v Everton, 04.04.98

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published April, 2018, but first written in 1998 by the late Brian Judson

Saturday, April 4th, 1998
FA Carling Premiership
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (0) 1 EVERTON (1) 1.

Tottenham Hotspur : Walker; Carr (sub Howells, 79), Vega, Campbell, Wilson (sub Calderwood, 58); Fox, Nielsen, Berti (sub Saib, 70), Ginola; Armstrong, Klinsmann.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Baardsen, Clemence.

Booked : Ginola, Armstrong, Carr.

Goalscorer : Armstrong 74.

Everton : Myrhe; Short, Watson, Ball, O'Kane, Dunne; McCann, Barmby, Hutchison; Madar (sub Spencer, 79), Ferguson.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Gerrard, Beagrie, Farrelly, Cadamarten.

Booked : Barmby, Madar, Ball, McCann, O'Kane.

Goalscorer : Madar 24.

Referee : Mr A B Wilkie (Durham).

Attendance : 35,624

Spurs have only themselves to blame for their failure to pick up more than one point from this match. They were clearly much better than Everton when they concentrated on playing football. Everton were a very poor side that resorted to the more rugged, physical approach to football and, unsurprisingly, collected five bookings during the match.

After some 18 months or so of a long list of players receiving treatment in the physiotherapy department, Spurs are at long last seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel. The appointment of a fitness expert last week should go a long way to preventing the re-appearance of the injury hoodoo. Certainly, we should see Anderton, Iversen and Ferdinand back in contention for a place in the squad before much longer.

Having easily won at Crystal Palace the previous weekend as Everton were crashing at home to Aston Villa, hopes were high that Spurs would be able to secure another win at the expense of the Merseysiders, the club most fans would prefer to see relegated instead of Barnsley. The one pre-match disappointment, for me, was that Moussa Saib was left on the bench.

Spurs began the match very well. In fact, they began it far too well for my liking. They pinned Everton down in the final third of the pitch but could not find someone to make a telling pass or shot. Inevitably, Tottenham ran out of steam and Everton began to slowly push them back.

When Everton finally scored, it was Tottenham's own fault. They had left themselves dangerously exposed to an Everton breakaway. Campbell made a total hash of a simple pass which Barmby intercepted and played forward to Madar, who was left one on one with Walker despite futile attempts by Tottenham's hapless defenders to persuade the match officials that Madar was offside. Madar timed his moment well and lobbed the ball over Walker as the England international came out to try to reduce Madar's options.

Having gone ahead, Everton suddenly flowered in confidence whilst Tottenham wilted. In the time remaining before half-time, Ginola demonstrated perfectly why he is not a team player. He kept looking to try to fool the referee into thinking he'd been fouled and tried it once too often, incurring a booking in the process. On several occasions, Ginola hogged the ball instead of making the simple pass to a better placed player, sometimes looking to score a spectacular goal that was never going to come off with such a packed Everton penalty area.

I wondered what Gross said in the sancticity of the dressing room. I would have read the riot act. Bill Nicholson certainly would have done. I wondered what Bill was thinking as he sat in his seat in the spring sunshine. No doubt Howard Kendall was going around, murmuring words of encouragement to his Everton players.

As Earth Summit faded from view after his 11-length win at Aintree, Everton and Tottenham re-appeared to continue the dispute in their particular summit meeting. I was surprised Tottenham made no substitution before the re-start as Howells had spent the entire break warming up on the pitch.

Everton began where they had left off with Tottenham clearly all at sea. As the minutes slipped away, it began to look as if Tottenham were going to throw away all the fruits of the victory at Selhurst Park last weekend.

And then with just over half an hour left, Tottenham lost Clive Wilson with a collarbone injury. Spurs had again been caught out by one of Everton's counter-strikes. Wilson appeared to collide with one of the Everton players and Wilson did not get up. After lengthy examination, Wilson was gingerly led off and Calderwood came on to allow Campbell to replace Wilson.

But Everton still pushed forward and Ferguson could have pushed Everton to a 2-0 lead when he broke right through and had only Walker to beat. Unfortunately, for Ferguson, he could not get his left foot behind the ball and could only shoot with his right foot, the shot whizzing wildly a long way from the nearest goal post.

By now, Herr Gross was becoming fidgety and finally called off Berti, who had had a magnificent game in midfield but who was rapidly tiring, and sent on Saib. Saib had not been on the pitch very long before I recognised that Tottenham had finally found a player who could possibly stand comparison to the late great John White. Saib plays the simple pass, the simple ball, not the extravagant gestures Ginola makes. And it was Saib who finally conjoured up Tottenham's equaliser. He picked a loose ball up and chipped it to Vega. Vega back-headed the ball across the packed Everton goalmouth. Armstrong was the first to react by the far post and his header eluded every outstretched limb to hit the back of the net.

The explosion of noise from the throats of Tottenham's supporters demonstrated the depth of their relief that Tottenham could now extract something from a game they had looked likely to lose. But there was still a quarter of an hour to play before Tottenham could relax.

Still the play swung from end to end but neither side could find a gap nor make a telling pass. In the end it was justice that both teams shared a point, if only for effort rather than quality. It was probably a point gained for both sides in view of the other results affecting the relegation zone.

After the match, Herr Gross said, "Saib is an excellent player. Maybe next Saturday he will be in the starting line-up. I felt before the match that it would be important to begin the scoring. When we fell behind, it was hard to open up the game. In the end, it could have been worse. But it could also have been better. I thought Jurgen Klinsmann was unlucky with a couple of his efforts."

So now Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge to avenge their 6-1 home defeat at the feet of Chelsea last December. Chelsea may be distracted by the thought of their second leg ECWC tie against Vincenza but Tottenham should not bank on it.

Cheers, Brian

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