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Spurs v Newcastle, 25.04.98

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published April, 2018, but first written in 1998

FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 25TH APRIL, 1998
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) NEWCASTLE UNITED 0(0)

Scorers:-
Klinsmann, 31
Ferdinand, 73

Attendance:- 35,847

Referee:- Jeff Winter

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Calderwood; Fox, Anderton (sub Saib, 69), Berti, Ginola; Klinsmann, Ferdinand.

Subs not used:- Baardsen; Scales; Clemence; Armstrong

Booked:- Ferdinand (Dissent), Vega (foul)

Newcastle (5-3-2):- Given; Watson, Dabizas, Albert (sub Gillespie 49, sub Ketsbaia 53), Pearce, Pistone; Barton, Batty, Speed; Andersson, Shearer.

Subs not used:- Hislop; Howey; Barnes.

Booked:- Pistone (foul), Watson

Some Spurs fans were probably surprised, and disappointed at the inclusion in the starting line-up of Vega, and Klinsmann, and also at the fact that Calderwood was to play at left back. The fact that Anderton was to start the game was greeted with elation. Anderton was to feature in the least prominent way of those mentioned, and was substituted mid-way through the second half by Saib. Perhaps Dazza, Shaggy, or sicknote, as some affectionately call him, was nervous or a little shaky at being thrown into this crucial game. I would say that about 50% of his passes hit the target, but he also made some woeful efforts. To be honest, Saib fared little better when he took his place.

This was, of course, a marvellous win for Spurs, and earned through a positive, determined and battling performance. Newcastle played 5 at the back, and sought to score on the break, or through long balls for Shearer or Andersson to run onto, but to their credit, Spurs were able to push them back for a lot of the time.

Calderwood, having played at wing-back for his country in mid-week, acquitted himself well in yet another unnatural position, and even found time to play some fancy football on the left wing with Ginola, whilst also defending competently. There was one moment in the second half, when he was trying to shield the ball from Andersson as the ball trickled towards the goal-line near the corner flag, and just when it looked like he might lose out, he contrived to "accidentally" stumble, preventing the attacker from reaching the ball, and allowing the ball to run out. He was not penalised for what some referees may have interpreted as an obstruction, and Colin was able to wind up the Newcastle fans having performed this feat in front of them. He gave as good as he got in the verbal exchange which followed. Once again, Calderwood has impressed me with his fighting spirit, and his loyalty to the cause in the face of adversity, and in the knowledge that he is not first choice for the centre-back slot.

As for Vega, I don't know if he will be able to play again this season, but he had his usual sort of game, collecting another yellow card for a fairly blatant infringement. His best moment did come in defence, for a change as he was able to prevent a Shearer header in the second half reaching the goal, when Walker was unlikely to stop the ball.

Spurs started strongly, and it was end to end stuff for the first fifteen minutes. I've no doubt the game will look exceedingly good on the edited highlights on MOTD tonight. In the early stages, Ginola had a cracking shot from the edge of the area tipped over the bar by Given. Ferdinand was winning a lot of ball, and getting a few headers in, but he couldn't quite get the power on his efforts in the first half. Even Stevie Carr nearly got in the act in the first half, with a super run through the middle, from defence. Klinsmann was available for a pass, but Carr tried a shot, which went wide of the keeper's right post. He deservedly got a standing ovation for his effort, though.

Carr has had a terrific season in my view, and has surely established himself in this position. He is terrier like everywhere he goes, and will feature high on my votes for April's POTM. He won even more plaudits in the second half when he won a couple of encounters with Pistone, deep in the Spurs half, near the right corner flag. Both times, Carr was able to tackle, and clatter Pistone, who was not only left on the ground, but also managed to lose the throw-ins!!

Pistone was ( rightly ) the target of the Spurs fans' boos. In the first half, he complained vehemently about a linesman's decision, and took an age to walk to the referee for a rollocking ( no booking, this time ). At the start of the second half, the referee delayed the kick-off,and allowed Pistone ages to tie his laces. Finally, when the ref wanted to book him for a foul, Pistone again was petulant, not wanting to respond to Winter's insistance to go to him, and was lucky not to get more than a booking.

Incidentally, those who don't attend our games might not have noticed our regular kick-off tactic, which is to get two or three players down the right wing fast, and hopefully gain possesion from the long ball which comes from the kick-off, or at least territory. This has often been successful. Usually, Armstrong makes the ground. Today, Ferdinand was in charge of the pursuit. Two or three times today, we adopted "rugby union style tactics" of working the ball down the line, gradually gaining ground, and throw-ins.

Spurs'first goal was a highly emotional occasion. I confess it brought tears to my eyes. Fox collected the ball and advanced down the right flank. He checked and passed the ball in-field to Ginola. Ginola went one way, then another as he worked his way into the right side of the penalty area, beating several players. Then came a beautiful chipped cross, which Klinsmann powerfully claimed as his own, and he was able to head the ball down, and into the goal. Jurgen turned away ( the goal was scored at the Park Lane end ) to the East stand, and we had the privilege of possibly the last Klinsmann dive at the lane. The crowd was ecstatic. The old chant "There's only one Jurgen Klinsmann" resounded around the stadium.

I'll admit to being one of those that thought JK should have made way for Armstrong today, but apart from the goal, he was brilliant. He wins so many of the long aerial balls, AND accurately passes them. Today he had a good partnership with the other scorer, Les Ferdinand, and they left the field hugging each other at the end of the game. Whatever happens now, as far as I'm concerned JK has done enough to justify us having him back. He was a talisman at first, and inspirational in our recovery. He has now scored 4 priceless goals, one of which was the all-important winner against West Ham, and the one today, was just as important.

Towards the end of the first half, Les got booked for his protests about not getting a penalty, when he seemed to be pushed to the ground to prevent him reaching the ball. Spurs held possession however, and played some pretty football around the area, which culminated in Ginola hitting just about the most blistering shot I think I've ever seen. If it had been on target, I think it would have taken the net out of the ground!! As it was it went just wide of the post.

The second half started in a somewhat tense atmosphere. Too often this season we have failed to get that oh, so vital breathing space of a second goal. Whilst we had a fair amount of pressure, resulting in plenty of corners, we didn't seem to hit the target enough. Les was really unlucky when he had a powerful header stopped by a reaction save from Given, who didn't know a thing about it. However he got his reward, and we got our breather, when he beautifully, and powerfully met a Daveed corner to head down, and into the goal. Oh, you beauty. That makes it 1.5 mill per goal now! To his credit, Ferdinand was really up for this game, and looked strong, and fit. I don't think he was fit when we bought him. Maybe we'll get our money's worth next season. As somebody else pointed out, his reaction when Calderwood scored last week really showed how much he is fighting for the Spurs cause. One could also quote his response to Ashby's performance in the away cup game at Barnsley, as evidence of his committment.

Having gone two up, Spurs were then forced onto the back foot for much of the remaining game, but apart from one or two nervous moments withheld the pressure. Ketsbaia was impressive for Newcastle, when he came on for Gillespie who lasted only two minutes as a substitute for Albert.

As usual, Shearer showed himself to be a bad mouthed individual when things weren't going for him. There was one time in the second half when he was unhappy with what he thought was a Ginola dive. As an England fan, I hope Shearer scores loads in the summer, but he seems to have expressed a lot of frustration at Newcastle. I suspect he may be playing his football on the continent after the summer.

I thought Ginola had a great game today. Obviously he was only too keen to perform in front of his old manager. Daveed seemed always to have the beating of Watson, and always had two or three opponents around him. But he won the contest, and of course made both the goals.

Even Fox had one of his better games, delivering the ball much earlier than usual.

That's enough from me. I'm sorry it's been so long. Sadly, Bolton won, and we're not quite out of the woods. We are now above Everton, and level on points with Newcastle. If we beat Wimbledon next week, in what will effectively be another home game, we will go above them, AND clinch our Premiership status for next season. Everton play Arsenal at Highbury next week, and Coventry at home on the last day. The focus has moved away from us, and onto them as being the fourth contender for the drop.

OH, WHAT A PERFECT DAY; I'M GLAD I SPENT IT WITH YOU - TOTTENHAM

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